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Polyphosphate (polyP) is secreted by activated platelets and has been shown to contribute to thrombosis, suggesting that it could be a novel antithrombotic target. Previously reported polyP inhibitors based on polycationic substances, such as polyethylenimine, polyamidoamine dendrimers, and polymyxin B, although they attenuate thrombosis, all have significant toxicity in vivo, likely due to the presence of multiple primary amines responsible for their polyP binding ability. In this study, we examined a novel class of nontoxic polycationic compounds initially designed as universal heparin reversal agents (UHRAs) to determine their ability to block polyP procoagulant activity and also to determine their utility as antithrombotic treatments. Several UHRA compounds strongly inhibited polyP procoagulant activity in vitro, and 4 were selected for further examination in mouse models of thrombosis and hemostasis. Compounds UHRA-9 and UHRA-10 significantly reduced arterial thrombosis in mice. In mouse tail bleeding tests, administration of UHRA-9 or UHRA-10 was associated with significantly less bleeding compared with therapeutically equivalent doses of heparin. Thus, these compounds offer a new platform for developing novel antithrombotic agents that target procoagulant anionic polymers such as polyP with reduced toxicity and bleeding side effects.

Despite the establishment of a specific approval pathway, the issuance of detailed scientific guidelines for the development of similar biological medicinal products (so-called "biosimilars") and the approval of several biosimilars in the European Union, acceptance of biosimilars in the medical community continues to be low. This is especially true in therapeutic indications for which no specific clinical trials with the biosimilar have been performed and that have been licensed based on extrapolation of efficacy and safety data from other indications. This article addresses the concerns frequently raised in the medical community about the use of biosimilars in such extrapolated indications and explains the underlying scientific and regulatory decision making including some real-life examples from recently licensed biosimilars.

Brentuximab vedotin is an anti-CD30 antibody-drug conjugate with proven efficacy in patients with CD30+ malignancies, including classical Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Promising activity has also been seen in other lymphomas that express CD30. Because of its acceptable toxicity profile and significant clinical efficacy, single-agent brentuximab vedotin is an approved treatment for relapsed patients with these diseases. Brentuximab vedotin has safely been combined with chemotherapy and is now being compared with standard treatments in randomized trials.

Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an alternative source of hematopoietic stem cells for patients without HLA-matched adult donors. UCB contains a low number of nucleated cells and mostly naive T cells, resulting in prolonged time to engraftment and lack of transferred T-cell memory. Although the first phase of T-cell reconstitution after UCB transplantation (UCBT) depends on peripheral expansion of transferred T cells, permanent T-cell reconstitution is mediated via a central mechanism, which depends on de novo production of naive T lymphocytes by the recipient’s thymus from donor-derived lymphoid-myeloid progenitors (LMPs). Thymopoiesis can be assessed by quantification of recent thymic emigrants, T-cell receptor excision circle levels, and T-cell receptor repertoire diversity. These assays are valuable tools for monitoring posttransplantation thymic recovery, but more importantly they have shown the significant prognostic value of thymic reconstitution for clinical outcomes after UCBT, including opportunistic infections, disease relapse, and overall survival. Strategies to improve thymic entry and differentiation of LMPs and to accelerate recovery of the thymic stromal microenvironment may improve thymic lymphopoiesis. Here, we discuss the mechanisms and clinical implications of thymic recovery and new approaches to improve reconstitution of the T-cell repertoire after UCBT.

Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm associated with JAK2 mutations (V617F or exon 12) in almost all cases. The World Health Organization has defined the criteria for diagnosis, but it is still unclear which parameter (hemoglobin or hematocrit) is the most reliable for demonstrating increased red cell volume and for monitoring response to therapy; also, the role of bone marrow biopsy is being revisited. PV is associated with reduced survival because of cardiovascular complications and progression to post-PV myelofibrosis or leukemia. Criteria for risk-adapted treatment rely on the likelihood of thrombosis. Controlled trials have demonstrated that incidence of cardiovascular events is reduced by sustained control of hematocrit with phlebotomies (low-risk patients) and/or cytotoxic agents (high-risk patients) and antiplatelet therapy with aspirin. Hydroxyurea and interferon may be used as first-line treatments, whereas busulfan is reserved for patients that are refractory or resistant to first-line agents. However, there is no evidence that therapy improves survival, and the significance of reduction of JAK2 mutated allele burden produced by interferon is unknown. PV is also associated with a plethora of symptoms that are poorly controlled by conventional therapy. This article summarizes my approach to the management of PV in daily clinical practice.

Corticosteroids are the accepted primary therapy for acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), but durable responses are seen in only about half of the patients. Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN) 0802, a phase 3 multicenter randomized double-blinded trial, was designed to test whether mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) plus corticosteroids was superior to corticosteroids alone as initial therapy for acute GVHD. Patients with newly diagnosed acute GVHD were eligible if they required systemic therapy. Patients were randomized to receive prednisone with either MMF or placebo. The primary end point was acute or chronic GVHD-free survival at day 56 after initiation of therapy. A futility rule for GVHD-free survival at day 56 was met at a planned interim analysis after 235 patients (of 372) were enrolled: 116 MMF, 119 placebo. Baseline characteristics were well balanced between treatment groups including grade and organ distribution of GVHD. GVHD-free survival at day 56, cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD at 12 months, overall survival, Epstein-Barr virus reactivation, severe, life-threatening infections, relapse at 12 months, and quality of life were similar. The addition of MMF to corticosteroids as initial therapy for acute GVHD does not improve GVHD-free survival compared with corticosteroids alone. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01002742.

We conducted a prospective multicenter registry of 248 adult patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) treated with rituximab to assess safety. We also assessed response and predictive factors of sustained response. In total, 173 patients received 4 infusions of 375 mg/m2 and 72 received 2 fixed 1-g infusions 2 weeks apart. The choice of the rituximab regimen was based on the physician’s preference and not patient characteristics. Overall, 38 patients showed minor intolerance to rituximab infusions; infusions had to be stopped for only 3 patients. Seven showed infection (n = 11 cases), with an incidence of 2.3 infections/100 patient-years. Three patients died of infection 12 to 14 months after rituximab infusions, but the role of rituximab was questionable. In total, 152 patients (61%) showed an overall initial response (platelet count ≥30 x 109/L and ≥2 baseline value). At a median follow-up of 24 months, 96 patients (39%) showed a lasting response. On multivariate analysis, the probability of sustained response at 1 year was significantly associated with ITP duration <1 year (P = .02) and previous transient complete response to corticosteroids (P = .05). The pattern of response was similar with the 2 rituximab regimens. With its benefit/risk ratio, rituximab used off-label may remain a valid option for treating persistent or chronic ITP in adults. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NC1101295.

Telomere shortening limits the proliferative capacity of human cells, and age-dependent shortening of telomeres occurs in somatic tissues including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). It is currently unknown whether genomic and molecular damage that occurs in HSCs induced by telomere shortening is transmitted to the progenitor cells. Here we show that telomere shortening results in DNA damage accumulation and gene expression changes in quiescent HSCs of aged mice. Upon activation, a subset of HSCs with elevated levels of DNA damage and p16 expression are blocked from cell cycle entry, and apoptosis is induced in HSCs entering the cell cycle. Activation of both checkpoints associates with normalization of DNA damage and gene expression profiles at early progenitor stages. These findings indicate that quiescent HSCs have an elevated tolerance to accumulate genomic alterations in response to telomere shortening, but the transmission of these aberrations to the progenitor cell level is prevented by senescence and apoptosis.

The efficacy of most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting tumor antigens results primarily from their ability to elicit potent cytotoxicity through effector-mediated functions. We have engineered the fragment crystallizable (Fc) region of the immunoglobulin G (IgG) mAb, HuM195, targeting the leukemic antigen CD33, by introducing the triple mutation Ser293Asp/Ala330Leu/Ile332Glu (DLE), and developed Time-lapse Imaging Microscopy in Nanowell Grids to analyze antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity kinetics of thousands of individual natural killer (NK) cells and mAb-coated target cells. We demonstrate that the DLE-HuM195 antibody increases both the quality and the quantity of NK cell-mediated antibody-dependent cytotoxicity by endowing more NK cells to participate in cytotoxicity via accrued CD16-mediated signaling and by increasing serial killing of target cells. NK cells encountering targets coated with DLE-HuM195 induce rapid target cell apoptosis by promoting simultaneous conjugates to multiple target cells and induce apoptosis in twice the number of target cells within the same period as the wild-type mAb. Enhanced target killing was also associated with increased frequency of NK cells undergoing apoptosis, but this effect was donor-dependent. Antibody-based therapies targeting tumor antigens will benefit from a better understanding of cell-mediated tumor elimination, and our work opens further opportunities for the therapeutic targeting of CD33 in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

Clonal proliferation of plasma cells within the bone marrow (BM) affects local cells, such as mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), leading to osteolysis and fatality in multiple myeloma (MM). Consequently, there is an urgent need to find better mechanisms of inhibiting myeloma growth and osteolytic lesion development. To meet this need and accelerate clinical translation, better models of myeloma within the BM are required. Herein we have developed a clinically relevant, three-dimensional (3D) myeloma BM coculture model that mimics bone cell/cancer cell interactions within the bone microenvironment. The coculture model and clinical samples were used to investigate myeloma growth, osteogenesis inhibition, and myeloma-induced abnormalities in MM-MSCs. This platform demonstrated myeloma support of capillarylike assembly of endothelial cells and cell adhesion–mediated drug resistance (CAM-DR). Also, distinct normal donor (ND)- and MM-MSC miRNA (miR) signatures were identified and used to uncover osteogenic miRs of interest for osteoblast differentiation. More broadly, our 3D platform provides a simple, clinically relevant tool to model cancer growth within the bone—useful for investigating skeletal cancer biology, screening compounds, and exploring osteogenesis. Our identification and efficacy validation of novel bone anabolic miRs in MM opens more opportunities for novel approaches to cancer therapy via stromal miR modulation.

Recent studies have revealed that p27, a nuclear cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor and tumor suppressor, can acquire oncogenic activities upon mislocalization to the cytoplasm. To understand how these antagonistic activities influence oncogenesis, we dissected the nuclear and cytoplasmic functions of p27 in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a well-characterized malignancy caused by the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase. p27 is predominantly cytoplasmic in CML and nuclear in normal cells. BCR-ABL1 regulates nuclear and cytoplasmic p27 abundance by kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms, respectively. p27 knockdown in CML cell lines with predominantly cytoplasmic p27 induces apoptosis, consistent with a leukemogenic role of cytoplasmic p27. Accordingly, a p27 mutant (p27CK–) devoid of Cdk inhibitory nuclear functions enhances leukemogenesis in a murine CML model compared with complete absence of p27. In contrast, p27 mutations that enhance its stability (p27T187A) or nuclear retention (p27S10A) attenuate leukemogenesis over wild-type p27, validating the tumor-suppressor function of nuclear p27 in CML. We conclude that BCR-ABL1 kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms convert p27 from a nuclear tumor suppressor to a cytoplasmic oncogene. These findings suggest that cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27 despite BCR-ABL1 inhibition by tyrosine kinase inhibitors may contribute to drug resistance, and effective therapeutic strategies to stabilize nuclear p27 must also prevent cytoplasmic mislocalization.

Mutant RAS oncoproteins activate signaling molecules that drive oncogenesis in multiple human tumors including acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). However, the specific functions of these pathways in AML are unclear, thwarting the rational application of targeted therapeutics. To elucidate the downstream functions of activated NRAS in AML, we used a murine model that harbors Mll-AF9 and a tetracycline-repressible, activated NRAS (NRASG12V). Using computational approaches to explore our gene-expression data sets, we found that NRASG12V enforced the leukemia self-renewal gene-expression signature and was required to maintain an MLL-AF9– and Myb-dependent leukemia self-renewal gene-expression program. NRASG12V was required for leukemia self-renewal independent of its effects on growth and survival. Analysis of the gene-expression patterns of leukemic subpopulations revealed that the NRASG12V-mediated leukemia self-renewal signature is preferentially expressed in the leukemia stem cell–enriched subpopulation. In a multiplexed analysis of RAS-dependent signaling, Mac-1Low cells, which harbor leukemia stem cells, were preferentially sensitive to NRASG12V withdrawal. NRASG12V maintained leukemia self-renewal through mTOR and MEK pathway activation, implicating these pathways as potential targets for cancer stem cell–specific therapies. Together, these experimental results define a RAS oncogene–driven function that is critical for leukemia maintenance and represents a novel mechanism of oncogene addiction.

β-catenin is required for establishment of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Targeted inhibition of β-catenin signaling has been hampered by the lack of pathway components amenable to pharmacologic manipulation. Here we identified a novel β-catenin regulator, GPR84, a member of the G protein-coupled receptor family that represents a highly tractable class of drug targets. High GPR84 expression levels were confirmed in human and mouse AML LSCs compared with hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Suppression of GPR84 significantly inhibited cell growth by inducing G1-phase cell-cycle arrest in pre-LSCs, reduced LSC frequency, and impaired reconstitution of stem cell–derived mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) AML, which represents an aggressive and drug-resistant subtype of AML. The GPR84-deficient phenotype in established AML could be rescued by expression of constitutively active β-catenin. Furthermore, GPR84 conferred a growth advantage to Hoxa9/Meis1a-transduced stem cells. Microarray analysis demonstrated that GPR84 significantly upregulated a small set of MLL-fusion targets and β-catenin coeffectors, and downregulated a hematopoietic cell-cycle inhibitor. Altogether, our data reveal a previously unrecognized role of GPR84 in maintaining fully developed AML by sustaining aberrant β-catenin signaling in LSCs, and suggest that targeting the oncogenic GPR84/β-catenin signaling axis may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for AML.

Childhood immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder. Most children recover within 6 to 12 months, but individual course is difficult to predict. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify predictors of chronic ITP. We found 1399 articles; after critical appraisal, 54 studies were included. The following predictors of chronic ITP in children, assessed in at least 3 studies, have been identified: female gender (odds ratio [OR] 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04-1.31), older age at presentation (age ≥11 years; OR 2.47, 95% CI 1.94-3.15), no preceding infection or vaccination (OR 3.08, 95 CI 2.19-4.32), insidious onset (OR 11.27, 95% CI 6.27-20.27), higher platelet counts at presentation (≥20 x 109/L: OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.63-2.83), presence of antinuclear antibodies (OR 2.87, 95% 1.57-5.24), and treatment with a combination of methylprednisolone and intravenous immunoglobulin (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.44-4.96). Children with mucosal bleeding at diagnosis or treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin alone developed chronic ITP less often (OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.28-0.54 and OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.52-0.97, respectively). The protective effect of intravenous immunoglobulin is remarkable and needs confirmation in prospective randomized trials as well as future laboratory studies to elucidate the mechanism of this effect.

The epidemiology of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is not well known. The purpose of this study was to assess ITP incidence at a nationwide level (France) with recent data (mid-2009 to mid-2011; 129 248 543 person-years). The data source is the French health insurance database. We selected cases with diagnosis codes for in-hospital stays and long-term disease attributions, thus restricting our search to ITPs necessitating health care. We studied incidence by age, gender, calendar month, regions, and proportion of secondary ITPs, of ITPs becoming persistent or chronic, and of severe bleeding at disease onset. We identified 3771 incident ITP patients. Incidence was 2.9/100 000 person-years, with peaks among children and in those >60 years of age. ITP was more frequent among males in these subgroups. The incidence was lower in overseas Caribbean French departments, suggesting a lower incidence among Afro-American people. There was a north-south gradient in mainland France and seasonal variations (peak in winter and nadir in summer). Persistence or chronicity occurred in 36% of children compared with 67% of adults. Among adults, 18% of ITPs were secondary. Malignancy was the main cause (10.9%). Myelodysplastic syndromes were not rare (2.3%). Severe gastrointestinal or central nervous system bleeding at ITP onset was rare (<1%).

Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated platelet destruction and aberrant cytokine profiles play important roles in the pathogenesis of primary immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Interleukin-27 (IL-27) has pleiotropic immunomodulatory effects. However, the effect of IL-27 on CTL activity in ITP has not been reported. In the present study, platelets from ITP patients were cultured with autologous CTLs in the presence of IL-27. We found that IL-27 could inhibit CTL-mediated platelet destruction. In these IL-27–treated CTLs, granzyme B and T-bet expression decreased significantly, whereas granzyme A, perforin, and eomesodermin were not affected. To further investigate the role of granzyme B in CTL-mediated platelet destruction, granzyme B inhibitor was added and platelet apoptosis was significantly inhibited. These results suggest that IL-27 negatively regulates CTL cytotoxicity toward platelets in ITP by decreasing granzyme B expression, which is associated with reduced T-bet expression. IL-27 may have a therapeutic role in treating ITP patients.

Dysregulated donor T cells lead to destruction of host tissues resulting in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). We investigated the impact of highly purified (>95%) donor CD4+ invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells on GVHD in a murine model of allogeneic HCT. We found that low doses of adoptively transferred donor CD4+ iNKT cells protect from GVHD morbidity and mortality through an expansion of donor CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). These Tregs express high levels of the Ikaros transcription factor Helios and expand from the Treg pool of the donor graft. Furthermore, CD4+ iNKT cells preserve T-cell–mediated graft-versus-tumor effects. Our studies reveal new aspects of the cellular interplay between iNKT cells and Tregs in the context of tolerance induction after allogeneic HCT and set the stage for clinical translation.