Publications

2020
Dganit Stern-Tal, Hanna Achache, Liora Jacobs Catane, Reuven Reich, and Tali Tavor Re'em. 2020. “Novel 3D embryo implantation model within macroporous alginate scaffolds.” Journal of biological engineering, 14, Pp. 18. Abstract
BACKGROUND: Implantation failure remains an unsolved obstacle in reproductive medicine. Previous studies have indicated that estrogen responsiveness, specifically by estrogen receptor alpha (ER$\alpha$), is crucial for proper implantation. There is an utmost need for a reliable in vitro model that mimics the events in the uterine wall during the implantation process for studying the regulatory mechanisms governing the process. The current two-dimensional and hydrogel-based in vitro models provide only short-term endometrial cell culture with partial functionality. RESULTS: Endometrial biopsies showed an increase in E-cadherin expression on the typical window of implantation of fertile women, compared to negligible expression in recurrent implantation failure (RIF) patients. These clinical results indicated E-cadherin as a marker for receptivity. Three-dimensional (3D) macroporous alginate scaffolds were the base for epithelial endometrial cell-seeding and long-term culture under hormone treatment that mimicked a typical menstrual cycle. The RL95-2 epithelial cell culture in macroporous scaffolds was viable for 3 weeks and showed increased E-cadherin levels in response to estrogen. Human choriocarcinoma (JAR) spheroids were used as embryo models, seeded onto cell constructs and successfully adhered to the RL95-2 cell culture. Moreover, a second model of HEC-1A with low ER$\alpha$ levels, showed lower E-cadherin expression and no JAR attachment. E-cadherin expression and JAR attachment were recovered in HEC-1A cells that were transfected with ER$\alpha$ plasmid. CONCLUSIONS: We present a novel model that enables culturing endometrial cells on a 3D matrix for 3 weeks under hormonal treatment. It confirmed the importance of ER$\alpha$ function and E-cadherin for proper implantation. This platform may serve to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms controlling the implantation process, and for screening and evaluating potential novel therapeutic strategies for RIF.
Chaim Gilon, Agata Gitlin-Domagalska, Adi Lahiani, Shiran Yehoshua-Alshanski, Adi Shumacher-Klinger, Dan Gilon, Mahmoud Taha, Israel Sekler, Amnon Hoffman, and Philip Lazarovici. 2020. “Novel humanin analogs confer neuroprotection and myoprotection to neuronal and myoblast cell cultures exposed to ischemia-like and doxorubicin-induced cell death insults.” Peptides, 134. Abstract
Humanin (HN) is a 24-amino acid mitochondrial-derived peptide, best known for its ability to protect neurons from damage caused by ischemic stroke and neurodegenerative insults and cardiomyocytes from myocardial infarction or doxorubicin (Dox)-induced cardiotoxicity. This study examines the neuroprotective and myoprotective effects of HN novel synthetic analogs HUJInin and c(D-Ser14-HN), prepared by solid-phase peptide synthesis. The cellular models employed were oxygen-glucose-deprivation (OGD) followed by reoxygenation (R)-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 and SH-SY5Y neuronal cell cultures and Dox-induced cardiotoxicity in H9c2 and C2C12 myoblast cell cultures, respectively. Necrotic and apoptotic cell death was measured by LDH release and caspase-3 activity. Erk 1/2 and AKT phosphorylations were examined by western blotting. Mitochondrial calcium and mitochondrial membrane potential were measured using the fluorescent dye tetramethylrhodamine-methyl ester. It was found that HUJInin and c(D-Ser14-HN) conferred significant dose-dependent neuroprotection, a phenomenon related to attenuation of OGD insult-induced Erk 1/2 phosphorylation, stimulation of AKT phosphorylation and improvement of mitochondrial functions. These peptides also conferred myoprotective effect towards Dox-induced apo-necrotic cell death insults. HUJInin and c(D-Ser14-HN) synthetic analogs may provide new lead compounds for the development of a potential candidate drug for stroke treatment and/or Dox-induced cardiotoxicity therapy in cancer patients.
Anna Permyakova, Asaad Gammal, Liad Hinden, Michal Weitman, Marta Weinstock, and Joseph Tam. 2020. “A Novel Indoline Derivative Ameliorates Diabesity-Induced Chronic Kidney Disease by Reducing Metabolic Abnormalities.” Frontiers in endocrinology, 11, Pp. 91. Abstract
Both diabetes and obesity (diabesity) contribute significantly to the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). In search of new remedies to reverse or arrest the progression of CKD, we examined the therapeutic potential of a novel compound, AN1284, in a mouse model of CKD induced by type 2 diabetes with obesity. Six-week-old BKS Cg-Dock 7(m)+/+ Lepr(db)/J mice with type 2 diabetes and obesity were treated with AN1284 (2.5 or 5 mg kg(-1) per day) via micro-osmotic pumps implanted subcutaneously for 3 months. Measures included renal, pancreatic, and liver assessment as well as energy utilization. AN1284 improved kidney function in BSK-db/db animals by reducing albumin and creatinine and preventing renal inflammation and morphological changes. The treatment was associated with weight loss, decreased body fat mass, increased utilization of body fat toward energy, preservation of insulin sensitivity and pancreatic $\beta$ cell mass, and reduction of dyslipidemia, hepatic steatosis, and liver injury. This indoline derivative protected the kidney from the deleterious effects of hyperglycemia by ameliorating the metabolic abnormalities of diabetes. It could have therapeutic potential for preventing CKD in human subjects with diabesity.
D Khattib, M Ishan, S Karmakar, H Kostrhunova, V Brabec, and D Gibson. 2020. “Oxidation of cis-Diamminediacetato Pt(II) with Hydrogen Peroxide Can Give Rise to Two Isomeric Pt(IV) Products.” Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany), 26, 43, Pp. 9475–9480. Abstract
The oxidation of cis-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (OAc)(2) ] with H(2) O(2) yields a mixture of two isomers: ctc-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (OH)(2) (OAc)(2) ] and ctc-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (OH)(OAc)(OH)(OAc)]. Following modification with 4-phenylbutyric (PhB) anhydride, two isomers were separated and characterized; the symmetric ctc-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (PhB)(2) (OAc)(2) ] (1) and the nonsymmetric ctc-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (PhB)(OAc)(PhB)(OAc)] (2). They differ in their log P values and despite having similar cellular uptake and similar DNA platination levels, the symmetric ctc-[Pt(NH(3) )(2) (OH)(2) (OAc)(2) ] is more than 4-fold more potent than the nonsymmetric isomer in a panel of 4 cancer cell lines.
The DNA mimic, PNA (peptide nucleic acid), has been with us now for almost 3 decades [...].
Reem Odi, David Bibi, Travis Wager, and Meir Bialer. 2020. “A perspective on the physicochemical and biopharmaceutic properties of marketed antiseizure drugs-From phenobarbital to cenobamate and beyond.” Epilepsia, 61, 8, Pp. 1543–1552. Abstract
The success rate from first time in man to regulatory approval of central nervous system (CNS) drugs is lower than the overall success rate across all therapeutic indications (eg, cardiovascular, infectious diseases). To understand the reasons for drug-candidate failure and to capture trends in antiseizure drug (ASD) design, we have analyzed the physicochemical and biopharmaceutical properties of marketed ASDs in comparison with new ASDs in development. Our comparative analysis included molecular weight (MW), logP, polar surface area (PSA), the "Lipinski rule of five," and the CNS Multiparameter Optimization (MPO) score. LogP is the logarithm of a drug-partition coefficient (P) between n-octanol and water. PSA is the molecule's surface sum of its polar atoms. ASDs' biopharmaceutical properties were classified according to their water solubility, permeability, and route of elimination as outlined by the Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) and Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition Classification System (BDDCS). For old ASDs (1912-1990), logP, PSA, and CNS MPO values ranged between 0.4 and 2.8, 37 and 87 \AA(2) , and 4.4 and 6.0, respectively. For second-generation ASDs (1990-2008), PSA values ranged between 39 and 116 \AA(2) . However, logP values showed a difference between the lipophilic (logP = 0.3-3.21) and hydrophilic (logP = -0.6 to -2.16) ASDs. For third-generation ASDs (2008-2020), logP and PSA ranged between 0.3 and 3.5 and between 57 and 76 \AA(2) , respectively. The mean CNS MPO scores of all marketed ASDs were similar, ranging between 4.9 and 5.4, and were similar to those of the ASDs in development (3.5-5.8). Most ASDs belong to BCS and BDDCS classes 1 and 2. MW, logP, CNS MPO score, and PSA assess lipophilicity and correlate with antiseizure activity. To succeed, a new small-molecule ASD must have MW < 375 and PSA < 140\AA(2) , belong to BCS and/or BDDCS class 1 or 2, and obey the Lipinski rule of five: logP < 5, MW < 500, and <5 and <10 of hydrogen-bond donors and acceptors, respectively. The similarity in the MW, logP, and PSA values of marketed and new drugs in development indicates a conservative trend in ASD design.
OBJECTIVES: To advance the development of (2S,3S)-sec-butylpropylacetamide (SPD) as a new treatment for acute repetitive seizures (ARS), by studying its pharmacokinetics (PK) in pigs and its PK-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) correlation in rats. METHODS: Two (2S,3S)-SPD intramuscular formulations (F(A) and F(B) ) were administered to pigs and rats and blood samples were withdrawn at different times after dosing. Major PK parameters were estimated in both species. PD analysis was conducted in rats utilizing the maximal-electroshock seizure threshold (MEST) test. Because ARS treatment requires a rapid action, the MEST test allows comparative evaluation of (2S,3S)-SPD intramuscular injection on rat susceptibility to electroconvulsive shock at various times after dosing. RESULTS: In rats, (2S,3S)-SPD plasma exposure increased proportionally following intramuscular dosing (20, 25 and 40 mg/kg) of F(A) and F(B) . Peak plasma concentration (C(max) ) was obtained at 1-2 hours after dosing and ranged between 6.8 and 9.4 mg/L. (2S,3S)-SPD plasma concentration at 10 minutes after dosing (C(10) ) ranged between 2.1 and 3.5 mg/mL, and its half-life ranged between 0.9 and 2.3 hours. The highest C(10) value, which may indicate rapid activity onset, and the highest C(max) were observed following administration of F(A) (40 mg/kg): C(10)  = 3.5 mg/L and C(max)  = 9.5 mg/L. In the MEST test, (2S,3S)-SPD (20 and 60 mg/kg) significantly raised the tonic seizure threshold compared to vehicle at 4, 7, 10, and 20 minutes after dosing, with a 1.6-fold increase at 20 minutes, which coincided with (2S,3S)-SPD brain C(max) . Following intramuscular dosing of (2S,3S)-SPD (12 mg/kg) to pigs of F(A) and F(B) , a C(max) value of 0.9 mg/L was obtained 0.42 and 0.75 hours after dosing, respectively. (2S,3S)-SPD C(10) was 0.27 mg/L (F(A) ) and 0.49 mg/L (F(B) ). (2S,3S)-SPD clearance, volume of distribution, and half-life were 2 L/h/kg, 18-28 L/kg, and 6.1-9.7 hours, respectively. SIGNIFICANCE: (2S,3S)-SPD demonstrated a good PK-PD correlation in the rat MEST test, with a rapid onset. (2S,3S)-SPD first PK study in pigs showed that doses >12 mg/kg are required to achieve in pigs the plasma concentrations associated with activity at the rat MEST test.
Dvora Izgelov, Elyad Davidson, Dinorah Barasch, Aviva Regev, Abraham J Domb, and Amnon Hoffman. 2020. “Pharmacokinetic investigation of synthetic cannabidiol oral formulations in healthy volunteers.” European journal of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics : official journal of Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Pharmazeutische Verfahrenstechnik e.V, 154, Pp. 108–115. Abstract
Recent advances in the research of medicinal cannabis has placed the non-intoxicating cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) at the front of scientific research. The reasons behind this popularity is the compound's therapeutic properties, alongside a safe profile of administration lacking addictive properties such as euphoric state of mind and a wide dosing range. Oral administration of CBD is challenging due to poor solubility in the gastro-intestinal system and susceptibility to extensive first pass metabolism. As a result, the practice in clinic and investigational trials is to administer cannabinoids in edible oils or oil-based solutions. Nonetheless, reported pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids and CBD in particular are not uniform among research groups and are affected by the vehicle of administration. The purpose of the work presented here is to investigate oral absorption processes of synthetic CBD when given in different oral formulations in healthy volunteers. The study design was a three way, blind, cross-over single administration study of 12 healthy male volunteers. CBD was administered in powder form, dissolved in sesame oil and in self-nano-emulsifying drug delivery system (SNEDDS). Administration of CBD in lipid-based vehicles resulted in a significant increase in C(max) and AUC of CBD, as compared to powder form. Overall plasma exposure of CBD did not differ between sesame oil vehicle and the SNEDDS formulation. However, administration of CBD in pure oil resulted in two absorption behaviors of early and delayed absorption among subjects, as opposed to SNEDDS platform that resulted in a uniform early absorption profile. Results of this trial demonstrate the importance of solubilization process of lipophilic drugs such as CBD and demonstrated the ability of the nano formulation to achieve a reliable, predictable PK profile of the drug. These findings offer a standardized oral formulation for the delivery of cannabinoids and contribute data for the growing field of cannabinoid pharmacokinetics.
This is a comprehensive review on the use of phospholipid nanovesicles for dermal/transdermal and nasal drug administration. Phospholipid-based vesicular carriers have been widely investigated for enhanced drug delivery via dermal/transdermal routes. Classic phospholipid vesicles, liposomes, do not penetrate the deep layers of the skin, but remain confined to the upper stratum corneum. The literature describes several approaches with the aim of altering the properties of these vesicles to improve their penetration properties. Transfersomes and ethosomes are the most investigated penetration-enhancing phospholipid nanovesicles, obtained by the incorporation of surfactant edge activators and high concentrations of ethanol, respectively. These two types of vesicles differ in terms of their structure, characteristics, mechanism of action and mode of application on the skin. Edge activators contribute to the deformability and elasticity of transfersomes, enabling them to penetrate through pores much smaller than their own size. The ethanol high concentration in ethosomes generates a soft vesicle by fluidizing the phospholipid bilayers, allowing the vesicle to penetrate deeper into the skin. Glycerosomes and transethosomes, phospholipid vesicles containing glycerol or a mixture of ethanol and edge activators, respectively, are also covered. This review discusses the effects of edge activators, ethanol and glycerol on the phospholipid vesicle, emphasizing the differences between a soft and an elastic nanovesicle, and presents their different preparation methods. To date, these differences have not been comparatively discussed. The review presents a large number of active molecules incorporated in these carriers and investigated in vitro, in vivo or in clinical human tests.
This is a comprehensive review on the use of phospholipid nanovesicles for dermal/transdermal and nasal drug administration. Phospholipid-based vesicular carriers have been widely investigated for enhanced drug delivery via dermal/transdermal routes. Classic phospholipid vesicles, liposomes, do not penetrate the deep layers of the skin, but remain confined to the upper stratum corneum. The literature describes several approaches with the aim of altering the properties of these vesicles to improve their penetration properties. Transfersomes and ethosomes are the most investigated penetration-enhancing phospholipid nanovesicles, obtained by the incorporation of surfactant edge activators and high concentrations of ethanol, respectively. These two types of vesicles differ in terms of their structure, characteristics, mechanism of action and mode of application on the skin. Edge activators contribute to the deformability and elasticity of transfersomes, enabling them to penetrate through pores much smaller than their own size. The ethanol high concentration in ethosomes generates a soft vesicle by fluidizing the phospholipid bilayers, allowing the vesicle to penetrate deeper into the skin. Glycerosomes and transethosomes, phospholipid vesicles containing glycerol or a mixture of ethanol and edge activators, respectively, are also covered. This review discusses the effects of edge activators, ethanol and glycerol on the phospholipid vesicle, emphasizing the differences between a soft and an elastic nanovesicle, and presents their different preparation methods. To date, these differences have not been comparatively discussed. The review presents a large number of active molecules incorporated in these carriers and investigated in vitro, in vivo or in clinical human tests.
Subhendu Karmakar, Hana Kostrhunova, Tereza Ctvrtlikova, Vojtech Novohradsky, Dan Gibson, and Viktor Brabec. 2020. “Platinum(IV)-Estramustine Multiaction Prodrugs Are Effective Antiproliferative Agents against Prostate Cancer Cells.” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 63, 22, Pp. 13861–13877. Abstract
Herein, we describe the synthesis, characterization, and biological properties of Pt(IV) derivatives of cisplatin with estramustine at the first axial position, which is known to disrupt the microtubule assembly and act as an androgen antagonist, and varying the second axial position using an innocent ligand (acetate or hydroxyl) to prepare dual-action and triple-action prodrugs with known inhibitors of histone deacetylase, cyclooxygenase, and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase. We demonstrate superior antiproliferative activity at submicromolar concentrations of the prodrugs against a panel of cancer cell lines, particularly against prostate cancer cell lines. The results obtained in this study exemplify the complex mode of action of "multiaction"Pt(IV) prodrugs. Interestingly, changing the second axial ligand in the Pt-estramustine complex has a significant effect on the mode of action, suggesting that all three components of the Pt(IV) prodrugs (platinum moiety and axial ligands) contribute to the killing of cells and not just one dominant component.
Shira Tabachnick-Cherny, Sivan Pinto, Dikla Berko, Caterina Curato, Yochai Wolf, Ziv Porat, Rotem Karmona, Boaz Tirosh, Steffen Jung, and Ami Navon. 2020. “Polyglutamine-Related Aggregates Can Serve as a Potent Antigen Source for Cross-Presentation by Dendritic Cells.” The Journal of Immunology, 205, 10, Pp. 2583–2594. Abstract
Protective MHC class I–dependent immune responses require an overlap between repertoires of proteins directly presented on target cells and cross-presented by professional APC, specifically dendritic cells. How stable proteins that rely on defective ribosomal proteins for direct presentation are captured for cell-to-cell transfer remains enigmatic. In this study, we address this issue using a combination of in vitro (C57BL/6-derived mouse cell lines) and in vivo (C57BL/6 mouse strains) approaches involving stable and unstable versions of OVA model Ags displaying defective ribosomal protein–dependent and –independent Ag presentation, respectively. Apoptosis, but not necrosis, of donor cells was found associated with robust global protein aggregate formation and captured stable proteins permissive for cross-presentation. Potency of aggregates to serve as Ag source was directly demonstrated using polyglutamine-equipped model substrates. Collectively, our data implicate global protein aggregation in apoptotic cells as a mechanism that ensures the overlap between MHC class I epitopes presented directly or cross-presented by APC and demonstrate the unusual ability of dendritic cells to process stable protein aggregates.
Mark Feldman, Reem Smoum, Raphael Mechoulam, and Doron Steinberg. 2020. “Potential combinations of endocannabinoid/endocannabinoid-like compounds and antibiotics against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” PloS one, 15, 4, Pp. e0231583. Abstract
Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus have reached epidemic proportions globally. Our previous study showed antimicrobial effects of anandamide (AEA) and arachidonoyl serine (AraS) against methicillin (MET)-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains, proposing the therapeutic potential of these endocannabinoid/endocannabinoid-like (EC/EC-like) agents for the treatment of MRSA. Here, we investigated the potential synergism of combinations of AEA and AraS with different types of antibiotics against MRSA grown under planktonic growth or biofilm formation. The most effective combinations under planktonic conditions were mixtures of AEA and ampicillin (AMP), and of AraS and gentamicin (GEN). The combination with the highest synergy in the biofilm formation against all tested bacterial strains was AEA and MET. Moreover, the combination of AraS and MET synergistically caused default of biofilm formation. Slime production of MRSA was also dramatically impaired by AEA or AraS combined with MET. Our data suggest the novel potential activity of combinations of EC/EC-like agents and antibiotics in the prevention of MRSA biofilm formation.
Fengxia Yan, Rifang Liao, Marta Silva, Shuai Li, Yizhou Jiang, Tangming Peng, Philip Lazarovici, and Wenhua Zheng. 2020. “Pristimerin-induced uveal melanoma cell death via inhibiting PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a signalling pathway.” Journal of cellular and molecular medicine, 24, 11, Pp. 6208–6219. Abstract
Uveal melanoma (UM) is a highly invasive intraocular malignancy with high mortality. Presently, there is no FDA-approved standard for the treatment of metastatic UM. Pristimerin is a natural quinine methide triterpenoid compound with anti-angiogenic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities. However, Pristimerin potential cytotoxic effect on UM was poorly investigated. In the present study, we found the migration and invasion of UM-1 cells were inhibited by Pristimerin which also caused a rapid increase of ROS, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, induced the accumulation of cells in G0/G1 phase, ending with apoptotic cell death. Pristimerin inhibited Akt and FoxO3a phosphorylation and induced nuclear accumulation of FoxO3a in UM-1 cells, increased the expression of pro-apoptotic proteins Bim、p27(Kip1) , cleaved caspase-3, PARP and Bax, and decreased the expression of Cyclin D1 and Bcl-2. LY294002 or Akt-siRNA inhibited the PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a pathway and promoted the Pristimerin-induced apoptosis, while Pristimerin effects were partially abolished in FoxO3a knockdown UM-1 cell cultures. Taken together, present results showed that Pristimerin induced apoptotic cell death through inhibition of PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a pathway in UM-1 cells. These findings indicate that Pristimerin may be considered as a potential chemotherapeutic agent for patients with UM.
Meir Bialer, Svein I. Johannessen, Matthias J. Koepp, René H. Levy, Emilio Perucca, Piero Perucca, Torbjörn Tomson, and H. Steve White. 2020. “Progress report on new antiepileptic drugs: A summary of the Fifteenth Eilat Conference on New Antiepileptic Drugs and Devices (EILAT XV). I. Drugs in preclinical and early clinical development.” Epilepsia, 61, 11, Pp. 2340–2364. Abstract
Since 1992, the Eilat Conferences have provided a forum for all stakeholders in the epilepsy community to appraise the latest data on new antiepileptic drugs and emergency seizure treatments, including, in recent years, updates on progress with the development of novel monitoring and therapeutic devices. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fifteenth Eilat Conference on New Antiepileptic Drugs and Devices (EILAT XV) was held as a fully virtual conference on July 27-30, 2020 for the sessions on drugs and on August 3, 2020 for the sessions on devices, and was attended during the 5 days by >500 participants from 63 countries. This progress report summarizes key preclinical and initial (phase 1) clinical data on eight investigational treatments that are currently in early development, including 2-deoxy-D-glucose, GAO-3-02, JNJ-40411813, NBI-921352, NTX-001, sec-butylpropylacetamide, XEN1101, and XEN496. This report provides an overview of current scenarios in the area of treatment discovery and development. The information presented illustrates a variety of innovative strategies, including exploration of compounds with novel mechanisms of action, transplantation of interneurons into epileptogenic brain regions, and the targeting of rare, previously neglected syndromes.
Meir Bialer, Svein I. Johannessen, Matthias J. Koepp, René H. Levy, Emilio Perucca, Piero Perucca, Torbjörn Tomson, and H. Steve White. 2020. “Progress report on new antiepileptic drugs: A summary of the Fifteenth Eilat Conference on New Antiepileptic Drugs and Devices (EILAT XV). II. Drugs in more advanced clinical development.” Epilepsia, 61, 11, Pp. 2365–2385. Abstract
The Fifteenth Eilat Conference on New Antiepileptic Drugs and Devices (EILAT XV) was held as a fully virtual conference from July 27 to July 30, 2020 for the sessions on drugs, and on August 3, 2020 for the sessions on devices. A total of 534 delegates from 63 countries attended lectures and interactive discussions, representing a broad range of disciplines from basic science, clinical research, and clinical care. This progress report provides summaries of recent findings on investigational compounds for which preclinical data as well as data from patient studies were presented. The report includes the following five compounds: anakinra, cenobamate, CVL-865, fenfluramine, and ganaxolone, all with novel modes of action compared to more established antiepileptic drugs. Some of these compounds demonstrated promising results in placebo-controlled phase 3 trials, and two have recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These include cenobamate, which was approved by the FDA on November 21, 2019 for the treatment of partial onset (focal) seizures in adults, and fenfluramine oral solution, which was approved by the FDA on June 25, 2020 for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years and older.
Constantin Itin, Dinorah Barasch, Abraham J Domb, and Amnon Hoffman. 2020. “Prolonged oral transmucosal delivery of highly lipophilic drug cannabidiol.” International journal of pharmaceutics, 581, Pp. 119276. Abstract
Delivery of drugs through oral mucosa enables bypass of the gastrointestinal tract and "first pass" metabolism in the liver and the gut. Thus, a higher and less variable bioavailability can be obtained. Mechanisms of this administration route for cannabidiol were investigated in the current research in pigs. Results show that cannabidiol has substantially low permeability rate over 8 h through oral mucosa and accumulates significantly within it. Furthermore, following the removal of the delivery device, residual prolongation of release from the oral mucosa into systemic blood circulation continues for several hours. This method of delivery enabled acquisition of clinically relevant plasma levels of cannabidiol. The absorption profile indicates that cannabidiol, as well as other lipophilic molecules, should be delivered through oral mucosa for systemic absorption from a device that conceals the drug and prevents its washout by the saliva flow and subsequent ingestion into gastrointestinal tract.
Aviram Kogot-Levin, Liad Hinden, Yael Riahi, Tal Israeli, Boaz Tirosh, Erol Cerasi, Ernesto Bernal Mizrachi, Joseph Tam, Ofri Mosenzon, and Gil Leibowitz. 2020. “Proximal Tubule mTORC1 Is a Central Player in the Pathophysiology of Diabetic Nephropathy and Its Correction by SGLT2 Inhibitors.” Cell reports, 32, 4, Pp. 107954. Abstract
Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) increases the risk for mortality and is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease. Treatment with sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) attenuates the progression of DKD, especially in patients with advanced kidney disease. Herein, we show that in diabetes, mTORC1 activity is increased in renal proximal tubule cells (RPTCs) along with enhanced tubule-interstitial fibrosis; this is prevented by SGLT2i. Constitutive activation of mTORC1 in RPTCs induces renal fibrosis and failure and abolishes the renal-protective effects of SGLT2i in diabetes. On the contrary, partial inhibition of mTORC1 in RPTCs prevents fibrosis and the decline in renal function. Stimulation of mTORC1 in RPTCs turns on a pro-fibrotic program in the renal cortex, whereas its inhibition in diabetes reverses the alterations in gene expression. We suggest that RPTC mTORC1 is a critical node that mediates kidney dysfunction in diabetes and the protective effects of SGLT2i by regulating fibrogenesis.
Eliana Steinberg, Natalie Orehov, Katerina Tischenko, Ouri Schwob, Gideon Zamir, Ayala Hubert, Zakhariya Manevitch, and Ofra Benny. 2020. “Rapid clearing for high resolution 3D imaging of ex vivo pancreatic cancer spheroids.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21, 20, Pp. 1–18. Abstract
The currently accepted imaging methods have been a central hurdle to imaging the finer details of tumor behavior in three-dimensional (3D) ex vivo multicellular culture models. In our search for an improved way of imaging tumor behavior in its physiological-like niche, we developed a simple, efficient, and straightforward procedure using standard reagents and imaging equipment that significantly enhanced 3D imaging up to a $\sim$200-micron depth. We tested its efficacy on pancreatic spheroids, prototypes of high-density tissues that are difficult to image. We found we could both save time with this method and extract information about pancreatic tumor spheroids that previously was difficult to obtain. We were able to discern clear differences in the organization of pancreatic tumor spheroids generated from different origins, suggesting cell-specific, inherent, bottom-up organization with a correlation to the level of malignancy. We also examined the dynamic changes in the spheroids at predetermined time points, providing important information related to tissue morphogenesis and its metabolic state. Lastly, this process enabled us to assess a drug vehicle's potential to penetrate dense tumor tissue by improving our view of the inert particles' diffusion in the 3D spheroid. This clearing method, a simple procedure, can open the door to more accurate imaging and reveal more about cancer behavior.
Florian Hinte, Eelco van Anken, Boaz Tirosh, and Wolfram Brune. 2020. “Repression of viral gene expression and replication by the unfolded protein response effector XBP1u.” eLife, 9. Abstract
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a cellular homeostatic circuit regulating protein synthesis and processing in the ER by three ER-to-nucleus signaling pathways. One pathway is triggered by the inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), which splices the X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1) mRNA, thereby enabling expression of XBP1s. Another UPR pathway activates the activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). Here we show that murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV), a prototypic $\beta$-herpesvirus, harnesses the UPR to regulate its own life cycle. MCMV activates the IRE1-XBP1 pathway early post infection to relieve repression by XBP1u, the product of the unspliced Xbp1 mRNA. XBP1u inhibits viral gene expression and replication by blocking the activation of the viral major immediate-early promoter by XBP1s and ATF6. These findings reveal a redundant function of XBP1s and ATF6 as activators of the viral life cycle, and an unexpected role of XBP1u as a potent repressor of both XBP1s and ATF6-mediated activation.