Strategic Goal: Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

The Use of Therapeutic Apheresis to Reduce Circulating Levels of Galectin-3 and other Cancer and Inflammation Promoting Factors

Inflammation plays roles in cancer initiation, promotion, and progression. Elevated circulating galectin-3 (Gal-3) protein and other cancer and inflammation promoting factors (CIPFs) such as C-reactive protein and VEGF are associated with tumorigenesis and may play causative roles. Plasma Gal-3 is a biomarker, prognosticator, and pathogenic mediator of diverse cancers and is emerging as a therapeutic target. Preliminary ...more »

Submitted by (@elaine)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Apheresis therapy in a clinical setting, both alone and in combination with conventional protocols, shows great potential to enhance treatment regimens, reduce dosage and side effects, improve drug deliver to target tissues, reduce long term treatment related morbidity and improve outcomes with significant benefits for patients with a broad range of cancer types and stages.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

The need for well designed, randomized clinical trials would be readily feasible with the appropriate IND. Grant support will be needed for further development of this concept, as well as to develop columns with more optimized and specific capabilities, in addition to clinical trials demonstrating efficacy.

 

Apheresis is highly underutilized and underfunded in the US, while Apheresis research and development is much more advanced and widely utilized in Europe and Asia.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Isaac Eliaz, MD

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Maximizing anti-tumor immunity following allogeneic HCT with biomarkers

Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) is one of the most effective forms of tumor immunotherapy available to date. Allo-HCT can be life-saving for patients with aggressive malignancies that cannot be cured through other strategies. The immunotherapeutic efficacy of allo-HCT depends on donor T cell recognition of alloantigens on leukemic cells, which is known as the graft-versus-tumor effect (GVT). No ...more »

Submitted by (@sophpacz)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Allo-HCT represents the only curative therapy for a number of malignant disorders but often results in serious complications, including GVHD. Because GVHD is such a potentially devastating post-transplant complication and because we want to be able to separate GVHD from the GVT effect, it is crucial to try to determine a specific biological pattern link to the favorable GVT effect. The focus of this critical challenge will be to develop a novel, non-invasive GVT signature in patients undergoing HCT. If successful, this will have a major impact, because a GVT-specific proteomic signature may facilitate the clinical therapeutic decision of rapid taper of immunosuppression or increased immunotherapies. The ability to identify patients who will not develop GVT early post-transplant has important therapeutic consequences, including preventative care with donor-lymphocyte infusion (DLI) or tumor-specific vaccines or T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Equally important is the identification of patients who will develop GVT without GVHD, potentially enabling more rapid tapering of immunosuppressive regimens and thereby promoting even more the GVT reaction as well as reducing long-term toxicity in these patients. With this diagnostic tool, the HCT community may plan to develop preemptive therapeutic trials. In addition, the biomarkers may represent potential GVT-specific therapeutic targets to maximize GVT and/or immunotherapies.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Using proteomics, several GVHD biomarkers were recently identified and validated. For example, high suppression of tumorigenicity 2 (ST2) plasma concentrations were significantly associated with the incidence of GVHD and transplant-related mortality in recipients of unmanipulated graft and cord blood transplants. Consequently, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trial network is currently pursuing therapeutic interventions for newly diagnosed GVHD patients based on GVHD biomarkers risk-stratification. Thus, discovering and validating biomarkers post-HCT is feasible. However, the challenges with GVT-specific biomarkers are three-fold: 1) the absence of phenotype, as the only way to define clinical GVT without GVHD, is the absence of relapse and no GVHD post-HCT; 2) the paucity of samples to study GVT, ideally samples following DLI or nonmyeloablative conditioning preparative regimens that permit stable engraftment of donor hematopoietic cells but have little or no direct tumoricidal activity should be available; and 3) the relative lack of knowledge of the biology of GVT. These represent important challenges to solve. In sum, the recent successes of cancer immunotherapies, particularly for the treatment of hematological malignancies, have stimulated interest in the potential widespread application of these approaches, and biomarkers to predict and monitor the responses are required.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Sophie Paczesny

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Gene therapy in HLBS disorders

How can we utilize gene therapy to cure or ameliorate HLBS disorders?

Submitted by (@barbarak)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Long term benefit for disorders

Challenge in application to diverse disorders

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Technology exists for many disorders.

Balance between risk for long term benefit vs. current therapy

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Expediting Gene and Cell Therapies to the Clinics

What methodologies will best enhance the translation of technologies for gene and cell therapies into potential products for clinical application and commercial development? In considering a strategy for NHLBI investment in gene therapy, it is important to note that we are only at the beginning of a revolution that will eventually impact biomedical research across a broad range of specialties. NHLBI/NIH needs to create ...more »

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Technological advances in vector discovery over the last decade have set the stage for a wave of potential clinical successes in diseases relevant to NHLBI. These advances include the use of lentiviral vectors for bone marrow directed gene therapy with thalassemia emerging as an attractive target and with compelling clinical data with novel AAV serotypes in the treatment of hemophilia B, and possibly hemophilia A in the future.

 

Furthermore, an important milestone was achieved in November 2012 with the approval of the AAV-based product Glybera by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of a rare form of hypertriglyceridemia. This first and only commercially approved gene therapy product demonstrated regulatory receptivity for gene therapy which fueled a long overdue investment by the biopharmaceutical industry in gene therapy.

Finally, gene editing technologies such as CRISPR (clustered, regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats) are most suited for ex vivo approaches of gene therapy such as those based on engineered bone marrow stems cells for diseases like sickle cell anemia. These types of approaches could substantially reduce the risk of insertional mutagenesis that plagues lentiviral vectors and could improve expression profiles of the corrected cells by utilizing endogenous regulatory sequences.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

It is increasingly being recognized that establishing standardized assays for evaluating product potency and purity such as “pharmacologic” regulation will be critical for the success of gene therapy. NHLBI/NIH can also play a significant role in the development of second generation gene therapy technologies with enhanced safety and efficacy.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Direct Upregulation of Antioxidant Defenses as a Therapeutic Strategy

Clinical trials involving administration of antioxidants such as vitamin C or vitamin E as therapeutic strategies for cardiovascular diseases associated with oxidant stress have proven to be surprisingly disappointing. A particularly attractive alternative approach is direct upregulation of endogenous antioxidant defenses such as NRF2 via dietary approaches. NRF2 is a master antioxidant and cell protective transcription ...more »

Submitted by (@jlombard)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Direct upregulation of endogenous antioxidant defenses such as NRF2 via dietary approaches will avoid the well known caveats of drug-based approaches such as off target effects and detrimental side effects. Dietary supplements such as Protandim are already available; and beneficial effects of other NRF2 up-regulators such as resveratrol and sulforaphane are beginning to be recognized. The dietary approach is minimally invasive and has high preventative value.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Addressing this CQ is clearly feasible, as dietary supplements are currently available for humans, and the beneficial effects of foods containing compounds that upregulate the NRF2 system, e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, red wine, and grape juice are currently recognized. One challenge in addressing this question in animal models to date is that the only genetic model lacking NRF2 is a knockout mouse model, which have substantial limitations for in vivo physiological studies due to their small size. However, a recent R21 grant (#1R21OD018309-J. H. Lombard, P.I.) has allowed the development of a NRF2 knockout rat model which is better suited for physiological studies than the mouse model. In addition, the techniques used to develop the NRF2 knockout rat can be applied to multiple disease-sensitized strains, e.g., the Dahl salt-sensitive rat. Fawn Hooded Hypertensive rat, Obese Zucker rat, etc. Similar disease sensitized rodent genetic strains are not available in mice.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Julian H. Lombard

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Strategic Goal: Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

How do Cell Therapies Really Work?

Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the beneficial effects of cell therapy are mostly indirect, but what are the key factors responsible for these indirect benefits?

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator1)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Could restore lost or diminished organ function

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Extensive research infrastructure already exists and durability and quality of beneficial effects has continued to increase over time, although incrementally. Field is poised for a breakthrough with the right spark funding.

Cell-based therapies, demonstrated with a wide range of cell types, have shown glimmers of promise in HLB applications, such as improved functional recovery, reduced scar formation, and beneficial effects up to 6 months. However, transplanted cells have poor retention, minimal long-term survival, and the mechanism-of-action is unclear.

 

 

 

The challenge is to stimulate new hypotheses on the mechanism-of-action in order to achieve long-term benefits, and then to support definitive confirmatory studies. Funding already exists, but the main spark might come from encouraging other disciplines to get involved.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Develop Targeted Therapeutics to Treat Venous Thrombosis and Inflammation in Venous Thromboembolism

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) afflicts nearly a million Americans yearly, has a mortality of 6-12% and has costs of more than $15 billion. Current treatment regimens, systemic anticoagulation and compression stockings, fail patients in multiple ways: risk of major bleeding episodes; failure of clot resolution in up to 50% of patients; failure to prevent the development of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) in up to 40% of ...more »

Submitted by (@chanduvem)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is a common disease with established treatment regimens that have been repeatedly proven to fail patients. The disease process affects a million Americans, and projections are that this will increase to 1.82 million by 2050. VTE affects a wide range of the U.S. population including young pregnant women, cancer patients ,hospitalized patients and the ever expanding elderly sector. Despite recent advances the incidence of the disease is unchanged and treatment failures include failure to resolve clot, failure to prevent long-term recurrence and failure to treat vein wall inflammation which results in the development of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) in up to 40% of patients. There are significant complications from the approved systemic treatment regimens including bleeding from anticoagulation therapy and potentially fatal complications from inferior vena cava filters. In cases of severe chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a common sequela of VTE, quality of life survey results mirror those of chronic lung disease, coronary disease and debilitating arthritis. The cost of VTE is nearly $15.5 billion in the U.S. alone. PTS significantly affects patients and up to 42% of patients lose workdays with a cost per patient of $11,667 and a cost to the overall system of $16 billion. Addressing this critical challenge will help to decrease mortality and morbidity in a large, active sector of the U.S. population and save the healthcare system billions.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

This critical challenge comes at an opportune time as multiple platforms for targeted therapies have been tested, proven to be efficacious and nearing approval for use in patients. Basic science research in venous thrombosis has advanced significantly with well established in-vitro and in-vivo models. Furthermore, significant work has been done to reveal multiple targets for clot resolution and for the treatment of vein wall inflammation. Thus the critical information is known and therapeutics available to make addressing this challenge highly feasible.

There will be challenges to addressing this clinical need. The first challenge may be developing and/or identifying the most relevant animal model. There are multiple established animal models and these may need to be modified to provide the best simulation of the clinical situation being addressed. Secondly, there are multiple delivery platforms that would be suitable to this project including nanomedicine based therapies. These would have to be optimized and tested in this research realm and then would need FDA approval . Lastly, following pre-clinical studies it will take large scale clinical studies to prove the efficacy and then require re-education to adopt this approach in the treatment of patients with thrombosis. Fortunately understanding and addressing these challenges will ultimately result in an improved therapy for patients with venous thromboembolism.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Chandu Vemuri

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

The Designation of Human Cardiac Stem Cell therapy Products for Human Trials or First-in-Human Studies

For successful pharmaceutical development of cardiac stem cell therapy, the human cardiac stem cell therapy product must meet certain commercial criteria in plasticity, specificity, and stability before entry into clinical trials.

Submitted by (@xuejunparsons)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

For successful pharmaceutical development of cardiac stem cell therapy, the human cardiac stem cell therapy product must meet certain commercial criteria in plasticity, specificity, and stability before entry into clinical trials. Moving stem cell research from current studies in animals into human trials must address such practical issues for commercial and therapeutic uses: 1) such human stem cells or their cardiac derivatives must be able to be manufactured in a commercial scale; 2) such human stem cells and their cardiac derivatives must be able to retain their normality or stability for a long term; and 3) such human stem cells must be able to differentiate or generate a sufficient number of functional or contractile cardiomyocytes for repair. Those practical issues are essential for designating any human cardiac stem cells as a human cardiac stem cell therapy product for investigational new drug (IND)-filing and entry into clinical trials. So far, the therapeutic effects, if any, of human cardiac stem cells in the existing market, including those derived from patients’ heart tissues, were mediated by protective or tropic mechanism to rescue dying host cardiomyocytes, but not related to myocardium regeneration.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Opportunity: Recent breakthrough stem cell technologies have demonstrated the direct pharmacologic utility and capacity of pluripotent human embryonic stem cell (hESC) therapy derivatives for human CNS and myocardium regeneration and, thus, have presented the hESC cell therapy derivatives as a powerful pharmacologic agent of cellular entity for a wide range of CNS and heart diseases. The hESC cardiomyocyte cell therapy derivatives by novel small molecule induction provide a large scale of high quality human cardiomyocyte source for myocardium regeneration and, thus, meet the designation of human stem cell therapy products in plasticity, specificity, and stability for commercial development and human trials or first-in-human studies in cardiovascular diseases.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Xuejun Parsons

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Next generation of cellular blood products for clinical use

What advancements in our understanding of hematopoietic stem cell differentiation can be combined with practical developments in novel processing and storage technologies to develop the next generation of transfused blood therapeutics? There is a dearth of tools to evaluate the efficacy of transfused blood products, although this is the most commonly employed therapeutic procedure in the US. There is also no financial ...more »

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

The management of blood transfusions in the clinical setting is undergoing drastic changes in the US with the realization that “more” is not better and that transfusion of red blood cells while life-saving in hemorrhagic settings may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality in more stable patients. Questions have also been raised as to the benefit of prophylactic (most transfusions) versus therapeutic platelet transfusions. Additionally, while red blood cells are being transfused to bring oxygen to tissues in need, and platelets are transfused to prevent/reduce further bleeding, their effectiveness in doing so is not known since often not measurable- hemoglobin levels or platelet corrected count increments are non-sensitive and inadequate effectiveness surrogates. Personalized blood cellular products derived from hematopoietic precursors or resulting from the implementation of novel processing and storage technologies could result in next generation cellular therapeutics that could potentially be used in smaller quantities; deliver specific therapeutics where needed; be effective (e.g., oxygenate hypoxemic tissues); be pathogen-free, less immunogenic, and free of potentially harmful plasticizers; and be available especially in times of emergencies.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Progress has been made in the last decade in producing blood products from stem cells, including gene-engineered cells. It is now possible to produce red blood cells and platelets from stem cells although the efficiency is low and the safety and efficacy of such products need assessment. New processing (e.g., pathogen-reduction) and storage (e.g. cold storage for platelets, new storage plastic bags) technologies are being considered although progress has been hampered by a lack of financial incentives and regulatory hurdles.

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Develop an Effective and Functional Biological Pacemaker

There is a need to develop a biological pacemaker for pediatric patients that would react to neurohumoral factors that normally modulate heart function, as well as adapt to the growing heart.

Submitted by (@nhlbiforumadministrator)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Reduce risks associated with the increasing use implantable pacemakers. Increase reliability of artificial electrical pacemakers.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Animal studies have already demonstrated feasibility of cell- and gene-based as well as hybrid approaches.

The introduction of implantable medical devices using electrical impulses through electrodes placed in the heart to regulate its beating in patients whose native cardiac pacemakers fail— i.e., implantable electronic pacemakers— have permitted hundreds of thousands of individuals to live extended, relatively normal lives. Many advances since the introduction of implantable pacemakers into medical practice during the latter half of the 20th century have improved reliability, but their use still carries significant risks; e.g., lead fracture, infection, malfunction, and the need for replacement.

To date experimental cell therapy, gene therapy, and hybrid approaches have been used to create biological pacemakers in animal models. These incorporate the use of human embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells or overexpression of the transcription factor, TBX18, to produce functional biological pacemakers in large animal models. Other gene therapy approaches have also been used to generate functional biological pacemakers in animals. These include overexpression of ion channels impacting diastolic membrane depolarization and excitability in non-pace making regions of large animal hearts. Beta-2 receptor or adenylyl cyclase overexpression represent other strategies that have been employed. Finally, a hybrid approach has used human mesenchymal stem cells loaded with the pacemaker gene HCN2is to induce pacemaker activity in large animals. Thus multiple approaches exist and collaboration is needed between investigative groups to overcome the challenge of creating and testing an effective and reliable biological pacemaker in humans.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : NHLBI Staff

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Strategic Goal: Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Cellular therapy of Blood Diseases

Can modification of either autologous or allogeneic immune cells allow effective treatment of blood diseases and infection with acceptable rates of toxicity?

Submitted by (@marymh)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Although targeted therapy is generally applied to the use of small molecules that target specific genes or proteins of diseased cells, it is now possible to target immune cells against specific diseases through genetic modification. This provides desired antigen-specificity to powerful cell-mediated cytotoxicity effects. Small studies show impressive results both in blood cancers and viral infections refractory to other therapies. Toxicity and efficacy vary with the diseases being treated and the cell products used. In addition, new approaches to genetically-modify blood stem cells are being evaluated to prevent viral infection, i.e. HIV, or correct hematopoietic stem cell derivatives, and these approaches could cure diseases for which good treatments are not currently available.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Both preclinical and clinical studies are needed to identify optimal cell types and gene constructs, use of “universal” donors, and magnitude and durability of clinical effects. Effective infrastructure to provide the right cells at the right time is necessary to test clinical efficacy.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Mary Horowitz

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Strategic Goal: Goal 3: Advance Translational Research

Deriving Cardiac Elements from Pluripotent Human embryonic Stem Cells for Heart Reconstitution

to date, the existing markets lack a clinically-suitable human cardiomyocyte source with adequate myocardium regenerative potential, which has been the major setback in developing safe and effective cell-based therapies for regenerating the damaged human heart in cardiovascular disease.

Submitted by (@xuejunparsons)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

Given the limited capacity of the heart for self-repair or renewal, cell-based therapy represents a promising therapeutic approach closest to provide a cure to restore normal heart tissue and function for CVD. There is no evidence that adult stem/precursor/progenitor cells derived from mature tissues, such as bone marrow, cord blood, umbilical cord, mesenchymal stem cells, patients’ heart tissue, placenta, or fat tissue, are able to give rise to the contractile heart muscle cells following transplantation into the heart. Despite numerous reports about cell populations expressing stem/precursor/progenitor cell markers identified in the adult hearts, the minuscule quantities and growing evidences indicating that they are not genuine heart cells and that they give rise predominantly to non-functional smooth muscle cells rather than functional contractile cardiomyocytes have caused skepticism if they can potentially be harnessed for cardiac repair. In recent years, reprogrammed or trans-differentiated adult cells, as a result of being backed by excess sum of government and private funding, have been rekindled as the adult alternates. However, major drawbacks such as abnormal gene expression, accelerated aging, immune rejection, not graftable, and extremely low efficiencies, have severely impaired the utility of reprogrammed or trans-differentiated somatic cells as viable therapeutic approaches.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Opportunity: Derivation of pluripotent human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) from the IVF leftover embryos has brought a new era of cellular medicine for the heart. The intrinsic ability of a hESC for both unlimited self-renewal and differentiation into clinically-relevant lineages makes it a practically inexhaustible source of replacement cells for human tissue and function restoration. Therefore, it has been regarded as an ideal source to provide a large supply of functional human cells to heal the damaged or lost tissues that have naturally limited capacity for renewal, such as the human heart and the human brain. Although a vast sum of NHLBI funding has been spent on looking for adult alternates, such as reprogramming and trans-differentiation of fibroblasts or mature tissues, so far, only human cardiac stem/precursor/progenitor cells derived from embryo-originated hESCs have shown such cellular pharmacologic utility and capacity adequate for myocardium regeneration in pharmaceutical development of stem cell therapy for the damaged human heart.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Xuejun Parsons

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