• Embryonic environmental niche reprograms somatic cells to express pluripotency markers and participate in adult chimaeras

      Żyżyńska-Galeńska, K.; Bernat, A.; Piliszek, A.; Karasiewicz, J.; Szablisty, E.; Sacharczuk, M.; Brewińska-Olchowik, M.; Bochenek, M.; Grabarek, Joanna; Modliński, J. A.; et al. (2021)
      The phenomenon of the reprogramming of terminally differentiated cells can be achieved by various means, like somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell fusion with a pluripotent cell, or the introduction of pluripotency genes. Here, we present the evidence that somatic cells can attain the expression of pluripotency markers after their introduction into early embryos. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts introduced between blastomeres of cleaving embryos, within two days of in vitro culture, express transcription factors specific to blastocyst lineages, including pluripotency factors. Analysis of donor tissue marker DNA has revealed that the progeny of introduced cells are found in somatic tissues of foetuses and adult chimaeras, providing evidence for cell reprogramming. Analysis of ploidy has shown that in the chimaeras, the progeny of introduced cells are either diploid or tetraploid, the latter indicating cell fusion. The presence of donor DNA in diploid cells from chimaeric embryos proved that the non-fused progeny of introduced fibroblasts persisted in chimaeras, which is evidence of reprogramming by embryonic niche. When adult somatic (cumulus) cells were introduced into early cleavage embryos, the extent of integration was limited and only cell fusion-mediated reprogramming was observed. These results show that both cell fusion and cell interactions with the embryonic niche reprogrammed somatic cells towards pluripotency.
    • Adolescents and young adults living with an uncertain or poor cancer prognosis: the 'new' lost tribe

      Burgers, V. W. G.; van der Graaf, W. T. A.; van der Meer, D. J.; McCabe, Martin G; Rijneveld, A. W.; van den Bent, M. J.; Husson, O.; Department of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute. Department of Medical Oncology, Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Amsterdam (2021)
      Historically, adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with cancer, diagnosed for the first time at age 15 through 39 years, have often been identified as a "lost tribe" without a medical "home"; neither pediatric nor adult oncology services were able to provide age-appropriate care to this specific group. Internationally, AYA care programs are being established to bridge the gap between the age-defined healthcare worlds and to address the specific needs of AYAs with cancer. However, AYA care programs mostly focus on improving cure rates and addressing survivorship issues, and direct less attention to the unique needs of those living with an uncertain and/or poor cancer prognosis. Additionally, palliative care services are typically poorly equipped to address the age-specific needs of this group. Given that increasingly more AYAs with an uncertain and/or poor cancer prognosis are gaining life years because of novel treatments, and sometimes even face the prospect of long-term disease control, AYA care programs should address the unique palliative care needs of this "new" lost tribe within AYA oncology. This report provides a definition and description of the AYA population living with an uncertain and/or poor cancer prognosis in terms of epidemiologic, clinical, and psychosocial characteristics and challenges, and provides perspectives for future research and care initiatives. It also highlights the need to comprehensively examine the experience of AYAs who are living with uncertain and/or poor cancer prognosis to adjust best care practices for this unique group
    • Distribution and clinical role of KIT gene mutations in melanoma according to subtype: a study of 492 Spanish patients

      Millán-Esteban, D.; García-Casado, Z.; Manrique-Silva, E.; Virós, Amaya; Kumar, R.; Furney, S.; López-Guerrero, J. A.; Requena, C.; Bañuls, J.; Traves, V.; et al. (2021)
      Background: KIT mutations are primarily associated with acral and mucosal melanoma, and have been reported to show higher prevalence in chronic sun-damaged (CSD) than non-CSD melanomas. Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of KIT mutations in melanoma according to subtype, and determine the clinical role of such mutations. Material & methods: We present results from a study of a Spanish population of 492 melanomas, classified according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. We analysed the mutational status of KIT and correlated with different clinical variables related to sun exposure and family history. Results: KIT mutations were significantly more frequent in acral (3/36; 8.3%) and mucosal (4/8; 50%) melanomas than non-acral cutaneous melanomas. No significant difference was observed in KIT mutational status between CSD and non-CSD melanomas. Conclusion: Our results suggest that KIT mutations in melanoma tumours are unrelated to the development of nevi or chronic sun damage, but their presence is associated with aggressive melanomas which show ulceration, vascular invasiveness, and increased Breslow thickness. These findings are consistent with those reported by The Cancer Genome Atlas network.
    • CUL2(LRR1) , TRAIP and p97 control CMG helicase disassembly in the mammalian cell cycle

      Villa, F.; Fujisawa, R.; Ainsworth, J.; Nishimura, K.; Lie-A-Ling, Michael; Lacaud, Georges; Labib, K. P.; The MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee (2021)
      The eukaryotic replisome is disassembled in each cell cycle, dependent upon ubiquitylation of the CMG helicase. Studies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans and Xenopus laevis have revealed surprising evolutionary diversity in the ubiquitin ligases that control CMG ubiquitylation, but regulated disassembly of the mammalian replisome has yet to be explored. Here, we describe a model system for studying the ubiquitylation and chromatin extraction of the mammalian CMG replisome, based on mouse embryonic stem cells. We show that the ubiquitin ligase CUL2LRR1 is required for ubiquitylation of the CMG-MCM7 subunit during S-phase, leading to disassembly by the p97 ATPase. Moreover, a second pathway of CMG disassembly is activated during mitosis, dependent upon the TRAIP ubiquitin ligase that is mutated in primordial dwarfism and mis-regulated in various cancers. These findings indicate that replisome disassembly in diverse metazoa is regulated by a conserved pair of ubiquitin ligases, distinct from those present in other eukaryotes.
    • Contributions of embryonic hsc-independent hematopoiesis to organogenesis and the adult hematopoietic system

      Neo, W H; Lie-A-Ling, Michael; Fadlullah, Muhammad Z H; Lacaud, Georges; Stem Cell Biology Group, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, The University of Manchester, Macclesfield (2021)
      During ontogeny, the establishment of the hematopoietic system takes place in several phases, separated both in time and location. The process is initiated extra-embryonically in the yolk sac (YS) and concludes in the main arteries of the embryo with the formation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Initially, it was thought that HSC-independent hematopoietic YS cells were transient, and only required to bridge the gap to HSC activity. However, in recent years it has become clear that these cells also contribute to embryonic organogenesis, including the emergence of HSCs. Furthermore, some of these early HSC-independent YS cells persist into adulthood as distinct hematopoietic populations. These previously unrecognized abilities of embryonic HSC-independent hematopoietic cells constitute a new field of interest. Here, we aim to provide a succinct overview of the current knowledge regarding the contribution of YS-derived hematopoietic cells to the development of the embryo and the adult hematopoietic system.
    • Metabolomic biomarkers for the detection of obesity-driven endometrial cancer

      Njoku, K.; Campbell, A. E.; Geary, B.; MacKintosh, M. L.; Derbyshire, A. E.; Kitson, S. J.; Sivalingam, V. N.; Pierce, Andrew; Whetton, Anthony D; Crosbie, E. J.; et al. (2021)
      Endometrial cancer is the most common malignancy of the female genital tract and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in women. Early detection is key to ensuring good outcomes but a lack of minimally invasive screening tools is a significant barrier. Most endometrial cancers are obesity-driven and develop in the context of severe metabolomic dysfunction. Blood-derived metabolites may therefore provide clinically relevant biomarkers for endometrial cancer detection. In this study, we analysed plasma samples of women with body mass index (BMI) ≥30kg/m2 and endometrioid endometrial cancer (cases, n = 67) or histologically normal endometrium (controls, n = 69), using a mass spectrometry-based metabolomics approach. Eighty percent of the samples were randomly selected to serve as a training set and the remaining 20% were used to qualify test performance. Robust predictive models (AUC > 0.9) for endometrial cancer detection based on artificial intelligence algorithms were developed and validated. Phospholipids were of significance as biomarkers of endometrial cancer, with sphingolipids (sphingomyelins) discriminatory in post-menopausal women. An algorithm combining the top ten performing metabolites showed 92.6% prediction accuracy (AUC of 0.95) for endometrial cancer detection. These results suggest that a simple blood test could enable the early detection of endometrial cancer and provide the basis for a minimally invasive screening tool for women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2.
    • The EurOPDX Research Infrastructure: Supporting European and worldwide cancer research with patient-derived xenografts

      Vinolo, E.; Arribas, J.; Bertotti, A.; Bruna, A.; Byrne, A. T.; Clarke, Robert B; Conte, N.; de Jong, S.; Decaudin, D.; Dudova, Z.; et al. (2020)
      Counteracting high failure rates in oncology drug development and improving therapeutic management of cancer patients requires preclinical models that can account for the complexity and heterogeneity of human tumors. Patient-derived cancer xenografts (PDXs) maintain histopathological features and genetic profiles of the original patient tumors and are increasingly recognized as reliable models to predict treatment efficacy and discover sensitivity and resistance biomarkers with immediate clinical relevance.Launched in 2013, the EurOPDX Consortium now gathers 18 academic research institutions throughout Europe and in the US (www.europdx.eu). The goal of the Consortium is to maximize exploitation of PDXs and other patient-derived models for cancer research by: (i) integrating institutional collections into a multicentre repository; (ii) defining common standards to improve the quality and reproducibility of oncology preclinical data; (iii) sharing models within and outside the consortium to perform collaborative precision oncology “xenopatient” trials. Building on its first successes, EurOPDX is now teaming up with other key academic and SME partners in a four-year project to build the “EurOPDX Distributed Infrastructure for Research on patient-derived Xenografts" (EDIReX project, Horizon 2020 grant no. 731105).This new cutting-edge European infrastructure offers access to PDX resources for academic and industrial cancer researchers through 6 state-of-the-art installations or “nodes”. We will present the specific objectives of the project, including our work towards standardization and optimization of biobanking, quality control and data tracking, and the performance of in vivo drug efficacy experiments. Access to the resource, including the distribution of cryopreserved samples from established models, the structured biobanking of user-developed models and the performance of drug efficacy studies, is offered through a grant application system which last deadline is planned mid-June 2020. Selection of the models by users and browsing of PDXs annotation data is made possible thanks to the newly-developed EurOPDX Data Portal (dataportal.europdx.eu), which will display approximately 1,000 models by April 2020 (including 700+ models of colorectal cancer, 80+ gastric and 80+ breast cancer models).We aim to improve preclinical and translational cancer research and promote innovation in oncology by integrating a European PDX repository and facilitating access to this much-needed resource for European and worldwide researchers.
    • Mitochondrial inhibitor atovaquone increases tumor oxygenation and inhibits hypoxic gene expression in patients with non-small cell lung cancer

      Skwarski, M.; McGowan, D. R.; Belcher, E.; Di Chiara, F.; Stavroulias, D.; McCole, M. G.; Derham, J.; Chu, K. Y.; Teoh, E.; Chauhan, J.; et al. (2021)
      Purpose: Tumor hypoxia fuels an aggressive tumor phenotype and confers resistance to anticancer treatments. We conducted a clinical trial to determine whether the antimalarial drug atovaquone, a known mitochondrial inhibitor, reduces hypoxia in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients and methods: Patients with NSCLC scheduled for surgery were recruited sequentially into two cohorts: cohort 1 received oral atovaquone at the standard clinical dose of 750 mg twice daily, while cohort 2 did not. Primary imaging endpoint was change in tumor hypoxic volume (HV) measured by hypoxia PET-CT. Intercohort comparison of hypoxia gene expression signatures using RNA sequencing from resected tumors was perf0rmed. Results: Thirty patients were evaluable for hypoxia PET-CT analysis, 15 per cohort. Median treatment duration was 12 days. Eleven (73.3%) atovaquone-treated patients had meaningful HV reduction, with median change -28% [95% confidence interval (CI), -58.2 to -4.4]. In contrast, median change in untreated patients was +15.5% (95% CI, -6.5 to 35.5). Linear regression estimated the expected mean HV was 55% (95% CI, 24%-74%) lower in cohort 1 compared with cohort 2 (P = 0.004), adjusting for cohort, tumor volume, and baseline HV. A key pharmacodynamics endpoint was reduction in hypoxia-regulated genes, which were significantly downregulated in atovaquone-treated tumors. Data from multiple additional measures of tumor hypoxia and perfusion are presented. No atovaquone-related adverse events were reported. Conclusions: This is the first clinical evidence that targeting tumor mitochondrial metabolism can reduce hypoxia and produce relevant antitumor effects at the mRNA level. Repurposing atovaquone for this purpose may improve treatment outcomes for NSCLC.
    • Generalizability of potential biomarkers of response to CTLA-4 and PD-1 blockade therapy in cancer

      Bortone, D.; Vensko, S.; Entwistle, S.; Cogdill, A.; Monette, A.; Najjar, Y.; Sweis, R.; Tschernia, N.; Wennerberg, E.; Bommareddy, P.; et al. (2020)
      Background Multiple genomics-based biomarkers of response to immune checkpoint inhibition have been reported or proposed, including tumor mutation/neoantigen frequency, PD-L1 expression, T cell receptor repertoire clonality, interferon gene signature expression, HLA expression, and others.1 Although genomics associations of response have been reported, the primary studies have used a variety of data generation and processing techniques. There is a need for data harmonization and assessment of generalizability of potential biomarkers across multiple datasets. Methods We acquired patient-level RNA sequencing FASTQ data files from 10 data sets reported in seven pan-cancer PD-1 and CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibition trials with matched clinical annotations.2–7 We applied a common bioinformatics workflow for quality control, mapping to reference (STAR), generating gene expression matrices (SALMON), T cell receptor repertoire inference (MiXCR), extraction of immune gene signatures and immune subtypes,8 and differential gene expression analysis (DESeq2). We analyzed i) immunogenomics features proposed as biomarkers, and ii) gene expression signatures built from each trial for association with overall survival across the set of trials using univariable Cox proportional hazards regression. In all, we assessed 9 total immunogenomics features/signatures. P-values were adjusted for multiple testing using the Benjamini-Hochberg method. Results Of the 9 immunogenomics features assessed, cytolytic activity score and expression of the Follicular Dendritic Cell Secreted Protein gene (FDCSP) were associated with survival in two of seven studies, respectively (adjusted p < 0.05) (figure 1). No proposed biomarkers were significantly associated with survival in more than two studies. The sets of genes significantly associated with clinical benefit across the studies were highly disjoint, with only three genes significant in three studies and thirteen genes significant in two studies (figure 2). No genes were significantly associated with clinical benefit in more than three of seven studies
    • Thrombotic microangiopathy in untreated myeloma patients receiving carfilzomib, cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone on the CARDAMON study

      Camilleri, M.; Cuadrado, M.; Phillips, Elizabeth H; Wilson, W.; Jenner, R.; Pang, G.; Kamora, S.; Streetly, M.; Popat, R.; Bygrave, C.; et al. (2021)
      Proteasome inhibitors have been associated with thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) - a group of disorders characterised by occlusive microvascular thrombosis causing microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia and end-organ damage. To date, carfilzomib-associated TMA has predominantly been described in relapsed/refractory myeloma patients. We report eight patients with newly diagnosed myeloma who experienced TMA events while receiving carfilzomib on the phase II CARDAMON trial. The first three occurred during maintenance single-agent carfilzomib, two occurred at induction with carfilzomib given with cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone (KCd) and three occurred during KCd consolidation. At TMA presentation 6/8 were hypertensive; 7/8 had acute kidney injury and in three, renal impairment persisted after resolution of TMA in other respects. The mechanism of carfilzomib-associated TMA remains unclear, though patients with known hypertension seem particularly susceptible. Given the first three cases occurred during maintenance after a longer than five-week treatment break, a protocol amendment was instituted with: aggressive hypertension management, carfilzomib step-up dosing (20 mg/m2 on day 1) at start of maintenance before dose escalation to 56 mg/m2 maximum, and adding 10 mg dexamethasone as premedication to maintenance carfilzomib infusions. No further TMA events occurred during maintenance following this amendment and the TMA incidence reduced from 4·2 to 1·6 per 1 000 patient cycles.
    • Ubiquitin-like proteins in the DNA damage response: the next generation

      Da Costa, Isabelle C; Schmidt, Christine K; Manchester Cancer Research Centre, Division of Cancer Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, 555 Wilmslow Road, Manchester (2020)
      DNA suffers constant insult from a variety of endogenous and exogenous sources. To deal with the arising lesions, cells have evolved complex and coordinated pathways, collectively termed the DNA damage response (DDR). Importantly, an improper DDR can lead to genome instability, premature ageing and human diseases, including cancer as well as neurodegenerative disorders. As a crucial process for cell survival, regulation of the DDR is multi-layered and includes several post-translational modifications. Since the discovery of ubiquitin in 1975 and the ubiquitylation cascade in the early 1980s, a number of ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) have been identified as post-translational modifiers. However, while the importance of ubiquitin and the UBLs SUMO and NEDD8 in DNA damage repair and signalling is well established, the roles of the remaining UBLs in the DDR are only starting to be uncovered. Herein, we revise the current status of the UBLs ISG15, UBL5, FAT10 and UFM1 as emerging co-regulators of DDR processes. In fact, it is becoming clear that these post-translational modifiers play important pleiotropic roles in DNA damage and/or associated stress-related cellular responses. Expanding our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying these emerging UBL functions will be fundamental for enhancing our knowledge of the DDR and potentially provide new therapeutic strategies for various human diseases including cancer.
    • Pre-therapeutic efficacy of the CDK inhibitor dinaciclib in medulloblastoma cells

      Buzzetti, Marta; Morlando, S.; Solomos, D.; Mehmood, A.; Cox, A. W. I.; Chiesa, M.; D'Alessandra, Y.; Garofalo, Michela; Topham, C. H.; Di Leva, G.; et al. (2021)
      Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common aggressive paediatric brain tumour and, despite the recent progress in the treatments of MB patients, there is still an urgent need of complementary or alternative therapeutic options for MB infants. Cyclin Dependent Kinase inhibitors (CDKi) are at the front-line of novel targeted treatments for multiple cancers and the CDK4/6 specific inhibitor palbociclib has been pre-clinically identified as an effective option for MB cells. Herein, we identified the pan-CDKi dinaciclib as a promising alternative to palbociclib for the suppression of MB cells proliferation. We present evidence supporting dinaciclib's ability to inhibit MB cells in vitro proliferation at considerably lower doses than palbociclib. Sequencing data and pathway analysis suggested that dinaciclib is a potent cell death inducer in MB cells. We found that dinaciclib-triggered apoptosis is triggered by CDK9 inhibition and the resultant reduction in RNA pol II phosphorylation, which leads to the downregulation of the oncogenic marker MYC, and the anti-apoptotic protein MCL-1. Specifically, we demonstrated that MCL-1 is a key apoptotic mediator for MB cells and co-treatment of dinaciclib with BH3 mimetics boosts the therapeutic efficacy of dinaciclib. Together, these findings highlight the potential of multi-CDK inhibition by dinaciclib as an alternative option to CDK4/6 specific inhibition, frequently associated with drug resistance in patients.
    • Combinatorial CRISPR screen identifies fitness effects of gene paralogues

      Thompson, N. A.; Ranzani, M.; van der Weyden, L.; Iyer, V.; Offord, V.; Droop, A.; Behan, F.; Gonçalves, E.; Speak, A.; Iorio, F.; et al. (2021)
      Genetic redundancy has evolved as a way for human cells to survive the loss of genes that are single copy and essential in other organisms, but also allows tumours to survive despite having highly rearranged genomes. In this study we CRISPR screen 1191 gene pairs, including paralogues and known and predicted synthetic lethal interactions to identify 105 gene combinations whose co-disruption results in a loss of cellular fitness. 27 pairs influence fitness across multiple cell lines including the paralogues FAM50A/FAM50B, two genes of unknown function. Silencing of FAM50B occurs across a range of tumour types and in this context disruption of FAM50A reduces cellular fitness whilst promoting micronucleus formation and extensive perturbation of transcriptional programmes. Our studies reveal the fitness effects of FAM50A/FAM50B in cancer cells.
    • Mutant p53 promotes RCP-dependent chemoresistance coinciding with increased delivery of P-glycoprotein to the plasma membrane

      Phatak, V.; von Grabowiecki, Yannick; Janus, J.; Officer, L.; Behan, C.; Aschauer, L.; Pinon, L.; Mackay, H.; Zanivan, S.; Norman, J. C.; et al. (2021)
      TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in cancers. Mutations lead to loss of p53 expression or expression of a mutant protein. Mutant p53 proteins commonly lose wild-type function, but can also acquire novel functions in promoting metastasis and chemoresistance. Previously, we uncovered a role for Rab-coupling protein (RCP) in mutant p53-dependent invasion. RCP promotes endosomal recycling and signalling of integrins and receptor tyrosine kinases. In a screen to identify novel RCP-interacting proteins, we discovered P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Thus, we hypothesised that mutant p53 could promote chemoresistance through RCP-dependent recycling of P-gp. The interaction between RCP and P-gp was verified endogenously and loss of RCP or mutant p53 rendered cells more sensitive to cisplatin and etoposide. In mutant p53 cells we detected an RCP-dependent delivery of P-gp to the plasma membrane upon drug treatment and decreased retention of P-gp substrates. A co-localisation of P-gp and RCP was seen in mutant p53 cells, but not in p53-null cells upon chemotherapeutic exposure. In conclusion, mutant p53 expression enhanced co-localisation of P-gp and RCP to allow for rapid delivery of P-gp to the plasma membrane and increased resistance to chemotherapeutics.
    • High-throughput microbore ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-ion mobility-enabled-mass spectrometry-based proteomics methodology for the exploratory analysis of serum samples from large cohort studies

      Lennon, S.; Hughes, C. J.; Muazzam, Ammara; Townsend, Paul A; Gethings, L. A.; Wilson, I. D.; Plumb, R. S.; Waters Corporation, Stamford Avenue, Wilmslow SK9 4AX, U.K. (2021)
      The deployment of proteomic analysis in clinical studies represents a significant opportunity to detect and validate biomarkers in translational medicine, improve disease understanding, and provide baseline information on population health. However, comprehensive proteome studies usually employ nanoscale chromatography and often require several hours of analysis/sample. Here, we describe a high-throughput liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) methodology using 1 mm scale chromatography requiring only 15 min/sample, coupled to ion mobility-enabled mass spectrometry. The short run time effected a 6-fold increase in productivity compared with nanoscale LC/MS. The method demonstrated excellent reproducibility with retention time coefficient of variations of less than 0.05% and peak area reproducibility ranging from 5 to 15%. The 1 mm system produced similar chromatographic peak capacity values to the nanoscale miniaturized system, detecting 90% of the Escherichia coli proteins identified by the 75 μm LC/MS system (albeit based on only 75% of the peptides found by the latter). Application to the analysis of serum samples from a human prostate cancer study group resulted in the identification of a total of 533 proteins revealing the differential expression of proteins linked to patients receiving hormone-radiotherapy or undergoing surgery.
    • Terahertz reading of ferroelectric domain wall dielectric switching

      Zhang, M.; Chen, Z.; Yue, Y.; Chen, T.; Yan, Z.; Jiang, Q.; Yang, B.; Eriksson, M.; Tang, Jianhua; Zhang, D.; et al. (2021)
      Ferroelectric domain walls (DWs) are important nanoscale interfaces between two domains. It is widely accepted that ferroelectric domain walls work idly at terahertz (THz) frequencies, consequently discouraging efforts to engineer the domain walls to create new applications that utilize THz radiation. However, the present work clearly demonstrates the activity of domain walls at THz frequencies in a lead-free Aurivillius phase ferroelectric ceramic, Ca0.99Rb0.005Ce0.005Bi2Nb2O9, examined using THz-time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS). The dynamics of domain walls are different at kHz and THz frequencies. At low frequencies, domain walls work as a group to increase dielectric permittivity. At THz frequencies, the defective nature of domain walls serves to lower the overall dielectric permittivity. This is evidenced by higher dielectric permittivity in the THz band after poling, reflecting decreased domain wall density. An elastic vibrational model has also been used to verify that a single frustrated dipole in a domain wall represents a weaker contribution to the permittivity than its counterpart within a domain. The work represents a fundamental breakthrough in understanding the dielectric contributions of domain walls at THz frequencies. It also demonstrates that THz probing can be used to read domain wall dielectric switching.
    • Harnessing immunity for therapy in human papillomavirus driven cancers

      Stern, Peter L; Manchester Cancer Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M20 4GJ (2021)
      In persistent high-risk HPV infection, viral gene expression can trigger some important early changes to immune capabilities which act to protect the lesion from immune attack and subsequently promote its growth and ability for sustained immune escape. This includes immune checkpoint-inhibitor ligand expression (e.g. PD-L1) by tumour or associated immune cells that can block any anti-tumour T-cell effectors. While there are encouraging signs of efficacy for cancer immunotherapies including with immune checkpoint inhibitors, therapeutic vaccines and adoptive cell therapies, overall response and survival rates remain relatively low. HPV oncogene vaccination has shown some useful efficacy in treatment of patients with high-grade lesions but was unable to control later stage cancers. To maximally exploit anti-tumour immune responses, the suppressive factors associated with HPV carcinogenesis must be countered. Importantly, a combination of chemotherapy, reducing immunosuppressive myeloid cells, with therapeutic HPV vaccination significantly improves impact on cancer treatment. Many clinical trials are investigating checkpoint inhibitor treatments in HPV associated cancers but response rates are limited; combination with vaccination is being tested. Further investigation of how chemo- and/or radio-therapy can influence the recovery of effective anti-tumour immunity is warranted. Understanding how to optimally deploy and sequence conventional and immunotherapies is the challenge.
    • Toward the scale-up of a bicyclic homopiperazine via schmidt rearrangement and photochemical oxaziridine rearrangement in continuous-flow

      Brown, Michael; Aljarah, Mohammed; Asiki, H.; Leung, Leo M H; Smithen, Deborah A | |Miller, N.; Nemeth, G.; Davies, L.; Niculescu-Duvaz, Dan; Zambon, A.; Springer, Caroline; et al. (2021)
      The scale-up of a chiral bicyclic homopiperazine of pharmaceutical interest was investigated. The outcome and safety profile of a key batch ring-expansion step via Schmidt rearrangement was improved using continuous-flow chemistry. The selectivity of nitrogen insertion for the ring expansion was improved via an alternative photochemical oxaziridine rearrangement under mild conditions, which when converted to continuous-flow in a simple and efficient flow reactor allowed the first photochemical scale-up of a homopiperazine.
    • Cell of origin in biliary tract cancers and clinical implications

      Moeini, Agrin; Haber, P. K.; Sia, D.; Cancer Inflammation and Immunity Group, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, The University of Manchester, Alderley Park, Mancheste (2021)
      Biliary tract cancers (BTCs) are aggressive epithelial malignancies that can arise at any point of the biliary tree. Albeit rare, their incidence and mortality rates have been rising steadily over the past 40 years, highlighting the need to improve current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. BTCs show high inter- and intra-tumour heterogeneity both at the morphological and molecular level. Such complex heterogeneity poses a substantial obstacle to effective interventions. It is widely accepted that the observed heterogeneity may be the result of a complex interplay of different elements, including risk factors, distinct molecular alterations and multiple potential cells of origin. The use of genetic lineage tracing systems in experimental models has identified cholangiocytes, hepatocytes and/or progenitor-like cells as the cells of origin of BTCs. Genomic evidence in support of the distinct cell of origin hypotheses is growing. In this review, we focus on recent advances in the histopathological subtyping of BTCs, discuss current genomic evidence and outline lineage tracing studies that have contributed to the current knowledge surrounding the cell of origin of these tumours.
    • Welcome to Tumour Virus Research

      Stern, Peter L; Banks, L.; Manchester Cancer Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M20 4G (2021)