Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 1440
Opportunities for innovation: Building on the success of lipid nanoparticle vaccines
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE LONDON, 2021-10-01)
Lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations of messenger RNA (mRNA) have demonstrated high efficacy as vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. The success of these nanoformulations underscores the potential of LNPs as a delivery system for next-generation biological therapies. In this article, we highlight the key considerations necessary for engineering LNPs as a vaccine delivery system and explore areas for further optimisation. There remain opportunities to improve the protection of mRNA, optimise cytosolic delivery, target specific cells, minimise adverse side-effects and control the release of RNA from the particle. The modular nature of LNP formulations and the flexibility of mRNA as a payload provide many pathways to implement these strategies. Innovation in LNP vaccines is likely to accelerate with increased enthusiasm following recent successes; however, any advances will have implications for a broad range of therapeutic applications beyond vaccination such as gene therapy.
Therapeutic potential of megadose vitamin C to reverse organ dysfunction in sepsis and COVID-19
Sepsis induced by bacteria or viruses can result in multiorgan dysfunction, which is a major cause of death in intensive care units. Current treatments are only supportive, and there are no treatments that reverse the pathophysiological effects of sepsis. Vitamin C has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and immune modulatory actions, so it is a rational treatment for sepsis. Here, we summarise data that support the use of megadose vitamin C as a treatment for sepsis and COVID-19. Megadose intravenous sodium ascorbate (150 g per 40 kg over 7 h) dramatically improved the clinical state and cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic and renal function and decreased body temperature, in a clinically relevant ovine model of Gram-negative bacteria-induced sepsis. In a critically ill COVID-19 patient, intravenous sodium ascorbate (60 g) restored arterial pressure, improved renal function and increased arterial blood oxygen levels. These findings suggest that megadose vitamin C should be trialled as a treatment for sepsis and COVID-19.
Trycycler: consensus long-read assemblies for bacterial genomes.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-09-14)
While long-read sequencing allows for the complete assembly of bacterial genomes, long-read assemblies contain a variety of errors. Here, we present Trycycler, a tool which produces a consensus assembly from multiple input assemblies of the same genome. Benchmarking showed that Trycycler assemblies contained fewer errors than assemblies constructed with a single tool. Post-assembly polishing further reduced errors and Trycycler+polishing assemblies were the most accurate genomes in our study. As Trycycler requires manual intervention, its output is not deterministic. However, we demonstrated that multiple users converge on similar assemblies that are consistently more accurate than those produced by automated assembly tools.
Insights Into Patient Variability During Ivacaftor-Lumacaftor Therapy in Cystic Fibrosis
(FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-08-02)
Background: The advent of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator protein (CFTR) modulators like ivacaftor have revolutionised the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF). However, due to the plethora of variances in disease manifestations in CF, there are inherent challenges in unified responses under CFTR modulator treatment arising from variability in patient outcomes. The pharmacokinetic (PK) data available for ivacaftor-lumacaftor cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator drug combination is limited. Methods: Secondary objectives were to identify (1) patient characteristics and (2) the interactions between ivacaftor-lumacaftor responsible for interindividual variability (IIV). Results: Peak plasma concentrations (Cmax) of ivacaftor - lumacaftor were >10 fold lower than expected compared to label information. The one-way ANOVA indicated that the patient site had an effect on Cmax values of ivacaftor metabolites ivacaftor-M1, ivacaftor-M6, and lumacaftor (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, and p < 0.001, respectively). The Spearman's rho test indicated that patient weight and age have an effect on the Cmax of lumacaftor (p = 0.003 and p < 0.001, respectively) and ivacaftor metabolite M1 (p = 0.020 and p < 0.001, respectively). Age (p < 0.001) was found to effect on Cmax of ivacaftor M6 and on Tmax of ivacaftor M1 (p = 0.026). A large impact of patient characteristics on the IIV of PK parameters Cmax and Tmax, was observed among the CF patients. Conclusion: Understanding the many sources of variability can help reduce this individual patient variability and ensure consistent patient outcomes.
Towards novel herbicide modes of action by inhibiting lysine biosynthesis in plants
(ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2021-07-27)
Weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to our current herbicides, posing a significant threat to agricultural production. Therefore, new herbicides with novel modes of action are urgently needed. In this study, we exploited a novel herbicide target, dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS), which catalyses the first and rate-limiting step in lysine biosynthesis. The first class of plant DHDPS inhibitors with micromolar potency against Arabidopsis thaliana DHDPS was identified using a high-throughput chemical screen. We determined that this class of inhibitors binds to a novel and unexplored pocket within DHDPS, which is highly conserved across plant species. The inhibitors also attenuated the germination and growth of A. thaliana seedlings and confirmed their pre-emergence herbicidal activity in soil-grown plants. These results provide proof-of-concept that lysine biosynthesis represents a promising target for the development of herbicides with a novel mode of action to tackle the global rise of herbicide-resistant weeds.
Salt Transiently Inhibits Mitochondrial Energetics in Mononuclear Phagocytes.
(Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), 2021-07-13)
BACKGROUND: Dietary high salt (HS) is a leading risk factor for mortality and morbidity. Serum sodium transiently increases postprandially but can also accumulate at sites of inflammation affecting differentiation and function of innate and adaptive immune cells. Here, we focus on how changes in extracellular sodium, mimicking alterations in the circulation and tissues, affect the early metabolic, transcriptional, and functional adaption of human and murine mononuclear phagocytes. METHODS: Using Seahorse technology, pulsed stable isotope-resolved metabolomics, and enzyme activity assays, we characterize the central carbon metabolism and mitochondrial function of human and murine mononuclear phagocytes under HS in vitro. HS as well as pharmacological uncoupling of the electron transport chain under normal salt is used to analyze mitochondrial function on immune cell activation and function (as determined by Escherichia coli killing and CD4+ T cell migration capacity). In 2 independent clinical studies, we analyze the effect of a HS diet during 2 weeks (URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02509962) and short-term salt challenge by a single meal (URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT04175249) on mitochondrial function of human monocytes in vivo. RESULTS: Extracellular sodium was taken up into the intracellular compartment, followed by the inhibition of mitochondrial respiration in murine and human macrophages. Mechanistically, HS reduces mitochondrial membrane potential, electron transport chain complex II activity, oxygen consumption, and ATP production independently of the polarization status of macrophages. Subsequently, cell activation is altered with improved bactericidal function in HS-treated M1-like macrophages and diminished CD4+ T cell migration in HS-treated M2-like macrophages. Pharmacological uncoupling of the electron transport chain under normal salt phenocopies HS-induced transcriptional changes and bactericidal function of human and murine mononuclear phagocytes. Clinically, also in vivo, rise in plasma sodium concentration within the physiological range reversibly reduces mitochondrial function in human monocytes. In both a 14-day and single meal HS challenge, healthy volunteers displayed a plasma sodium increase of [Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text] respectively, that correlated with decreased monocytic mitochondrial oxygen consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Our data identify the disturbance of mitochondrial respiration as the initial step by which HS mechanistically influences immune cell function. Although these functional changes might help to resolve bacterial infections, a shift toward proinflammation could accelerate inflammatory cardiovascular disease.
Anti-Inflammatory Influences of Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Drugs on Lung Inflammation in Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by a defect in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator protein (CFTR) which instigates a myriad of respiratory complications including increased vulnerability to lung infections and lung inflammation. The extensive influx of pro-inflammatory cells and production of mediators into the CF lung leading to lung tissue damage and increased susceptibility to microbial infections, creates a highly inflammatory environment. The CF inflammation is particularly driven by neutrophil infiltration, through the IL-23/17 pathway, and function, through NE, NETosis, and NLRP3-inflammasome formation. Better understanding of these pathways may uncover untapped therapeutic targets, potentially reducing disease burden experienced by CF patients. This review outlines the dysregulated lung inflammatory response in CF, explores the current understanding of CFTR modulators on lung inflammation, and provides context for their potential use as therapeutics for CF. Finally, we discuss the determinants that need to be taken into consideration to understand the exaggerated inflammatory response in the CF lung.
Genomic surveillance of antimicrobial resistant bacterial colonisation and infection in intensive care patients
BACKGROUND: Third-generation cephalosporin-resistant Gram-negatives (3GCR-GN) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are common causes of multi-drug resistant healthcare-associated infections, for which gut colonisation is considered a prerequisite. However, there remains a key knowledge gap about colonisation and infection dynamics in high-risk settings such as the intensive care unit (ICU), thus hampering infection prevention efforts. METHODS: We performed a three-month prospective genomic survey of infecting and gut-colonising 3GCR-GN and VRE among patients admitted to an Australian ICU. Bacteria were isolated from rectal swabs (n = 287 and n = 103 patients ≤2 and > 2 days from admission, respectively) and diagnostic clinical specimens between Dec 2013 and March 2014. Isolates were subjected to Illumina whole-genome sequencing (n = 127 3GCR-GN, n = 41 VRE). Multi-locus sequence types (STs) and antimicrobial resistance determinants were identified from de novo assemblies. Twenty-three isolates were selected for sequencing on the Oxford Nanopore MinION device to generate completed reference genomes (one for each ST isolated from ≥2 patients). Single nucleotide variants (SNVs) were identified by read mapping and variant calling against these references. RESULTS: Among 287 patients screened on admission, 17.4 and 8.4% were colonised by 3GCR-GN and VRE, respectively. Escherichia coli was the most common species (n = 36 episodes, 58.1%) and the most common cause of 3GCR-GN infection. Only two VRE infections were identified. The rate of infection among patients colonised with E. coli was low, but higher than those who were not colonised on admission (n = 2/33, 6% vs n = 4/254, 2%, respectively, p = 0.3). While few patients were colonised with 3GCR- Klebsiella pneumoniae or Pseudomonas aeruginosa on admission (n = 4), all such patients developed infections with the colonising strain. Genomic analyses revealed 10 putative nosocomial transmission clusters (≤20 SNVs for 3GCR-GN, ≤3 SNVs for VRE): four VRE, six 3GCR-GN, with epidemiologically linked clusters accounting for 21 and 6% of episodes, respectively (OR 4.3, p = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: 3GCR-E. coli and VRE were the most common gut colonisers. E. coli was the most common cause of 3GCR-GN infection, but other 3GCR-GN species showed greater risk for infection in colonised patients. Larger studies are warranted to elucidate the relative risks of different colonisers and guide the use of screening in ICU infection control.
A genomic surveillance framework and genotyping tool for Klebsiella pneumoniae and its related species complex
(NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-07-07)
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a leading cause of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) healthcare-associated infections, neonatal sepsis and community-acquired liver abscess, and is associated with chronic intestinal diseases. Its diversity and complex population structure pose challenges for analysis and interpretation of K. pneumoniae genome data. Here we introduce Kleborate, a tool for analysing genomes of K. pneumoniae and its associated species complex, which consolidates interrogation of key features of proven clinical importance. Kleborate provides a framework to support genomic surveillance and epidemiology in research, clinical and public health settings. To demonstrate its utility we apply Kleborate to analyse publicly available Klebsiella genomes, including clinical isolates from a pan-European study of carbapenemase-producing Klebsiella, highlighting global trends in AMR and virulence as examples of what could be achieved by applying this genomic framework within more systematic genomic surveillance efforts. We also demonstrate the application of Kleborate to detect and type K. pneumoniae from gut metagenomes.
A Precision Medicine Approach to Optimize Modulator Therapy for Rare CFTR Folding Mutants
Trikafta, a triple-combination drug, consisting of folding correctors VX-661 (tezacaftor), VX-445 (elexacaftor) and the gating potentiator VX-770 (ivacaftor) provided unprecedented clinical benefits for patients with the most common cystic fibrosis (CF) mutation, F508del. Trikafta indications were recently expanded to additional 177 mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). To minimize life-long pharmacological and financial burden of drug administration, if possible, we determined the necessary and sufficient modulator combination that can achieve maximal benefit in preclinical setting for selected mutants. To this end, the biochemical and functional rescue of single corrector-responsive rare mutants were investigated in a bronchial epithelial cell line and patient-derived human primary nasal epithelia (HNE), respectively. The plasma membrane density of P67L-, L206W- or S549R-CFTR corrected by VX-661 or other type I correctors was moderately increased by VX-445. Short-circuit current measurements of HNE, however, uncovered that correction comparable to Trikafta was achieved for S549R-CFTR by VX-661 + VX-770 and for P67L- and L206W-CFTR by the VX-661 + VX-445 combination. Thus, introduction of a third modulator may not provide additional benefit for patients with a subset of rare CFTR missense mutations. These results also underscore that HNE, as a precision medicine model, enable the optimization of mutation-specific modulator combinations to maximize their efficacy and minimize life-long drug exposure of CF patients.
ILB® Attenuates Clinical Symptoms and Serum Biomarkers of Oxidative/Nitrosative Stress and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
(MDPI AG, 2021-08-14)
Oxidative/nitrosative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an invariably fatal progressive neurodegenerative disease. Here, as an exploratory arm of a phase II clinical trial (EudraCT Number 2017-005065-47), we used high performance liquid chromatography(HPLC) to investigate changes in the metabolic profiles of serum from ALS patients treated weekly for 4 weeks with a repeated sub-cutaneous dose of 1 mg/kg of a proprietary low molecular weight dextran sulphate, called ILB®. A significant normalization of the serum levels of several key metabolites was observed over the treatment period, including N-acetylaspartate (NAA), oxypurines, biomarkers of oxidative/nitrosative stress and antioxidants. An improved serum metabolic profile was accompanied by significant amelioration of the patients' clinical conditions, indicating a response to ILB® treatment that appears to be mediated by improvement of tissue bioenergetics, decrease of oxidative/nitrosative stress and attenuation of (neuro)inflammatory processes.
Coordinated action of multiple transporters in the acquisition of essential cationic amino acids by the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-08-01)
Intracellular parasites of the phylum Apicomplexa are dependent on the scavenging of essential amino acids from their hosts. We previously identified a large family of apicomplexan-specific plasma membrane-localized amino acid transporters, the ApiATs, and showed that the Toxoplasma gondii transporter TgApiAT1 functions in the selective uptake of arginine. TgApiAT1 is essential for parasite virulence, but dispensable for parasite growth in medium containing high concentrations of arginine, indicating the presence of at least one other arginine transporter. Here we identify TgApiAT6-1 as the second arginine transporter. Using a combination of parasite assays and heterologous characterisation of TgApiAT6-1 in Xenopus laevis oocytes, we demonstrate that TgApiAT6-1 is a general cationic amino acid transporter that mediates both the high-affinity uptake of lysine and the low-affinity uptake of arginine. TgApiAT6-1 is the primary lysine transporter in the disease-causing tachyzoite stage of T. gondii and is essential for parasite proliferation. We demonstrate that the uptake of cationic amino acids by TgApiAT6-1 is 'trans-stimulated' by cationic and neutral amino acids and is likely promoted by an inwardly negative membrane potential. These findings demonstrate that T. gondii has evolved overlapping transport mechanisms for the uptake of essential cationic amino acids, and we draw together our findings into a comprehensive model that highlights the finely-tuned, regulated processes that mediate cationic amino acid scavenging by these intracellular parasites.