Medical Biology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 1964
Bridging the gap: a pre-post feasibility study of embedding exercise therapy into a co-located cancer unit.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-11)
PURPOSE: To establish the feasibility of embedding a flexible, exercise-based rehabilitation program into a cancer treatment unit to allow cancer survivors early exercise support. METHOD: A pre-post study was conducted using Bowen's Framework to describe key domains of feasibility: demand (referrals), acceptability (uptake, attendance, satisfaction), implementation (resources), practicality (adverse events, costs) and limited-efficacy (function, quality of life, self-efficacy). Participants were medically stable, adult cancer survivors receiving curative or palliative treatment for cancer at the health service. Participants completed an 8-week home or hospital-based exercise program. Data were analysed descriptively. Standardised mean differences (Hedge's g) and mean differences were calculated to determine effect size and clinical significance. RESULTS: The exercise-based rehabilitation service received 155 referrals over 6 months. Of those eligible, 73/119 (61%) commenced. Participants opting for twice-weekly, hospital-based exercise attended 9/16 (56%) sessions. Participants reported high satisfaction and there were no major adverse events. The program utilised existing resources, with the predominant cost being staff. The average health service cost per participant was AUD $1,104. Participants made clinically significant gains in function (6-min walk distance; + 73 m, 95% confidence interval 49 to 96) and quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30 Global quality of life; + 8 units, 95% confidence interval 3 to 13). CONCLUSION: Implementation of exercise-based rehabilitation in a co-located cancer unit was safe and feasible. Access, patient and staff education and establishing funding streams are important implementation considerations. Implications for cancer survivors Access to exercise in a cancer unit provides opportunity for early intervention to optimise function during treatment.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2006)
Water is the major component of all living cells, and efficient regulation of water homeostasis is essential for many biological processes. The mechanism by which water passes through biological membranes was a matter of debate until the discovery of the aquaporin water channels. Aquaporins are intrinsic membrane proteins characterized by six transmembrane helices that selectively allow water or other small uncharged molecules to pass along the osmotic gradient. In addition, recent observations show that some aquaporins also facilitate the transport of volatile substances, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3), across membranes. Aquaporins usually form tetramers, with each monomer defining a single pore. Aquaporin-related proteins are found in all organisms, from archaea to mammals. In both uni- and multicellular organisms, numerous isoforms have been identified that are differentially expressed and modified by post-translational processes, thus allowing fine-tuned tissue-specific osmoregulation. In mammals, aquaporins are involved in multiple physiological processes, including kidney and salivary gland function. They are associated with several clinical disorders, such as kidney dysfunction, loss of vision and brain edema.
Gut CD4(+) T cell phenotypes are a continuum molded by microbes, not by T-H archetypes
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-01-18)
CD4+ effector lymphocytes (Teff) are traditionally classified by the cytokines they produce. To determine the states that Teff cells actually adopt in frontline tissues in vivo, we applied single-cell transcriptome and chromatin analyses to colonic Teff cells in germ-free or conventional mice or in mice after challenge with a range of phenotypically biasing microbes. Unexpected subsets were marked by the expression of the interferon (IFN) signature or myeloid-specific transcripts, but transcriptome or chromatin structure could not resolve discrete clusters fitting classic helper T cell (TH) subsets. At baseline or at different times of infection, transcripts encoding cytokines or proteins commonly used as TH markers were distributed in a polarized continuum, which was functionally validated. Clones derived from single progenitors gave rise to both IFN-γ- and interleukin (IL)-17-producing cells. Most of the transcriptional variance was tied to the infecting agent, independent of the cytokines produced, and chromatin variance primarily reflected activities of activator protein (AP)-1 and IFN-regulatory factor (IRF) transcription factor (TF) families, not the canonical subset master regulators T-bet, GATA3 or RORγ.
MAIT cells regulate NK cell-mediated tumor immunity
(NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-08-06)
The function of MR1-restricted mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells in tumor immunity is unclear. Here we show that MAIT cell-deficient mice have enhanced NK cell-dependent control of metastatic B16F10 tumor growth relative to control mice. Analyses of this interplay in human tumor samples reveal that high expression of a MAIT cell gene signature negatively impacts the prognostic significance of NK cells. Paradoxically, pre-pulsing tumors with MAIT cell antigens, or activating MAIT cells in vivo, enhances anti-tumor immunity in B16F10 and E0771 mouse tumor models, including in the context of established metastasis. These effects are associated with enhanced NK cell responses and increased expression of both IFN-γ-dependent and inflammatory genes in NK cells. Importantly, activated human MAIT cells also promote the function of NK cells isolated from patient tumor samples. Our results thus describe an activation-dependent, MAIT cell-mediated regulation of NK cells, and suggest a potential therapeutic avenue for cancer treatment.
Docetaxel in very elderly men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
(Elsevier BV, 2015-06)
PURPOSE: To evaluate the use of docetaxel in very elderly men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) treated in routine clinical care. METHODS: A retrospective case series of men with mCRPC aged ≥80 years and treated with docetaxel between July 2006 and June 2012 at three community hospitals in Melbourne, Australia. RESULTS: Twenty patients were identified, with a median age of 83 years (range 80-93 years). Aside from one patient treated weekly, all patients were treated with a 3-weekly regimen of docetaxel with a median of six cycles (range 1-10 cycles) delivered. Eight patients (40%) had an initial dose reduction and 11 patients (55%) had subsequent dose delays or reductions. Eight patients (40%) completed planned treatment. Grade 3/4 hematologic toxicity was observed in nine patients (45%), and five patients (25%) were admitted to hospital with chemotherapy-related complications. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response was assessable for 16 patients, of whom nine (56%) had a PSA response of ≥50% and one (6%) had a PSA-complete response. The median overall survival in this cohort was 13.4 months. CONCLUSIONS: Very elderly patients (80 + years) with mCRPC are infrequently included in clinical trials, yet the use of chemotherapy in this population is likely to increase. Our series demonstrates significant response rates to docetaxel chemotherapy, but that a substantial number of patients had treatment-related complications. This highlights the need for careful patient selection and optimization of chemotherapy dosing.
The role of PLC gamma 2 in immunological disorders, cancer, and neurodegeneration
Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase Cγ2 (PLCγ2) is a critical signaling molecule activated downstream from a variety of cell surface receptors that contain an intracellular immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif. These receptors recruit kinases such as Syk, BTK, and BLNK to phosphorylate and activate PLCγ2, which then generates 1D-myo-inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate and diacylglycerol. These well-known second messengers are required for diverse membrane functionality including cellular proliferation, endocytosis, and calcium flux. As a result, PLCγ2 dysfunction is associated with a variety of diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, and immune disorders. The diverse pathologies associated with PLCγ2 are exemplified by distinct genetic variants. Inherited mutations at this locus cause PLCγ2-associated antibody deficiency and immune dysregulation, in some cases with autoinflammation. Acquired mutations at this locus, which often arise as a result of BTK inhibition to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia, result in constitutive downstream signaling and lymphocyte proliferation. Finally, a third group of PLCγ2 variants actually has a protective effect in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, presumably by increased uptake and degradation of deleterious neurological aggregates. Therefore, manipulating PLCγ2 activity either up or down could have therapeutic benefit; however, we require a better understanding of the signaling pathways propagated by these variants before such clinical utility can be realized. Here, we review the signaling roles of PLCγ2 in hematopoietic cells to help understand the effect of mutations driving immune disorders and cancer and extrapolate from this to roles which may relate to protection against neurodegeneration.
Field evaluation of the gut microbiome composition of pre-school and school-aged children in Tha Song Yang, Thailand, following oral MDA for STH infections
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-07-01)
Soil-transmitted helminths, such as roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma spp.), are gastrointestinal parasites that occur predominantly in low- to middle-income countries worldwide and disproportionally impact children. Depending on the STH species, health status of the host and infection intensity, direct impacts of these parasites include malnutrition, anaemia, diarrhoea and physical and cognitive stunting. The indirect consequences of these infections are less well understood. Specifically, gastrointestinal infections may exert acute or chronic impacts on the natural gut microfauna, leading to increased risk of post-infectious gastrointestinal disorders, and reduced gut and overall health through immunomodulating mechanisms. To date a small number of preliminary studies have assessed the impact of helminths on the gut microbiome, but these studies are conflicting. Here, we assessed STH burden in 273 pre-school and school-aged children in Tha Song Yang district, Tak province, Thailand receiving annual oral mebendazole treatment. Ascaris lumbricoides (107/273) and Trichuris trichiura (100/273) were the most prevalent species and often occurred as co-infections (66/273). Ancylostoma ceylanicum was detected in a small number of children as well (n = 3). All of these infections were of low intensity (<4,999 or 999 eggs per gram for Ascaris and Trichuris respectively). Using this information, we characterised the baseline gut microbiome profile and investigated acute STH-induced alterations, comparing infected with uninfected children at the time of sampling. We found no difference between these groups in bacterial alpha-diversity, but did observe differences in beta-diversity and specific differentially abundant OTUs, including increased Akkermansia muciniphila and Bacteroides coprophilus, and reduced Bifidobacterium adolescentis, each of which have been previously implicated in STH-associated changes in the gut microfauna.
Outcomes from international field trials with Male Aedes Sound Traps: Frequency-dependent effectiveness in capturing target species in relation to bycatch abundance.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2021-02)
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus vector dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. With both species expanding their global distributions at alarming rates, developing effective surveillance equipment is a continuing priority for public health researchers. Sound traps have been shown, in limited testing, to be highly species-specific when emitting a frequency corresponding to a female mosquito wingbeat. Determining male mosquito capture rates in sound traps based on lure frequencies in endemic settings is the next step for informed deployment of these surveillance tools. We field-evaluated Male Aedes Sound Traps (MASTs) set to either 450 Hz, 500 Hz, 550 Hz or 600 Hz for sampling Aedes aegypti and/or Aedes albopictus and compared catch rates to BG-Sentinel traps within Pacific (Madang, Papua New Guinea) and Latin American (Molas, Mexico and Orange Walk Town, Belize) locations. MASTs set to 450-550 Hz consistently caught male Ae. aegypti at rates comparable to BG-Sentinel traps in all locations. A peak in male Ae. albopictus captures in MASTs set at 550 Hz was observed, with the lowest mean abundance recorded in MASTs set to 450 Hz. While significantly higher abundances of male Culex were sampled in MASTs emitting lower relative frequencies in Molas, overall male Culex were captured in significantly lower abundances in the MASTs, relative to BG-Sentinel traps within all locations. Finally, significant differences in rates at which male Aedes and Culex were positively detected in trap-types per weekly collections were broadly consistent with trends in abundance data per trap-type. MASTs at 550 Hz effectively captured both male Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus while greatly reducing bycatch, especially male Culex, in locations where dengue transmission has occurred. This high species-specificity of the MAST not only reduces staff-time required to sort samples, but can also be exploited to develop an accurate smart-trap system-both outcomes potentially reducing public health program expenses.
Optimization of the feeding rate of Anopheles farauti s.s. colony mosquitoes in direct membrane feeding assays.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-07-07)
BACKGROUND: Direct membrane feeding assays (DMFA) are an important tool to study parasite transmission to mosquitoes. Mosquito feeding rates in these artificial systems require optimization, as there are a number of factors that potentially influence the feeding rates and there are no standardized methods that apply to all anopheline species. METHODS: A range of parameters prior to and during direct membrane feeding (DMF) were evaluated for their impact on Anopheles farauti sensu stricto feeding rates, including the starving conditions and duration of starving prior to feeding, membrane type, DMF exposure time, mosquito age, feeding in the light versus the dark, blood volume, mosquito density and temperature of water bath. RESULTS: The average successful DMFA feeding rate for An. farauti s.s. colony mosquitoes increased from 50 to 85% when assay parameters were varied. Overnight starvation and Baudruche membrane yielded the highest feeding rates but rates were also affected by blood volume in the feeder and the mosquito density in the feeding cups. Availability of water during the pre-feed starvation period did not significantly impact feeding rates, nor did the exposure duration to blood in membrane feeders, the age of mosquitoes (3, 5 and 7 days post-emergence), feeding in the light versus the dark, or the temperature (34 °C, 38 °C, 42 °C and 46 °C) of the water bath. CONCLUSION: Optimal feeding conditions in An. farauti s.s. DMFA were to offer 50 female mosquitoes in a cup (with a total surface area of ~ 340 cm2 with 1 mosquito/6.8 cm2) that were starved overnight 350-500 µL of blood (collected in heparin-coated Vacutainer tubes) per feeder in feeders with a surface area ~ 5 cm2 (with a maximum capacity of 1.5 mL of blood) via a Baudruche membrane, for at least 10-20 min.
Transcriptome sequencing and multi-plex imaging of prostate cancer microenvironment reveals a dominant role for monocytic cells in progression
BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer is caused by genomic aberrations in normal epithelial cells, however clinical translation of findings from analyses of cancer cells alone has been very limited. A deeper understanding of the tumour microenvironment is needed to identify the key drivers of disease progression and reveal novel therapeutic opportunities. RESULTS: In this study, the experimental enrichment of selected cell-types, the development of a Bayesian inference model for continuous differential transcript abundance, and multiplex immunohistochemistry permitted us to define the transcriptional landscape of the prostate cancer microenvironment along the disease progression axis. An important role of monocytes and macrophages in prostate cancer progression and disease recurrence was uncovered, supported by both transcriptional landscape findings and by differential tissue composition analyses. These findings were corroborated and validated by spatial analyses at the single-cell level using multiplex immunohistochemistry. CONCLUSIONS: This study advances our knowledge concerning the role of monocyte-derived recruitment in primary prostate cancer, and supports their key role in disease progression, patient survival and prostate microenvironment immune modulation.
Impact of COVID-19 on social media as perceived by the oncology community: results from a survey in collaboration with the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the OncoAlert Network.
(Elsevier BV, 2021-04)
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of modern-day oncology, including how stakeholders communicate through social media. We surveyed oncology stakeholders in order to assess their attitudes pertaining to social media and how it has been affected during the pandemic. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A 40-item survey was distributed to stakeholders from 8 July to 22 July 2020 and was promoted through the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the OncoAlert Network. RESULTS: One thousand and seventy-six physicians and stakeholders took part in the survey. In total, 57.3% of respondents were medical oncologists, 50.6% aged <40 years, 50.8% of female gender and mostly practicing in Europe (51.5%). More than 90% of respondents considered social media a useful tool for distributing scientific information and for education. Most used social media to stay up to date on cancer care in general (62.5%) and cancer care during COVID-19 (61%) given the constant flow of information. Respondents also used social media to interact with other oncologists (78.8%) and with patients (34.4%). Overall, 61.1% of respondents were satisfied with the role that social media was playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, 41.1% of respondents reported trouble in discriminating between credible and less credible information and 30% stated social networks were a source of stress. For this reason, one-third of respondents reduced its use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding meeting attendance, a total of 59.1% of responding physicians preferred in-person meetings to virtual ones, and 51.8% agreed that virtual meetings and social distancing could hamper effective collaboration. CONCLUSION: Social media has a useful role in supporting cancer care and professional engagement in oncology. Although one-third of respondents reported reduced use of social media due to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority found social media useful to keep up to date and were satisfied with the role social media was playing during the pandemic.