Recent Submissions

  • Laboratory methods for monitoring argatroban in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia

    Hopkins, Barbara; Chunara, Zunaid (2022-04)
    Introduction: The Summary of Product Characteristics for the direct thrombin inhibitor argatroban states monitoring should be by activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT), with a target range of 1.5-3.0 times the patients' baseline APTT. APTT may be influenced by coagulopathies, lupus anticoagulant and raised FVIII levels. Previous studies have shown sensitivity differences of APTT reagents to argatroban. Some recent publications have favoured the use of anti-IIa methods to determine the plasma drug concentration of argatroban. This study aims to compare the anti-IIa assays: Hemoclot thrombin inhibitor assay (HTI) and Ecarin chromogenic assay (ECA) alongside the APTT. Methods: Residual plasma of 25 samples from 8 patients (3 with COVID-19 and HIT: n = 18, 5 with HIT: n = 7) was tested at two sites: site A: Sysmex CS5100 by HTI and APTT (Actin FS and SynthASil), and also on Stago STA Compact Max: ECA and APTT (CK Prest); and site B: Stago STA R Max 2 by ECA and APTT (Cephascreen). Results: Mean APTT ratio was 1.96 (Actin FS), 1.84 (SynthASil), 1.59 (CK Prest) and 2.48 (Cephascreen). Mean argatroban concentration by HTI was 0.60 µg/mL and by ECA was 0.65 µg/mL (site A) and 0.70 µg/mL (site B). There was a poor correlation to HTI in APTT ratios (range r2 = .0235-0.4181) with stronger correlations between ECA methods to HTI (r2 = .8998 site A, r2 = .8734 site B). Conclusion: This study confirms previous publications on the unsuitability of APTT and expands this by being multisited and included APTT reagents that use mechanical clot detection. Both anti-IIa methods are more suitable.
  • Comparison of the prognostic value of microscopically measured invasive width versus macroscopic width in cutaneous melanoma shows the superiority of microscopic invasive width measurement

    Bamford, Mark; Udensi, Louisa; O'Riordan, Marie; Saldanha, Gerald (2022-03)
    Background: Invasive width, the distance between the most peripheral invasive melanoma cells on the section where Breslow thickness (BT) was measured, was recently identified as a prognostic feature. It is unclear whether a routine measurement is justified, given that macroscopic width is already included in many melanoma histopathology reports and may itself be a prognostic feature. This study sought to investigate this. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 718 melanoma patients in which macroscopic width had been stated in the original histopathology report was used. Survival analysis was performed. Results: Macroscopic and invasive widths were positively correlated (p < 0.001). Invasive width was typically smaller than the paired macroscopic width (median difference 3.7 mm, p < 0.001), a difference seen across all T groups. Both macroscopic and invasive widths were significantly associated with melanoma survival in Kaplan-Meier analysis, including overall survival, but invasive width survival curves were more widely separated. Both were significantly associated with outcome after correction for BT in Cox proportional hazards regression, but the models containing invasive width had a substantially better fit. Conclusions: This study shows that both macroscopic and invasive widths have prognostic values, but confirms that the latter is superior. It supports further investigation of this feature's prognostic value.
  • Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 at a hospice: terminated after the implementation of enhanced aerosol infection control measures

    Feathers, Luke; Bird, Paul; Holmes, Christopher; Tang, Julian (2022)
    Outbreaks of COVID-19 in hospices for palliative care patients pose a unique and difficult situation. Staff, relatives and patients may be possible sources and recipients of infection. We present an outbreak of COVID-19 in a hospice setting, during the UK's first pandemic wave. During the outbreak period, 26 patients and 30 staff tested SARS-CoV-2 positive by laboratory-based RT-PCR testing. Most infected staff exhibited some mild, non-specific symptoms so affected staff members may not have voluntarily self-isolated or had themselves tested on this basis. Similarly, for infected patients, most became symptomatic and were then isolated. Additional, enhanced aerosol infection control measures were implemented, including opening of all windows where available; universal masking for all staff, including in non-clinical areas and taking breaks separately; screening for asymptomatic infection among staff and patients, with appropriate isolation (at home for staff) if infected; performing a ventilation survey of the hospice facility. After these measures were instigated, the numbers of COVID-19 cases decreased to zero over the following three weeks. This outbreak study demonstrated that an accurate understanding of the routes of infection for a new pathogen, as well as the nature of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infection and transmission, is crucial for controlling its spread.
  • Abemaciclib in patients with p16ink4A-deficient mesothelioma (MiST2): a single-arm, open-label, phase 2 trial

    Fennell, Dean; King, Amy; Anthony, Sarah; Poile, Charlotte; Scotland, Molly; Bhundia, Vina; Darlison, Liz; Dawson, Alan; Gaba, Aarti; Hutka, Margaret; et al. (2022)
    Background: Genetically stratified therapy for malignant mesothelioma is unavailable. Mesotheliomas frequently harbour loss of the chromosome 9p21.3 locus (CDKN2A-MTAP), which is associated with shorter overall survival due to loss of the tumour suppressor p16ink4A, an endogenous suppressor of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)4 and CDK6. Genetic restoration of p16ink4A suppresses mesothelioma in preclinical models, underpinning the rationale for targeting CDK4 and CDK6 in p16ink4A-negative mesothelioma. We developed a multicentre, stratified, phase 2 trial to test this hypothesis. Methods: The MiST2 study was a single-arm, open-label, phase 2 clinical trial done two UK centres. Patients older than 18 years with any histologically confirmed subtype of mesothelioma (pleural or peritoneal) with radiological progression after at least one course of platinum-based chemotherapy were molecularly screened by immunohistochemistry for p16ink4A. Patients with p16ink4A-negative mesothelioma were eligible for inclusion in the study. Patients were required to have measurable disease by modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours version 1.1 for malignant mesothelioma, a predicted life expectancy of at least 12 weeks, and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0-1. Patients received oral abemaciclib 200 mg twice daily, administered in 28-day cycles for 24 weeks. The primary endpoint was the disease control rate (patients with complete responses, partial responses, or stable disease) at 12 weeks. The null hypothesis could be rejected if at least 11 patients had disease control. The efficacy and safety populations were defined as all patients who received at least one dose of the study drug. The study is registered with, NCT03654833, and is ongoing (but MiST2 is now closed). Findings: Between Sept 31, 2019, and March 2, 2020, 27 eligible patients consented to molecular screening. The median follow-up was 18·4 weeks (IQR 6·7-23·9). One patient was excluded before treatment because of a serious adverse event before study drug allocation. 26 (100%) of 26 treated patients were p16ink4A deficient and received at least one dose of abemaciclib. Disease control at 12 weeks was reported in 14 (54%) of 26 patients (95% CI 36-71). Grade 3 or worse treatment-related adverse events (of any cause) occurred in eight (27%) of 26 patients (diarrhoea, dyspnoea, thrombocytopenia, vomiting, urinary tract infection, increased alanine aminotransferase, ascites, chest infection or suspected chest infection, neutropenic sepsis, alopecia, blood clot left calf, fall [broken neck and collar bone], haemoptysis, lower respiratory tract infection, and pulmonary embolism). Grade 3 or worse treatment-related adverse events occurred in three (12%) of 26 patients (diarrhoea, thrombocytopenia, vomiting, increased alanine aminotransferase, and pulmonary embolism). Serious adverse events occurred in six (23%) of 26 patients, leading to treatment discontinuation in one (4%) patient (diarrhoea, urinary tract infection, chest infection, neutropenic sepsis, fall [broken neck and collar bone], haemoptysis, lower respiratory tract infection, and pulmonary embolism). One patient had a serious adverse event related to abemaciclib (diarrhoea). One (4%) of 26 patients died from an adverse event (neutropenic sepsis). Interpretation: This study met its primary endpoint, showing promising clinical activity of abemaciclib in patients with p16ink4A-negative mesothelioma who were previously treated with chemotherapy, and warrants its further investigation in a randomised study as a targeted stratified therapy.
  • Predictors of adverse outcome in the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a UK centre

    Martin, Christopher; Pan, Daniel; Hills, George; Modha, Deborah; Patel, Prashanth; Jenkins, David; Barton, Linda; Jones, William; Brunskill, Nigel; Haldar, Pranab; et al. (2022)
    Background/aims: Data concerning differences in demographics/disease severity between the first and second waves of COVID-19 are limited. We aimed to examine prognosis in patients presenting to hospital with COVID-19 amongst different ethnic groups between the first and second waves in the UK. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we included 1763 patients presenting to a regional hospital centre in Leicester (UK) and compared those in the first (n = 956) and second (n = 807) waves. Admission National Early Warning Scores, mechanical ventilation and mortality rate were lower in the second wave compared with the first. Results: Thirty-day mortality risk in second wave patients was approximately half that of first wave patients [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.40-0.75]. In the second wave, Black patients were at higher risk of 30-day mortality than White patients (4.73, 1.56-14.3). Conclusion: We found that disporportionately higher risks of death in patients from ethnic minority groups were not equivalent across consecutive waves of the pandemic. This suggests that risk factors for death in those from ethnic minority groups are malleable and potentially reversible. Our findings need urgent investigation in larger studies.
  • Increased mitochondrial proline metabolism sustains proliferation and survival of colorectal cancer cells

    Burke, Lynsey; West, Kevin; Howells, Lynne; Thomas, Anne (2022)
    Research into the metabolism of the non-essential amino acid (NEAA) proline in cancer has gained traction in recent years. The last step in the proline biosynthesis pathway is catalyzed by pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase (PYCR) enzymes. There are three PYCR enzymes: mitochondrial PYCR1 and 2 and cytosolic PYCR3 encoded by separate genes. The expression of the PYCR1 gene is increased in numerous malignancies and correlates with poor prognosis. PYCR1 expression sustains cancer cells' proliferation and survival and several mechanisms have been implicated to explain its oncogenic role. It has been suggested that the biosynthesis of proline is key to sustain protein synthesis, support mitochondrial function and nucleotide biosynthesis. However, the links between proline metabolism and cancer remain ill-defined and are likely to be tissue specific. Here we use a combination of human dataset, human tissue and mouse models to show that the expression levels of the proline biosynthesis enzymes are significantly increased during colorectal tumorigenesis. Functionally, the expression of mitochondrial PYCRs is necessary for cancer cells' survival and proliferation. However, the phenotypic consequences of PYCRs depletion could not be rescued by external supplementation with either proline or nucleotides. Overall, our data suggest that, despite the mechanisms underlying the role of proline metabolism in colorectal tumorigenesis remain elusive, targeting the proline biosynthesis pathway is a suitable approach for the development of novel anti-cancer therapies.
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis-like lupus

    Roberts, Elizabeth; Melchionda, Veronica; Saldanha, Gerald; Shaffu, Shireen; Royle, Jeremy; Harman, Karen
    Toxic epidermal necrosis (TEN)-like lupus is a rare condition characterized by epidermal loss and mucosal ulceration occurring in patients with acute severe flares of systemic lupus erythematosus. The clinical picture may mimic drug-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome/TEN; however, the absence of a suitable culprit drug, and the context of acute lupus point to the correct diagnosis. In a case series of three patients, further discriminating features included a slower onset of epidermal loss, more limited mucosal ulceration and a lack of ocular involvement when compared with drug-induced TEN. Histology may show similar features, including basal layer vacuolation, apoptosis and full-thickness epidermal necrosis. Patients with TEN-like lupus may have additional features of lupus, and a lupus band on direct immunofluorescence. It is important to identify this condition correctly, so that these patients can be appropriately managed with early input from Rheumatologists and prompt treatment with high-dose combined immunosuppressant therapy.
  • MNK inhibition sensitizes KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer to mTORC1 inhibition by reducing eIF4E phosphorylation and c-MYC expression

    Le Quesne, John (2021)
    KRAS-mutant colorectal cancers are resistant to therapeutics, presenting a significant problem for ∼40% of cases. Rapalogs, which inhibit mTORC1 and thus protein synthesis, are significantly less potent in KRAS-mutant colorectal cancer. Using Kras-mutant mouse models and mouse- and patient-derived organoids, we demonstrate that KRAS with G12D mutation fundamentally rewires translation to increase both bulk and mRNA-specific translation initiation. This occurs via the MNK/eIF4E pathway culminating in sustained expression of c-MYC. By genetic and small-molecule targeting of this pathway, we acutely sensitize KRASG12D models to rapamycin via suppression of c-MYC. We show that 45% of colorectal cancers have high signaling through mTORC1 and the MNKs, with this signature correlating with a 3.5-year shorter cancer-specific survival in a subset of patients. This work provides a c-MYC-dependent cotargeting strategy with remarkable potency in multiple Kras-mutant mouse models and metastatic human organoids and identifies a patient population that may benefit from its clinical application. SIGNIFICANCE: KRAS mutation and elevated c-MYC are widespread in many tumors but remain predominantly untargetable. We find that mutant KRAS modulates translation, culminating in increased expression of c-MYC. We describe an effective strategy targeting mTORC1 and MNK in KRAS-mutant mouse and human models, pathways that are also commonly co-upregulated in colorectal cancer.
  • NUT carcinoma arising from the parotid gland: a case report and review of the literature

    Da Forno, Philip (2021)
    NUT carcinoma is an aggressive carcinoma with an overall poor survival outcome. The mediastinum and head and neck area, especially the sinonasal region, are among the common sites of disease. Histopathological diagnosis of NUT carcinoma is often very challenging due to its overlapping features with other poorly differentiated carcinomas. We report a case of NUT carcinoma arising from the parotid gland of a young female patient. Primary NUT carcinoma of salivary gland is very rare, with only 15 such cases reported in the literature to date. Our case highlights the diagnostic challenges associated with such lesions.
  • Nonadherence in hypertension: how to develop and implement chemical adherence testing

    Lane, Dan; Patel, Prashanth; Gupta, Pankaj (2022)
    Nonadherence to antihypertensive medication is common, especially in those with apparent treatment-resistant hypertension (true treatment-resistant hypertension requires exclusion of nonadherence), and its routine detection is supported by clinical guidelines. Chemical adherence testing is a reliable and valid method to detect adherence, yet methods are unstandardized and are not ubiquitous. This article describes the principles of chemical adherence testing for hypertensive patients and provides a set of recommendations for centers wishing to develop the test. We recommend testing should be done in either of two instances: (1) in those who have resistant hypertension or (2) in those on 2 antihypertensives who have a less than 10 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure on addition of the second antihypertensive medication. Furthermore, we recommend that verbal consent is secured before undertaking the test, and the results should be discussed with the patient. Based on medications prescribed in United Kingdom, European Union, and United States, we list top 20 to 24 drugs that cover >95% of hypertension prescriptions which may be included in the testing panel. Information required to identify these medications on mass spectrometry platforms is likewise provided. We discuss issues related to ethics, sample collection, transport, stability, urine versus blood samples, qualitative versus quantitative testing, pharmacokinetics, instrumentation, validation, quality assurance, and gaps in knowledge. We consider how to best present, interpret, and discuss chemical adherence test results with the patient. In summary, this guidance should help clinicians and their laboratories in the development of chemical adherence testing of prescribed antihypertensive drugs.
  • Severe symptomatic hypercalcemia in a patient with familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia

    Kurian, Roshini (2021)
    One of the less common causes of hypercalcemia is familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia (FHH). It is an autosomal-dominant genetic condition, which presents asymptomatically in most patients while some may have mild symptoms. The serum calcium levels are mildly elevated with mild elevation in parathyroid hormone, which rarely requires management with pharmacologic agents. We present an unusual case report of a 76-year-old woman, confirmed to have FHH type 1 mutation, presented with symptomatic hypercalcemia probably set off by metabolic stresses of her age and needing intensive treatment with intravenous bisphosphonates, calcitonin and cinacalcet.