Jun 2012, Volume 6 Issue 2

  • Select all
  • Review
    Kai Gao, Junzhi Wang

    Biopharmaceuticals reflect the rapid progress achieved in modern biomedical research. This area has also become one of the main criteria for assessing the development level of biotechnology for a particular country. Although it has been only three decades since the first biopharmaceutical, recombinant human insulin, was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration, the biopharmaceutical industry has become the fastest growing, most dynamic and technology-intensive sector in the biomedical field. Since the licensing of recombinant human interferon α1b in 1989, the biopharmaceutical industry in China has gone through initial developments and gradually entered a period of rapid growth. This paper provides an overview of the status and development trends of biopharmaceuticals in China, and compares them with those observed in developed countries.

    Douglas D. Fang, Danyi Wen, Yajun Xu

    Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have received considerable attention from the research community since they were first reported in human acute myeloid leukemia 15 years ago. Accumulating evidence suggests that CSCs are responsible for tumor initiation and progression, drug resistance, and metastasis in both liquid and solid tumors. These findings lead to the development of novel compounds targeting CSC populations that is becoming increasingly important for eradicating CSCs in heterogeneous tumor masses and to cure the cancer. Since 2003, we have participated in CSC studies and encountered crucial early events in the field. This article reviews the history of CSC biology, clarifies the term and its definition, and further addresses the issue of how to utilize CSCs in therapeutic target discovery and drug development based on our substantial experience.

    Qiang Gao, Yinghong Shi, Xiaoying Wang, Jian Zhou, Shuangjian Qiu, Jia Fan

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly complex disease that is generally resistant to commonly used chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Consequently, there is an urgent need for the development of new treatment strategies for this devastating disease. In the past decade, tremendous progress has been achieved in the molecular stratification of HCCs for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic decision-making. To date, the molecular classification of HCCs has been carried out through transcriptomic, genetic and epigenetic profiling of tumors. Such research has led to identification of several potential molecular targets in HCC, and subsequently, development of novel systemic agents for the treatment of HCC has begun in earnest. In this article, we review the current knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of HCC and outline potential areas for application of this knowledge in a clinical setting. As a typical virus and inflammation-associated cancer, both host immune response and tumor microenvironment have crucial roles in HCC pathogenesis. In addition, we examine the potential of immunotherapy and strategies targeting various components of the tumor microenvironment, as well as novel molecular and cellular targets in HCC such as cancer stem cells.

    Ji Qi, David Mu

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and worldwide. Better understanding of the disease is warranted for improvement in clinical management. Here we summarize the functions of small-RNA-based, posttranscriptional gene regulators, i.e. microRNAs, in the pathogenesis of lung cancers. We discuss the microRNAs that play oncogenic as well as tumor suppressive roles. We also touch on the value of microRNAs as markers for diagnosis, prognosis and the promising field of microRNA-based novel therapies for lung cancers.

    Zhifeng Wang, Fengli Wang, Tieshan Tang, Caixia Guo

    Single-strand break repair protein poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) catalyzes the poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of many key proteins in vivo and thus plays important roles in multiple DNA damage response pathways, rendering it a promising target in cancer therapy. The tumor-suppressor effects of PARP inhibitors have attracted significant interest for development of novel cancer therapies. However, recent evidence indicated that the underlying mechanism of PARP inhibitors in tumor therapy is more complex than previously expected. The present review will focus on recent progress on the role of PARP1 in the DNA damage response and PARP inhibitors in cancer therapy. The emerging resistance of BRCA-deficient tumors to PARP inhibitors is also briefly discussed from the perspective of DNA damage and repair. These recent research advances will inform the selection of patient populations who can benefit from the PARP inhibitor treatment and development of effective drug combination strategies.

    Guo-Liang Jiang

    Particle irradiation started to draw attention in the past decade and has now become a hotspot in the radiation oncology community. This article reviews the most advanced developments in particle irradiation, focusing on the characteristics of proton and carbon ions in radiation physics and radiobiology. The Bragg peak of physical dose distribution causes proton and carbon beams to optimally meet the requirement for cancer irradiation because the Bragg peak permits the accurate concentration of the dose on the tumor, thus sparing the adjacent normal tissues. Moreover, carbon ion has more radiobiological benefits than photon and proton beams. These benefits include stronger sterilization effects on intrinsic radio-resistant tumors and more effective killing of hypoxic, G0, and S phase cells. Compared with the most advanced radiation techniques using photon, such as three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy, proton therapy has yielded more promising outcomes in local control and survival for head and neck cancers, prostate carcinoma, and pediatric cancers. Carbon therapy in Japan showed even more promising results than proton therapy. The local controls and overall survivals were as good as that treated by surgery in early stages of non-small cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, prostate carcinoma, and head and neck cancers, especially for such highly resistant tumors as melanoma. The non-invasive nature of particle therapy affords more patients with chances to receive and benefit from treatment. Particle therapy is gradually getting attention from the oncology community. However, the cost of particle therapy facilities has limited the worldwide use of this technology.

    Albert Cheung-Hoi Yu, Greg Vatcher, Xin Yue, Yan Dong, Mao Hua Li, Patrick H. K. Tam, Parker Y.L. Tsang, April K.Y. Wong, Michael H.K. Hui, Bin Yang, Hao Tang, Lok-Ting Lau

    Infectious diseases, mostly caused by bacteria and viruses but also a result of fungal and parasitic infection, have been one of the most important public health concerns throughout human history. The first step in combating these pathogens is to get a timely and accurate diagnosis at an affordable cost. Many kinds of diagnostics have been developed, such as pathogen culture, biochemical tests and serological tests, to help detect and fight against the causative agents of diseases. However, these diagnostic tests are generally unsatisfactory because they are not particularly sensitive and specific and are unable to deliver speedy results. Nucleic acid-based diagnostics, detecting pathogens through the identification of their genomic sequences, have shown promise to overcome the above limitations and become more widely adopted in clinical tests. Here we review some of the most popular nucleic acid-based diagnostics and focus on their adaptability and applicability to routine clinical usage. We also compare and contrast the characteristics of different types of nucleic acid-based diagnostics.

    Junqing Wang, Lu Zhang, Weize Wu

    Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) has received considerable interest in recent years as a novel surgical technique. Here, we aim to review the current progress on NOTES, particularly focusing on the advantages and complications related to NOTES, the recent advances of surgical approaches, new instruments for closure of the natural orifice incision, and the newly developed platform for NOTES. Finally, we make a prediction of the conceivable applications of NOTES on human subjects.

  • Research Article
    Liyuan Chen, Qifeng Dang, Chengsheng Liu, Jun Chen, Lei Song, Xiguang Chen

    The purpose of this study was to improve the dissolution rate and anti-inflammatory effect of ibuprofen by a solid dispersion (SD) method. Initial screening was developed based on drug solubility in carriers in the liquid state to select a suitable water-soluble carrier system for the preparation of SDs. The dissolution of ibuprofen in urea was higher than in PEG4000 or mannitol. Thus, urea was selected as the carrier for the preparation of SDs. SDs were characterized in terms of dissolution, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Solid dispersion-based (SDBT) and conventional (CT) tablets were prepared by the wet granulation method. The anti-inflammatory effect of SDBT was evaluated using the mouse ear edema test with xylene. In vitro release results indicated that the ibuprofen dissolution rate was improved by the SD. SD characterization results suggested that ibuprofen partly precipitates in crystalline and amorphous forms after SD preparation and that ibuprofen and urea do not interact. SDBT displayed more significant anti-inflammatory effects than CT. The dissolution rate and anti-inflammatory effect of ibuprofen were significantly enhanced by the ibuprofen-urea SD.

    Haiyan He, Yang Shen, Yongmei Zhu, Saijuan Chen

    We evaluated the outcomes of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients in three clinical phases, namely, chronic (CP), accelerated (AP), and blast (BP) phases, receiving imatinib treatment. The single-institution treatment experiences of Chinese patients with CML were presented. A total of 275 CML patients (CP, 210; AP, 24; and BP, 41) who received imatinib between February 2001 and April 2008 were enrolled in this study. We evaluated the responses (hematologic, cytogenetic, and molecular), overall survival (OS), treatment event-free survival (EFS), and prognostic factors of outcome. At the cut-off point, the complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) and complete molecular response rates of patients in the CP were 84.7% and 61.9%, respectively, which were significantly higher than those of patients in the AP (50% and 29.1%, respectively, both P<0.001) and BP (24.3% and 9.7%, respectively, both P<0.001). The estimated five-year OS and five-year EFS rates were 93.2% and 86.4% for CP patients, as well as 64.5% and 50.9% for AP patients, which were significantly higher than those for BP patients (P<0.001). In CP patients, univariate analysis revealed that early treatment with imatinib, achieving CCyR within 12 months, additional cytogenetic abnormalities, and kinase domain mutations were associated with the treatment outcome. More patients are needed to carry out multivariate analysis.

    Shuai Li, Li Fu
    Yi Cao, Huaping Gao
    Hengjin Dong, Shengnan Duan, Yuan Wu, Jing Wang, Xujun Ye