• Leverkusen, Germany
Recent publications
Carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (CEACAM6), a cell surface receptor, is expressed on normal epithelial tissue and highly expressed in cancers of high unmet medical need, such as non-small cell lung, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer. CEACAM receptors undergo homo- and heterophilic interactions thereby regulating normal tissue homeostasis and angiogenesis, and in cancer, tumor invasion and metastasis. CEACAM6 expression on malignant plasma cells inhibits antitumor activity of T cells, and we hypothesize a similar function on epithelial cancer cells. The interactions between CEACAM6 and its suggested partner CEACAM1 on T cells were studied. A humanized CEACAM6-blocking antibody, BAY 1834942, was developed and characterized for its immunomodulating effects in co-culture experiments with T cells and solid cancer cells and in comparison to antibodies targeting the immune checkpoints programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and T cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (TIM-3). The immunosuppressive activity of CEACAM6 was mediated by binding to CEACAM1 expressed by activated tumor-specific T cells. BAY 1834942 increased cytokine secretion by T cells and T cell-mediated killing of cancer cells. The in vitro efficacy of BAY 1834942 correlated with the degree of CEACAM6 expression on cancer cells, suggesting potential in guiding patient selection. BAY 1834942 was equally or more efficacious compared to blockade of PD-L1, and at least an additive efficacy was observed in combination with anti-PD-1 or anti-TIM-3 antibodies, suggesting an efficacy independent of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis. In summary, CEACAM6 blockade by BAY 1834942 reactivates the antitumor response of T cells. This warrants clinical evaluation.
Avian reproduction studies for regulatory risk assessment are undergoing review by regulatory authorities, often leading to requests for statistical re-analysis of older studies using newer methods, sometimes with older study data that do not support these newer methods. We propose detailed statistical protocols with updated statistical methodology for use with both new and older studies and recommend improvements in experimental study design to set up future studies for robust statistical analyses. There is increased regulatory and industry attention to the potential use of benchmark dose (BMD) methodology to derive the endpoint to be used in avian reproduction studies for regulatory risk assessment. We present benefits and limitations of this BMD approach for older studies being re-evaluated and for new studies designed for with BMD analysis anticipated. Model averaging is recommended as preferable to model selection for BMD analysis. Even for a new study following the modified experimental design analyses, with BMD methodology will only be possible for a restricted set of response variables. The judicious use of historical control data, identification of outlier data points, increased use of distributions more consistent with the nature of the data collected as opposed to forcing normality-based methods, and trend-based hypothesis tests are shown to be effective for many studies, but limitations on their applicability are also recognized and explained. Updated statistical methodologies are illustrated with case studies conducted under existing regulatory guidelines that have been submitted for product registrations. Through the adoption of alternative avian reproduction study design elements combined with the suggested revised statistical methodologies the conduct, analyses, and utility of avian reproduction studies for avian risk assessments can be improved.
Although there is an abundance of methods for the enantioselective synthesis of 2-isoxazolines and 2-isoxazolin-5-ones, relatively few of these approaches have been reported when these heterocycles bear fully substituted stereocenters. In this minireview, we will detail the methods that have been used to successfully accomplish these challenging asymmetric transformations and give insights into their importance, such as allowing access to unique three-dimensional chemical space. The limitations of the currently known reactions will be discussed, as well as highlighting the future developments needed to advance the research field.
Despite advances in multi-modal treatment approaches, clinical outcomes of patients suffering from PAX3-FOXO1 fusion oncogene-expressing alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) remain dismal. Here we show that PAX3-FOXO1-expressing ARMS cells are sensitive to pharmacological ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related protein (ATR) inhibition. Expression of PAX3-FOXO1 in muscle progenitor cells is not only sufficient to increase sensitivity to ATR inhibition, but PAX3-FOXO1-expressing rhabdomyosarcoma cells also exhibit increased sensitivity to structurally diverse inhibitors of ATR. Mechanistically, ATR inhibition leads to replication stress exacerbation, decreased BRCA1 phosphorylation and reduced homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair pathway activity. Consequently, ATR inhibitor treatment increases sensitivity of ARMS cells to PARP1 inhibition in vitro, and combined treatment with ATR and PARP1 inhibitors induces complete regression of primary patient-derived ARMS xenografts in vivo. Lastly, a genome-wide CRISPR activation screen (CRISPRa) in combination with transcriptional analyses of ATR inhibitor resistant ARMS cells identifies the RAS-MAPK pathway and its targets, the FOS gene family, as inducers of resistance to ATR inhibition. Our findings provide a rationale for upcoming biomarker-driven clinical trials of ATR inhibitors in patients suffering from ARMS. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is a clinically challenging disease due to the lack of druggable targets. Here the authors show preclinical evidence for ATR inhibitors as a therapeutic option for alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
Animal experiments and early phase human trials suggest that inhibition of factor XIa (FXIa) safely prevents venous thromboembolism (VTE), and specific murine models of sepsis have shown potential efficacy in alleviating cytokine storm. These latter findings support the role of FXI beyond coagulation. Here, we combine targeted proteomics, machine learning and bioinformatics, to discover associations between FXI activity (FXI:C) and the plasma protein profile of patients with VTE. FXI:C was measured with a modified activated partial prothrombin time (APTT) clotting time assay. Proximity extension assay-based protein profiling was performed on plasma collected from subjects from the Genotyping and Molecular Phenotyping of Venous Thromboembolism (GMP-VTE) Project, collected during an acute VTE event (n = 549) and 12-months after (n = 187). Among 444 proteins investigated, N = 21 and N = 66 were associated with FXI:C during the acute VTE event and at 12 months follow-up, respectively. Seven proteins were identified as FXI:C-associated at both time points. These FXI-related proteins were enriched in immune pathways related to causes of thrombo-inflammation, extracellular matrix interaction, lipid metabolism, and apoptosis. The results of this study offer important new avenues for future research into the multiple properties of FXI, which are of high clinical interest given the current development of FXI inhibitors.
Background: Rivaroxaban and apixaban are the most widely used nonvitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE). This meta-analysis evaluates the effectiveness and safety of both NOACs versus standard of care (SoC) in real-world practice. Methods: Real-world evidence (RWE) studies were identified through a systematic literature review conducted between January 2012 and July 2020, using Embase, MEDLINE, and the websites of cardiological, hematological, and oncological associations. Eligible RWE studies recruited adult patients with deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism and presented a comparison between rivaroxaban and apixaban versus SoC, consisting either of vitamin K antagonists, heparins, or combinations thereof. Hazard ratios (HRs) for the comparison between NOACs and SoC were extracted from the relevant studies or estimated based on the reported binary data. The between-treatment contrasts were reported as HRs with associated 95% confidence intervals. Results: A total of 65 RWE studies were identified and considered relevant for the meta-analysis. Compared with SoC, both rivaroxaban and apixaban were associated with reduced risks of recurrent VTE and a lower rate of major bleeding events. Patients treated with rivaroxaban were at a lower risk of all-cause death compared with those receiving SoC (HR = 0.56 [0.39-0.80]), while evidence for apixaban from the identified studies was insufficient to demonstrate a statistically significant change in mortality (HR = 0.66 [0.30-1.47]). Conclusion: This analysis indicates that in real-world practice, rivaroxaban and apixaban are associated with a lower risk of recurrent VTE and major bleeding events compared with SoC. Survival benefit in patients treated with rivaroxaban was also observed.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic curtailed clinical trial activity. Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) can expand trial access and reduce exposure risk but their feasibility remains uncertain. We evaluated DCT feasibility for atrial fibrillation (AF) patients on oral anticoagulation (OAC). DeTAP (Decentralized Trial in Afib Patients, NCT04471623) was a 6-month, single-arm, 100% virtual study of 100 AF patients on OAC aged >55 years, recruited traditionally and through social media. Participants enrolled and participated virtually using a mobile application and remote blood pressure (BP) and six-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors. Four engagement-based primary endpoints included changes in pre- versus end-of-study OAC adherence (OACA), and % completion of televisits, surveys, and ECG and BP measurements. Secondary endpoints included survey-based nuisance bleeding and patient feedback. 100 subjects (mean age 70 years, 44% women, 90% White) were recruited in 28 days (traditional: 6 pts; social media: 94 pts in 12 days with >300 waitlisted). Study engagement was high: 91% televisits, 85% surveys, and 99% ECG and 99% BP measurement completion. OACA was unchanged at 6 months (baseline: 97 ± 9%, 6 months: 96 ± 15%, p = 0.39). In patients with low baseline OACA (<90%), there was significant 6-month improvement (85 ± 16% to 96 ± 6%, p < 0.01). 86% of respondents (69/80) expressed willingness to continue in a longer trial. The DeTAP study demonstrated rapid recruitment, high engagement, and physiologic reporting via the integration of digital technologies and dedicated study coordination. These findings may inform DCT designs for future cardiovascular trials.
Background Heart failure (HF) is a global illness and is a leading cause of hospitalizations. Recurrent HF hospitalization (HFH) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) and all-cause mortality, thereby burdening the health system. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and atrial fibrillation (AF) are two important comorbidities in patients living with HF. This study aims to assess the association between recurrent HFHs with CV and all-cause mortality in patients living with HF and having AF and/or T2DM. Methods This study was conducted using primary care data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink database with linkage to hospital data and mortality data. Adults living with HF and with at least 1 HFH were identified from January 2010 to December 2014. Patients were grouped based on the number of recurrent HFHs. During follow-up, all-cause mortality or CV mortality for the HF population with AF and T2DM was recorded. Results Overall, 32.9% of 2344 T2DM patients and 28.2% of 4585 AF patients had at least 1 recurrent HFH. The patients were relatively elderly and were predominantly male. The mean number of all-cause hospitalizations in HF patients having T2DM and AF, with ≥ 1 recurrent HFH were significantly higher than patients without recurrent HFH. The annualized mortality rates in CV mortality as the primary cause and for all-cause mortality and increased with recurrent HFHs, in T2DM and AF patients. The risk of CV mortality as primary cause and all cause morality were 5.39 and 3.19 times higher in T2DM patients with 3 recurrent HFHs versus no recurrent HFH. Similarly, the risk of CV mortality as primary cause and all cause morality was 5.98 and 4.3 times higher in AF patients with 3 recurrent HFHs versus those with no recurrent HFH. Conclusions Recurrent HFHs are strongly associated with CV mortality and all-cause mortality in HF patients with TD2M or AF. The hospitalization rate highlights the need for treatment and disease management, which will improve the course of the disease and help patients stay out of hospital.
Background The INNODIA consortium has established a pan-European infrastructure using validated centres to prospectively evaluate clinical data from individuals with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes combined with centralised collection of clinical samples to determine rates of decline in beta-cell function and identify novel biomarkers, which could be used for future stratification of phase 2 clinical trials. Methods In this context, we have developed a Master Protocol, based on the “backbone” of the INNODIA natural history study, which we believe could improve the delivery of phase 2 studies exploring the use of single or combinations of Investigational Medicinal Products (IMPs), designed to prevent or reverse declines in beta-cell function in individuals with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. Although many IMPs have demonstrated potential efficacy in phase 2 studies, few subsequent phase 3 studies have confirmed these benefits. Currently, phase 2 drug development for this indication is limited by poor evaluation of drug dosage and lack of mechanistic data to understand variable responses to the IMPs. Identification of biomarkers which might permit more robust stratification of participants at baseline has been slow. Discussion The Master Protocol provides (1) standardised assessment of efficacy and safety, (2) comparable collection of mechanistic data, (3) the opportunity to include adaptive designs and the use of shared control groups in the evaluation of combination therapies, and (4) benefits of greater understanding of endpoint variation to ensure more robust sample size calculations and future baseline stratification using existing and novel biomarkers.
Background Direct-acting oral anticoagulant use for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation is limited by bleeding concerns. Asundexian, a novel, oral small molecule activated coagulation factor XIa (FXIa) inhibitor, might reduce thrombosis with minimal effect on haemostasis. We aimed to determine the optimal dose of asundexian and to compare the incidence of bleeding with that of apixaban in patients with atrial fibrillation. Methods In this randomised, double-blind, phase 2 dose-finding study, we compared asundexian 20 mg or 50 mg once daily with apixaban 5 mg twice daily in patients aged 45 years or older with atrial fibrillation, a CHA2DS2-VASc score of at least 2 if male or at least 3 if female, and increased bleeding risk. The study was conducted at 93 sites in 14 countries, including 12 European countries, Canada, and Japan. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to a treatment group using an interactive web response system, with randomisation stratified by whether patients were receiving a direct-acting oral anticoagulant before the study start. Masking was achieved using a double-dummy design, with participants receiving both the assigned treatment and a placebo that resembled the non-assigned treatment. The primary endpoint was the composite of major or clinically relevant non-major bleeding according to International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis criteria, assessed in all patients who took at least one dose of study medication. This trial is registered with, NCT04218266, and EudraCT, 2019-002365-35. Findings Between Jan 30, 2020, and June 21, 2021, 862 patients were enrolled. 755 patients were randomly assigned to treatment. Two patients (assigned to asundexian 20 mg) never took any study medication, resulting in 753 patients being included in the analysis (249 received asundexian 20 mg, 254 received asundexian 50 g, and 250 received apixaban). The mean age of participants was 73·7 years (SD 8·3), 309 (41%) were women, 216 (29%) had chronic kidney disease, and mean CHA2DS2-VASc score was 3·9 (1·3). Asundexian 20 mg resulted in 81% inhibition of FXIa activity at trough concentrations and 90% inhibition at peak concentrations; asundexian 50 mg resulted in 92% inhibition at trough concentrations and 94% inhibition at peak concentrations. Ratios of incidence proportions for the primary endpoint were 0·50 (90% CI 0·14–1·68) for asundexian 20 mg (three events), 0·16 (0·01–0·99) for asundexian 50 mg (one event), and 0·33 (0·09–0·97) for pooled asundexian (four events) versus apixaban (six events). The rate of any adverse event occurring was similar in the three treatment groups: 118 (47%) with asundexian 20 mg, 120 (47%) with asundexian 50 mg, and 122 (49%) with apixaban. Interpretation The FXIa inhibitor asundexian at doses of 20 mg and 50 mg once daily resulted in lower rates of bleeding compared with standard dosing of apixaban, with near-complete in-vivo FXIa inhibition, in patients with atrial fibrillation. Funding Bayer.
Accurate calculation of relative tautomer energies in different environments is a prerequisite to many parameters of relevance in drug discovery. This work provides a thorough benchmark of the semiempirical methods AM1, PM3 and GFN2-xTB, the force-field OPLS4, Hartree-Fock and HF-3c, the density functionals PBEh-3c, B97-3c, r2SCAN-3c, PBE, PBE0, TPSS, r2SCAN, ω-B97X-V, M06-2X, B3LYP, B2PLYP, and MP2 versus the coupled-cluster gold-standard DLPNO-CCSD(T) with def2-QZVPP basis sets applied. The outperforming method identified is M06-2X, whereas r2SCAN-3c is the best-perfoming method in the set of cost-optimized ones. Application of the identified methods on a challenging subset from the SAMPL2 challenge provides evidence that deviations from experiment is caused by deficiencies of current continuum solvation methods.
The field of explainable AI applied to molecular property prediction models has often been reduced to deriving atomic contributions. This has impaired the interpretability of such models, as chemists rather think in terms of larger, chemically meaningful structures, which often do not simply reduce to the sum of their atomic constituents. We develop an explanatory framework yielding both local as well as more complex structural attributions. We derive such contextual explanations in pixel space, exploiting the property that a molecule is not merely encoded through a collection of atoms and bonds, as is the case for string- or graph-based approaches. We provide evidence that the proposed explanation method satisfies desirable properties, namely sparsity and invariance with respect to the molecule’s symmetries.
Purpose To evaluate time trends in the prevalence of antithrombotic and statin use in four European countries. Methods Using population-based data from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain and Italy between 2010 and 2018, we calculated standardized annual prevalence proportions of antithrombotics and statin use, and changes in prevalence proportions (2018 vs. 2010). Results Prevalence proportion of statins increased from 24.8% to 24.6% (UK), 21.0% to 22.3% (Region of Southern Denmark [RSD]), 12.9% to 14.3% (Udine, Italy), and 20.3% to 23.2% (Spain). Prevalence proportions of antithrombotics declined in all four countries: 18.7% to 15.9% (UK; − 2.8% points), 18.9% to 18.1% (RSD; − 0.8% points), 17.7% to 16.6% (Udine; − 1.1% points) and 15.0% to 13.6% (Spain; − 1.4% points). These declines were driven by reductions in low-dose aspirin use: 15.3% to 8.9% (UK; − 6.4% points), 16.3% to 9.5% (RSD; − 6.8% points), 13.5% to 11.6% (Udine; − 1.9% points), and 10.2% to 8.8% (Spain; − 1.4% points). In the UK, low-dose aspirin use declined from 9.1% to 4.3% (− 4.8% points) for primary CVD prevention, and from 49.6% to 36.9% (− 12.7% points) for secondary prevention. Oral anticoagulant use gradually increased but did not fully account for the decrease in low-dose aspirin use. Conclusions Antithrombotic use in the UK, RSD, Udine and Spain declined between 2010 and 2018, driven by a reduction in use of low-dose aspirin that is not completely explained by a gradual increase in OAC use. Use of statins remained constant in the UK, and increased gradually in the RSD, Udine and Spain.
Background Temporal pattern discovery (TPD) is a method of signal detection using electronic healthcare databases, serving as an alternative to spontaneous reporting of adverse drug events. Here, we aimed to replicate and optimise a TPD approach previously used to assess temporal signals of statins with rhabdomyolysis (in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database) by using the OHDSI tools designed for OMOP data sources. Methods We used data from the Truven MarketScan US Commercial Claims and the Commercial Claims and Encounters (CCAE). Using an extension of the OHDSI ICTemporalPatternDiscovery package, we ran positive and negative controls through four analytical settings and calculated sensitivity, specificity, bias and AUC to assess performance. Results Similar to previous findings, we noted an increase in the Information Component (IC) for simvastatin and rhabdomyolysis following initial exposure and throughout the surveillance window. For example, the change in IC was 0.266 for the surveillance period of 1–30 days as compared to the control period of − 180 to − 1 days. Our modification of the existing OHDSI software allowed for faster queries and more efficient generation of chronographs. Conclusion Our OMOP replication matched the we can account forwe can account for of the original THIN study, only simvastatin had a signal. The TPD method is a useful signal detection tool that provides a single statistic on temporal association and a graphical depiction of the temporal pattern of the drug outcome combination. It remains unclear if the method works well for rare adverse events, but it has been shown to be a useful risk identification tool for longitudinal observational databases. Future work should compare the performance of TPD with other pharmacoepidemiology methods and mining techniques of signal detection. In addition, it would be worth investigating the relative TPD performance characteristics using a variety of observational data sources.
Background Clinical practice guidelines recommend sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors (SGLT2is) to mitigate adverse kidney and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), including patients with comorbid chronic kidney disease (CKD), also referred to as diabetic kidney disease (DKD), who are at even higher risk. In this study, we sought to identify predictors of cardio-kidney events, cardio-kidney complications, and treatment failure (i.e., addition/initiation of a new T2D class, insulin, or discontinuation of SGLT2is) after new initiation of SGLT2is in patients with CKD and T2D (DKD). Methods In this retrospective cohort study, we identified adult patients with DKD who initiated SGLT2is between April 1, 2012, and June 30, 2019, in Optum claims data. Outcome rates per 1000 person-years (PY) are reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Cox proportional hazards regression identified patient characteristics associated with each outcome. Results The study population consisted of 6389 initiators of SGLT2is. The rate of CV hospitalization was 26.0 (95% CI 21.6, 30.4) per 1000 PY. Baseline characteristics associated with higher risk of CV hospitalization included age, atrial fibrillation, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and cancer. The rate of kidney hospitalization was 12.0 (95% CI 9.0, 15.0) per 1000 PY. The risk increased significantly with baseline evidence of heart failure, hyperkalemia, respiratory failure, depression, and use of loop diuretics. In total, 55.0% of all SGLT2i initiators discontinued treatment during the follow-up period. The rate of treatment failure was 510.5 (95% CI 492.9, 528.1) per 1000 PY. Analysis of key time-dependent SGLT2i-associated adverse events showed that experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis and volume depletion were associated with risk of treatment failure. Conclusions Our study demonstrated high rates of residual cardio-kidney outcomes and treatment failure in patients with DKD treated with SGLT2is. Patients with high baseline CV risk and the presence of certain conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, PVD, and heart failure, were at higher risk for cardio-kidney events. Further research is needed to assess the potential relationship between adverse events and SGLT2i treatment failure.
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Annika Kreuchwig
  • Global R&D Information
Djork-Arné Clevert
  • Machine Learning Research
Garima Kakkar
  • Entomology Pipeline Testing
Urs Hagemann
  • Preclinical Research
Leverkusen, Germany