New discoveries offer possible Cushing’s disease cure

LOS ANGELES — More than a century has passed since the neurosurgeon and pathologist Harvey Cushing first discovered the disease that would eventually bear his name, but only recently have several key discoveries offered patients with the condition real hope for a cure, according to a speaker here.

There are several challenges clinicians confront in the diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s disease, Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, FRCP, MACP, dean, executive vice president and professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said during a plenary presentation. Patients who present with Cushing’s disease typically have depression, impaired mental function and hypertension and are at high risk for stroke, myocardial infarction, thrombosis, dyslipidemia and other metabolic disorders, Melmed said. Available therapies, which range from surgery and radiation to the somatostatin analogue pasireotide (Signifor LAR, Novartis), are often followed by disease recurrence. Cushing’s disease is fatal without treatment; the median survival if uncontrolled is about 4.5 years, Melmed said.

“This truly is a metabolic, malignant disorder,” Melmed said. “The life expectancy today in patients who are not controlled is apparently no different from 1930.”

The outlook for Cushing’s disease is now beginning to change, Melmed said. New targets are emerging for treatment, and newly discovered molecules show promise in reducing the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and pituitary tumor size.

“Now, we are seeing the glimmers of opportunity and optimism, that we can identify specific tumor drivers — SST5, [epidermal growth factor] receptor, cyclin inhibitors — and we can start thinking about personalized, precision treatment for these patients with a higher degree of efficacy and optimism than we could have even a year or 2 ago,” Melmed said. “This will be an opportunity for us to broaden the horizons of our investigations into this debilitating disorder.”

Challenges in diagnosis, treatment

Overall, about 10% of the U.S. population harbors a pituitary adenoma, the most common type of pituitary disorder, although the average size is only about 6 mm and 40% of them are not visible, Melmed said. In patients with Cushing’s disease, surgery is effective in only about 60% to 70% of patients for initial remission, and overall, there is about a 60% chance of recurrence depending on the surgery center, Melmed said. Radiation typically leads to hypopituitarism, whereas surgical or biochemical adrenalectomy is associated with adverse effects and morbidity. Additionally, the clinical features of hypercortisolemia overlap with many common illnesses, such as obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

“There are thousands of those patients for every patient with Cushing’s disease who we will encounter,” Melmed said.

The challenge for the treating clinician, Melmed said, is to normalize cortisol and ACTH with minimal morbidity, to resect the tumor mass or control tumor growth, preserve pituitary function, improve quality of life and achieve long-term control without recurrence.

“This is a difficult challenge to meet for all of us,” Melmed said.

Available options

Pituitary surgery is typically the first-line option offered to patients with Cushing’s disease, Melmed said, and there are several advantages, including rapid initial remission, a one-time cost and potentially curing the disease. However, there are several disadvantages with surgery; patients undergoing surgery are at risk for postoperative venous thromboembolism, persistent hypersecretion of ACTH, adenoma persistence or recurrence, and surgical complications.

Second-line options are repeat surgery, radiation, adrenalectomy or medical therapy, each with its own sets of pros and cons, Melmed said.

“The reality of Cushing’s disease — these patients undergo first surgery and then recur, second surgery and then recur, then maybe radiation and then recur, and then they develop a chronic illness, and this chronic illness is what leads to their demise,” Melmed said. “Medical therapy is appropriate at every step of the spectrum.”

Zebrafish clues

Searching for new options, Melmed and colleagues introduced a pituitary tumor transforming gene discovered in his lab into zebrafish, which caused the fish to develop the hallmark features of Cushing’s disease: high cortisol levels, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In the fish models, researchers observed that cyclin E activity, which drives the production of ACTH, was high.

Melmed and colleagues then screened zebrafish larvae in a search for cyclin E inhibitors to derive a therapeutic molecule and discovered R-roscovitine, shown to repress the expression of proopiomelanocortin (POMC), the pituitary precursor of ACTH.

In fish, mouse and in vitro human cell models, treatment with R-roscovitine was associated with suppressed corticotroph tumor signaling and blocked ACTH production, Melmed said.

“Furthermore, we asked whether or not roscovitine would actually block transcription of the POMC gene,” Melmed said. “It does. We had this molecule (that) suppressed cyclin E and also blocks transcription of POMC leading to blocked production of ACTH.”

In a small, open-label, proof-of-principal study, four patients with Cushing’s disease who received roscovitine for 4 weeks developed normalized urinary free cortisol, Melmed said.

Currently, the FDA Office of Orphan Products Development is funding a multicenter, phase 2, open-label clinical trial that will evaluate the safety and efficacy of two of three potential doses of oral roscovitine (seliciclib) in patients with newly diagnosed, persistent or recurrent Cushing disease. Up to 29 participants will be treated with up to 800 mg per day of oral seliciclib for 4 days each week for 4 weeks and enrolled in sequential cohorts based on efficacy outcomes.

“Given the rarity of the disorder, it will probably take us 2 to 3 years to recruit patients to give us a robust answer,” Melmed said. “This zebrafish model was published in 2011, and we are now in 2019. It has taken us 8 years from publication of the data to, today, going into humans with Cushing’s. Hopefully, this will light the pathway for a phase 2 trial.”

 Offering optimism’

Practitioners face a unique paradigm when treating patients with Cushing’s disease, Melmed said. Available first- and second-line therapy options often are not a cure for many patients, who develop multimorbidity and report a low quality of life.

“Then, we are kept in this difficult cycle of what to do next and, eventually, running out of options,” Melmed said. “Now, we can look at novel, targeted molecules and add those to our armamentarium and at least offer our patients the opportunity to participate in trials, or at least offer the optimism that, over the coming years, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for their disorder.”

Melmed compared the work to Lucas Cranach’s Fons Juventutis (The Fountain of Youth). The painting, completed in 1446, shows sick people brought by horse-drawn ambulance to a pool of water, only to emerge happy and healthy.

“He was imagining this ‘elixir of youth’ (that) we could offer patients who are very ill and, in fact, that is what we as endocrinologists do,” Melmed said. “We offer our patients these elixirs. These Cushing’s patients are extremely ill. We are trying with all of our molecular work and our understanding of pathogenesis and signaling to create this pool of water for them, where they can emerge with at least an improved quality of life and, hopefully, a normalized mortality. That is our challenge.” – by Regina Schaffer

Reference:

Melmed S. From zebrafish to humans: translating discoveries for the treatment of Cushing’s disease. Presented at: AACE Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress; April 24-28, 2019; Los Angeles.

Disclosure: Melmed reports no relevant financial disclosures.

 

From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/neuroendocrinology/news/online/%7B585002ad-640f-49e5-8d62-d1853154d7e2%7D/new-discoveries-offer-possible-cushings-disease-cure

Hormonal Imbalance – Indication of Pituitary Gland Tumors

Patna: Improper functioning of the Pituitary gland usually results in excess or under production of hormones that leads to a formation of mass called tumor, which can be benign or malignant. Such tumors in this gland can create numerous serious medical conditions by interfering with the normal functioning of the endocrine system and pituitary gland.

 

“Though the occurrence of tumor is more likely after the age of 30 years, it still can impact at an early age. The survival rates of tumor due to its complicated location also depend on other factors like the patient’s age, type and size of tumor. Mostly, pituitary gland tumors are non cancerous but the exact causes are unknown. Some of them are hereditary and some are caused by a rare genetic disorder called as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. This disorder can also lead to over-activity or enlargement of 3 different endocrine-related glands, which also includes the pituitary gland. “Dr Aditya Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery, Agrim institute for neuro sciences, Artemis Hospital

 

Diagnosis at an early stage can help the treatment procedure to be totally non-invasive with the use of advances technology called as Cyberknife. Cyberknife which is the most advanced radiation therapy is completely non-invasive therapy available for the treatment of benign as well as malignant tumors. This therapy works the best for some pituitary tumors that are upto 2 cm in size and is a very powerful and effective technique for treating patients suffering from early stage primary and medically inoperable tumors. The treatment is safe to administer and also offers a new option in patients with recurrent disease or a single disease in the body.

 

“Highlights of the therapy being ease of access to any complex location without the need to use the surgical knife, precision of the beam with high dose radiation to the tumor location, and the safety. It is a day care procedure without pain and risk, and the patient can get back to daily chores as soon as the session gets over which depends on the tumor typically (30 minutes) and hence eliminates the requirement of any hospital stay.” Added Dr Gupta

 

Depending upon the hormonal variations in the body, there can be a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms include Headaches, vision problem, tiredness, mood changes, irritability, changes in menstrual cycle in women, impotence, infertility, Inappropriate breast growth or production of breast milk, Cushing’s syndrome which is a combination of weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and easy bruising, the enlargement of the extremities or limbs, thickening of the skull and jaw caused by too much growth hormone.

 

Pituitary gland, which is also known as the master gland has the most important function of producing hormones that regulates the critical organs of the body including thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. It is a small pea-size gland located behind the eyes and below the front of the brain. Some tumors produce hormones known as functional tumors, and others can cause the glands to secrete too few or too many hormones. Also if the tumor pressed on the nearby structure, for instance the optic nerve, can also limit a person’s vision.

 

Moreover the procedure makes use of the most sophisticated image guidance technique to focus high doses of radiation directly to the tumor spot which eliminates the chances to damage the healthy cells as in any other methods of treatment.

 

“Each session of treatment usually lasts for about 30 -50 min and is cost effective with a success rate of 98% in such complicated tumors. Patients with pituitary adenomas receive stereotactic radio surgery with CyberKnife and are followed up for more than 12 months. After 2-3 weeks of therapy patients are monitored for positive responses and ensure there is no recurrence of any mass. Stereotactic radio surgery with the CyberKnife is effective and safe against pituitary adenomas.” Said Dr Gupta

From https://www.apnnews.com/hormonal-imbalance-indication-of-pituitary-gland-tumors-2/

Rare Disease Day 2019

rare disease day

 

Each and every day since 1987,  I tell anyone who will listen about Cushing’s.  I pass out a LOT Cushing’s business cards. My husband also passes out cards and brochures.

Adding to websites, blogs and more which I have maintained continuously since 2000 – at mostly my own expense.

Posting on the Cushing’s Help message boards about Rare Disease Day.  I post there most every day.

Tweeting/retweeting info about Cushing’s and Rare Disease Day today.

Adding info to one of my blogs about Cushing’s and Rare Disease Day.

Adding new and Golden Oldies bios to another blog, again most every day.

Thinking about getting the next Cushing’s Awareness Blogging Challenge set up for April…and will anyone else participate?

And updating https://www.facebook.com/CushingsInfo with a bunch of info today (and every day!)

~~~

Today is Rare Disease Day.

I had Cushing’s Disease due to a pituitary tumor. I was told to diet, told to take antidepressants and told that it was all my fault that I was so fat. My pituitary surgery in 1987 was a “success” but I still deal with the aftereffects of Cushing’s and of the surgery itself.

I also had another Rare Disease – Kidney Cancer, rare in younger, non-smoking women.

And then, there’s the secondary adrenal insufficiency…and growth hormone deficiency

If you’re interested, you can read my bio here: https://cushingsbios.com/2018/10/28/maryo-pituitary-bio/

What are YOU doing for Rare Disease Day?

 

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Sosei Heptares Starts New Clinical Development Program

TOKYO and LONDONFeb. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Sosei Group Corporation (“the Company”; TSE: 4565), announces that the first healthy subject has been dosed with a novel small molecule HTL0030310 in a Phase I clinical study, marking the start of a new in-house clinical program targeting endocrine disorders, including Cushing’s disease.

HTL0030310 is a potent and selective agonist of the SSTR5 (somatostatin 5) receptor and the sixth molecule designed by the Company using its GPCR Structure-Based Drug Design (SBDD) platform to enter clinical development.

HTL0030310 has been designed to modulate the excess release of hormones from adenomas (benign tumors) of the pituitary gland. Highly elevated plasma levels of pituitary hormones result in a number of serious endocrine disorders, including Cushing’s Disease. Cushing’s disease is characterized by excessive cortisol release, crucial in regulating metabolism, maintaining cardiovascular function and helping the body respond to stress.

A key design feature of HTL0030310 is its significant selectivity for SSTR5 over SSTR2. This selectivity is expected to improve the balance of efficacy vs. dose-limiting side effects and therefore, presents an opportunity to develop a best-in-class medicine for patients with Cushing’s disease, in particular.

The clinical trial with HTL0030310 is a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled first-in-human study in which single ascending subcutaneous doses of HTL0030310 will be administered to healthy male and female adult subjects. The study is being conducted in the UK and will assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of HTL0030310 in up to 64 subjects. Preliminary results are expected in the second half of 2019 and will provide a first insight into the effects of HTL0030310 on the control of glucose and other endocrine hormones and the potential to target Cushing’s disease and other endocrine disorders.

Dr. Malcolm Weir, Executive VP and Chief R&D Officer, said: “HTL0030310 is a novel and highly selective molecule, and is the sixth candidate originating from our SBDD platform to advance into human trials. We are not only pleased to begin this new study but also delighted with the productivity of our unique platform to generate attractive candidates targeting GPCRs involved in multiple diseases. These candidates present new prospects for our emerging proprietary pipeline, as well as unique opportunities for partnering, and provide a solid foundation to execute our strategy.”

About Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease is a debilitating endocrine disorder caused by the overproduction of the hormone cortisol and is often triggered by a pituitary adenoma (benign tumour) secreting excess adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Cortisol has a crucial role regulating metabolism, maintaining cardiovascular function and helping the body respond to stress. Symptoms may include weight gain, central obesity, a round, red full face, severe fatigue and weakness, striae (purple stretch marks), high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Cushing’s disease affects 10-15 million people per year, most commonly adults between 20 to 50 years and women more often than men. The first line and most common treatment approach for Cushing’s disease is surgical removal of the pituitary tumor followed by radiotherapy and drug therapy designed to reduce cortisol production.

Ref: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) 

About Sosei Heptares

We are an international biopharmaceutical group focused on the design and development of new medicines originating from its proprietary GPCR-targeted StaR® technology and structure-based drug design platform capabilities. The Company is advancing a broad and deep pipeline of partnered and wholly owned product candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, including CNS, immuno-oncology, gastroenterology, inflammation and other rare/specialty indications. Its leading clinical programs include partnered candidates aimed at the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (with Allergan) and next generation immuno-oncology approaches to treat cancer (with AstraZeneca). Our additional partners and collaborators include Novartis, Pfizer, Daiichi-Sankyo, PeptiDream, Kymab and MorphoSys. The Company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with R&D facilities in Cambridge, UK and Zurich, Switzerland.

“Sosei Heptares” is the corporate brand of Sosei Group Corporation, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (ticker: 4565).

For more information, please visit https://www.soseiheptares.com/

LinkedIn: @soseiheptaresco | Twitter: @soseiheptaresco | YouTube: @soseiheptaresco

Forward-looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about the discovery, development and commercialization of products. Various risks may cause Sosei Group Corporation’s actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including: adverse results in clinical development programs; failure to obtain patent protection for inventions; commercial limitations imposed by patents owned or controlled by third parties; dependence upon strategic alliance partners to develop and commercialize products and services; difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approvals to market products and services resulting from development efforts; the requirement for substantial funding to conduct research and development and to expand commercialization activities; and product initiatives by competitors. As a result of these factors, prospective investors are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statements. We disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

View original content:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sosei-heptares-starts-new-clinical-development-program-300798591.html

SOURCE Sosei Heptares

Patient Develops Cyclic Cushing’s Syndrome Due to Lung Neuroendocrine Tumor

Tumors located outside the pituitary gland that produce the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) may cause, on rare occasions, cyclic Cushing’s syndrome — when cortisol levels show substantial fluctuations over time.

That finding, based on the case of a patient with ACTH-secreting lung cancer,  is found in the study, “Cyclic Cushing’s syndrome caused by neuroendocrine tumor: a case report,” which was published in Endocrine Journal.

Cushing’s syndrome is characterized by too much cortisol, either due to adrenal tumors that produce cortisol in excess, or because too much ACTH in circulation — resulting from ACTH-producing tumors — act on the adrenal glands to synthesize cortisol.

Cyclic Cushing’s syndrome (CCS) is a rare type of Cushing’s in which cortisol production is not steadily increased. Instead, it cyclically fluctuates, from periods with excessive cortisol production interspersed with periods of normal levels.

The fluctuations in cortisol levels over time pose difficulties for a definite diagnosis. Moreover, the precise mechanism underlying the periodic peaks of cortisol peaks are unknown.

Investigators now reported the case of a 37-year-old man admitted to the hospital due to repeated attacks of dizziness, weakness, and high cortisol levels for two weeks.

Repeated tests measuring the levels of cortisol in the blood and a 24-hour urine free cortisol (24 hUFC) assay confirmed a cyclic fluctuation of cortisol, with levels peaking three times and dropping twice (the standard rule for diagnosing CSC).

Upon hospitalization, he further developed high blood pressure and weight gain.

The patient underwent computed tomography (CT) scans, which revealed the presence of an ACTH-secreting tumor in the lungs, the likely cause of the patient’s Cushing’s symptoms. These type of tumors are called neuroendocrine tumors because they are able to release hormones into the blood in response to signals from the nervous system.

Additional scans detected tumors in the adrenal and pituitary glands, but further analysis revealed they were non-functioning tumors, i.e., as their name indicates, they didn’t release excessive ACTH. The thyroid gland also was positive for a tumor.

The patient underwent resection surgery to remove the tumor located in the lungs and nearby lymph nodes. After the surgery, the levels of cortisol in the blood and urine returned to normal, confirming the tumor as the source of the CSC.

The patient also received surgery to remove his thyroid tumor.

An analysis of the patient’s genomic DNA revealed a novel mutation in the PDE11A gene, which is linked to a rare form of ACTH-independent Cushing’s syndrome called primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease (PPNAD) type 2.

Whether the patient developed PPNAD, however, and the contribution of a potential PPNAD diagnosis to the CCS, requires further investigation. “To explore pathogenicity of the genetic mutation, we will still plan for a follow-up visit to this patient,” researchers wrote.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/01/24/patient-develops-cyclic-cushings-syndrome-due-to-lung-neuroendocrine-tumor/

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