News of Note—I-O in ovarian cancer; a single target for pain, obesity and depression

Potential therapies for ovarian cancer, pain, depression and obesity all turned in promising results in mouse studies last week. (Pixabay)

A three-pronged I-O attack against ovarian cancer

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have shown in the past that specially engineered T cells can slow the growth of ovarian tumors in mice, but the cells have been unable to persist long enough to be all that effective. So the team tried combining the cells with two other immune-boosting treatments: a drug that inhibits the immune checkpoint PD-1 and another that acts against either Tim-3 or Lag-3, both of which are also checkpoints. The combinations increased the anti-tumor activities of the engineered T cells in mouse models of ovarian cancer, the Fred Hutch researchers reported during the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Atlanta. Because several solid tumors overexpress the target of the T cells, mesothelin, as well as Tim-3 and Lag-3, they believe the approach could be promising in several cancer types. (Abstract)

Treating pain, obesity and depression by targeting one protein

A protein called FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51) has been implicated in chronic pain, major depression and obesity. Now researchers at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany say they’ve developed a compound that can block FKBP51 in mice. They used advanced imaging to find a hidden binding site on the protein and then developed the compound, dubbed SAFit2, to target it. They tested the compound in three different mouse models, reporting that it reduced levels of stress hormones, reduced pain and normalized glucose and prevented weight gain. They discussed the study at the American Chemical Society spring conference in Orlando. (Release)

A single-dose treatment to reverse opioid overdoses

The opioid antidote naloxone has been invaluable in preventing deaths from opioid overdoses, but sometimes it has to be injected multiple times to be effective. Researchers at Allegheny Health Network Research Institute in Pittsburgh are developing a single-dose opioid antidote they made by creating a naloxone polymer and adding it to nanoparticles. The new drug-delivery system releases naloxone over 24 hours, providing a potentially more effective way to deliver the antidote, which only survives in the bloodstream for less than an hour, the researchers said during the American Chemical Society spring conference. (Release)