Roche receives FDA clearance for next generation cobas MRSA/SA Test

PLEASANTON, Calif. – Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided 510(k) clearance for the cobas® MRSA/SA Test for the early, simultaneous detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (SA) directly from nasal specimens. The cobas® MRSA/SA Test detects both organisms from a single specimen, providing accurate and reliable results for effective prevention and control of MRSA/SA infections.

“Numerous successful surveillance programs have led to a significant decrease in the rate of MRSA clinical infection in many organizations, and a dramatic reduction in postoperative surgical infections when screening for SA is done.  Importantly, the fight against healthcare-associated infections continues to advance, as evidenced by this new test that can rapidly detect both MRSA and SA in a single assay,” said Lance R. Peterson, MD, Director of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research at NorthShore University HealthSystem and Clinical Professor of Pathology and Medicine at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. “The cobas® MRSA/SA Test demonstrated excellent performance in detecting both MRSA and SA strains in samples collected throughout the US. Compared to culture testing, the cobas® MRSA/SA Test offers confidence in identifying colonized patients the first time they are evaluated, aiding in the prevention of MRSA disease and post-operative SA surgical infections.”

“Healthcare-associated infections continue to be a leading cause of mortality in US medical settings,” said Paul Brown, Head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics. “With the addition of the cobas® MRSA/SA Test to our expanding menu of tests for the cobas® 4800 System,  Roche offers laboratories and clinicians a highly efficient molecular solution to aid in the overall management and prevention of healthcare-associated infections, leading to lower costs for hospitals and optimal patient care.”

The cobas® MRSA/SA Test, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay that runs on the automated cobas® 4800 System, offers labs the most simplified workflow available with a simple de-cap and loading of the primary sample vial onto the cobas® 4800 System. This approach requires less hands-on-time, enabling laboratory staff to spend time on other critical tasks. In addition, this streamlined workflow can help labs reduce costs and improve turnaround time.

About methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Staphylococcus aureus (SA)
Approximately one third of the population carries Staphylococcus aureus as normal flora in the anterior nares, which can lead to opportunistic infections. Staphylococcus aureus has evolved resistance mechanisms due to frequent exposure to antibiotics in health care settings. Recent reports show up to 85% of invasive MRSA infections identified as healthcare-associated, resulting in over 90,000 infections and 18,000 deaths in 2005 alone1. Surgical site infections, ventilator assisted pneumonia, and blood stream infections attributed to colonized central lines are the most frequent manifestations of disease. Active surveillance to identify carriers is helping to mitigate the potential consequences of disease, providing relief to patients and healthcare institutions facing the challenges of escalating costs.

About the cobas 4800 System

The cobas 4800 System offers true walk-away automation of nucleic acid purification, PCR  set-up and real-time PCR amplification and detection to help laboratories achieve maximum efficiency. The expanding system menu in the U.S. currently includes the cobas® CT/NG Test (chlamydia/gonorrhea), cobas HPV Test, cobas BRAF V600 Mutation Test and cobas EGFR Mutation Test.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, infectious diseases, inflammation, metabolism and neuroscience. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2012, Roche had over 82,000 employees worldwide and invested over 8 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 45.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit www.roche.com.

1. Klevens et al. Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections in the United States. JAMA. 2007;298:63–1771

Source: Roche

Protein-based Therapy Shows Promise against Resistant Leukemia

Binding of the protein (green) to the surface of leukemia cells results in cell death via destruction of the cell’s nucleus (dark red) into pieces

LOS ANGELES (January 26, 2015) – Resistance of leukemia cells to contemporary chemotherapy is one of the most formidable obstacles to treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer.  Now researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) have designed and developed a new protein-based therapy they believe will prove highly effective against drug-resistant leukemia cells.  It may also amplify the potency of standard treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

They successfully accomplished this unique assembly of the two proteins in a single “fusion protein” and named this protein therapeutic candidate “CD19L-sTRAIL.”  In their study, Uckun and collaborators have demonstrated that their engineering converted sTRAIL into a much more potent “membrane-anchored” form that is capable of triggering apoptosis, even in the most aggressive and therapy-resistant form of human leukemia cells.Their work, published online January 26 by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, demonstrated the efficacy and safety of the new fusion protein in mouse models of aggressive human leukemia using leukemia cells taken directly from patients with ALL.

Occurring at an annual rate of 35 to 40 cases per million people in the U.S., ALL represents approximately 25 percent of cancer diagnoses among children under the age of 15. Historically, ALL had a high mortality rate; nearly 80 percent of children who developed the disease did not survive long term. Today, those numbers have been reversed, with almost 80 percent of children affected by ALL achieving long- term survival.

“That’s great news, unless your child is one of the 20 percent,” said the study’s principal investigator Fatih M. Uckun, MD, PhD, of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at CHLA and the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Southern California (USC). “Despite advances in available therapies, unmet and urgent needs remain in the fight against leukemia.  We still have children with disease that our drugs can’t help enough. And for patients who relapse, their chances of long-term survival are less than 20 percent. We’ve got to do better.”

TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a protein functioning as a ligand that induces apoptosis, or cell death. Produced by the immune system cells, it has the potential to cause apoptosis in tumor cells by binding to two so-called “death receptors”, also known as TRAIL-receptor 1 and TRAIL-receptor 2.

“TRAIL is a naturally occurring part of the body’s immune system that kills cancer cells without toxicity to normal cells.  However, earlier clinical trials using TRAIL as a potential anti-cancer medicine candidate have not been successful, largely because of its propensity to bind, not only to cancer cells, but also to ‘decoy’ receptors,” explained Uckun, who is also a professor of pediatrics at Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Uckun and collaborators discovered a previously unknown protein – CD19-Ligand – a natural ligand of human CD19, which is expressed by almost all ALL cells.  They hypothesized that fusing it by genetic bioengineering to the portion of TRAIL (known as sTRAIL) that can kill cancer cells, would produce a powerful weapon against leukemia cells.  Unlike chemotherapy drugs, this precision medicine candidate would seek out, bind and destroy only leukemia cells carrying CD19 as the target docking site.
“Due to its ability to anchor to the surface of cancer cells via CD19, CD19L-sTRAIL was 100,000-fold more potent than sTRAIL, and consistently killed more than  99 percent of aggressive leukemia cells taken directly from children with ALL –  not only in the test tube, but also in mice,” said Uckun. Administering only two or three doses of CD19L-sTRAIL significantly improved the survival outcome of mice challenged with an otherwise invariably fatal dose of human leukemia cells, without side effects.  Its therapeutic potency in mice was superior to that of standard chemotherapy combinations as well as radiation therapy.

“The biggest challenge is to cure patients who experience a recurrence of their cancer, despite intensive chemotherapy,” Uckun concluded. “We are hopeful that the knowledge gained from this study will open a new range of effective treatment opportunities for children with recurrent leukemia.”

Additional contributors include Dorothea E. Myers, Zahide Ozer, Osmond J. D’Cruz and Hong Ma of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Sanjive Qazi of CHLA and Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Paul, MN; and Rebecca Rose of Rose Pathology Services, St. Paul. The project was supported by a 2011 V-Foundation Translational Research Award and in part by DHHS grants R21-CA-164098, U01-CA-151837 and R01-CA-154471 from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Source: All Children’s Hospital Los Angeles