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  1. Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when the body is exposed to too much cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the body and is also used in corticosteroid drugs. Cushing's syndrome can occur either because cortisol is being overproduced by the body or from the use of drugs that contain cortisol (like prednisone). Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by the pituitary. One form of Cushing’s syndrome may be caused by an oversecretion of ACTH by the pituitary leading to an excess of cortisol. Cortisol has several functions, including the regulation of inflammation and controlling how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Corticosteroids such as prednisone, which are often used to treat inflammatory conditions, mimic the effects of cortisol. Stay tuned for more basic info...
  2. SAN DIEGO, CA, USA I August 10, 2021 I Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: CRNX), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutics for rare endocrine diseases and endocrine-related tumors, today announced positive preliminary findings from the single ascending dose (SAD) portion of a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical study with CRN04894 demonstrating pharmacologic proof-of-concept for this first-in-class, investigational, oral, nonpeptide adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) antagonist that is being developed for the treatment of conditions of ACTH excess, including Cushing’s disease and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. “ACTH is the central hormone of the endocrine stress response. Even though we’ve known about its clinical significance for more than 100 years, there has never been an ACTH antagonist available to intervene in diseases of excess stress hormones. This is an important milestone for the field of endocrinology and for our company,” said Scott Struthers, Ph.D., founder and chief executive officer of Crinetics. “I am extremely proud of our team that conceived, discovered and developed CRN04894 this far. This is the second molecule to emerge from our in-house discovery efforts and demonstrate pharmacologic proof of concept. I am very excited to see what it can do in upcoming clinical studies.” The 39 healthy volunteers who enrolled in the SAD cohorts were administered oral doses of CRN04894 (10 mg to 80 mg, or placebo) two hours prior to a challenge with synthetic ACTH. Analyses of basal cortisol levels (before ACTH challenge) showed that CRN04894 produced a rapid and dose-dependent reduction of cortisol by 25-56%. After challenge with a supra-pathophysiologic dose of ACTH (250 mcg), CRN04894 suppressed cortisol (as measured by AUC) up to 41%. After challenge with a disease-relevant dose of ACTH (1 mcg), CRN04894 showed a clinically meaningful reduction in cortisol AUC of 48%. These reductions in cortisol suggest that CRN04894 is bound with high affinity to its target receptor on the adrenal gland and blocking the activity of ACTH. CRN04894 was well tolerated in the healthy volunteers who enrolled in these SAD cohorts and all adverse events were considered mild. “We are very encouraged by these single ascending dose data which clearly demonstrate proof of ACTH antagonism with CRN04894 exposure in healthy volunteers,” stated Alan Krasner, M.D., chief medical officer of Crinetics. “We look forward to completing this study and assessing results from the multiple ascending dose cohorts. As a clinical endocrinologist, I recognize the pioneering nature of this work and eagerly look forward to further understanding the potential of CRN04894 for the treatment of diseases of ACTH excess.” Data Review Conference Call Crinetics will hold a conference call and live audio webcast today, August 10, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss the results of the CRN04894 SAD cohorts. To participate, please dial 800-772-3714 (domestic) or 212-271-4615 (international) and refer to conference ID 21996541. To access the webcast, please visit the Events page on the Crinetics website. The archived webcast will be available for 90 days. About the CRN04894-01 Phase 1 Study Crinetics is enrolling healthy volunteers in this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 1 study of CRN04894. Participants will be divided into multiple cohorts in the single ascending dose (SAD) and multiple ascending dose (MAD) phases of the study. In the SAD phase, safety and pharmacokinetics are assessed. In addition, pharmacodynamic responses are evaluated before and after challenges with injected synthetic ACTH to assess pharmacologic effects resulting from exposure to CRN04894. In the MAD phase, participants will be administered placebo or ascending doses of study drug daily for 10 days. Assessments of safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will also be performed after repeat dosing. About CRN04894 Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is synthesized and secreted by the pituitary gland and binds to melanocortin type 2 receptor (MC2R), which is selectively expressed in the adrenal gland. This interaction of ACTH with MCR2 stimulates the adrenal production of cortisol, a stress hormone that is involved in the regulation of many systems. Cortisol is involved for example in the regulation of blood sugar levels, metabolism, inflammation, blood pressure, and memory formulation, and excess adrenal androgen production can result in hirsutism, menstrual dysfunction, infertility in men and women, acne, cardiometabolic comorbidities and insulin resistance. Diseases associated with excess of ACTH, therefore, can have significant impact on physical and mental health. Crinetics’ ACTH antagonist, CRN04894, has exhibited strong binding affinity for MC2R in preclinical models and demonstrated suppression of adrenally derived glucocorticoids and androgens that are under the control of ACTH, while maintaining mineralocorticoid production. About Cushing’s Disease and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Cushing’s disease is a rare disease with a prevalence of approximately 10,000 patients in the United States. It is more common in women, between 30 and 50 years of age. Cushing’s disease often takes many years to diagnose and may well be under-diagnosed in the general population as many of its symptoms such as lethargy, depression, obesity, hypertension, hirsutism, and menstrual irregularity can be incorrectly attributed to other more common disorders. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) encompasses a set of disorders that are caused by genetic mutations that result in impaired cortisol synthesis with a prevalence of approximately 27,000 patients in the United States. This lack of cortisol leads to a loss of feedback mechanisms and results in persistently high levels of ACTH, which in turn causes overstimulation of the adrenal cortex. The resulting adrenal hyperplasia and over-secretion of other steroids (particularly androgens) and steroid precursors can lead to a variety of effects from improper gonadal development to life-threatening adrenal crisis. About Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Crinetics Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutics for rare endocrine diseases and endocrine-related tumors. The company’s lead product candidate, paltusotine, is an investigational, oral, selective nonpeptide somatostatin receptor type 2 agonist for the treatment of acromegaly, an orphan disease affecting more than 26,000 people in the United States. A Phase 3 program to evaluate safety and efficacy of paltusotine for the treatment of acromegaly is underway. Crinetics also plans to advance paltusotine into a Phase 2 trial for the treatment of carcinoid syndrome associated with neuroendocrine tumors. The company is also developing CRN04777, an investigational, oral, nonpeptide somatostatin receptor type 5 (SST5) agonist for congenital hyperinsulinism, as well as CRN04894, an investigational, oral, nonpeptide ACTH antagonist for the treatment of Cushing’s disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and other diseases of excess ACTH. All of the company’s drug candidates are new chemical entities resulting from in-house drug discovery efforts and are wholly owned by the company. SOURCE: Crinetics Pharmaceuticals From https://pipelinereview.com/index.php/2021081178950/Small-Molecules/Crinetics-Pharmaceuticals-Oral-ACTH-Antagonist-CRN04894-Demonstrates-Pharmacologic-Proof-of-Concept-with-Dose-Dependent-Cortisol-Suppression-in-Single-Ascending-Dose-Port.html
  3. Rachel Acree, Caitlin M Miller, Brent S Abel, Nicola M Neary, Karen Campbell, Lynnette K Nieman Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 5, Issue 8, August 2021, bvab109, https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvab109 Abstract Context Cushing syndrome (CS) is associated with impaired health-related quality of life (HRQOL) even after surgical cure. Objective To characterize patient and provider perspectives on recovery from CS, drivers of decreased HRQOL during recovery, and ways to improve HRQOL. Design Cross-sectional observational survey. Participants Patients (n = 341) had undergone surgery for CS and were members of the Cushing’s Support and Research Foundation. Physicians (n = 54) were Pituitary Society physician members and academicians who treated patients with CS. Results Compared with patients, physicians underestimated the time to complete recovery after surgery (12 months vs 18 months, P = 0.0104). Time to recovery did not differ by CS etiology, but patients with adrenal etiologies of CS reported a longer duration of cortisol replacement medication compared with patients with Cushing disease (12 months vs 6 months, P = 0.0025). Physicians overestimated the benefits of work (26.9% vs 65.3%, P < 0.0001), exercise (40.9% vs 77.6%, P = 0.0001), and activities (44.8% vs 75.5%, P = 0.0016) as useful coping mechanisms in the postsurgical period. Most patients considered family/friends (83.4%) and rest (74.7%) to be helpful. All physicians endorsed educating patients on recovery, but 32.4% (95% CI, 27.3-38.0) of patients denied receiving sufficient information. Some patients did not feel prepared for the postsurgical experience (32.9%; 95% CI, 27.6-38.6) and considered physicians not familiar enough with CS (16.1%; 95% CI, 12.2-20.8). Conclusion Poor communication between physicians and CS patients may contribute to dissatisfaction with the postsurgical experience. Increased information on recovery, including helpful coping mechanisms, and improved provider-physician communication may improve HRQOL during recovery. Read the entire article in the enclosed PDF. bvab109.pdf
  4. Please note that if you buy through links in this article, Medical News Today may earn a small commission. Here’s their process. Cortisol is a hormone with various functions throughout the body. However, if a person’s body cannot regulate their cortisol levels, it could lead to a serious health condition. In these cases, home cortisol tests may be useful to indicate when someone might need medical attention. This article discusses: what cortisol is what a home cortisol test is why a person might buy a home cortisol test some home cortisol tests to purchase online when to see a doctor What is cortisol? Cortisol is the stress hormone that affects several systems in the body, including the: nervous system immune system cardiovascular system respiratory system reproductive system musculoskeletal system integumentary system The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Most human body cells have cortisol receptors, and the hormone can help in several ways, including: reducing inflammation regulating metabolism assisting with memory formation controlling blood pressure developing the fetus during pregnancy maintaining salt and water balance in the body controlling blood sugar levels All these functions make cortisol a vital part of maintaining overall health. If the body can no longer regulate cortisol levels, it can lead to several health disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life threatening complications. The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as: in the event of an injury during illness during a surgical procedure What are home cortisol tests? A cortisol test usually involves a blood test. However, some may require saliva and urine samples instead. There are several home cortisol tests available to purchase over the counter or online. These allow a person to take a sample of blood, urine, or saliva before sending it off for analysis. After taking a home cortisol test, people can usually receive their results within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional. However, there are currently no studies investigating the reliability of these home cortisol tests. Therefore, people should follow up on their test results with a healthcare professional. Why and when do people need them? A person should take a home cortisol test if they feel they may have a cortisol imbalance. If cortisol levels are too high, a person may notice the following: rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen high blood pressure osteoporosis bruises and purple stretch marks mood swings muscle weakness an increase in thirst and need to urinate If cortisol levels are too low, a person may experience the following symptoms: fatigue loss of appetite unintentional weight loss muscle weakness abdominal pain Additionally, low cortisol levels may lead to: low blood pressure low blood sugar low blood sodium high blood potassium A test can help individuals check their cortisol levels. If the test results show these levels are too high or too low, people should seek medical advice. A cortisol imbalance may be a sign of an underlying condition, which can lead to serious complications without treatment. If a person cannot carry out a home cortisol test, they should speak to a medical professional who can arrange a cortisol test at a healthcare facility. What to look for in a home cortisol test At a clinic or hospital setting, a medical professional will usually take a blood sample and analyze it for an individual’s cortisol levels. Home cortisol tests involve a person taking a sample of blood, urine, or saliva. There are currently no studies investigating the accuracy of these results. However, home cortisol tests may be faster and more convenient than making an appointment with a doctor to take a sample. People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including: Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others need a sample of urine or saliva. With this in mind, a person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable providing. Test analysis: A person may wish to purchase a product from a company that sends tests to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs for analysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate these labs to help ensure safety and accuracy. Accuracy: Individuals may wish to speak to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before purchasing to ensure the test is reliable and accurate. Products Several online retailers offer home cortisol tests. It is important to follow all test instructions to ensure a valid result. Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based. LetsGetChecked – Cortisol Test This cortisol test uses the finger prick method to draw blood for the sample. Here are the steps to take and send off a blood sample: Individuals fill in their details on the collection box and activate their testing kit online at the LetsGetChecked website. People need to wash their hands with warm soapy water before using an alcohol swab to clean the finger that they will prick. Once the finger is completely dry, individuals pierce the skin using the lancet in the test kit. A person must wipe away the first drop of blood before squeezing some into the blood collection tube. After closing the tube, individuals must invert it 5–10 times before placing it in the included biohazard bag, which they then place in the box. After following these steps, people can send the sample back to LetsGetChecked using the kit’s prepaid envelope. Test results usually come back within 2–5 days. LetsGetChecked tests samples in the same labs that primary care providers, hospitals, and government schemes use. These labs are CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited. The company also has a team of nurses and doctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer ongoing support. These healthcare professionals are on hand to discuss a person’s results with them over the phone. Everlywell At-Home Cortisol Levels Test Kit – Sleep & Stress Test This Everlywell product uses a urine sample to test a person’s cortisol levels. The test measures the levels of three hormones in a person’s body: cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin. It also measures a person’s creatinine levels. There are three steps with this test: Individuals register their testing kit on Everlywell’s website. A person follows the instructions carefully to take their urine sample. Once they have their urine sample, they place it in the prepaid package and send it off to Everlywell’s labs. Within a few days, individuals will receive their results digitally via the Everlywell website. Medical professionals can also offer helpful insights via their secure platform. As well as sending a personalized report of each marker, Everlywell also sends detailed information about what the results mean. The labs where Everlywell tests samples all carry certification with CLIA. The company also ensures that all results are reviewed and certified by independent board-certified physicians within the person’s specific state.SHOP NOW Healthlabs Cortisol, AM & PM Test Healthlabs offers a cortisol test that tests a person’s cortisol levels twice — once in the morning and once in the evening. The company says they do this because a person’s cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, by testing twice, they can gather information on this fluctuation. This test uses a blood sample, which a person takes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They must follow the instructions clearly to ensure they take suitable samples. The manufacturer says that people should collect a morning sample between 7–9 a.m. and an evening sample between 3–5 p.m. They then need to send off their sample for analysis. After testing is complete at a CLIA-certified lab, a person will receive their results, which usually takes between 1–2 days. SHOP NOW When to speak with a doctor A person should undergo a cortisol test if they believe they may have high or low cortisol levels. They can do this at home or speak with a medical professional who can carry out the test for them. People may also wish to seek medical help if they show signs of too much or too little cortisol. This could indicate a potentially serious underlying health issue. Summary Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and controlling blood pressure. If a person believes they have high or low cortisol levels, they may wish to take a cortisol test. Usually, these tests take place at a medical practice. However, several home cortisol tests are available to purchase. A person can take these tests at home by providing a urine, blood, or saliva sample. Once a lab analyzes the test, people usually receive their results within a few days. Individuals should follow up any test results with a healthcare professional. No clinics, no stress. Test your cortisol levels from home Test your cortisol level from home with LetsGetChecked. Get free shipping, medical support, and results from accredited labs within 2–5 days. Order today for 30% off. LEARN MORE Last medically reviewed on April 29, 2021 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/3-of-the-best-home-cortisol-tests
  5. For years before and after their diagnosis, people with Cushing’s disease use more psychotropic medications — those that affect mood, thoughts, or perception — for mental health problems than their healthy peers, a study in Sweden found. Notably, patients experiencing long-term disease remission still showed higher use of antidepressants and sleeping pills than healthy individuals. These findings highlight Cushing’s persistent negative effects on mental health, according to researchers. Additionally, the results of this study, based on prescribed medication dispenses in Sweden, support the importance of earlier diagnoses of Cushing’s disease — and the need for close and long-term monitoring of neuropsychiatric symptoms in this patient population, the researchers said. The study, “Psychotropic drugs in patients with Cushing’s disease before diagnosis and at long-term follow-up — a nationwide study,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairments are part of the wide range of symptoms caused by the abnormally high levels of the cortisol hormone that characterize Cushing’s syndrome. Of note, Cushing’s disease is a form of Cushing’s syndrome caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. A “few” studies have reported the elimination or partial lessening of neuropsychiatric symptoms after successful Cushing’s treatment, according to the researchers. But others noted that “impaired cognitive function and quality of life seemed to persist for a long time after biochemical [cortisol level-based] remission had been achieved,” the team wrote. Now, these researchers, from several universities in Sweden, have assessed the use of psychotropic medications — reflecting mental health burden — in 372 people with Cushing’s disease. The use of such medications was assessed five years before diagnosis, at the time of diagnosis, and at five and 10 years post-diagnosis. The patients, diagnosed between 1990 and 2018, were identified through the Swedish Pituitary Register, which covers 95% of all people with Cushing’s disease in the country. Most of the patients (76%) were women. Altogether, the patients’ mean age at diagnosis was 44 years. For each individual with Cushing’s, four sex-, age-, and residential area-matched healthy individuals were used as controls for comparative analyses. Data on each individual’s dispenses of medications commonly used for neuropsychiatric issues were obtained from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. This register, which fully covers all prescribed medications given throughout the country, also was used to determine each patient’s dispenses of other medications for Cushing’s disease symptoms, such as high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and diabetes. The results showed that the use of antidepressants, anxiolytics — medications to lessen anxiety — and sleeping pills was at least twofold higher in Cushing’s patients than in healthy individuals during the five-year period before diagnosis, and at the time of diagnosis. Five years after diagnosis, the proportion of patients using antidepressants (26%) and sleeping pills (22%) remained unchanged, and even individuals in remission showed significantly higher use of such medications than did controls (20–26% vs. 8.6–12%). According to the results, one-third of the patients on antidepressants since their diagnosis were able to discontinue treatment before the five-year assessment — most having achieved disease remission. However, 47% of those receiving antidepressants at five years had initiated such treatment at a median of 2.4 years after diagnosis. During the five-year follow-up, older age and being a woman appeared to increase the risk of antidepressant use among Cushing’s disease patients. At 10 years of follow-up, the use of antidepressants and sleeping pills was not significantly different between groups, despite the fact that antidepressants use remained about the same among patients. Notably, researchers conducted an analysis of 76 patients with sustained remission for a median of 9.3 years, and 292 matching controls. That analysis showed that the use of antidepressants and sleeping pills was significantly higher among patients. The use of other medications, such as those for hypertension and diabetes, also was significantly more common among Cushing’s disease patients before, at diagnosis, and at five years post-diagnosis — although the post-diagnosis numbers dropped by half during that period. After 10 years, only the use of anti-diabetic medications remained significantly higher in patients as compared with controls. These findings suggest that other conditions associated with Cushing’s disease, such as hypertension and diabetes, are effectively lessened with treatment. However, they also highlight that “many patients with CD [Cushing’s disease] will have persistent mental health problems,” the researchers wrote. In addition, visits to a psychiatrist and hospital admissions for treatment of psychiatric disorders tended to be more common among Cushing’s disease patients, even before diagnosis, the team noted. “This nationwide register-based study shows that use of psychotropic drugs in CD patients is increased from several years before diagnosis,” the researchers wrote, adding that this use “remained elevated regardless of remission status, suggesting persisting negative effects on mental health,” the researchers wrote. These findings highlight the importance of early diagnosis of Cushing’s disease and of considering neuropsychiatric symptoms “as an important part of the disease,” they concluded. There is a “need for long-term monitoring of mental health” in Cushing’s, they wrote. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2021/02/24/cushings-found-to-cause-persistent-negative-mental-health-effects-swedish-study/
  6. ~ RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) New Drug Application is Supported by Previously-Reported Positive and Statistically Significant Results from the Phase 3 SONICS and LOGICS Studies ~ ~ Nearly 40 Percent of Prescription-Treated Endogenous Cushing’s Syndrome Patients in the U.S. Are Not Well-Controlled, Underscoring Need for New, Safe and Effective Pharmaceutical Options to Help Regulate Cortisol Levels ~ ~ If Approved Following a Projected 10-Month Review Cycle, RECORLEV is Anticipated to Launch in First Quarter of 2022 ~ DUBLIN, Ireland and TREVOSE, Pa., March 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Strongbridge Biopharma plc, (Nasdaq: SBBP), a global commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs, today announced that it submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) for RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) for the treatment of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The submission is supported by previously reported positive and statistically significant results of the SONICS and LOGICS trials: two Phase 3 multinational studies designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of RECORLEV when used to treat adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. “The submission of the New Drug Application for RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) represents not only a significant milestone for Strongbridge but also for the Cushing’s syndrome community as a whole. As an organization focused on developing treatments for underserved rare disease patient populations, we are one step closer to helping address the needs of the estimated 8,000 Cushing’s syndrome patients in the U.S. who are treated with prescription therapy, many of whom, as we learned in our market research, are not well-controlled with current therapies,” said John H. Johnson, chief executive officer of Strongbridge Biopharma. “We look forward to working with the FDA through their review of our application, and we are actively preparing for the potential launch of RECORLEV in the first quarter of 2022, if approved.” RECORLEV, the pure 2S,4R enantiomer of the enantiomeric pair comprising ketoconazole, is a next-generation steroidogenesis inhibitor being investigated as a chronic therapy for adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Two Phase 3 studies have demonstrated substantial evidence of efficacy and safety in a combined study population of 166 patients that was representative of the adult drug-treated U.S. population with Cushing’s syndrome. The SONICS study met its primary and key secondary endpoints, demonstrating a statistically significant rate of mean urinary free cortisol normalization after six months of maintenance therapy without a dose increase (detailed results here). LOGICS, a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized-withdrawal study, which also had statistically significant primary and key secondary endpoints, confirmed that the long-term cortisol-normalizing efficacy demonstrated in SONICS was due to use of levoketoconazole specifically (detailed results here). The long-term open-label extension study, OPTICS, is contributing safety information to the NDA. “We want to thank the patients, their families, investigators, collaborators, and employees who have contributed to the RECORLEV clinical program leading to this important regulatory milestone,” said Fredric Cohen, M.D., chief medical officer of Strongbridge Biopharma. RECORLEV has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of endogenous Cushing's syndrome. Strongbridge will host a conference call tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the Company’s fourth quarter and full-year 2020 financial results and recent corporate highlights, including the RECORLEV NDA submission. About Cushing’s Syndrome Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a rare, serious and potentially lethal endocrine disease caused by chronic elevated cortisol exposure - often the result of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. This benign tumor tells the body to overproduce high levels of cortisol for a sustained period of time, and this often results in undesirable physical changes. The disease is most common among adults between the ages of 30 to 50, and it affects women three times more often than men. Women with Cushing's syndrome may experience a variety of health issues including menstrual problems, difficulty becoming pregnant, excess male hormones (androgens), primarily testosterone which can cause hirsutism (growth of coarse body hair in a male pattern), oily skin, and acne. Additionally, the internal manifestations of the disease are potentially life threatening. These include metabolic changes such as high blood sugar, or diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fragility of various tissues including blood vessels, skin, muscle and bone, and psychologic disturbances such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. Untreated, the five-year survival rate is only approximately 50 percent. About the SONICS Study SONICS is an open-label, Phase 3 study of RECORLEV as a treatment for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome that enrolled 94 patients at centers in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Following a screening phase, SONICS has three treatment phases: (1) Dose Titration Phase: Patients started RECORLEV at 150 mg twice daily (300 mg total daily dose) and titrated in 150 mg increments with the goal of achieving a therapeutic dose – a dose resulting in mUFC normalization – at which point titration was stopped; (2) Maintenance Phase: The dose was fixed and should not have been changed other than for safety reasons or loss of efficacy. At the end of the six-month maintenance phase, the mUFC response rate was measured; and (3) Extended Evaluation Phase: Patients continued on RECORLEV for another six months to evaluate long-term safety and tolerability and explore efficacy durability. About the LOGICS Study The Phase 3, multinational, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized-withdrawal study, LOGICS, randomized Cushing’s syndrome patients with baseline mean urinary free cortisol (mUFC) at least 1.5 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) following completion of a single-arm, open-label treatment phase of approximately 14 to 19 weeks, with RECORLEV individually titrated according to mUFC response. A total of 79 patients were dosed during the open-label titration-maintenance phase, 7 of whom had previously received RECORLEV during the SONICS study, and 72 who had not previously received RECORLEV. At study baseline, the median mUFC was 3.5 times the ULN, indicative of significant hypercortisolemia. A total of 44 patients (39 who had completed the titration-maintenance phase and five who directly enrolled from the SONICS study), were randomized to either continue RECORLEV (n=22) or to have treatment withdrawn by receiving a matching placebo regimen (n=22) for up to 8 weeks, followed by restoration to the prior regimen using blinded drug. Of the 44 patients randomized, 11 patients (25 percent) had previously received RECORLEV during the SONICS study. Patients who required rescue treatment with open-label RECORLEV during the randomized-withdrawal phase were considered to have lost mUFC response at the visit corresponding to their first dose of rescue medication. Patients who did not qualify for randomization were removed from open-label treatment prior to randomization and excused from the study. About RECORLEV RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) is an investigational cortisol synthesis inhibitor in development for the treatment of patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, a rare but serious and potentially lethal endocrine disease caused by chronic elevated cortisol exposure. RECORLEV is the pure 2S,4R enantiomer of ketoconazole, a steroidogenesis inhibitor. RECORLEV has demonstrated in two successful Phase 3 studies to significantly suppress serum cortisol and has the potential to be a next-generation cortisol inhibitor. The Phase 3 program for RECORLEV includes SONICS and LOGICS: two multinational studies designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of RECORLEV when used to treat endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. The SONICS study met its primary and secondary endpoints, demonstrating a statistically significant normalization rate of urinary free cortisol at six months. The LOGICS study, which met its primary endpoint, is a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized-withdrawal study of RECORLEV that is designed to supplement the long-term efficacy and safety information supplied by SONICS. The ongoing long-term open label OPTICS study will gather further useful information related to the long-term use of RECORLEV. RECORLEV has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of endogenous Cushing's syndrome. About Strongbridge Biopharma Strongbridge Biopharma is a global commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs. Strongbridge’s rare endocrine franchise includes RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole), a cortisol synthesis inhibitor currently being studied in Phase 3 clinical studies for the treatment of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, and veldoreotide extended release, a pre-clinical next-generation somatostatin analog being investigated for the treatment of acromegaly and potential additional applications in other conditions amenable to somatostatin receptor activation. Both RECORLEV and veldoreotide have received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. The Company’s rare neuromuscular franchise includes KEVEYIS® (dichlorphenamide), the first and only FDA-approved treatment for hyperkalemic, hypokalemic, and related variants of primary periodic paralysis. KEVEYIS has orphan drug exclusivity in the United States. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. The words “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “target,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, contained in this press release, are forward-looking statements, including statements related to data from the LOGICS and SONICS studies, the potential advantages of RECORLEV, the anticipated timing for potential approval of a marketing authorization for RECORLEV and for the potential launch of RECORLEV, Strongbridge’s strategy, plans, outcomes of product development efforts and objectives of management for future operations. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in such statement, including risks and uncertainties associated with clinical development and the regulatory approval process, the reproducibility of any reported results showing the benefits of RECORLEV, the adoption of RECORLEV by physicians, if approved, as treatment for any disease and the emergence of unexpected adverse events following regulatory approval and use of the product by patients. Additional risks and uncertainties relating to Strongbridge and its business can be found under the heading “Risk Factors” in Strongbridge’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 and its subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as well as its other filings with the SEC. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections and are not guarantees of future performance or development and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date of this press release, and Strongbridge Biopharma does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except as required by applicable law. Contacts: Corporate and Media Relations Elixir Health Public Relations Lindsay Rocco +1 862-596-1304 lrocco@elixirhealthpr.com Investor Relations Solebury Trout Mike Biega +1 617-221-9660 mbiega@soleburytrout.com From https://www.biospace.com/article/releases/strongbridge-biopharma-plc-announces-submission-of-new-drug-application-for-recorlev-levoketoconazole-for-the-treatment-of-endogenous-cushing-s-syndrome-to-the-u-s-food-and-drug-administration/
  7. Novel genetic associations could pave the way for early interventions and personalized treatment of an incurable condition. Scientists from the University of Bergen (Norway) and Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) have discovered the genes involved in autoimmune Addison's disease, a condition where the body's immune systems destroys the adrenal cortex leading to a life-threatening hormonal deficiency of cortisol and aldosterone. Groundbreaking study The rarity of Addison's disease has until now made scanning of the whole genome for clues to the disease's genetic origins difficult, as this method normally requires many thousands of study participants. However, by combining the world's two largest Addison's disease registries, Prof. Eystein Husebye and his team at the University of Bergen and collaborators at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (prof. Kämpe) were able to identify strong genetic signals associated with the disease. Most of them are directly involved in the development and functioning of the human immune system including specific molecular types in the so-called HLA-region (this is what makes matching donors and recipients in organ transplants necessary) and two different types of a gene called AIRE (which stands for AutoImmune REgulator). AIRE is a key factor in shaping the immune system by removing self-reacting immune cells. Variants of AIRE, such as the ones identified in this study, could compromise this elimination of self-reacting cells, which could lead to an autoimmune attack later in life. Knowing what predisposes people to develop Addison's disease opens up the possibilities of determining the molecular repercussions of the predisposing genetic variation (currently ongoing in Prof. Husebye's lab). The fact that it is now feasible to map the genetic risk profile of an individual also means that personalised treatment aimed at stopping and even reversing the autoimmune adrenal destruction can become a feasible option in the future. ### Contact information: Professor at the University of Bergen, Eystein Husebye - Eystein.Husebye@uib.no - cell phone +47 99 40 47 88 Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system. From https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/tuob-nsi021221.php
  8. How stressed are you? Your earwax could hold the answer. A new method of collecting and analyzing earwax for levels of the stress hormone cortisol may be a simple and cheap way to track the mental health of people with depression and anxiety. Cortisol is a crucial hormone that spikes when a person is stressed and declines when they're relaxed. In the short-term, the hormone is responsible for the "fight or flight" response, so it's important for survival. But cortisol is often consistently elevated in people with depression and anxiety, and persistent high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on the immune system, blood pressure and other bodily functions. There are other disorders which involve abnormal cortisol, including Cushing's disease (caused by the overproduction of cortisol) and Addison's disease (caused by the underproduction of cortisol). People with Cushing's disease have abnormal fat deposits, weakened immune systems and brittle bones. People with Addison's disease have dangerously low blood pressure. There are a lot of ways to measure cortisol: in saliva, in blood, even in hair. But saliva and blood samples capture only a moment in time, and cortisol fluctuates significantly throughout the day. Even the experience of getting a needle stick to draw blood can increase stress, and thus cortisol levels. Hair samples can provide a snapshot of cortisol over several months instead of several minutes, but hair can be expensive to analyze — and some people don't have much of it. Andrés Herane-Vives, a lecturer at University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Institute of Psychiatry, and his colleagues instead turned to the ear. Earwax is stable and resistant to bacterial contamination, so it can be shipped to a laboratory easily for analysis. It also can hold a record of cortisol levels stretching over weeks. But previous methods of harvesting earwax involved sticking a syringe into the ear and flushing it out with water, which can be slightly painful and stressful. So Herane-Vives and his colleagues developed a swab that, when used, would be no more stressful than a Q-tip. The swab has a shield around the handle, so that people can't stick it too far into their ear and damage their eardrum, and a sponge at the end to collect the wax. In a small pilot study, researchers collected blood, hair and earwax from 37 participants at two different time points. At each collection point, they sampled earwax using a syringe from one ear, and using the new self-swab method from the other. The researchers then compared the reliability of the cortisol measurements from the self-swab earwax with that of the other methods. They found that cortisol was more concentrated in earwax than in hair, making for easier analysis. Analyzing the self-swabbed earwax was also faster and more efficient than analyzing the earwax from the syringe, which had to be dried out before using. Finally, the earwax showed more consistency in cortisol levels compared with the other methods, which were more sensitive to fluctuations caused by things like recent alcohol consumption. Participants also said that self-swabbing was more comfortable than the syringe method. The researchers reported their findings Nov. 2 in the journal Heliyon. Herane-Vives is also starting a company called Trears to market the new method. In the future, he hopes that earwax could also be used to monitor other hormones. The researchers also need to follow up with studies of Asian individuals, who were left out of this pilot study because a significant number only produce dry, flaky earwax as opposed to wet, waxy earwax. "After this successful pilot study, if our device holds up to further scrutiny in larger trials, we hope to transform diagnostics and care for millions of people with depression or cortisol-related conditions such as Addison's disease and Cushing syndrome, and potentially numerous other conditions," he said in a statement. Originally published in Live Science.
  9. Abnormally high levels of cortisol in the urine — one of the hallmarks of Cushing’s syndrome — seem to be associated with alterations in blood sugar metabolism in obese patients, a study found. The study, “Hypercortisolism and altered glucose homeostasis in obese patients in the pre-bariatric surgery assessment,” was published in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews.
  10. Patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome who stopped using Recorlev (levoketoconazole) and moved to a placebo in a study started having their urine cortisol levels rise in response to lack of treatment, compared with those who remained on Recorlev, according to top-line data from the Phase 3 LOGICS trial. Based on these findings and data from a previous Phase 3 trial of Recorlev called SONICS (NCT01838551), the therapy’s developer, Strongbridge Biopharma, is planning to submit a new drug application requesting its approval to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early next year. If approved, Recorlev could be available to patients in the U.S. in 2022. “We are delighted to announce the positive and statistically significant top-line results of the LOGICS study, which add to the growing body of evidence supporting the potential of Recorlev (levoketoconazole) as an effective and well tolerated cortisol synthesis inhibitor to treat Cushing’s syndrome,” Fredric Cohen, MD, chief medical officer of Strongbridge Biopharma, said in a press release. Recorlev, also known as COR-003, is an investigational oral treatment for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome that inhibits the production of cortisol, the glucocorticoid hormone that is overly produced in patients with the disorder. The safety, tolerability, effectiveness, and pharmacological properties of Recorlev in people with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome are currently being assessed in the LOGICS trial (NCT03277690). LOGICS enrolled patients who had never been treated with Recorlev, as well as those given the medication in SONICS. The study included an initial withdrawal phase, in which patients were assigned randomly to either Recorlev (up to a dose of 1,200 mg), or to a placebo for about 8 weeks. This was followed by a restoration phase, lasting approximately the same time, in which all patients received Recorlev in combination with a placebo. With this design, patients initially assigned to Recorlev continued treatment in the study’s second phase, while those originally assigned to a placebo switched to Recorlev. Before enrolling in the study’s initial randomized-withdrawal phase, patients completed an open-label titration and maintenance phase lasting 14 to 19 weeks, which determined the best dose of Recorlev they should receive later. Of the 79 patients who entered the open-label titration and maintenance phase, 44 enrolled in the randomized-withdrawal phase, and 43 completed this initial portion of the trial. Top-line data now announced by the company showed the proportion of patients having their urine cortisol levels rise by the end of the randomized-withdrawal phase was 54.5% higher among those on a placebo than among those treated with Recorlev (95.5% vs. 40.9%). All 21 patients who lost their initial treatment response in the open-label portion of the study, and saw their cortisol levels rise after moving to a placebo (withdrawal phase) were given early rescue treatment. Their cortisol levels started to drop after a median of 22 days. The percentage of patients whose urine cortisol levels were within normal range by the end of the withdrawal phase was 45.5% higher among those treated with Recorlev, compared with those given a placebo (50.0% vs. 4.5%). In addition to losing benefits related to cortisol control, patients receiving a withdrawal-phase placebo also lost the therapy’s positive cholesterol-lowering effects. “The Phase 3 LOGICS results complement the long-term efficacy and safety data supplied by the Phase 3 SONICS study, which was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, by confirming that the effects of Recorlev (levoketoconazole) were responsible for the therapeutic response when treatment was continued compared to withdrawing patients to placebo,” said Maria Fleseriu, MD, FACE, professor of Medicine and Neurological Surgery and director of the Oregon Health Sciences University Pituitary Center, and principal investigator of the study. “The LOGICS findings — which build upon the long-term benefit shown during open-label treatment in SONICS — provide robust evidence to support the use of RECORLEV as an important treatment option for this life-threatening rare endocrine disease,” Fleseriu added. Recorlev was found to be safe and well-tolerated in LOGICS. Of the 79 patients who entered in the study’s open-label titration and maintenance phase, 19% discontinued due to side effects in this phase, and none of the 44 who proceeded to the withdrawal phase stopped treatment for these reasons. The most common side effects observed during the first two parts of LOGICS included nausea (29%), low blood potassium levels (28%), headache (21%), high blood pressure (19%), and diarrhea (15%). Some patients saw the levels of their liver enzymes rise above normal levels — a sign of liver inflammation and damage — during the study. However, this and other side effects of special interest, including those associated with adrenal insufficiency, resolved by either lowering the dose or stopping treatment with Recorlev. The proportion of patients experiencing these side effects was similar to that seen in SONICS. These findings are part of a subset of data from a planned interim analysis of LOGICS. Final study data requires analyses of additional datasets. Adapted from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/09/08/2089872/0/en/Strongbridge-Biopharma-plc-Announces-Positive-and-Statistically-Significant-Top-Line-Results-from-the-Pivotal-Phase-3-LOGICS-Study-of-RECORLEV-levoketoconazole-for-the-Treatment-of.html
  11. Abstract Despite various approaches to immunoassay and chromatography for monitoring cortisol concentrations, conventional methods require bulky external equipment, which limits their use as mobile health care systems. Here, we describe a human pilot trial of a soft, smart contact lens for real-time detection of the cortisol concentration in tears using a smartphone. A cortisol sensor formed using a graphene field-effect transistor can measure cortisol concentration with a detection limit of 10 pg/ml, which is low enough to detect the cortisol concentration in human tears. In addition, this soft contact lens only requires the integration of this cortisol sensor with transparent antennas and wireless communication circuits to make a smartphone the only device needed to operate the lens remotely without obstructing the wearer’s view. Furthermore, in vivo tests using live rabbits and the human pilot experiment confirmed the good biocompatibility and reliability of this lens as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. INTRODUCTION The steroid hormone, cortisol, which is known as a stress hormone, is secreted by the adrenal gland when people are stressed psychologically or physically (1). This secretion occurs when the adrenal gland is stimulated by adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland when it is stimulated by the corticotropin-releasing hormone secreted by the hypothalamus. This serial cortisol secretion system is referred to as a hypothalamus–pituitary gland–adrenal gland axis, which is affected by chronic stress, resulting in abnormal secretion of cortisol (2, 3). The accumulation of cortisol caused by the abnormal secretion of cortisol increases the concentrations of fat and amino acid, which can result in diverse severe diseases (e.g., Cushing’s disease, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular complications, and type 2 diabetes) and neurological disorders (such as depression and anxiety disorders) (2–7). In contrast, abnormally low cortisol levels can lead to Addison’s disease, which results in hypercholesterolemia, weight loss, and chronic fatigue (8). In addition, it was recently reported that plasma cortisol can be correlated to the prognosis of traumatic brain injury (9). Furthermore, the extent of cortisol secretion varies from person to person, and it changes continuously (10, 11). Thus, developing health care systems for real-time monitoring of the cortisol level has been explored extensively over the past decade as the key to the quantitative analysis of stress levels. Although various efforts have led to the development of cortisol sensors that can measure the concentration of cortisol in blood, saliva, sweat, hair, urine, and interstitial fluid (12–17), the accurate measurement of cortisol concentrations has been limited because of the difficulties associated with the transportation and storage of cortisol as well as the instability of the biologically active cortisol in these body fluids at room temperature. In addition, these conventional sensing methods require bulky equipment for the extraction and analysis of these body fluids, which is not suitable for mobile health care systems (12, 18). Therefore, the development of noninvasive and wearable sensors that can monitor cortisol concentration accurately is highly desirable for a smart health care solution. For example, the immunoassay method, which uses an antigen-antibody binding reaction, has been used extensively for electrochemical cortisol immunosensors using saliva and interstitial fluid, except tears (12, 14, 19). However, these immunosensors still require the use of bulky impedance analyzers for the analysis of the Nyquist plot from electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Although the cyclic voltammetry (CV) technique can be used as an alternative approach for sensing cortisol, additional bulky electrochemical instruments still are necessary for analyzing the CV curves (13, 14, 19). Recently, wearable forms of cortisol sensors that use sweat were developed (15), but they still required bulky measurement equipment (15, 16). Therefore, portable and smart sensors that can monitor the accurate concentration of cortisol in real time are highly desirable for use in mobile health care. Among the various body fluids, tears, in particular, contain important biomarkers, including cortisol (20, 21). Thus, the integration of biosensors with contact lenses is a potentially attractive candidate for the noninvasive and real-time monitoring of these biomarkers from tears (22–25). However, an approach for fabricating a smart contact lens for sensing the cortisol in tears has not been demonstrated previously. Thus, here, we present an extraordinary approach for the formation of a smart, soft contact lens that enables remote, real-time monitoring of the cortisol level in the wearer’s tears using mobile phones. This smart, soft contact lens is composed of a cortisol sensor, a wireless antenna, capacitors, resistors, and integrated circuit chips that use stretchable interconnects without obstructing the wearer’s view. The components of this device (except the antenna) were protected from mechanical deformations by locating each of the components on discrete, rigid islands and by embedding these islands inside an elastic layer. A graphene field-effect transistor (FET; with the binding of monoclonal antibody) was used as this cortisol immunosensor, which exhibited a sufficiently low detection limit, i.e., 10 pg/ml, for its sensing of cortisol in human tears in which the cortisol concentration ranges from 1 to 40 ng/ml (26). This sensor was integrated with a near-field communication (NFC) chip and antenna inside the soft contact lens for the real-time wireless transmission of the data to the user’s mobile device (e.g., a smart phone or a smart watch). The antenna occupies a relatively large area of this soft lens, so it requires its high stretchability, good transparency, and low resistance for operating a standard NFC chip at 13.56 MHz. In our approach, the hybrid random networks of ultralong silver nanofibers (AgNFs) and fine silver nanowires (AgNWs) enabled high transparency and good stretchability of this antenna and its low sheet resistance for reliable standard NFCs (at 13.56 MHz) inside this smart contact lens. Thus, the fully integrated system of this smart contact lens provided wireless and battery-free operation for the simultaneous detection and transmission of the cortisol concentration from tears to a mobile phone using standard NFC. In addition, a human pilot trial and in vivo tests conducted using live rabbits demonstrated the biocompatibility of this lens, and its safety against inflammation and thermal/electromagnetic field radiation suggests its substantial usability as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. RESULTS Cortisol immunosensor A graphene FET sensor was fabricated by binding the cortisol monoclonal antibody (C-Mab) to the surface of graphene for the immunosensing of cortisol. Here, graphene acts as a transducer that converts the interaction between cortisol and C-Mab into electrical signals. Figure 1A shows the immobilization process of C-Mab to graphene. Immobilization proceeds through amide bonding of the C-Mab onto the carboxyl group of the graphene surface via the EDC [1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride]/NHS (N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide) coupling reaction. A chemical vapor deposition–synthesized graphene layer was transferred onto a desired substrate and exposed to ultraviolet ozone (UVO) to activate the surface of the graphene with the carboxylate group. Figure S1 shows the contact angle between this surface of the graphene and a droplet of deionized (DI) water. Longer exposure time to UVO can decrease the hydrophobicity of graphene with decreasing the contact angle. Table S1 shows the increase in the electrical resistance of graphene that resulted from this UVO treatment. In our experiment, 2 min of exposure time to UVO decreased the contact angle from 70° to 38° without increasing the resistance of the graphene notably. UVO exposure times longer than this threshold time degraded the resistance of the graphene excessively, so the time of exposure of our samples to UVO was limited to 2 min. Figure S2A illustrates the process of immobilizing C-Mab through the EDC/NHS coupling reaction. This two-step coupling reaction of EDC and NHS can mediate the amide bonding between the carboxylate group of the UVO-exposed graphene and the amine group of the protein (12, 17, 27, 28). Here, EDC forms reactive O-acylisourea ester, thereby making the surface unstable. This O-acylisourea ester reacts with the NHS to form amine-reactive NHS ester with the surface still remaining semistable. Then, C-Mab with the amine group reacts with the amine-reactive NHS ester, thereby forming stable amide bonding that can immobilize C-Mab to the NHS on the surface of the graphene. Figure S2B shows the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy spectra of the DI water after the cortisol sensor had been immersed for 24 hours. The spectra of the DI water in which the sensor was immersed were not significantly different from those of the pristine DI water. However, the C-Mab solution that had a concentration of 1 μg/ml had a significant peak intensity in the range of 3000 to 2800 cm−1, representing the N-H bonding in the C-Mab. These results indicated that C-Mab formed stable bonding on the carboxylated graphene and was negligibly detached by exposure to water. From https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/28/eabb2891
  12. Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: Who should get an adrenalectomy? How do you optimally replace adrenal hormones? What laboratory tests are needed to monitor replacement? When and how do you stress dose? What about subcut cortisol versus cortisol pumps? Patient Melissa will lead a Q and A Sunday • May 17 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=mb896b9ec88bc4e1163cf4194c55b248f OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 802 841 537 Your phone/computer will be muted on entry. Slides will be available on the day of the talk here There will be plenty of time for questions using the chat button. Meeting Password: addison For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
  13. Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: Who should get an adrenalectomy? How do you optimally replace adrenal hormones? What laboratory tests are needed to monitor replacement? When and how do you stress dose? What about subcut cortisol versus cortisol pumps? Patient Melissa will lead a Q and A Sunday • May 17 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=mb896b9ec88bc4e1163cf4194c55b248f OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 802 841 537 Your phone/computer will be muted on entry. Slides will be available on the day of the talk here There will be plenty of time for questions using the chat button. Meeting Password: addison For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
  14. In patients with Cushing’s disease, removing the pituitary tumor via an endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) leads to better remission rates than microscopic TSS, according to new research. But regardless of surgical approach, plasma cortisol levels one day after surgery are predictive of remission, researchers found. The study, “Management of Cushing’s disease: Changing trend from microscopic to endoscopic surgery,” was published in the journal World Neurosurgery. Because it improves visualization and accessibility, endoscopic TSS has been gaining popularity over microscopic TSS to remove pituitary tumors in Cushing’s disease patients. Yet, although this surgery has been associated with high remission rates, whether it outperforms microscopic surgery and determining the factors affecting long-term outcomes may further ease disease recurrence after TSS. A team with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences addressed this topic in 104 patients who underwent surgery from January 2009 to June 2017. Among these patients, 47 underwent microscopic surgery and 55 endoscopic surgery. At presentation, their ages ranged from 9 to 55 (mean age of 28). Also, patients had been experiencing Cushing’s symptoms over a mean duration of 24 months. Eighty-seven patients showed weight gain. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus were among the most common co-morbidities, found in 76 and 33 patients, respectively. Nineteen patients had osteoporosis and 12 osteopenia, which refers to lower-than-normal bone mineral density. As assessed with magnetic resonance imaging, 68 patients had a microadenoma (a tumor diameter smaller than one centimeter) and 27 had a macroadenoma (a tumor one centimeter or larger). Only two patients had an invasive pituitary adenoma. Two patients with larger tumors were operated on transcranially (through the skull). The surgery resulted in total tumor removal in 90 cases (86.5%). A blood loss greater than 100 milliliter was more common with endoscopic than with microscopic TSS. Ten patients developed transient diabetes inspidus, two experienced seizures after surgery, and six of nine patients with macroadenoma and visual deterioration experienced vision improvements after TSS. The incidence of intraoperative leak of cerebrospinal fluid — the liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord — was 23.2%, while that of post-operative leak was 7.7% and was more common in microadenoma than macroadenoma surgery (9.8% vs. 5.0%). Seventeen patients were lost to follow-up and two died due to metabolic complications and infections. The average follow-up was shorter for endoscopic than with microscopic surgery (18 months vs. 35 months). Among the remaining 85 cases, 65 (76.5%) experienced remission, as defined by a morning cortisol level under 5.0 μg/dL, restored circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock, typically impaired in Cushing’s patients), and suppression of serum cortisol to below 2 μg/dl after overnight dexamethasone suppression test. The remission rate was 54.5% in pediatric patients and was higher with endoscopic than with microscopic TSS (88.2% vs. 56.6%). Also, patients with microadenoma showed a trend toward more frequent remission than those with macroadenoma (73.2% vs. 64.3%). Ten of the remaining 20 patients experienced disease recurrence up to 28 months after surgery. Sixteen cases revealed signs of hypopituitarism, or pituitary insufficiency, which were managed with replacement therapy. A subsequent analysis found that morning cortisol level on day one after surgery was the only significant predictor of remission. Specifically, a one-unit increase in cortisol lowered the likelihood of remission by 7%. A cortisol level lower than 10.7 μgm/dl was calculated as predicting remission. Overall, the study showed that “postoperative plasma cortisol level is a strong independent predictor of remission,” the researchers wrote, and that “remission provided by endoscopy is significantly better than microscopic approach.” From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/09/24/cortisol-levels-predict-remission-cushings-patients-undergoing-transsphenoidal-surgery/
  15. So do we need to get our bones checked too? https://www.sciencealert.com/our-bones-provide-our-bodies-with-a-secret-weapon-that-saves-us-in-times-of-danger Bizarre Discovery Shows Your Bones Could Be Triggering The 'Fight-or-Flight' Response MIKE MCRAE 13 SEP 2019 When faced with a threat, hormones flood our bodies in preparation either for battle or a quick escape - what's commonly known as the 'fight-or-flight' response. For decades, we've generally thought this response was driven by hormones such as adrenaline. But it now seems that one of the most important of these messengers could come from a rather unexpected place – our skeleton. We usually think of chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline as the things that get the heart racing and muscles pumping. But the real star player could actually be osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein produced by our bones. As a response to acute stress, steroids of the glucocorticoid variety are released by the body's endocrine system, where they manage the production of a cascade of other 'get ready to rumble' chemicals throughout various tissues. Researchers from the US, the UK, and India argue there's one tiny problem with this explanation of the fight-or-flight reaction. It isn't exactly fast. While nobody is disputing that our bodies produce cortisol when stressed, the fact their main action is to trigger cells into transcribing specific genes – a process that takes time – makes it an unlikely candidate for a rapid physiological response. "Although this certainly does not rule out that glucocorticoid hormones may be implicated in some capacity in the acute stress response, it suggests the possibility that other hormones, possibly peptide ones, could be involved," says geneticist Gerard Karsenty of Columbia University. So Karsenty and colleagues went on the hunt for something a little more expedient, focussing on proteins released by bone cells that would potentially have a more immediate effect on animal metabolism. Looking to the skeleton as a source might not be as weird as it first seems. After all, our bones evolved as a way to protect our squishy bits from being squashed, either by predator or accident. "If you think of bone as something that evolved to protect the organism from danger – the skull protects the brain from trauma, the skeleton allows vertebrates to escape predators, and even the bones in the ear alert us to approaching danger – the hormonal functions of osteocalcin begin to make sense," says Karsenty. Osteocalcin isn't in any way new to science, either. We've understood its function in bone development for nearly half a century, and in recent years begun to suspect it also has a hand in regulating our energy levels by affecting glucose metabolism. It also seems to give an ageing memory a boost, at least in lab rodents. All useful things in moments of danger. But it's still a surprising discovery that osteocalcin might also help to kickstart our acute stress response. "It completely changes how we think about how acute stress responses occur," says Karsenty. To test their suspicions, the researchers put lab mice under duress by restraining them for a 45 minute period. During that time, osteocalcin levels in the peripheral blood rose by half, while other skeletal hormones barely budged. In another test, just 15 minutes after a few harmless (but uncomfortable) shocks to the feet, osteocalcin levels in the stressed mice jumped by a whole 150 percent. Giving the test subjects a whiff of a chemical found in fox urine also elevated their peripheral osteocalcin levels. Importantly, these went up before their corticosterone levels began to climb, starting a few minutes after exposure and remaining high for another three hours. Just to make sure it wasn't only a mouse thing, the team also checked the hormone in humans who volunteered to do a public speech and undergo a pulse-raising cross-examination. Sure enough, up the osteocalcin went. In yet another series of tests, the team used rodents that were genetically engineered to lack the usual corticosteroid and other stress hormones, and found these animals continued to present a stress response. In addition, a shot of osteocalcin in otherwise unstressed mice was all they needed to get twitchy, raising their heart rate, temperature, and levels of circulating glucose. "Osteocalcin could explain past observations of an intact flight-or-flight response in humans and other animals lacking glucocorticoids and additional molecules produced by the adrenal glands," says Karsenty. With the evidence building for the bone protein as such a strong motivator for dealing with stress, it stands to ask why we need hormones like cortisol at all. The researchers plan to unravel this mystery in future investigations. This research was published in Cell Metabolism.
  16. For patients with persistent or recurring Cushing’s disease, monthly pasireotide therapy was safe and effective, leading to normal urinary free cortisol levels in 47% of patients after 2 years, according to findings published in Clinical Endocrinology. Maria Fleseriu “The management of Cushing’s syndrome, and particularly Cushing’s disease, remains challenging,” Maria Fleseriu, MD, FACE, professor of neurological surgery and professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and clinical nutrition in the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and director of the OHSU Northwest Pituitary Center, told Endocrine Today. “Long-acting pasireotide provided sustained biochemical improvements and clinical benefit in a significant proportion of patients with Cushing’s disease who elected to continue in this extension study. There were many adverse events reported overall, but no new safety signals emerging over long-term treatment.” In the last decade, medical treatment for Cushing’s disease has progressed from a few steroidogenesis inhibitors to three novel drug groups: new inhibitors for steroidogenic enzymes with possibly fewer adverse effects, pituitary-directed drugs that aim to inhibit the pathophysiological pathways of Cushing’s disease, and glucocorticoid receptor antagonists that block cortisol’s action, Fleseriu, who is also an Endocrine Today Editorial Board member, said. In an open-label extension study, Fleseriu and colleagues analyzed data from 81 adults with confirmed Cushing’s disease with mean urinary free cortisol not exceeding the upper limit of normal, who transitioned from a 12-month, randomized controlled trial where they were assigned 10 mg or 30 mg once-monthly intramuscular pasireotide (Signifor LAR, Novartis). During the main study, researchers recruited participants with mean urinary free cortisol level concentration 1.5 to five times the upper limit of normal, normal or greater than normal plasma and confirmed pituitary source of Cushing’s disease. Participants who elected to continue in the extension were considered biochemical responders or benefited from the study drug per the clinical investigator, Fleseriu said. “As in all extension studies, the bias is inherent that patients deemed responders tend to continue, but for any type of treatment for pituitary tumors, and particularly Cushing’s disease, long-term, robust data on efficacy and safety parameters is essential,” Fleseriu said. Median overall exposure to pasireotide at the end of the extension study was 23.9 months, with nearly half of patients receiving at least 1 year of treatment during the extension phase. Researchers found that improvements in clinical signs of hypercortisolism were sustained throughout the study and median urinary free cortisol remained within normal range. Overall, 38 participants (47%) had controlled urinary free cortisol at month 24 (after 12 months of treatment during the extension phase), with researchers noting that the proportion of participants with controlled or partially controlled urinary free cortisol was stable throughout the extension phase. “Interestingly, the median salivary cortisol level decreased but remained above normal (1.3 times upper limit of normal) at 3 years,” Fleseriu said. As seen in other pasireotide studies, and expected based on the mechanism of action, researchers observed hyperglycemia-related adverse events in 39.5% of participants, with diabetes medications initiated or escalated in some patients, Fleseriu said. However, mean fasting glucose and HbA1c were stable during the extension phase, after increasing in the main study. Within the cohort, 81.5% had type 2 diabetes at baseline (entering extension phase) and 88.9% patients had type 2 diabetes at last assessment. “Pasireotide acts at the tumor level, and tumor shrinkage is seen in many patients,” Fleseriu said. “In this study, 42% and 32.1% had a measurable microadenoma or macroadenoma, respectively, on MRI at the start of pasireotide treatment; an adenoma was not visible in almost a quarter of patients at 2 years.” Among patients with a measurable adenoma at baseline and at month 24 (n = 35), 85.7% experienced a reduction of at least 20% or a 20% change in tumor volume between the two time points. Improvements in median systolic and diastolic blood pressure, BMI and waist circumference were sustained during the extension, Fleseriu said. “The long-term safety profile of pasireotide was favorable and consistent with that reported during the first 12 months of treatment,” the researchers wrote. “These data support the use of long-acting pasireotide as an effective long-term treatment option for some patients with [Cushing’s disease].” Fleseriu said individualized treatment selecting patients who will derive benefit from therapy will be crucial, balancing both efficacy and the potential risks and costs. – by Regina Schaffer Disclosures: Fleseriu reports she has received consultant fees and her institution has received research support from Novo Nordisk and Pfizer. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures. From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/neuroendocrinology/news/online/%7B5da4611f-34b2-4306-80b8-46babd2aad4a%7D/long-acting-pasireotide-provides-sustained-biochemical-improvements-in-cushings-disease?page=2
  17. Increased cortisol secretion may follow a cyclic pattern in patients with adrenal incidentalomas, a phenomenon that may lead to misdiagnosis, a study reports. Since cyclic subclinical hypercortisolism may increase the risk for heart problems, researchers recommend extended follow-up with repeated tests to measure cortisol levels in these patients. The study, “Cyclic Subclinical Hypercortisolism: A Previously Unidentified Hypersecretory Form of Adrenal Incidentalomas,” was published in the Journal of Endocrine Society. Adrenal incidentalomas (AI) are asymptomatic masses in the adrenal glands discovered on an imaging test ordered for a problem unrelated to adrenal disease. While most of these benign tumors are considered non-functioning, meaning they do not produce steroid hormones like cortisol, up to 30% do produce and secrete steroids. Subclinical Cushing’s syndrome is an asymptomatic condition characterized by mild cortisol excess without the specific signs of Cushing’s syndrome. The long-term exposure to excess cortisol may lead to cardiovascular problems in these patients. While non-functioning adenomas have been linked with metabolic problems, guidelines say that if excess cortisol is ruled out after the first evaluation, patients no longer need additional follow-up. However, cortisol secretion can be cyclic in Cushing’s syndrome, meaning that clinicians might not detect excess amounts of cortisol at first and misdiagnose patients. In an attempt to determine whether cyclic cortisol production is also seen in patients with subclinical Cushing’s syndrome and whether these patients have a higher risk for metabolic complications, researchers in Brazil reviewed the medical records of 251 patients with AI — 186 women, median 60 years old — followed from 2006 to 2017 in a single reference center. Cortisol levels were measured after a dexamethasone suppression test (DST). Dexamethasone is used to stop the adrenal glands from producing cortisol. In healthy patients, this treatment is expected to reduce cortisol levels, but in patients whose tumors also produce cortisol, the levels often remain elevated. Patients were diagnosed with cyclic subclinical Cushing’s syndrome if they had at least two normal and two abnormal DST tests. From the 251 patients, only 44 performed the test at least three times and were included in the analysis. The results showed that 20.4% of patients had a negative DST test and were considered non-functioning adenomas. An additional 20.4% had elevated cortisol levels in all DST tests and received a diagnosis of sustained subclinical Cushing’s syndrome. The remaining 59.2% had discordant results in their tests, with 18.3% having at least two positive and two negative test results, matching the criteria for cyclic cortisol production, and 40.9% having only one discordant test, being diagnosed as possibly cyclic subclinical Cushing’s syndrome. Interestingly, 20 of the 44 patients had a normal cortisol response at their first evaluation. However, 11 of these patients failed to maintain normal responses in subsequent tests, with four receiving a diagnosis of cyclic subclinical Cushing’s syndrome and seven as possibly cyclic subclinical Cushing’s. Overall, the findings suggest that patients with adrenal incidentalomas should receive extended follow-up with repeated DST tests, helping identify those with cyclic cortisol secretion. “Lack of recognition of this phenomenon makes follow-up of patients with AI misleading because even cyclic SCH may result in potential cardiovascular risk,” the study concluded. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/04/11/cyclic-cortisol-production-may-lead-to-misdiagnosis-in-cushings-study-finds/
  18. A simple test that measures free cortisol levels in saliva at midnight — called a midnight salivary cortisol test — showed good diagnostic performance for Cushing’s syndrome among a Chinese population, according to a recent study. The test was better than the standard urine free cortisol levels and may be an alternative for people with end-stage kidney disease, in whom measuring cortisol in urine is challenging. The study, “Midnight salivary cortisol for the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome in a Chinese population,” was published in Singapore Medical Journal. Cushing’s syndrome, defined by excess cortisol levels, is normally diagnosed by measuring the amount of cortisol in bodily fluids. Traditionally, urine free cortisol has been the test of choice, but this method is subject to complications ranging from improper collection to metabolic differences, and its use is limited in people with poor kidney function. Midnight salivary cortisol is a test that takes into account the normal fluctuation of cortisol levels in bodily fluids. Cortisol peaks in the morning and declines throughout the day, reaching its lowest levels at midnight. In Cushing’s patients, however, this variation ceases to exist and cortisol remains elevated throughout the day. Midnight salivary cortisol was first proposed in the 1980s as a noninvasive way to measure cortisol levels, but its efficacy and cutoff value for Cushing’s disease in the Chinese population remained unclear. Researchers examined midnight salivary cortisol, urine free cortisol, and midnight serum cortisol in Chinese patients suspected of having Cushing’s syndrome and in healthy volunteers. These measurements were then combined with imaging studies to make a diagnosis. Overall, the study included 29 patients with Cushing’s disease, and 19 patients with Cushing’s syndrome — 15 caused by an adrenal mass and four caused by an ACTH-producing tumor outside the pituitary. Also, 13 patients excluded from the suspected Cushing’s group were used as controls and 21 healthy volunteers were considered the “normal” group. The team found that the mean midnight salivary cortisol was significantly higher in the Cushing’s group compared to both control and normal subjects. Urine free cortisol and midnight serum cortisol were also significantly higher than those found in the control group, but not the normal group. The optimal cutoff value of midnight salivary cortisol for diagnosing Cushing’s was 1.7 ng/mL, which had a sensitivity of 98% — only 2% are false negatives — and a specificity of 100% — no false positives. While midnight salivary cortisol levels correlated with urine free cortisol and midnight serum cortisol — suggesting that all of them can be useful diagnostic markers for Cushing’s — the accuracy of midnight salivary cortisol was better than the other two measures. Notably, in one patient with a benign adrenal mass and impaired kidney function, urine free cortisol failed to reach the necessary threshold for a Cushing’s diagnosis, but midnight salivary and serum cortisol levels both confirmed the diagnosis, highlighting how midnight salivary cortisol could be a preferable diagnostic method over urine free cortisol. “MSC is a simple and non-invasive tool that does not require hospitalization. Our results confirmed the accuracy and reliability of [midnight salivary cortisol] as a diagnostic test for [Cushing’s syndrome] for the Chinese population,” the investigators said. The team also noted that its study is limited: the sample size was quite small, and Cushing’s patients tended to be older than controls, which may have skewed the results. Larger studies will be needed to validate these results in the future. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/01/10/midnight-salivary-cortisol-test-helps-diagnose-cushings-chinese-study-shows/
  19. If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of health trends, it’s likely you’ve been hearing the current buzzwords “cortisol creates belly fat” and “cortisol causes muscle wasting and fat storage.” These are the type of catch phrases that gain momentum every few years. And although some of the fads and trends showing up seasonally in fitness are myths, this caution about chronically elevated cortisol is true. Cortisol is also deeply connected with the dangers of chronic inflammation, which I described in another article, “Inflammation Creates Diseases.” Like many hormones, cortisol has an effect on a wide variety of functions in the body. Although it’s getting particularly demonized lately, cortisol serves some very important and positive functions in the body. It’s an essential component of the flight or flight response, so it gives us energy, focus, strength, motivation and courage. But, like with sugar or caffeine, it comes with a crash that feels like an emotional, psychological and physical drain. Cortisol is important for survival, but we didn’t evolve to have high levels of it all the time. According to hormone.org, cortisol isn’t only a stress hormone: “Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. In women, cortisol also supports the developing fetus during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being.” (hormone.org/hormones-and-health/hormones/cortisol) There are many symptoms of chronically elevated cortisol levels. With that said, the way a spike of cortisol gives you a jolt of energy is by raising blood sugar. It does this by way of gluconeogenesis. This literally means “creating new sugar,” and it happens by way of breaking protein down into amino acids that are then turned into sugar by the liver. What is a large source of protein in the body? Yep, muscles. This is what is meant by “cortisol causes muscle loss.” This in turn contributes to muscle weakness. Whereas normal levels of cortisol help to regulate blood sugar levels by breaking down only a little muscle (which can be replaced with exercise), excessive levels cause muscle wasting. Why does cortisol cause fat gain? Remember those cortisol receptors most cells have? Fat cells have four times as many, so they are particularly responsive to cortisol. Okay, remember all that glucose the cortisol surge dumped into your blood for energy? Well, that also came with an insulin response to get your blood sugar levels back down, and insulin causes energy storage. And where do you store the energy? Yep, in those hypersensitive fat cells that cortisol just turned on. And what happens when you have too much insulin over time? Yep, diabetes. Also, another reason stress can cause emotional and/or binge eating is because cortisol also fires up your sense of purpose, as well as your appetite. So now stress has made you feel motivated…to eat. Emotionally and psychologically, chronically high cortisol can exacerbate depression, anxiety, irritability and lack of emotional control. Cortisol triggers a release of tryptophan oxygenase. This enzyme breaks down tryptophan. Tryptophan is required for creating serotonin. Serotonin gives us the ability to feel happiness, and it also affects appetite, sleep and sexual desire. Since extended exposure to high levels of cortisol inhibits the production of serotonin, all the symptoms of low serotonin become problematic (decreased appetite, insomnia, impotence, etc.). In short, prolonged stress causes depression. Cortisol also plays a role in the circulatory system. It manipulates blood pressure by acting as a diuretic. Excess cortisol causes an electrolyte imbalance, whereby sodium is retained, but potassium is excreted. Let me take you back to your high school biology days: Muscles fire because of the sodium potassium pump. The sodium potassium pump also effects the firing of nerves, including those impulses that cause your heart to beat and your kidneys to take in water for filtration. That sodium potassium pump is important throughout the entire body, across many of its biological functions. Because cortisol increases the concentration of sodium in your body, it has a direct impact on your blood pressure. Remember why excess salt can cause high blood pressure? Because it contains sodium. For all these reasons and more, chronically elevated cortisol also causes muscle weakness (ironic, since short bursts of it temporarily increase strength). Cortisol has other effects on minerals. According to the Hindawi Journal of Sports Medicine, “Cortisol triggers bone mineral resorption (removal) in order to free amino acids for use as an energy source through gluconeogenesis. Cortisol indirectly acts on bone by blocking calcium absorption, which decreases bone cell growth.” As you can see, excess cortisol causes osteoporosis. It also exacerbates other bone mineral density diseases, which means cortisol can leave you literally brittle with stress. Practically anything can become a stressor in the right conditions, and fight or flight is our only biological response to stress. Some triggers of stress include conflict, worry, alcohol and drug consumption, processed foods, excess exercise (especially prolonged and repeated sessions of low-level steady-state cardio training), sleep deprivation, thirst and hunger. As much as possible, protect yourself from stress with rest, relaxation, meditation, play time and healthy foods full of antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and thus the risks for practically all diseases. Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com. Adapted from https://goqnotes.com/61597/stress-cortisol-and-weight-gain/
  20. Strongbridge Biopharma released additional positive results from a Phase 3 trial evaluating whether the company’s investigational therapy Recorlev (levoketoconazole) is safe and effective for people with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. The latest results were presented in the scientific poster “Safety and Efficacy of Levoketoconazole in Cushing Syndrome: Initial Results From the Phase 3 SONICS Study,\” at the 18th Annual Congress of the European NeuroEndocrine Association (ENEA), which took place in Wrocław, Poland, last month. The SONICS study (NCT01838551) was a multi-center, open-label Phase 3 trial evaluating Recorlev’s safety and effectiveness in 94 patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. The trial consisted of three parts: a dose-escalation phase to determine the appropriate Recorlev dose that achieved normalization of cortisol levels; a maintenance phase in which patients received the established dose for six months; and a final extended phase, in which patients were treated with Recorlev for an additional six months, with the possibility of dose adjustments. Its primary goal was a reduction in the levels of cortisol in the patients’ urine after six months of maintenance treatment, without any dose increase during that period. Among secondary goals was a reduction in the characteristically high risk of cardiovascular disease in these people, through the assessment of multiple cardiovascular risk markers. Strongbridge announced top-line results of the SONICS study in August, which showed that the trial had reached its primary and secondary goals. It concluded last month. After six months of maintenance therapy, Recorlev successfully lowered to normal the levels of cortisol in 30% of patients without a dose increase. It also led to statistically and clinically significant reductions in cardiovascular risk biomarkers, including blood sugar, cholesterol levels, body weight, and body mass index. Maria Fleseriu, MD, director of the Oregon Health Sciences University Northwest Pituitary Center, presented additional and detailed results of SONICS at the congress. Additional analyses showed that among the 77 patients who completed the dose-escalation phase and entered the study’s maintenance phase, 81% had their cortisol levels normalized. At the end of the six months of maintenance treatment, 29 (53%) of the 55 patients who had their cortisol levels assessed at the beginning of the study and at the end of the maintenance phase had achieved normalization of cortisol levels, regardless of dose increase. Among all patients who completed maintenance treatment (including patients with some missing data) and regardless of dose increase, 38% had achieved normalization of cortisol levels and 48% recorded a 50% or more decrease or normalization. The results also highlighted that Recorlev substantially reduced patients’ cortisol levels regardless of their levels at the study’s beginning (which were on average about five-fold higher than the upper limit of normal). In those patients with the highest levels of cortisol in their urine, Recorlev led to a median reduction of more than 80%. As previously reported, Recorlev was found to be generally well-tolerated, with no new safety concerns, and only 12 participants (12.8%) stopped treatment due to adverse events. Ten patients had three- or five-fold increased levels of alanine aminotransferase — a liver enzyme used to assess liver damage — which were fully resolved without further complications. These liver-related adverse events “were all noted in the first 60 days, thus suggesting a timeline interval for monitoring,” Fleseriu said in a press release. “We continue to be encouraged by the positive efficacy results of SONICS and the overall benefit-to-risk profile of Recorlev and look forward to sharing additional planned analyses from the study in the near future,” said Fredric Cohen, Strongbridge’s chief medical officer. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/11/01/new-data-from-phase-3-trial-supports-recorlev-ability-to-safely-treat-cushings-syndrome/
  21. Minimally invasive diagnostic methods and transnasal surgery may lead to remission in nearly all children with Cushing’s disease, while avoiding more aggressive approaches such as radiation or removal of the adrenal glands, a study shows. The study, “A personal series of 100 children operated for Cushing’s disease (CD): optimizing minimally invasive diagnosis and transnasal surgery to achieve nearly 100% remission including reoperations,” was published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. Normally, the pituitary produces adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. When a patient has a pituitary tumor, that indirectly leads to high levels of cortisol, leading to development of Cushing’s disease (CD). In transnasal surgery (TNS), a surgeon goes through the nose using an endoscope to remove a pituitary tumor. The approach is the first-choice treatment for children with Cushing’s disease due to ACTH-secreting adenomas — or tumors — in the pituitary gland. Micro-adenomas, defined as less than 4 mm, are more common in children and need surgical expertise for removal. It is necessary to determine the exact location of the tumor before conducting the surgery. Additionally, many surgeons perform radiotherapy or bilateral adrenalectomy (removal of both adrenal glands) after the surgery. However, these options are not ideal as they can be detrimental to children who need to re-establish normal growth and development patterns. Dieter K. Lüdecke, a surgeon from Germany’s University of Hamburg, has been able to achieve nearly 100% remission while minimizing the need for pituitary radiation or bilateral adrenalectomy. In this study, researchers looked at how these high remission rates can be achieved while minimizing radiotherapy or bilateral adrenalectomy. Researchers analyzed 100 patients with pediatric CD who had been referred to Lüdecke for surgery from 1980-2009. Data was published in two separate series — series 1, which covers patients from 1980-1995, and series 2, which covers 1996-2009. All the surgeries employed direct TNS. Diagnostic methods for CD have improved significantly over the past 30 years. Advanced endocrine diagnostic investigations, such as testing for levels of salivary cortisol in the late evening and cortisol-releasing hormone tests, have made a diagnosis of CD less invasive. This is particularly important for excluding children with obesity alone from children with obesity and CD. Methods to determine the precise location of micro-adenomas have also improved. The initial methodology to localize tumors was known as inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS), an invasive procedure in which ACTH levels are sampled from the veins that drain the pituitary gland. In series 1, IPSS was performed in 24% of patients, among which 46% were found to have the wrong tumor location. Therefore, IPSS was deemed invasive, risky, and unreliable for this purpose. All adenomas were removed with extensive pituitary exploration. Two patients in series 1 underwent early repeat surgery; all were successful. Lüdecke introduced intraoperative cavernous sinus sampling (CSS), an improved way to predict location of adenomas. This was found to be very helpful in highly select cases and could also be done preoperatively for very small adenomas. In series 2, CSS was used in only 15% of patients thanks to improved MRI and endocrinology tests. All patients who underwent CSS had correct localization of their tumors, indicating its superiority over IPSS. In series 2, three patients underwent repeat TNS, which was successful. In these recurrences, TNS minimized the need for irradiation. The side effects of TNS were minimal. Recurrence rate in series 1 was 16% and 11% in series 2. While Lüdecke’s patients achieved a remission rate of 98%, other studies show cure rates of 45-69%. Only 4% of patients in these two series received radiation therapy. “Minimally invasive unilateral, microsurgical TNS is important functionally for both the nose and pituitary,” the researchers concluded. “Including early re-operations, a 98% remission rate could be achieved and the high risk of pituitary function loss with radiotherapy could be avoided.” From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/09/04/minimally-invasive-methods-yield-high-remission-in-cushings-disease-children/
  22. A plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone suppression test performed shortly after surgical adenomectomy may accurately predict both short- and long-term remission of Cushing’s disease, according to research published in Pituitary. “Cushing’s disease is caused by hypersecretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by a pituitary adenoma, resulting in hypercortisolism,” Erik Uvelius, MD, of the department of clinical sciences, Skåne University Hospital, Lund University, Sweden, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “Surgical adenomectomy is the first line of treatment. Postoperative remission is reported in 43% to 95% of cases depending on factors such as adenoma size, finding of pituitary adenoma on preoperative MRI and surgeons’ experience. However, there is no consensus on what laboratory assays and biochemical thresholds should be used in determining or predicting remission over time.” In the study, the researchers retrospectively gathered data from medical records of 28 patients who presented with Cushing’s disease to Skåne University Hospital between November 1998 and December 2011, undergoing 45 transsphenoidal adenomectomies. On postoperative days 2 and 3, oral betamethasone was administered (1 mg at 8 a.m., 0.5 mg at 2 p.m., and 0.5 mg at 8 p.m.). Researchers assessed plasma cortisol and plasma ACTH before betamethasone administration and again at 24 and 48 hours, and measured 24-urinary free cortisol on postoperative day 3. At 3 months postoperatively and then annually, plasma concentrations of morning cortisol and ACTH along with urinary-free cortisol and/or a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test were evaluated at the endocrinologists’ discretion. The researchers defined remission as lessening of clinical signs and symptoms of hypercortisolism, as well as laboratory confirmation through the various tests. The researchers used Youden’s index to establish the cutoff with the highest sensitivity and specificity in predicting remission over the short term (3 months) and long term (5 years or more). Clinical accuracy of the different tests was illustrated through the area under curve. The study population consisted of mainly women (71%), with a median age of 49.5 years. No significant disparities were seen in age, sex or surgical technique between patients who underwent a primary procedure and those who underwent reoperation. Two of the patients were diagnosed with pituitary carcinoma and 11 had a macroadenoma. ACTH positivity was identified in all adenomas and pathologists confirmed two cases of ACTH-producing carcinomas. Of the 28 patients, 12 (43%) demonstrated long-term remission at last follow-up. Three patients were not deemed in remission after primary surgery but were not considered eligible for additional surgical intervention, whereas 13 patients underwent 17 reoperations to address remaining disease or recurrence. Four patients demonstrated long-term remission after a second or third procedure, equaling 16 patients (57%) achieving long-term remission, according to the researchers. The researchers found that both short- and long-term remission were most effectively predicted through plasma cortisol after 24 and 48 hours with betamethasone. A short-term remission cutoff of 107 nmol/L was predicted with a sensitivity of 0.85, specificity of 0.94 and a positive predictive value of 0.96 and AUC of 0.92 (95% CI, 0.85-1). A long-term remission cutoff of 49 nmol/L was predicted with a sensitivity of 0.94, specificity of 0.93, positive predictive value of 0.88 and AUC of 0.98 (95% CI, 0.95-1). This cutoff was close to the suppression cutoff for the diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, 50 nmol/L. The cutoff of 25 nmol/L showed that the use of such a strict suppression cutoff would cause a low level of true positives and a higher occurrence of false negatives, according to the researchers. “A 48 h 2 mg/day betamethasone suppression test day 2 and 3 after transsphenoidal surgery of Cushing’s disease could safely predict short- and long-term remission with high accuracy,” the researchers wrote. “Plasma cortisol after 24 hours of suppression showed the best accuracy in predicting 5 years’ remission. Until consensus on remission criteria, it is still the endocrinologists’ combined assessment that defines remission.” – by Jennifer Byrne Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures. From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/neuroendocrinology/news/in-the-journals/%7B0fdfb7b0-e418-4b53-b59d-1ffa3f7b8cd3%7D/acth-test-after-adenomectomy-may-accurately-predict-cushings-disease-remission
  23. The ratio between adrenocorticotropic hormone levels and cortisol levels in the blood is higher among Cushing’s disease patients than in healthy people, a new study has found, suggesting that measurement could be used to help diagnose the disease. Also, higher values at diagnosis could predict if the disease will recur and indicate larger and more invasive tumors. The research, “The Utility of Preoperative ACTH/Cortisol Ratio for the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Cushing’s Disease,” was published in the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice. Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is characterized by excess levels of cortisol. In patients with suspected CS, clinicians recommend testing late-night salivary or plasma (blood) cortisol, 24-hour urine-free cortisol (UC), as well as morning cortisol levels after low-dose suppression with dexamethasone, a corticosteroid. CS may be ACTH-dependent or ACTH-independent, meaning that the high cortisol levels are caused by excess ACTH production. Patients with CD have elevated levels of ACTH. A tumor, usually an adenoma, causes the pituitary gland to produce excess levels of ACTH, which stimulate the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol usually inhibits ACTH production. However, in CD patients, this feedback mechanism is absent. Despite extensive research and clinical data, the variable and usually nonspecific signs and symptoms of CD still represent relevant challenges for diagnosis. Clinical manifestations must be associated with biochemical tests, which often have led to conflicting results. Studies showed that although ACTH levels correlate with the size of the pituitary adenoma, the levels of cortisol do not increase as much. In fact, lower cortisol/ACTH ratios have been reported in patients with macroadenoma – which is greater than 10 millimeters in size – than in those with microadenoma, which is smaller than 10 millimeters. Conversely, the research team hypothesized that besides their utility for determining the cause of CS, the inverse ratio – ACTH/cortisol – also may be useful for diagnosis. The team evaluated the pretreatment plasma ACTH/cortisol levels in CS patients with excess cortisol production due to abnormal pituitary or adrenal function. Data from patients were compared with that of individuals without CS. The study included 145 CS patients diagnosed from 2007 to 2016, 119 patients with CD, 26 with ACTH-independent CS (AICS), and 114 controls with no CS. Patients’ clinical, laboratory, imaging, postsurgical and follow-up data were analyzed. Results showed that patients with CD had a significantly higher basal ACTH/cortisol ratio than controls or those with AICS. “These results showed ACTH/cortisol ratio might be a simple and useful test for the diagnosis of ACTH-dependent CS,” the researchers wrote. Importantly, the scientists observed that a ACTH/cortisol ratio above 2.5 indicated identified 82 percent of positive CS cases and 63 percent of controls. Overall, “an ACTH/cortisol ratio [greater than] 2.5 would be beneficial to diagnose CD together with other diagnostic tests,” they concluded. Patients with recurrent CD showed higher pretreatment ACTH levels and ACTH/cortisol ratio than those who achieved sustained remission. CD patients also exhibited more invasive, atypical and larger tumors, as well as lower postoperative remission and higher recurrence rates. “Higher ACTH/cortisol ratio might predict poorer prognosis,” the investigators said. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/03/16/acth-cortisol-ratio-reliable-test-diagnose-cushings-disease/
  24. Children with Cushing’s syndrome are at risk of developing new autoimmune and related disorders after being cured of the disease, a new study shows. The study, “Incidence of Autoimmune and Related Disorders After Resolution of Endogenous Cushing Syndrome in Children,” was published in Hormone and Metabolic Research. Patients with Cushing’s syndrome have excess levels of the hormone cortisol, a corticosteroid that inhibits the effects of the immune system. As a result, these patients are protected from autoimmune and related diseases. But it is not known if the risk rises after their disease is resolved. To address this, researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) examined 127 children with Cushing’s syndrome at the National Institutes of Health from 1997 until 2017. Among the participants, 77.5 percent had a pituitary tumor causing the disease, 21.7 percent had ACTH-independent disease, and one patient had ectopic Cushing’s syndrome. All patients underwent surgery to treat their symptoms. After a mean follow-up of 31.2 months, 7.8 percent of patients developed a new autoimmune or related disorder. Researchers found no significant differences in age at diagnosis, gender, cortisol levels, and urinary-free cortisol at diagnosis, when comparing those who developed autoimmune disorders with those who didn’t. However, those who developed an immune disorder had a significantly shorter symptom duration of Cushing’s syndrome. This suggests that increased cortisol levels, even for a short period of time, may contribute to more reactivity of the immune system after treatment. The new disorder was diagnosed, on average, 9.8 months after Cushing’s treatment. The disorders reported were celiac disease, psoriasis, Hashimoto thyroiditis, Graves disease, optic nerve inflammation, skin hypopigmentation/vitiligo, allergic rhinitis/asthma, and nerve cell damage of unknown origin responsive to glucocorticoids. “Although the size of our cohort did not allow for comparison of the frequency with the general population, it seems that there was a higher frequency of optic neuritis than expected,” the researchers stated. It is still unclear why autoimmune disorders tend to develop after Cushing’s resolution, but the researchers hypothesized it could be a consequence of the impact of glucocorticoids on the immune system. Overall, the study shows that children with Cushing’s syndrome are at risk for autoimmune and related disorders after their condition is managed. “The presentation of new autoimmune diseases or recurrence of previously known autoimmune conditions should be considered when concerning symptoms arise,” the researchers stated. Additional studies are warranted to further explore this link and improve care of this specific population. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/03/06/after-cushings-cured-autoimmune-disease-risk-looms-study/
  25. Measuring cortisol levels in saliva multiple times a day is a convenient and useful way to determine the best course of treatment for patients with Cushing’s syndrome, a preliminary study shows. The research, “Multiple Salivary Cortisol Measurements Are a Useful Tool to Optimize Metyrapone Treatment in Patients with Cushing’s Syndromes Treatment: Case Presentations,” appeared in the journal Frontiers of Endocrinology. Prompt and effective treatment for hypercortisolism — the excessive amount of cortisol in the blood — is essential to lowering the risk of Cushing’s-associated conditions, including infections, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Steroid hormone inhibitors, such as HRA Pharma’s Metopirone (metyrapone), have been used significantly in Cushing’s syndrome patients. These therapies not only suppress cortisol levels, but also avoid adrenal insufficiency (where not enough cortisol is produced) and restore the circadian rhythm, which is disrupted in Cushing’s patients. However, effective medical treatment requires monitoring cortisol activity throughout the day. Salivary measurements of cortisol are a well-known method for diagnosing and predicting the risk of recurrence of Cushing’s syndrome. The method is convenient for patients and can be done in outpatient clinics. However, the medical field lacks data on whether measuring cortisol in saliva works for regulating treatment. Researchers analyzed the effectiveness of salivary cortisol measurements for determining the best dosage and treatment timing of Cushing’s patients with Metopirone. The study included six patients, three with cortisol-secreting masses in the adrenal glands and and three with ACTH (or adrenocorticotropin)-secreting adenomas in the pituitary glands, taking Metopirone. Investigators collected samples before and during treatment to assess morning serum cortisol and urinary free cortisol (UFC). Patients also had salivary cortisol assessments five times throughout the day. Saliva samples were collected at 6 a.m. (wake-up time), 8 a.m. (before breakfast), noon (before lunch), 6 p.m. (before dinner), and 10 p.m. (before sleep). Other studies have used UFC assessments to monitor treatment. However, the inability of this parameter to reflect changes in diurnal cortisol requires alternative approaches. Results showed that although UFC was normalized in five out of six patients, multiple salivary cortisol measurements showed an impaired diurnal cortisol rhythm in these patients. Whereas patients with cortisol-secreting adrenocortical adenoma showed elevated cortisol levels throughout the day, those with ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma revealed increased levels mainly in the morning. This finding indicates that “the significance of elevated morning cortisol levels is different depending on the disease etiology,” the researchers wrote. In a prospective case study to better assess the effectiveness of performing multiple salivary cortisol assessments, the research team analyzed one of the participants who had excessive cortisol production that was not controlled with four daily doses of Metoripone (a daily total of 2,250 mg). Results revealed that cortisol levels increased before each dosage. After the patient’s treatment regimen was changed to a 2,500 mg dose divided into five daily administrations, researchers observed a significant improvement in the diurnal cortisol pattern, as well as in UFC levels. Subsequent analysis revealed that performing multiple salivary cortisol measurements helps with a more precise assessment of excess cortisol than analyzing UFC levels, or performing a unique midnight salivary cortisol collection, the researchers said. Although more studies are required, the results “suggest that multiple salivary cortisol measurements can be a useful tool to visualize the diurnal cortisol rhythm and to determine the dose and timing of metyrapone [Metopirone] during the treatment in patients with [Cushing’s syndrome],” the researchers wrote. Future studies should include a larger sample size, evaluate changes over a longer term, use a standardized protocol for treatment dosing and timing, and evaluate changes in a patient’s quality of life, the investigators said. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/02/15/multiple-saliva-cortisol-checks-cushings-metyrapone-study/
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