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1.  The HSP90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 potently inhibits non-small cell lung cancer growth 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2013;12(6):890-900.
Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is involved in protein folding and functions as a chaperone for numerous client proteins, many of which are important in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) pathogenesis. We sought to define preclinical effects of the HSP90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 and identify predictors of response. We assessed in vitro effects of NVP-AUY922 on proliferation and protein expression in NSCLC cell lines. We evaluated gene expression changes induced by NVP-AUY922 exposure. Xenograft models were evaluated for tumor control and biological effects. NVP-AUY922 potently inhibited in vitro growth in all 41 NSCLC cell lines evaluated with IC50 < 100 nM. IC100 (complete inhibition of proliferation) < 40 nM was seen in 36 of 41 lines. Consistent gene expression changes after NVP-AUY922 exposure involved a wide range of cellular functions, including consistently decreased dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) after exposure. NVP-AUY922 slowed growth of A549 (KRAS mutant) xenografts, and achieved tumor stability and decreased epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein expression in H1975 xenografts, a model harboring a sensitizing and a resistance mutation for EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the EGFR gene. This data will help inform the evaluation of correlative data from a recently completed phase II NSCLC trial and a planned phase IB trial of NVP-AUY922 in combination with pemetrexed in NSCLC.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-12-0998
PMCID: PMC3681857  PMID: 23493311
NVP-AUY922; HSP90; Lung Cancer
2.  Uncertainty and psychological adjustment in patients with lung cancer 
Psycho-oncology  2012;22(6):1396-1401.
Background
For many patients with lung cancer, disease progression occurs without notice or with vague symptoms, and unfortunately, most treatments are not curative. Given this unpredictability, we hypothesized the following: (1) poorer psychological adjustment (specifically, more depressive symptoms, higher perceptions of stress, and poorer emotional well-being) would be associated with higher intolerance for uncertainty, higher perceived illness-related ambiguity, and their interaction; and (2) greater avoidance would mediate associations between higher intolerance of uncertainty and poorer psychological adjustment.
Methods
Participants (N = 49) diagnosed with lung cancer at least 6 months prior to enrollment completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Scale, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – Lung Emotional Well-being subscale, the Perceived Stress scale, the Intolerance of Uncertainty scale, the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale Ambiguity subscale, the Impact of Event – Revised Avoidance subscale, and the Short-scale Eysenck Personality Questionnaire – Revised Neuroticism subscale. Mean age was 64.2 years (standard deviation [SD] = 11.0), mean years of education was 15.6 (SD = 3.1), and 71.4% were female. Hypotheses were tested with regression analyses, adjusted for neuroticism.
Results
Higher perceptions of stress and poorer emotional well-being were associated with higher levels of intolerance of uncertainty and higher perceived illness-related ambiguity. Non-somatic depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of intolerance of uncertainty. Avoidance was found to mediate relations of intolerance of uncertainty with non-somatic depressive symptoms and emotional well-being only.
Conclusions
Findings suggest that interventions to address avoidance and intolerance of uncertainty in individuals with lung cancer may help improve psychological adjustment.
doi:10.1002/pon.3155
PMCID: PMC4036804  PMID: 22887017
3.  Antiestrogen fulvestrant enhances the antiproliferative effects of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in human non-small cell lung cancer 
Introduction
Estrogen receptor (ER) signaling and its interaction with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential therapeutic target in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To explore cross-communication between ER and EGFR, we have correlated ER pathway gene and protein expression profiles and examined effects of antiestrogens with or without EGFR inhibitors in preclinical models of human NSCLC.
Methods
We evaluated 54 NSCLC cell lines for growth inhibition with EGFR inhibitors, antiestrogen treatment or the combination. Each line was evaluated for baseline ER pathway protein expression. The majority were also evaluated for baseline ER pathway gene expression. Human NSCLC xenografts were evaluated for effects of inhibition of each pathway either individually or in combination.
Results
The specific antiestrogen fulvestrant has modest single agent activity in vitro, but in many lines fulvestrant adds to effects of EGFR inhibitors, including synergy in the EGFR mutant, erlotinib-resistant H1975 line. ERα, ERβ, progesterone receptor (PR)-A, PR-B and aromatase proteins are expressed in all lines to varying degrees, with trends towards lower aromatase in more sensitive cell lines. Sensitivity to fulvestrant correlates with greater baseline ERα gene expression. Tumor stability is achieved in human tumor xenografts with either fulvestrant or EGFR inhibitors, but tumors regress significantly when both pathways are inhibited.
Conclusions
These data provide a rationale for further investigation of the antitumor activity of combined therapy with antiestrogen and anti-EGFR agents in the clinic. Future work should also evaluate dual ER and EGFR inhibition in the setting of secondary resistance to EGFR inhibition.
doi:10.1097/JTO.0b013e31827d525c
PMCID: PMC3573351  PMID: 23399957
epidermal growth factor receptor; estrogen; estrogen receptor; lung cancer; fulvestrant
5.  Characteristics of Lung Cancers Harboring NRAS Mutations 
Purpose
We sought to determine the frequency and clinical characteristics of patients with lung cancer harboring NRAS mutations. We used preclinical models to identify targeted therapies likely to be of benefit against NRAS mutant lung cancer cells.
Patients and Methods
We reviewed clinical data from patients whose lung cancers were identified at 6 institutions or reported in the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) to harbor NRAS mutations. 6 NRAS mutant cell lines were screened for sensitivity against inhibitors of multiple kinases (i.e. EGFR, ALK, MET, IGF-1R, BRAF, PI3K and MEK).
Results
Among 4562 patients with lung cancers tested, NRAS mutations were present in 30 (0.7%; 95% confidence interval, 0.45% to 0.94%); 28 of these had no other driver mutations. 83% had adenocarcinoma histology with no significant differences in gender. While 95% of patients were former or current smokers, smoking-related G:C>T:A transversions were significantly less frequent in NRAS mutated lung tumors compared to KRAS-mutant NSCLCs (NRAS: 13% (4/30), KRAS: 66% (1772/2733), p<0.00000001). 5 of 6 NRAS mutant cell lines were sensitive to the MEK inhibitors, selumetinib and trametinib, but not to other inhibitors tested.
Conclusion
NRAS mutations define a distinct subset of lung cancers (~1%) with potential sensitivity to MEK inhibitors. While NRAS mutations are more common in current/former smokers, the types of mutations are not those classically associated with smoking.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-3173
PMCID: PMC3643999  PMID: 23515407
NRAS mutation; EGFR mutation; KRAS mutation; lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer; driver mutation; MEK inhibitor; erlotinib; gefitinib; crizotinib
6.  Mitotic Inhibitors 
doi:10.1097/01.JTO.0000407560.61287.3f
PMCID: PMC3812544  PMID: 22005532
7.  The role of estrogen, progesterone and aromatase in human non-small-cell lung cancer 
Lung cancer management  2012;1(4):259-272.
SUMMARY
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women worldwide. Despite advances in treatment, patients have few effective therapeutic options and survival rates remain low. Emerging evidence suggests that the hormones estrogen and progesterone play a key role in the progression of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aromatase enzyme, which is responsible for a key step in estrogen biosynthesis, elicits higher levels of estrogen in lung tumors as well as in metastases compared with nonmalignant tissues. Thus, aromatase may prove to be a key predictive biomarker for treatment of NSCLC. Epidemiologic and preclinical data show estrogens play a critical role in lung tumor development and progression. Two estrogen receptors, α and β, are expressed in normal and in cancerous lung epithelium, and estrogen promotes gene transcription that stimulates cell proliferation and inhibits cell death. Furthermore, expression of both forms of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and aromatase in NSCLC specimens has been correlated with worse clinical outcomes. Combination therapies that include estrogen receptor downregulators and aromatase inhibitors are currently being assessed in Phase I–II clinical trials among patients with advanced NSCLC. Results will help guide future lung cancer management decisions, with a goal of achieving more effective and less toxic treatments for patients.
doi:10.2217/lmt.12.44
PMCID: PMC3643508  PMID: 23650476
8.  Issues Surrounding Clinical Trial Endpoints in Solid Malignancies With a Focus on Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Summary
Relative to best supportive care alone, cytotoxic chemotherapy has an established role in prolonging overall survival (OS) in patients with or without previous treatment for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). OS has been the principal endpoint influencing regulatory decisions regarding targeted therapies for metastatic NSCLC, including the vascular endothelial growth factor monoclonal antibody bevacizumab in the frontline setting and the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib in patients after prior treatment. Progression-free survival (PFS), another common endpoint in oncology clinical trials, has been discussed as a potential surrogate for OS in metastatic NSCLC. A number of phase III clinical trials of investigational targeted agents for treatment of metastatic NSCLC are ongoing, with OS designated as the primary endpoint in some cases and PFS in others. Both endpoints have been developed largely to evaluate outcomes in unselected populations in which a fraction of patients are anticipated to derive significant benefit. New approaches are being considered for the evaluation of targeted agents. Recent high profile trials have been designed to assess PFS using a randomized discontinuation design and disease control rate after 8 weeks of treatment. With a series of recent advances towards increasingly personalized biomarker-directed anticancer therapies, the appropriateness of the traditional regulatory approach has been questioned.
doi:10.1016/j.lungcan.2012.06.007
PMCID: PMC3737740  PMID: 22795702
lung cancer; progression-free survival; overall survival; surrogate endpoint; disease control rate; clinical research
9.  Elevated neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin contributes to erlotinib resistance in non-small cell lung cancer 
Purpose: The EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) demonstrate efficacy in NSCLC patients whose tumors harbor activating EGFR mutations. However, patients who initially respond to EGFR TKI treatment invariably develop resistance to the drugs. Known mechanisms account for approximately 70% of native and acquired EGFR TKI resistance. In the current study we investigated a novel mechanism of NSCLC resistance to erlotinib. Experimental Design: The mechanisms of acquired erlotinib resistance were evaluated by microarray analysis in thirteen NSCLC cell lines and in vivo in mice. Correlations between plasma neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin (NGAL) levels, erlotinib response and the EGFR mutational status were assessed in advanced stage NSCLC patients treated with erlotinib. Results: In 5 of 13 NSCLC cell lines NGAL was significantly upregulated. NGAL knockdown in erlotinib-resistant cells increased erlotinib sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. NGAL overexpression in erlotinib-sensitive cells augmented apoptosis resistance. This was mediated by NGAL-dependent modulation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bim levels. Evaluation of the plasma NGAL levels in NSCLC patients that received erlotinib revealed that patients with lower baseline NGAL demonstrated a better erlotinib response. Compared to patients with wild type EGFR, patients with activating EGFR mutations had lower plasma NGAL at baseline and weeks 4 and 8. Conclusions: Our studies uncover a novel mechanism of NGAL-mediated modulation of Bim levels in NSCLC that might contribute to TKI resistance in lung cancer patients. These findings provide the rationale for the further investigations of the utility of NGAL as a potential therapeutic target or diagnostic biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3745436  PMID: 23977408
Lung cancer; effectors of apoptosis; survival factors; EGFR; erlotinib resistance
10.  Phase II Study of Single-Agent Navitoclax (ABT-263) and Biomarker Correlates in Patients with Relapsed Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Purpose
Bcl-2 is a critical regulator of apoptosis that is overexpressed in the majority of small cell lung cancers (SCLC). Nativoclax (ABT-263) is a potent and selective inhibitor of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. The primary objectives of this phase IIa study included safety at the recommended phase II dose and preliminary, exploratory efficacy assessment in patients with recurrent and progressive SCLC after at least one prior therapy.
Experimental Design
Thirty-nine patients received navitoclax 325 mg daily, following an initial lead-in of 150 mg daily for 7 days. Study endpoints included safety and toxicity assessment, response rate, progression-free and overall survival (PFS and OS), as well as exploratory pharmacodynamic correlates.
Results
The most common toxicity associated with navitoclax was thrombocytopenia, which reached grade III–IV in 41% of patients. Partial response was observed in one (2.6%) patient and stable disease in 9 (23%) patients. Median PFS was 1.5 months and median OS was 3.2 months. A strong association between plasma pro–gastrin-releasing peptide (pro-GRP) level and tumor Bcl-2 copy number (R = 0.93) was confirmed. Exploratory analyses revealed baseline levels of cytokeratin 19 fragment antigen 21-1, neuron-specific enolase, pro-GRP, and circulating tumor cell number as correlates of clinical benefit.
Conclusion
Bcl-2 targeting by navitoclax shows limited single-agent activity against advanced and recurrent SCLC. Correlative analyses suggest several putative biomarkers of clinical benefit. Preclinical models support that navitoclax may enhance sensitivity of SCLC and other solid tumors to standard cytotoxics. Future studies will focus on combination therapies.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-3090
PMCID: PMC3715059  PMID: 22496272
11.  Progesterone and estrogen receptor expression and activity in human non-small cell lung cancer 
Steroids  2011;76(9):910-920.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality in male and female patients in the US. Although it is clear that tobacco smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, about half of all women with lung cancer worldwide are never-smokers. Despite a declining smoking population, the incidence of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the predominant form of lung cancer, has reached epidemic proportions particularly in women. Emerging data suggest that factors other than tobacco, namely endogenous and exogenous female sex hormones, have a role in stimulating NSCLC progression. Aromatase, a key enzyme for estrogen biosynthesis, is expressed in NSCLC. Clinical data show that women with high levels of tumor aromatase (and high intratumoral estrogen) have worse survival than those with low aromatase. The present and previous studies also reveal significant expression and activity of estrogen receptors (ERα, ERβ) in both extranuclear and nuclear sites in most NSCLC. We now report further on the expression of progesterone receptor (PR) transcripts and protein in NSCLC. PR transcripts were significantly lower in cancerous as compared to non-malignant tissue. Using immunohistochemistry, expression of PR was observed in the nucleus and/or extranuclear compartments in the majority of human tumor specimens examined. Combinations of estrogen and progestins administered in vitro cooperate in promoting tumor secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor and, consequently, support tumor-associated angiogenesis. Further, dual treatment with estradiol and progestin increased the numbers of putative tumor stem/progenitor cells. Thus, ER- and/or PR-targeted therapies may offer new approaches to manage NSCLC.
doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2011.04.015
PMCID: PMC3129425  PMID: 21600232
Progesterone; Estrogen; Steroid hormone receptor; Non-small cell lung cancer; VEGF; Progenitor cells; Cancer stem cells; Angiogenesis
12.  Phase I Dose-escalation Study of the Pan-HER Inhibitor, PF299804, in Patients with Advanced Malignant Solid Tumors 
Purpose
PF299804 is a potent, orally available, irreversible inhibitor of tyrosine kinase human epidermal growth factor receptors (HER) 1 (EGFR), HER2, and HER4. This first-in-human study investigated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of PF299804 in patients with advanced solid malignancies.
Experimental Design
PF299804 was administered once daily continuously (schedule A), and intermittently (schedule B). Dose escalation proceeded until intolerable toxicities occurred. Skin biopsies were taken pre-dose and after 14 days of treatment, to establish a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship. Tumor response was measured once every 2 cycles. Efficacy was correlated with tumor genotypes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
Results
121 patients were included (111 in schedule A, 10 in schedule B). The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was 45 mg/day. Dose-limiting toxicities included stomatitis and skin toxicities. Most adverse events were mild and comprised skin toxicities, fatigue, and gastrointestinal side-effects including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Pharmacokinetic analyses revealed dose-dependent increases in PF299804 exposure associated with target inhibition in skin biopsy samples. Fifty-seven patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were treated in this study. Four patients, all previously treated with gefitinib or erlotinib (2 with exon 19 deletions, 1 with exon 20 insertion, 1 mutational status unknown), had a partial response to PF299804.
Conclusions
The MTD of PF299804 is 45 mg/day. Both continuous and intermittent treatment schedules were well tolerated, and encouraging signs of antitumor activity were observed in gefitinib/erlotinib treated NSCLC patients.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-1220
PMCID: PMC3048920  PMID: 21220471
Phase I clinical trial; Non-small cell lung cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; kinase inhibitor
13.  Identification of common predictive markers of in vitro response to the MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) in human breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer cell lines 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(7):1985-1994.
Selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) is a tight-binding, uncompetitive inhibitor of MEK1/2 currently in clinical development. We evaluated the effects of selumetinib in 31 human breast cancer cell lines and 43 human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines to identify characteristics correlating with in vitro sensitivity to MEK inhibition. IC50 less than 1µM (considered sensitive) was seen in 5 of 31 breast cancer cell lines and 15 of 43 NSCLC cell lines, with a correlation between sensitivity and raf mutations in breast cancer cell lines (p= 0.022) and ras mutations in NSCLC cell lines (p= 0.045). Evaluation of 27 of the NSCLC cell lines with Western blots demonstrated no clear association between MEK and PI3K pathway activation and sensitivity to MEK inhibition. Baseline gene expression profiles were generated for each cell line using Agilent gene expression arrays to identify additional predictive markers. Genes associated with differential sensitivity to selumetinib were seen in both histologies, including a small number of genes in which differential expression was common to both histologies. In total, these results suggest that clinical trials of selumetinib in breast cancer and NSCLC might select patients whose tumors harbor raf and ras mutations respectively.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0037
PMCID: PMC2939826  PMID: 20587667
AZD6244; MEK; Breast cancer; Lung Cancer
14.  High prevalence of lung cancer in a surgical cohort of lung cancer patients a decade after smoking cessation 
Background
This study was designed to assess the prevalence of smoking at time of lung cancer diagnosis in a surgical patient cohort referred for cardiothoracic surgery.
Methods
Retrospective study of lung cancer patients (n = 626) referred to three cardiothoracic surgeons at a tertiary care medical center in Southern California from January 2006 to December 2008. Relationships among years of smoking cessation, smoking status, and tumor histology were analyzed with Chi-square tests.
Results
Seventy-seven percent (482) had a smoking history while 11.3% (71) were current smokers. The length of smoking cessation to cancer diagnosis was <1 year for 56 (13.6%), 1-10 years for 110 (26.8%), 11-20 years for 87 (21.2%), 21-30 years for 66 (16.1%), 31-40 years for 44 (10.7%), 41-50 years for 40 (9.7%) and 51-60 years for 8 (1.9%). The mean cessation was 18.1 ± 15.7 years (n = 411 former smokers). Fifty-nine percent had stage 1 disease and 68.0% had adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma was more prevalent in smokers (15.6% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.028); adenocarcinoma was more prevalent in never-smokers (79.9% versus 64.3%, p = 0.0004). The prevalence of adenocarcinoma varied inversely with pack year (p < 0.0001) and directly with years of smoking cessation (p = 0.0005).
Conclusions
In a surgical lung cancer cohort, the majority of patients were smoking abstinent greater than one decade before the diagnosis of lung cancer.
doi:10.1186/1749-8090-6-19
PMCID: PMC3056729  PMID: 21352550

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