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1.  Personalized Medicine: Hype or Reality 
The Oncologist  2013;18(6):640-643.
The current availability of and access to biomarker testing for personalized cancer therapy is reviewed.
PMCID: PMC4063383  PMID: 23814157
2.  Pulmonary adenocarcinoma mutation profile in smokers with smoking-related interstitial fibrosis 
Cigarette smoking is an established cause of lung cancer. However, pulmonary fibrosis is also an independent risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Smoking-related interstitial fibrosis (SRIF) has recently been reported. We hypothesized that adenocarcinomas in lungs with SRIF might show distinct molecular changes and examined the molecular phenotype of 168 resected lung adenocarcinomas in lungs with and without SRIF. The diagnosis of SRIF was determined by histological examination, based on the presence of alveolar septal thickening, due to pauci-inflamed, hyalinized, “ropy” collagen, in areas of lung greater than 1 cm away from the tumor. Tumors were concomitantly examined genotypically for mutations in genes frequently altered in cancer, including EGFR and KRAS, by SNaPshot and by fluorescence in situ hybridization for possible ALK rearrangements. Fluorescence in situ hybridization for ROS1 rearrangement (n=36) and/or MET amplification (n=31) were performed when no mutation was identified by either SNaPshot or ALK analysis. Sixty-five cases (38.7%) showed SRIF, which was distributed in all lobes of the lungs examined. No differences were observed in sex, average age, or smoking history in patients with and without SRIF. There was no difference in either the percent or types of adenocarcinoma genetic mutations in patients with SRIF versus those without. This data suggests that SRIF does not represent an independent risk factor for the development of the major known and targeted mutations seen in pulmonary adenocarcinoma. However, additional research is required to investigate the potential significance of SRIF in the pathogenesis of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4043428  PMID: 24920890
lung; cancer; smoking; SRIF
3.  Global Genomic Analysis of Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms of the Pancreas Reveals Significant Molecular Differences Compared to Ductal Adenocarcinoma 
Annals of surgery  2009;249(3):440-447.
To determine whether intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas (IPMNs) have a different genetic background compared with ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
Summary Background Data
The biologic and clinical behavior of IPMNs and IPMN-associated adenocarcinomas is different from PDAC in having a less aggressive tumor growth and significantly improved survival. Up to date, the molecular mechanisms underlying the clinical behavior of IPMNs are incompletely understood.
128 cystic pancreatic lesions were prospectively identified during the course of 2 years. From the corresponding surgical specimens, 57 IPMNs were separated and subdivided by histologic criteria into those with low-grade dysplasia, moderate dysplasia, high-grade dysplasia, and invasive cancer. Twenty specimens were suitable for DNA isolation and subsequent performance of array CGH.
While none of the IPMNs with low-grade dysplasia displayed detectable chromosomal aberrations, IPMNs with moderate and high-grade dysplasia showed frequent copy number alterations. Commonly lost regions were located on chromosome 5q, 6q, 10q, 11q, 13q, 18q, and 22q. The incidence of loss of chromosome 5q, 6q, and 11q was significantly higher in IPMNs with high-grade dysplasia or invasion compared with PDAC. Ten of 13 IPMNs with moderate dysplasia or malignancy had loss of part or all of chromosome 6q, with a minimal deleted region between linear positions 78.0 and 130.0.
This study is the first to use array CGH to characterize IPMNs. Recurrent cytogenetic alterations were identified and were different than those described in PDAC. Array CGH may help distinguish between these 2 entities and give insight into the differences in their biology and prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3957431  PMID: 19247032
intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms; comparative genomic hybridization; genetic characterization; chromosomal aberrations; KRAS
4.  Activity and safety of crizotinib in patients with ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer: updated results from a phase 1 study 
The lancet oncology  2012;13(10):1011-1019.
ALK fusion genes occur in a subset of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). We assessed the tolerability and activity of crizotinib in patients with NSCLC who were prospectively identified to have an ALK fusion within the first-in-man phase 1 crizotinib study.
In this phase 1 study, patients with ALK-positive stage III or IV NSCLC received oral crizotinib 250 mg twice daily in 28-day cycles. Endpoints included tumour responses, duration of response, time to tumour response, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival at 6 and 12 months, and determination of the safety and tolerability and characterisation of the plasma pharmacokinetic profile of crizotinib after oral administration. Responses were analysed in evaluable patients and PFS and safety were analysed in all patients. This study is registered with, number NCT00585195.
Between Aug 27, 2008, and June 1, 2011, 149 ALK-positive patients were enrolled, 143 of whom were included in the response-evaluable population. 87 of 143 patients had an objective response (60·8%, 95% CI 52·3–68·9), including three complete responses and 84 partial responses. Median time to first documented objective response was 7·9 weeks (range 2·1–39·6) and median duration of response was 49·1 weeks (95% CI 39·3–75·4). The response rate seemed to be largely independent of age, sex, performance status, or line of treatment. Median PFS was 9·7 months (95% CI 7·7–12·8). Median overall survival data are not yet mature, but estimated overall survival at 6 and 12 months was 87·9% (95% CI 81·3–92·3) and 74·8% (66·4–81·5), respectively. 39 patients continued to receive crizotinib for more than 2 weeks after progression because of perceived ongoing clinical benefit from the drug (12 for at least 6 months from the time of their initial investigator-defined disease progression). Overall, 144 (97%) of 149 patients experienced treatment-related adverse events, which were mostly grade 1 or 2. The most common adverse events were visual effects, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, and peripheral oedema. The most common treatment-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events were neutropenia (n=9), raised alanine aminotransferase (n=6), hypophosphataemia (n=6), and lymphopenia (n=6).
Crizotinib is well tolerated with rapid, durable responses in patients with ALK-positive NSCLC. There seems to be potential for ongoing benefit after initial disease progression in this population, but a more formal definition of ongoing benefit in this context is needed.
PMCID: PMC3936578  PMID: 22954507
5.  Tumor Islands in Resected Early Stage Lung Adenocarcinomas Are Associated with Unique Clinicopathological and Molecular Characteristics and Worse Prognosis 
Tumor islands - large collections of tumor cells isolated within alveolar spaces - can be seen in lung adenocarcinomas. Recently we observed by 3D reconstruction that these structures were connected with each other and with the main tumor in different tissue planes, raising the possibility of tumor islands being a means of invasion. However, the clinical and prognostic significance of tumor islands remain unknown. In this study, we compared clinicopathological and molecular characteristics and prognosis of Stage I–II lung adenocarcinomas with tumor islands (n=58) and those without (n=203). Lung adenocarcinomas with tumor islands were more likely to occur in smokers, exhibit higher nuclear grade and a solid or micropapillary pattern of growth, and harbor KRAS mutations. In contrast, lung adenocarcinomas without tumor islands were more likely to present as minimally invasive adenocarcinoma, show a lepidic pattern of growth, and harbor EGFR mutations. Although there was no difference in stage, the prognosis of lung adenocarcinomas with tumor islands was significantly worse than those without. The five-year recurrence-free survival for patients with tumor islands and those without was 44.6% and 74.4%, respectively (log-rank p = 0.010). The survival difference remained significant (p < 0.020) by multivariate analysis, and the presence of tumor islands was associated with almost two-fold increase in the risk of recurrence. Even in the Stage IA cohort, more than half of the patients with tumor islands experienced recurrence within 5 years. Thus, aggressive surveillance and/or further intervention may be indicated for patients whose tumors exhibit tumor islands.
PMCID: PMC3545070  PMID: 23095504
lung adenocarcinoma; 3D; intra-alveolar; tumor islands; prognosis
6.  Acquired Resistance to Crizotinib from a Mutation in CD74–ROS1 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(25):10.1056/NEJMoa1215530.
Crizotinib, an inhibitor of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), has also recently shown efficacy in the treatment of lung cancers with ROS1 translocations. Resistance to crizotinib developed in a patient with metastatic lung adenocarcinoma harboring a CD74–ROS1 rearrangement who had initially shown a dramatic response to treatment. We performed a biopsy of a resistant tumor and identified an acquired mutation leading to a glycine-to-arginine substitution at codon 2032 in the ROS1 kinase domain. Although this mutation does not lie at the gatekeeper residue, it confers resistance to ROS1 kinase inhibition through steric interference with drug binding. The same resistance mutation was observed at all the meta-static sites that were examined at autopsy, suggesting that this mutation was an early event in the clonal evolution of resistance. (Funded by Pfizer and others; number, NCT00585195.)
PMCID: PMC3878821  PMID: 23724914
7.  ALK Rearrangements Are Mutually Exclusive with Mutations in EGFR or KRAS: An Analysis of 1,683 Patients with Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements define a distinct molecular subset of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Recently, several case reports and small series have reported that ALK rearrangements can overlap with other oncogenic drivers in NSCLC in crizotinib-naïve and crizotinib-resistant cancers.
Experimental Design
We reviewed clinical genotyping data from 1,683 patients with NSCLC and investigated the prevalence of concomitant EGFR or KRAS mutations among patients with ALK-positive NSCLC. We also examined biopsy specimens from 34 patients with ALK-positive NSCLC after the development of resistance to crizotinib.
Screening identified 301 (17.8%) EGFR mutations, 465 (27.6%) KRAS mutations, and 75 (4.4%) ALK rearrangements. EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangements were mutually exclusive. Four patients with KRAS mutations were found to have abnormal ALK FISH patterns, most commonly involving isolated 5′ green probes. Sufficient tissue was available for confirmatory ALK immunohistochemistry in 3 cases, all of which were negative for ALK expression. Among patients with ALK-positive NSCLC who acquired resistance to crizotinib, repeat biopsy specimens were ALK FISH positive in 29 of 29 (100%) cases. Secondary mutations in the ALK kinase domain and ALK gene amplification were observed in 7 of 34 (20.6%) and 3 of 29 (10.3%) cases, respectively. No EGFR or KRAS mutations were identified among any of the 25 crizotinib-resistant, ALK-positive patients with sufficient tissue for testing.
Functional ALK rearrangements were mutually exclusive with EGFR and KRAS mutations in a large Western patient population. This lack of overlap was also observed in ALK-positive cancers with acquired resistance to crizotinib.
PMCID: PMC3874127  PMID: 23729361
8.  FGFR1 amplification in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung 
Amplification of FGFR1 has been reported in squamous cell lung carcinoma and may be a molecular target for therapy. Little is known, however, about the clinical and demographic correlates of FGFR1 amplification.
The study is an institutional review board-approved retrospective analysis of 226 patients with squamous cell lung cancer seen at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) from 2005–2011. Clinical and demographic characteristics were obtained on all patients, as well as treatment details including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and overall survival. FISH was performed for FGFR1 on formalin fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue. Clinical genotyping results were also reviewed where available.
37 of 226 (16%) patients with squamous cell lung cancer were positive for amplification using a definition of amplification of a gene to copy number control ratio >/= 2.2. FGFR1 amplification status was not associated with age, sex, stage, histologic subtype within squamous cell, smoking history or pack-years of smoking. We found no significant difference in overall survival by FGFR1 amplification status as a whole; in the advanced stage subset, our findings are inconclusive due to the small sample size.
FGFR1 amplification was found in 16% of a clinical cohort of squamous cell lung cancer patients. The lack of any specific clinicodemographic features that correlates with FGFR1 amplification suggests that all squamous cell patients should be tested for this genomic change.
PMCID: PMC3500511  PMID: 23154548
squamous cell lung cancer; FGFR1; amplification
9.  Crizotinib for the Treatment of ALK-Rearranged Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Success Story to Usher in the Second Decade of Molecular Targeted Therapy in Oncology 
The Oncologist  2012;17(11):1351-1375.
This review discusses how crizotinib has changed the paradigm of future drug development for targeted therapies by targeting a molecular-defined subtype of non-small cell lung cancer and affected the practice of personalized medicine in oncology.
Crizotinib, an ALK/MET/ROS1 inhibitor, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in August 2011, merely 4 years after the first publication of ALK-rearranged NSCLC. The crizotinib approval was accompanied by the simultaneous approval of an ALK companion diagnostic fluorescent in situ hybridization assay for the detection of ALK-rearranged NSCLC. Crizotinib continued to be developed as an ALK and MET inhibitor in other tumor types driven by alteration in ALK and MET. Crizotinib has recently been shown to be an effective ROS1 inhibitor in ROS1-rearranged NSCLC, with potential future clinical applications in ROS1-rearranged tumors. Here we summarize the heterogeneity within the ALK- and ROS1-rearranged molecular subtypes of NSCLC. We review the past and future clinical development of crizotinib for ALK-rearranged NSCLC and the diagnostic assays to detect ALK-rearranged NSCLC. We highlight how the success of crizotinib has changed the paradigm of future drug development for targeted therapies by targeting a molecular-defined subtype of NSCLC despite its rarity and affected the practice of personalized medicine in oncology, emphasizing close collaboration between clinical oncologists, pathologists, and translational scientists.
PMCID: PMC3500356  PMID: 22989574
Crizotinib; ALK inhibitor; MET inhibitor; ROS1 inhibitor; Chromosomal rearrangements; Receptor tyrosine kinase fusion positive malignancies; Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
10.  Characterization and Analysis of Human Chordoma Cell Lines 
Spine  2010;35(13):1257-1264.
Study Design
An experimental study to investigate the characterization of 3 chordoma cell lines.
To characterize chordoma cell lines and generate hypothesis for further chordoma studies.
Summary of Background Data
Three cultured human chordoma cell lines have been successfully generated; however, their characterization is incomplete. Complete characterization of chordoma cell lines is necessary for these reagents to be a useful preclinical model.
Three chordoma cell lines, CH 8, U-CH1, and GP 60, were cultured in different commercially available tissue culture media. They were also cultured in different environments, which included collagen substrate, various concentrations of glucose, and various levels of hypoxic conditions. The rate of cell proliferation was assessed by either MTT or numeration assay. A 3-dimensional (3D) cell culture model of these chordoma cell lines was also studied, and the expression of vimentin and cytokeratin was measured by immunofluorescence and Western blot. Additionally, the sensitivity of the 3 chordoma cell lines to 6 chemotherapeutic drugs was analyzed.
CH 8, GP 60, and U-CH1 cells proliferate more actively in Iscove Modified Dulbecco Medium or Dulbecco modified Eagle Medium and less actively in RPMI medium. All 3 chordoma cell lines universally grow better in collagen substrate and survive in hypoxic conditions, whereas glucose concentration has no significant influence on their growth properties. Chordoma cell lines grew well in 3D culture systems and formed acini-like spheroids and retained the expression of vimentin and cytokeratin. MTT analysis indicates that all 3 chordoma cell lines are sensitive to doxorubicin, yondelis, zalypsis, and cisplatin.
We characterized 3 chordoma cell lines for differential growth properties in a variety of media and response to chemotherapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC3769690  PMID: 20461036
chordoma; characteristics; 3D cell culture; chemotherapy
11.  Aberrant Overexpression of Satellite Repeats in Pancreatic and Other Epithelial Cancers 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2011;331(6017):593-596.
Satellite repeats in heterochromatin are transcribed into noncoding RNAs that have been linked to gene silencing and maintenance of chromosomal integrity. Using digital gene expression analysis, we showed that these transcripts are greatly overexpressed in mouse and human epithelial cancers. In 8 of 10 mouse pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs), pericentromeric satellites accounted for a mean 12% (range 1 to 50%) of all cellular transcripts, a mean 40-fold increase over that in normal tissue. In 15 of 15 human PDACs, alpha satellite transcripts were most abundant and HSATII transcripts were highly specific for cancer. Similar patterns were observed in cancers of the lung, kidney, ovary, colon, and prostate. Derepression of satellite transcripts correlated with overexpression of the long interspersed nuclear element 1 (LINE-1) retrotransposon and with aberrant expression of neuroendocrine-associated genes proximal to LINE-1 insertions. The overexpression of satellite transcripts in cancer may reflect global alterations in heterochromatin silencing and could potentially be useful as a biomarker for cancer detection.
PMCID: PMC3701432  PMID: 21233348
12.  The EphB4 Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Promotes Lung Cancer Growth: A Potential Novel Therapeutic Target 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67668.
Despite progress in locoregional and systemic therapies, patient survival from lung cancer remains a challenge. Receptor tyrosine kinases are frequently implicated in lung cancer pathogenesis, and some tyrosine kinase inhibition strategies have been effective clinically. The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase has recently emerged as a potential target in several other cancers. We sought to systematically study the role of EphB4 in lung cancer. Here, we demonstrate that EphB4 is overexpressed 3-fold in lung tumors compared to paired normal tissues and frequently exhibits gene copy number increases in lung cancer. We also show that overexpression of EphB4 promotes cellular proliferation, colony formation, and motility, while EphB4 inhibition reduces cellular viability in vitro, halts the growth of established tumors in mouse xenograft models when used as a single-target strategy, and causes near-complete regression of established tumors when used in combination with paclitaxel. Taken together, these data suggest an important role for EphB4 as a potential novel therapeutic target in lung cancer. Clinical trials investigating the efficacy of anti-EphB4 therapies as well as combination therapy involving EphB4 inhibition may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC3699624  PMID: 23844053
13.  ROS1 Rearrangements Define a Unique Molecular Class of Lung Cancers  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(8):863-870.
Chromosomal rearrangements involving the ROS1 receptor tyrosine kinase gene have recently been described in a subset of non–small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). Because little is known about these tumors, we examined the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients with NSCLC with ROS1 rearrangement.
Patients and Methods
Using a ROS1 fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) assay, we screened 1,073 patients with NSCLC and correlated ROS1 rearrangement status with clinical characteristics, overall survival, and when available, ALK rearrangement status. In vitro studies assessed the responsiveness of cells with ROS1 rearrangement to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor crizotinib. The clinical response of one patient with ROS1-rearranged NSCLC to crizotinib was investigated as part of an expanded phase I cohort.
Of 1,073 tumors screened, 18 (1.7%) were ROS1 rearranged by FISH, and 31 (2.9%) were ALK rearranged. Compared with the ROS1-negative group, patients with ROS1 rearrangements were significantly younger and more likely to be never-smokers (each P < .001). All of the ROS1-positive tumors were adenocarcinomas, with a tendency toward higher grade. ROS1-positive and -negative groups showed no difference in overall survival. The HCC78 ROS1-rearranged NSCLC cell line and 293 cells transfected with CD74-ROS1 showed evidence of sensitivity to crizotinib. The patient treated with crizotinib showed tumor shrinkage, with a near complete response.
ROS1 rearrangement defines a molecular subset of NSCLC with distinct clinical characteristics that are similar to those observed in patients with ALK-rearranged NSCLC. Crizotinib shows in vitro activity and early evidence of clinical activity in ROS1-rearranged NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3295572  PMID: 22215748
14.  Prospective, high-throughput molecular profiling of human gliomas 
Journal of neuro-oncology  2012;110(1):89-98.
Gliomas consist of multiple histologic and molecular subtypes with different clinical phenotypes and responsiveness to treatment. However, enrollment criteria for clinical trials still largely do not take into account these underlying molecular differences. We have incorporated a high-throughput tumor genotyping program based on the ABI SNaPshot platform as well as other molecular diagnostic tests into the standard evaluation of glioma patients in order to assess whether prospective molecular profiling would allow rational patient selection onto clinical trials. From 218 gliomas we prospectively collected SNaPshot genotyping data on 68 mutated loci from 15 key cancer genes along with data from clinical assays for gene amplification (EGFR, PDGFRA, MET), 1p/19q co-deletion and MGMT promoter methylation. SNaPshot mutations and focal gene amplifications were detected in 38.5 and 47.1 % of glioblastomas, respectively. Genetic alterations in EGFR, IDH1 and PIK3CA closely matched frequencies reported in recent studies. In addition, we identified events that are rare in gliomas although are known driver mutations in other cancer types, such as mutations of AKT1, BRAF and KRAS. Patients with genetic alterations that activate signaling pathways were enrolled onto genetically selective clinical trials for malignant glioma as well as for other solid cancers. High-throughput molecular profiling incorporated into the routine clinical evaluation of glioma patients may enable the rational selection of patients for targeted therapy clinical trials and thereby improve the likelihood that such trials succeed.
PMCID: PMC3583376  PMID: 22821383
Tumor genotyping; Molecular profiling; Biomarker; Glioblastoma; Glioma
15.  Detection of Mutations in EGFR in Circulating Lung-Cancer Cells 
The New England journal of medicine  2008;359(4):366-377.
The use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to target the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) in patients with non–small-cell lung cancer is effective but limited by the emergence of drug-resistance mutations. Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells may provide a strategy for noninvasive serial monitoring of tumor genotypes during treatment.
We captured highly purified circulating tumor cells from the blood of patients with non–small-cell lung cancer using a microfluidic device containing microposts coated with antibodies against epithelial cells. We performed EGFR mutational analysis on DNA recovered from circulating tumor cells using allele-specific polymerase-chain-reaction amplification and compared the results with those from concurrently isolated free plasma DNA and from the original tumor-biopsy specimens.
We isolated circulating tumor cells from 27 patients with metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer (median number, 74 cells per milliliter). We identified the expected EGFR activating mutation in circulating tumor cells from 11 of 12 patients (92%) and in matched free plasma DNA from 4 of 12 patients (33%) (P = 0.009). We detected the T790M mutation, which confers drug resistance, in circulating tumor cells collected from patients with EGFR mutations who had received tyrosine kinase inhibitors. When T790M was detectable in pretreatment tumor-biopsy specimens, the presence of the mutation correlated with reduced progression-free survival (7.7 months vs. 16.5 months, P<0.001). Serial analysis of circulating tumor cells showed that a reduction in the number of captured cells was associated with a radiographic tumor response; an increase in the number of cells was associated with tumor progression, with the emergence of additional EGFR mutations in some cases.
Molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells from the blood of patients with lung cancer offers the possibility of monitoring changes in epithelial tumor genotypes during the course of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3551471  PMID: 18596266
16.  Frequent Mutation of Isocitrate Dehydrogenase (IDH)1 and IDH2 in Cholangiocarcinoma Identified Through Broad-Based Tumor Genotyping 
The Oncologist  2011;17(1):72-79.
The results of mutational profiling of 287 patients with gastrointestinal cancer are presented, identifying for the first time IDH1 mutations in a significant subset of patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
Cancers of origin in the gallbladder and bile ducts are rarely curable with current modalities of cancer treatment. Our clinical application of broad-based mutational profiling for patients diagnosed with a gastrointestinal malignancy has led to the novel discovery of mutations in the gene encoding isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) in tumors from a subset of patients with cholangiocarcinoma. A total of 287 tumors from gastrointestinal cancer patients (biliary tract, colorectal, gastroesophageal, liver, pancreatic, and small intestine carcinoma) were tested during routine clinical evaluation for 130 site-specific mutations within 15 cancer genes. Mutations were identified within a number of genes, including KRAS (35%), TP53 (22%), PIK3CA (10%), BRAF (7%), APC (6%), NRAS (3%), AKT1 (1%), CTNNB1 (1%), and PTEN (1%). Although mutations in the metabolic enzyme IDH1 were rare in the other common gastrointestinal malignancies in this series (2%), they were found in three tumors (25%) of an initial series of 12 biliary tract carcinomas. To better define IDH1 and IDH2 mutational status, an additional 75 gallbladder and bile duct cancers were examined. Combining these cohorts of biliary cancers, mutations in IDH1 and IDH2 were found only in cholangiocarcinomas of intrahepatic origin (nine of 40, 23%) and in none of the 22 extrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas and none of the 25 gallbladder carcinomas. In an analysis of frozen tissue specimens, IDH1 mutation was associated with highly elevated tissue levels of the enzymatic product 2-hydroxyglutarate. Thus, IDH1 mutation is a molecular feature of cholangiocarcinomas of intrahepatic origin. These findings define a specific metabolic abnormality in this largely incurable type of gastrointestinal cancer and present a potentially new target for therapy.
PMCID: PMC3267826  PMID: 22180306
Biliary tract cancer; Cholangiocarcinoma; IDH1; IDH2; 2-Hydroxyglutarate; Mutation
17.  MET Amplification Identifies a Small and Aggressive Subgroup of Esophagogastric Adenocarcinoma With Evidence of Responsiveness to Crizotinib 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(36):4803-4810.
Amplification of the MET proto-oncogene in gastroesophageal cancer (GEC) may constitute a molecular marker for targeted therapy. We examined a GEC cohort with follow-up and reported the clinical response of four additional patients with MET-amplified tumors to the small molecule inhibitor crizotinib as part of an expanded phase I cohort study.
Patients and Methods
From 2007 to 2009, patients with GEC were genetically screened as a consecutive series of 489 tumors (stages 0, I, and II, 39%; III, 25%; IV, 36%; n = 222 esophageal, including n = 21 squamous carcinomas). MET, EGFR, and HER2 amplification status was assessed by using fluorescence in situ hybridization.
Ten (2%) of 489 patients screened harbored MET amplification; 23 (4.7%) harbored EGFR amplification; 45 (8.9%) harbored HER2 amplification; and 411 (84%) were wild type for all three genes (ie, negative). MET-amplified tumors were typically high-grade adenocarcinomas that presented at advanced stages (5%; n = 4 of 80). EGFR-amplified tumors showed the highest fraction of squamous cell carcinoma (17%; n = 4 of 23). HER2, MET, and EGFR amplification were, with one exception (MET and EGFR positive), mutually exclusive events. Survival analysis in patients with stages III and IV disease showed substantially shorter median survival in MET/EGFR-amplified groups, with a rank order for all groups by median survival (from most to least aggressive): MET (7.1 months; P < .001) less than EGFR (11.2 months; P = .16) less than HER2 (16.9 months; P = .89) when compared with the negative group (16.2 months). Two of four patients with MET-amplified tumors treated with crizotinib experienced tumor shrinkage (−30% and −16%) and experienced progression after 3.7 and 3.5 months.
MET amplification defines a small and aggressive subset of GEC with indications of transient sensitivity to the targeted MET inhibitor crizotinib (PF-02341066).
PMCID: PMC3255989  PMID: 22042947
18.  Apocrine-Eccrine Carcinomas: Molecular and Immunohistochemical Analyses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47290.
Apocrine-eccrine carcinomas are rare and associated with poor prognosis. Currently there is no uniform treatment guideline. Chemotherapeutic drugs that selectively target cancer-promoting pathways may complement conventional therapeutic approaches. However, studies on genetic alterations and EGFR and Her2 status of apocrine-eccrine carcinomas are few in number. In addition, hormonal studies have not been comprehensive and performed only on certain subsets of apocrine-eccrine carcinomas. To investigate whether apocrine-eccrine carcinomas express hormonal receptors or possess activation of oncogenic pathways that can be targeted by available chemotherapeutic agent we performed immunohistochemistry for AR, PR, ER, EGFR, and HER2 expression; fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for EGFR and ERBB2 gene amplification; and molecular analyses for recurrent mutations in 15 cancer genes including AKT-1, EGFR, PIK3CA, and TP53 on 54 cases of apocrine-eccrine carcinomas. They include 10 apocrine carcinomas, 7 eccrine carcinomas, 9 aggressive digital papillary adenocarcinomas, 10 hidradenocarcinomas, 11 porocarcinomas, 1 adenoid cystic carcinoma, 4 malignant chondroid syringomas, 1 malignant spiradenoma, and 1 malignant cylindroma. AR, ER, PR, EGFR and HER2 expression was seen in 36% (19/53), 27% (14/51), 16% (8/51), 85% (44/52) and 12% (6/52), respectively. Polysomy or trisomy of EGFR was detected by FISH in 30% (14/46). Mutations of AKT-1, PIK3CA, and TP53 were detected in 1, 3, and 7 cases, respectively (11/47, 23%). Additional investigation regarding the potential treatment of rare cases of apocrine-eccrine carcinomas with PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibitors, currently in clinical testing, may be of clinical interest.
PMCID: PMC3467209  PMID: 23056620
19.  Phase 1/2 Study of Everolimus in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Cancer  2011;117(22):5094-5102.
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We performed a single-arm, phase 1/2 study of everolimus in patients with advanced HCC.
Patients with histologically confirmed measurable advanced HCC, 0–2 prior regimens, and adequate hematologic, hepatic, and renal functions received everolimus at 5 mg/day or 10 mg/day orally (6 weeks/cycle). The primary end points were determination of a safe dosage of everolimus (phase 1) and progression-free survival (PFS) at 24 weeks (phase 2).
Twenty-eight patients were enrolled and evaluable for efficacy and toxicity. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed at the 5 mg/day (n = 3) or 10 mg/day (n = 6) dosage level in phase 1. Twenty-five patients received everolimus at 10 mg/day. Grade 3–4 adverse events included lymphopenia (n = 3), aspartate transaminase (n = 3), hyponatremia (n = 2), and 1 patient each with anemia, alanine transaminase, hyperglycemia, proteinuria, rash, and hypoxia. One patient (4%) had partial response (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9%–19.6%). The median PFS and overall survival were 3.8 months (95% CI, 2.1–4.6) and 8.4 months (95% CI, 3.9–21.1), respectively. The estimated PFS rate at 24 weeks was 28.6% (95% CI, 7.9%–49.3%).
Everolimus was well tolerated in patients with advanced HCC, and 10 mg/day was defined as the phase 2 dosage. Although the study did not proceed to the second stage of phase 2, preliminary antitumor activity was observed with everolimus in patients with advanced HCC, most of whom had prior systemic treatment.
PMCID: PMC3417818  PMID: 21538343
hepatocellular carcinoma; everolimus; mTOR inhibitors; angiogenesis; clinical trial
20.  Mechanisms of Acquired Crizotinib Resistance in ALK-Rearranged Lung Cancers 
Science Translational Medicine  2012;4(120):120ra17.
Most anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)–positive non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are highly responsive to treatment with ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, patients with these cancers invariably relapse, typically within 1 year, because of the development of drug resistance. Herein, we report findings from a series of lung cancer patients (n = 18) with acquired resistance to the ALK TKI crizotinib. In about one-fourth of patients, we identified a diverse array of secondary mutations distributed throughout the ALK TK domain, including new resistance mutations located in the solvent-exposed region of the adenosine triphosphate–binding pocket, as well as amplification of the ALK fusion gene. Next-generation ALK inhibitors, developed to overcome crizotinib resistance, had differing potencies against specific resistance mutations. In addition to secondary ALK mutations and ALK gene amplification, we also identified aberrant activation of other kinases including marked amplification of KIT and increased autophosphorylation of epidermal growth factor receptor in drug-resistant tumors from patients. In a subset of patients, we found evidence of multiple resistance mechanisms developing simultaneously. These results highlight the unique features of TKI resistance in ALK-positive NSCLCs and provide the rationale for pursuing combinatorial therapeutics that are tailored to the precise resistance mechanisms identified in patients who relapse on crizotinib treatment.
PMCID: PMC3385512  PMID: 22277784
21.  BRAF Gene Amplification Can Promote Acquired Resistance to MEK Inhibitors in Cancer Cells Harboring the BRAF V600E Mutation 
Science Signaling  2010;3(149):ra84.
Oncogenic BRAF mutations are found in several tumor types, including melanomas and colorectal cancers. Tumors with BRAF mutations have increased mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activity and heightened sensitivity to BRAF and MEK (mitogen-activated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) inhibitors. To identify potential mechanisms of acquired drug resistance, we generated clones resistant to the allosteric MEK inhibitor AZD6244 from two BRAF V600E mutant colorectal cancer cell lines that are highly sensitive to MEK or BRAF inhibition. These AZD6244-resistant (AR) clones, which exhibited cross-resistance to BRAF inhibitors, acquired resistance through amplification of the BRAF gene. A small percentage of treatment-naïve parental cells showed preexisting BRAF amplification. We observed similar amplification in a subset of cells in a BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. In cell lines, BRAF amplification increased the abundance of phosphorylated MEK and impaired the ability of AZD6244 to inhibit ERK (extracellular signal–regulated kinase) phosphorylation. The ability of AZD6244 to inhibit ERK phosphorylation in AR cells was restored by treatment with a BRAF inhibitor at low concentrations that reduced the abundance of phosphorylated MEK to amounts observed in parental cells. Combined MEK and BRAF inhibition fully overcame resistance to MEK or BRAF inhibitors alone and was also more effective in parental cells compared to treatment with either inhibitor alone. These findings implicate BRAF amplification as a mechanism of resistance to both MEK and BRAF inhibitors and suggest combined MEK and BRAF inhibition as a clinical strategy to overcome, or possibly prevent, this mechanism of resistance.
PMCID: PMC3372405  PMID: 21098728
22.  Routine Multiplex Mutational Profiling of Melanomas Enables Enrollment in Genotype-Driven Therapeutic Trials 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35309.
Knowledge of tumor mutation status is becoming increasingly important for the treatment of cancer, as mutation-specific inhibitors are being developed for clinical use that target only sub-populations of patients with particular tumor genotypes. Melanoma provides a recent example of this paradigm. We report here development, validation, and implementation of an assay designed to simultaneously detect 43 common somatic point mutations in 6 genes (BRAF, NRAS, KIT, GNAQ, GNA11, and CTNNB1) potentially relevant to existing and emerging targeted therapies specifically in melanoma.
The test utilizes the SNaPshot method (multiplex PCR, multiplex primer extension, and capillary electrophoresis) and can be performed rapidly with high sensitivity (requiring 5–10% mutant allele frequency) and minimal amounts of DNA (10–20 nanograms). The assay was validated using cell lines, fresh-frozen tissue, and formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue. Clinical characteristics and the impact on clinical trial enrollment were then assessed for the first 150 melanoma patients whose tumors were genotyped in the Vanderbilt molecular diagnostics lab.
Directing this test to a single disease, 90 of 150 (60%) melanomas from sites throughout the body harbored a mutation tested, including 57, 23, 6, 3, and 2 mutations in BRAF, NRAS, GNAQ, KIT, and CTNNB1, respectively. Among BRAF V600 mutations, 79%, 12%, 5%, and 4% were V600E, V600K, V600R, and V600M, respectively. 23 of 54 (43%) patients with mutation harboring metastatic disease were subsequently enrolled in genotype-driven trials.
We present development of a simple mutational profiling screen for clinically relevant mutations in melanoma. Adoption of this genetically-informed approach to the treatment of melanoma has already had an impact on clinical trial enrollment and prioritization of therapy for patients with the disease.
PMCID: PMC3335021  PMID: 22536370
23.  Effect of crizotinib on overall survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer harbouring ALK gene rearrangement: a retrospective analysis 
The Lancet Oncology  2011;12(11):1004-1012.
ALK gene rearrangement defines a new molecular subtype of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In a recent phase 1 clinical trial, the ALK tyrosine-kinase inhibitor (TKI) crizotinib showed marked antitumour activity in patients with advanced, ALK-positive NSCLC. To assess whether crizotinib affects overall survival in these patients, we did a retrospective study comparing survival outcomes in crizotinib-treated patients in the trial and crizotinib-naive controls screened during the same time period.
We examined overall survival in patients with advanced, ALK-positive NSCLC who enrolled in the phase 1 clinical trial of crizotinib, focusing on the cohort of 82 patients who had enrolled through Feb 10, 2010. For comparators, we identified 36 ALK-positive patients from trial sites who were not given crizotinib (ALK-positive controls), 67 patients without ALK rearrangement but positive for EGFR mutation, and 253 wild-type patients lacking either ALK rearrangement or EGFR mutation. To assess differences in overall survival, we assessed subsets of clinically comparable ALK-positive and ALK-negative patients.
Among 82 ALK-positive patients who were given crizotinib, median overall survival from initiation of crizotinib has not been reached (95% CI 17 months to not reached); 1-year overall survival was 74% (95% CI 63–82), and 2-year overall survival was 54% (40–66). Overall survival did not differ based on age, sex, smoking history, or ethnic origin. Survival in 30 ALK-positive patients who were given crizotinib in the second-line or third-line setting was significantly longer than in 23 ALK-positive controls given any second-line therapy (median overall survival not reached [95% CI 14 months to not reached] vs 6 months [4–17], 1-year overall survival 70% [95% CI 50–83] vs 44% [23–64], and 2-year overall survival 55% [33–72] vs 12% [2–30]; hazard ratio 0·36, 95% CI 0·17–0·75; p=0·004). Survival in 56 crizotinib-treated, ALK-positive patients was similar to that in 63 ALK-negative, EGFR-positive patients given EGFR TKI therapy (median overall survival not reached [95% CI 17 months to not reached] vs 24 months [15–34], 1-year overall survival 71% [95% CI 58–81] vs 74% [61–83], and 2-year overall survival 57% [40–71] vs 52% [38–65]; p=0·786), whereas survival in 36 crizotinib-naive, ALK-positive controls was similar to that in 253 wild-type controls (median overall survival 20 months [95% CI 13–26] vs 15 months [13–17]; p=0·244).
In patients with advanced, ALK-positive NSCLC, crizotinib therapy is associated with improved survival compared with that of crizotinib-naive controls. ALK rearrangement is not a favourable prognostic factor in advanced NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3328296  PMID: 21933749
24.  A Sensitive and Specific Diagnostic Panel to Distinguish Diffuse Astrocytoma from Astrocytosis: Chromosome 7 Gain with Mutant Isocitrate Dehydrogenase 1 and p53 
One of the major challenges of surgical neuropathology is the distinction of diffuse astrocytoma (World Health Organization [WHO] grade II) from astrocytosis. The most commonly used ancillary tool to solve this problem is p53 immunohistochemistry (IHC), but this is neither sensitive nor specific. Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) mutations are common in lower grade gliomas, with most causing a specific amino acid change (R132H) that can be detected with a monoclonal antibody. IDH2 mutations are rare, but also occur in gliomas. In addition, gains of chromosome 7 are common in gliomas. In this study we assessed the status of p53, IDH1/2 and chromosome 7 to determine the most useful panel to distinguish astrocytoma from astrocytosis. We studied biopsy specimens from 21 WHO grade II diffuse astrocytomas and 20 reactive conditions. The single most sensitive test to identify astrocytoma is fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for chromosome 7 gain (76.2%). The combination of p53 and mutant IDH1 IHC provides a higher sensitivity (71.4%) than either test alone (47.8%); this combination offers a practical initial approach for the surgical pathologist. The best overall sensitivity (95%) is achieved when FISH for chromosome 7 gain is added to the p53-mutant IDH1 IHC panel.
PMCID: PMC3061457  PMID: 21343879
Astrocytoma; Astrocytosis; Chromosome 7; FISH; IDH1; Immunohistochemistry; p53
25.  EZH2 Codon 641 Mutations are Common in BCL2-Rearranged Germinal Center B Cell Lymphomas 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28585.
Mutations at codon 641 of EZH2 are recurrent in germinal center B cell lymphomas, and the most common variants lead to altered EZH2 enzymatic activity and enhanced tri-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 27, a repressive chromatin modification. As an initial step toward screening patients for cancer genotype-directed therapy, we developed a screening assay for EZH2 codon 641 mutations amenable for testing formalin-fixed clinical specimens, based on the sensitive SNaPshot single nucleotide extension technology. We detected EZH2 mutations in 12/55 (22%) follicular lymphomas (FL), 5/35 (14%) diffuse large B cell lymphomas with a germinal center immunophenotype (GCB-DLBCL), and 2/11 (18%) high grade B cell lymphomas with concurrent rearrangements of BCL2 and MYC. No EZH2 mutations were detected in cases of Burkitt lymphoma (0/23). EZH2 mutations were frequently associated with the presence of BCL2 rearrangement (BCL2-R) in both the FL (28% of BCL-R cases versus 0% of BCL2-WT cases, p<0.05) and GCB-DLBCL groups (33% of BCL2-R cases versus 4% of BCL2-WT cases, p<0.04), and across all lymphoma types excluding BL (27% of BCL2-R cases versus 3% of BCL2-WT cases, p<0.003). We confirmed gain-of-function activity for all previously reported EZH2 codon 641 mutation variants. Our findings suggest that EZH2 mutations constitute an additional genetic “hit” in many BCL2-rearranged germinal center B cell lymphomas. Our work may be helpful in the selection of lymphoma patients for future trials of pharmacologic agents targeting EZH2 and EZH2-regulated pathways.
PMCID: PMC3237460  PMID: 22194861

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