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1.  Identification of Tissue microRNAs Predictive of Sunitinib Activity in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86263.
To identify tissue microRNAs predictive of sunitinib activity in patients with metastatic renal-cell-carcinoma (MRCC) and to evaluate in vitro their mechanism of action in sunitinib resistance.
We screened 673 microRNAs using TaqMan Low-density-Arrays (TLDAs) in tumors from MRCC patients with extreme phenotypes of marked efficacy and resistance to sunitinib, selected from an identification cohort (n = 41). The most relevant differentially expressed microRNAs were selected using bioinformatics-based target prediction analysis and quantified by qRT-PCR in tumors from patients presenting similar phenotypes selected from an independent cohort (n = 101). In vitro experiments were conducted to study the role of miR-942 in sunitinib resistance.
TLDAs identified 64 microRNAs differentially expressed in the identification cohort. Seven candidates were quantified by qRT-PCR in the independent series. MiR-942 was the most accurate predictor of sunitinib efficacy (p = 0.0074). High expression of miR-942, miR-628-5p, miR-133a, and miR-484 was significantly associated with decreased time to progression and overall survival. These microRNAs were also overexpressed in the sunitinib resistant cell line Caki-2 in comparison with the sensitive cell line. MiR-942 overexpression in Caki-2 up-regulates MMP-9 and VEGF secretion which, in turn, promote HBMEC endothelial migration and sunitinib resistance.
We identified differentially expressed microRNAs in MRCC patients presenting marked sensitivity or resistance to sunitinib. MiR-942 was the best predictor of efficacy. We describe a novel paracrine mechanism through which high miR-942 levels in MRCC cells up-regulates MMP-9 and VEGF secretion to enhance endothelial migration and sunitinib resistance. Our results support further validation of these miRNA in clinical confirmatory studies.
PMCID: PMC3901669  PMID: 24475095
2.  Cardiotrophin-1 determines liver engraftment of syngenic colon carcinoma cells through an immune system-mediated mechanism 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(9):1527-1536.
Cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1/CTF1) is a member of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) family of cytokines that stimulates STAT-3 phosphorylation in cells bearing the cognate receptor. We report that Ctf1−/− mice (hereby referred to as CT-1−/− mice) are resistant to the hepatic engraftment of MC38 colon carcinoma cells, while these cells engraft normally in the mouse subcutaneous tissue. Tumor intake in the liver could be enhanced by the systemic delivery of a recombinant adenovirus encoding CT-1, which also partly rescued the resistance of CT-1−/− mice to the hepatic engraftment of MC38 cells. Moreover, systemic treatment of wild-type (WT) mice with a novel antibody-neutralizing mouse CT-1 also reduced engraftment of this model. Conversely, experiments with Panc02 pancreatic cancer and B16-OVA melanoma cells in CT-1−/− mice revealed rates of hepatic engraftment similar to those observed in WT mice. The mechanism whereby CT-1 renders the liver permissive for MC38 metastasis involves T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells, as shown by selective depletion experiments and in genetically deficient mice. However, no obvious changes in the number or cell killing capacity of liver lymphocytes in CT-1−/− animals could be substantiated. These findings demonstrate that the seed and soil concept to understand metastasis can be locally influenced by cytokines as well as by the cellular immune system.
PMCID: PMC3525608  PMID: 23264899
Cardiotrophin-1; intrahepatic lymphocytes; liver metastasis; tumor immunology
3.  Assessment of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and K-Ras Mutation Status in Cytological Stained Smears of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients: Correlation with Clinical Outcomes 
The Oncologist  2011;16(6):877-885.
EGFR and K-ras mutation status was determined from tumor DNA extracted from cytological samples from non-small cell lung cancer patients, with results comparable with those from biopsy samples. Clinical outcomes of patients harboring mutations and their response to tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy are also discussed.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and K-ras mutations guide treatment selection in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Although mutation status is routinely assessed in biopsies, cytological specimens are frequently the only samples available. We determined EGFR and K-ras mutations in cytological samples.
DNA was extracted from 150 consecutive samples, including 120 Papanicolau smears (80%), 10 cell blocks (7%), nine fresh samples (6%), six ThinPrep® tests (4%), and five body cavity fluids (3.3%). Papanicolau smears were analyzed when they had >50% malignant cells. Polymerase chain reaction and direct sequencing of exons 18–21 of EGFR and exon 2 of K-ras were performed. EGFR mutations were simultaneously determined in biopsies and cytological samples from 20 patients. Activity of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) was assessed.
The cytological diagnosis was adenocarcinoma in 110 samples (73%) and nonadenocarcinoma in 40 (27%) samples. EGFR mutations were identified in 26 samples (17%) and K-ras mutations were identified in 18 (12%) samples. EGFR and K-ras mutations were mutually exclusive. In EGFR-mutated cases, DNA was obtained from stained smears in 24 cases (92%), pleural fluid in one case (4%), and cell block in one case (4%). The response rate to EGFR TKIs in patients harboring mutations was 75%. The mutation status was identical in patients who had both biopsies and cytological samples analyzed.
Assessment of EGFR and K-ras mutations in cytological samples is feasible and comparable with biopsy results, making individualized treatment selection possible for NSCLC patients from whom tumor biopsies are not available.
PMCID: PMC3228207  PMID: 21572125
Carcinoma; Non-small cell lung; Cytology; Papanicolau stained smears; Mutations; Epidermal growth factor receptor–neu receptor; Genes; Ras; Erlotinib; Gefitinib
4.  Pathological vertebral fracture after stereotactic body radiation therapy for lung metastases. Case report and literature review. 
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a radiation technique used in patients with oligometastatic lung disease. Lung and chest wall toxicities have been described in the patients but pathological vertebral fracture is an adverse effect no reported in patients treated with SBRT for lung metastases.
Case presentation
A 68-year-old woman with the diagnosis of a recurrence of a single lung metastatic nodule of urothelial carcinoma after third line of chemotherapy. The patient received a hypo-fractionated course of SBRT.A 3D-conformal multifield technique was used with six coplanar and one non-coplanar statics beams. A total dose of 48 Gy in three fractions over six days was prescribed to the 95% of the CTV. Ten months after the SBRT procedure, a CT scan showed complete response of the metastatic disease without signs of radiation pneumonitis. However, rib and vertebral bone toxicities were observed with the fracture-collapse of the 7th and 8th vertebral bodies and a fracture of the 7th and 8th left ribs. We report a unique case of pathological vertebral fracture appearing ten months after SBRT for an asymptomatic growing lung metastases of urothelial carcinoma.
Though SBRT allows for minimization of normal tissue exposure to high radiation doses SBRT tolerance for vertebral bone tissue has been poorly evaluated in patients with lung tumors. Oncologists should be alert to the potential risk of fatal bone toxicity caused by this novel treatment. We recommend BMD testing in all woman over 65 years old with clinical risk factors that could contribute to low BMD. If low BMD is demonstrated, we should carefully restrict the maximum radiation dose in the vertebral body in order to avoid intermediate or low radiation dose to the whole vertebral body.
PMCID: PMC3383543  PMID: 22455311
Stereotactic Body Radiation therapy; Adverse effects; Pathological vertebral fracture
5.  Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer: A Randomized, Controlled, Biomarker Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95310.
Endothelial progenitor cells (CEPs) and circulating endothelial cells (CECs) are potential biomarkers of response to anti-angiogenic treatment regimens. In the current study, we investigated the effect of docetaxel and sunitinib on CEP/CEC kinetics and clinical response in castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients.
Patients and methods
Chemonaive patients with CRPC were enrolled in this study to receive either sunitinib (37.5 mg/d), in combination with docetaxel (75 mg/m2) or docetaxel alone. CEP and CEC kinetics were analyzed for every cycle. The primary objective was to compare CEP/CEC pharmacodynamics between both treatment arms. We also investigated if CEC/CEP spikes, induced by MTD docetaxel, are suppressed by sunitinib in patients treated with docetaxel/sunitinib relative to docetaxel monotherapy.
A total of 27 patients were enrolled. We observed a significant increase of CEP/CEC (total/viable) counts over time within each cycle (coefficients 0.29233, 0.22092 and 0.26089, respectively; p<0.001). However, no differences between the treatment groups, in terms of CEP and CEC kinetics, were detected. In the docetaxel monotherapy arm 4 (30%) patients responded to therapy with a 50% PSA decline, while 9 (64%) patients showed a PSA decline in the combination group (n.s.). The median PFS in the docetaxel monotherapy group was 3.1 months (2.6–3.6 months, 95% CI) and 6.2 months (4.9–7.4 months, 95% CI; p = 0.062) in the combination arm. Sunitinib/docetaxel was reasonably well tolerated and toxicity manageable.
In summary, no significant differences in CEC and CEP kinetics between the treatment arms were observed, although a highly significant increase of CEPs/CECs within each cycle over time was detected. These results mirror the challenge we have to face when employing anti-angiogenic strategies in CRPC. Additional preclinical research is needed to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms. However, docetaxel/sunitinib therapy resulted in a better response in terms of PSA decline and a trend towards improved PFS.
Trial Registery EudraCT 2007-003705-27
PMCID: PMC3995874  PMID: 24755958
6.  Phase I Study of GC1008 (Fresolimumab): A Human Anti-Transforming Growth Factor-Beta (TGFβ) Monoclonal Antibody in Patients with Advanced Malignant Melanoma or Renal Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90353.
In advanced cancers, transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) promotes tumor growth and metastases and suppresses host antitumor immunity. GC1008 is a human anti-TGFβ monoclonal antibody that neutralizes all isoforms of TGFβ. Here, the safety and activity of GC1008 was evaluated in patients with advanced malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.
In this multi-center phase I trial, cohorts of patients with previously treated malignant melanoma or renal cell carcinoma received intravenous GC1008 at 0.1, 0.3, 1, 3, 10, or 15 mg/kg on days 0, 28, 42, and 56. Patients achieving at least stable disease were eligible to receive Extended Treatment consisting of 4 doses of GC1008 every 2 weeks for up to 2 additional courses. Pharmacokinetic and exploratory biomarker assessments were performed.
Twenty-nine patients, 28 with malignant melanoma and 1 with renal cell carcinoma, were enrolled and treated, 22 in the dose-escalation part and 7 in a safety cohort expansion. No dose-limiting toxicity was observed, and the maximum dose, 15 mg/kg, was determined to be safe. The development of reversible cutaneous keratoacanthomas/squamous-cell carcinomas (4 patients) and hyperkeratosis was the major adverse event observed. One malignant melanoma patient achieved a partial response, and six had stable disease with a median progression-free survival of 24 weeks for these 7 patients (range, 16.4–44.4 weeks).
GC1008 had no dose-limiting toxicity up to 15 mg/kg. In patients with advanced malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma, multiple doses of GC1008 demonstrated acceptable safety and preliminary evidence of antitumor activity, warranting further studies of single agent and combination treatments.
Trial Registration NCT00356460
PMCID: PMC3949712  PMID: 24618589
7.  Randomized Pharmacokinetic Study Comparing Subcutaneous and Intravenous Palonosetron in Cancer Patients Treated with Platinum Based Chemotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89747.
Palonosetron is a potent second generation 5- hydroxytryptamine-3 selective antagonist which can be administered by either intravenous (IV) or oral routes, but subcutaneous (SC) administration of palonosetron has never been studied, even though it could have useful clinical applications. In this study, we evaluate the bioavailability of SC palonosetron.
Patients and Methods
Patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy were randomized to receive SC or IV palonosetron, followed by the alternative route in a crossover manner, during the first two cycles of chemotherapy. Blood samples were collected at baseline and 10, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 minutes and 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24 h after palonosetron administration. Urine was collected during 12 hours following palonosetron. We compared pharmacokinetic parameters including AUC0–24h, t1/2, and Cmax observed with each route of administration by analysis of variance (ANOVA).
From October 2009 to July 2010, 25 evaluable patients were included. AUC0–24h for IV and SC palonosetron were respectively 14.1 and 12.7 ng × h/ml (p = 0.160). Bioavalability of SC palonosetron was 118% (95% IC: 69–168). Cmax was lower with SC than with IV route and was reached 15 minutes following SC administration.
Palonosetron bioavailability was similar when administered by either SC or IV route. This new route of administration might be specially useful for outpatient management of emesis and for administration of oral chemotherapy.
Trial Registration NCT01046240
PMCID: PMC3937332  PMID: 24587006
8.  Phase II Study of Concurrent Capecitabine and External Beam Radiotherapy for Pain Control of Bone Metastases of Breast Cancer Origin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68327.
Pain from bone metastases of breast cancer origin is treated with localized radiation. Modulating doses and schedules has shown little efficacy in improving results. Given the synergistic therapeutic effect reported for combined systemic chemotherapy with local radiation in anal, rectal, and head and neck malignancies, we sought to evaluate the tolerability and efficacy of combined capecitabine and radiation for palliation of pain due to bone metastases from breast cancer.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Twenty-nine women with painful bone metastases from breast cancer were treated with external beam radiation in 10 fractions of 3 Gy, 5 fractions a week for 2 consecutive weeks. Oral capecitabine 700 mg/m2 twice daily was administered throughout radiation therapy. Rates of complete response, defined as a score of 0 on a 10-point pain scale and no increase in analgesic consumption, were 14% at 1 week, 38% at 2 weeks, 52% at 4 weeks, 52% at 8 weeks, and 48% at 12 weeks. Corresponding rates of partial response, defined as a reduction of at least 2 points in pain score without an increase in analgesics consumption, were 31%, 38%, 28%, 34% and 38%. The overall response rate (complete and partial) at 12 weeks was 86%. Side effects were of mild intensity (grade I or II) and included nausea (38% of patients), weakness (24%), diarrhea (24%), mucositis (10%), and hand and foot syndrome (7%).
External beam radiation with concurrent capecitabine is safe and tolerable for the treatment of pain from bone metastases of breast cancer origin. The overall and complete response rates in our study are unusually high compared to those reported for radiation alone. Further evaluation of this approach, in a randomized study, is warranted.
Trial Registration NCT01784393NCT01784393
PMCID: PMC3707893  PMID: 23874586
9.  Phase II Study Evaluating 2 Dosing Schedules of Oral Foretinib (GSK1363089), cMET/VEGFR2 Inhibitor, in Patients with Metastatic Gastric Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e54014.
The receptors for hepatocyte and vascular endothelial cell growth factors (MET and VEGFR2, respectively) are critical oncogenic mediators in gastric adenocarcinoma. The purpose is to examine the safety and efficacy of foretinib, an oral multikinase inhibitor targeting MET, RON, AXL, TIE-2, and VEGFR2 receptors, for the treatment of metastatic gastric adenocarcinoma.
Patients and Methods
Foretinib safety and tolerability, and objective response rate (ORR) were evaluated in patients using intermittent (240 mg/day, for 5 days every 2 weeks) or daily (80 mg/day) dosing schedules. Thirty evaluable patients were required to achieve alpha = 0.10 and beta = 0.2 to test the alternative hypothesis that single-agent foretinib would result in an ORR of ≥25%. Up to 10 additional patients could be enrolled to ensure at least eight with MET amplification. Correlative studies included tumor MET amplification, MET signaling, pharmacokinetics and plasma biomarkers of foretinib activity.
From March 2007 until October 2009, 74 patients were enrolled; 74% male; median age, 61 years (range, 25–88); 93% had received prior therapy. Best response was stable disease (SD) in 10 (23%) patients receiving intermittent dosing and five (20%) receiving daily dosing; SD duration was 1.9–7.2 months (median 3.2 months). Of 67 patients with tumor samples, 3 had MET amplification, one of whom had SD. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 91% of patients. Rates of hypertension (35% vs. 15%) and elevated aspartate aminotransferase (23% vs. 8%) were higher with intermittent dosing. In both patients with high baseline tumor phospho-MET (pMET), the pMET:total MET protein ratio decreased with foretinib treatment.
These results indicate that few gastric carcinomas are driven solely by MET and VEGFR2, and underscore the diverse molecular oncogenesis of this disease. Despite evidence of MET inhibition by foretinib, single-agent foretinib lacked efficacy in unselected patients with metastatic gastric cancer.
Trial Registration NCT00725712
PMCID: PMC3597709  PMID: 23516391
10.  Evaluating Hemorrhage in Renal Cell Carcinoma Using Susceptibility Weighted Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57691.
Intratumoral hemorrhage is a frequent occurrence in renal cell carcinoma and is an indicator of tumor subtype. We hypothesize that susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) is sensitive to hemorrhage in renal cell carcinoma and can give a more diagnostic image when compared to conventional imaging techniques.
Materials and Methods
A retrospective review of 32 patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma was evaluated. All patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 22 out of 32 patients also underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan. Hemorrhage was classified into 3 different categories according to shape and distribution. Histopathology was obtained from all masses by radical nephrectomy. The ability to detect the presence of hemorrhage using CT, non-contrast conventional MRI and SWI was evaluated, and the patterns of hemorrhage were compared.
Using pathologic results as the gold standard, the sensitivities of non-contrast conventional MRI, SWI and CT in detecting hemorrhage in clear cell renal cell carcinoma were 65.6%, 100% and 22.7%, respectively. Accuracy of non-contrast conventional MRI and SWI in evaluating hemorrhagic patterns were 31.3% and 100%, respectively.
These results demonstrate that SWI can better reveal hemorrhage and characterize the pattern more accurately than either non-contrast conventional MRI or CT. This suggests that SWI is the technique of choice for detecting hemorrhagic lesions in patients with renal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3581533  PMID: 23451259
11.  The Impact of Bevacizumab (Avastin) on Survival in Metastatic Solid Tumors - A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51780.
To evaluate the effect of Bevacizumab in combination with chemotherapy on overall survival of patients with metastatic solid tumors.
A systematic literature search to identify randomized trials comparing chemotherapy with and without Bevacizumab in metastatic cancer. The primary end point was overall survival (OS) and the secondary end points were progression free survival (PFS) and toxicity. A meta-analysis was performed for each tumor type and for the combination of all tumors.
24 randomized trials with 8 different types of malignancies were included in this meta-analysis. Patients treated with Bevacizumab had an OS benefit, hazard ratio (HR) 0.89 (95% CI 0.84–0.93, P<0.00001 I2-4%). The combined analysis showed a PFS benefit with a HR 0.71 (95% CI 0.68–0.74, P<0.00001, I2-54%). The toxicity analysis showed a statistically significant increase in fatal adverse events (FAEs) in the Bevacizumab treatment arm, risk ratio (RR) 1.47 (95% CI 1.1–1.98). A separate analysis of the lung cancer trials showed an increased risk of fatal pulmonary hemorrhage with a RR of 5.65 (95% CI 1.26–25.26). The risk of G3–4 adverse events was increased: RR 1.2 (95% CI 1.15–1.24).
in this combined analysis Bevacizumab improved OS (with little heterogeneity) and PFS. These results should be considered in the light of lack of markers predictive of response and the increased severe and fatal toxicity seen with Bevacizumab treatment.
PMCID: PMC3551962  PMID: 23349675
12.  Combination of Taxanes, Cisplatin and Fluorouracil as Induction Chemotherapy for Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51526.
Some investigations have suggested that induction chemotherapy with a combination of taxanes, cisplatin and fluorouracil (TPF) is effective in locally advanced head and neck cancer. However, other trials have indicated that TPF does not improve outcomes. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of TPF with a cisplatin and fluorouracil (PF) regimen through a meta-analysis.
Four randomized clinical trials were identified, which included 1,552 patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who underwent induction chemotherapy with either a TPF or PF protocol. The outcomes included the 3-year survival rate, overall response rate and different types of adverse events. Risk ratios (RRs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were pooled using RevMan 5.1 software.
The 3-year survival rate (51.0% vs. 42.4%; p = 0.002), 3-year progression-free survival rate (35.9% vs. 27.2%; p = 0.007) and overall response to chemotherapy (72.9% vs. 62.1%; p<0.00001) of the patients in the TPF group was statistically superior to those in the PF group. In terms of toxicities, the incidence of febrile neutropenia (7.0% vs. 3.2%; p = 0.001) and alopecia (10.8% vs. 1.1%; p<0.00001) was higher in the TPF group.
The TPF induction chemotherapy regimen leads to a significant survival advantage with acceptable toxicity rates for patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer compared with the PF regimen.
PMCID: PMC3517538  PMID: 23236511
13.  Multi-Purpose Utility of Circulating Plasma DNA Testing in Patients with Advanced Cancers 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47020.
Tumor genomic instability and selective treatment pressures result in clonal disease evolution; molecular stratification for molecularly targeted drug administration requires repeated access to tumor DNA. We hypothesized that circulating plasma DNA (cpDNA) in advanced cancer patients is largely derived from tumor, has prognostic utility, and can be utilized for multiplex tumor mutation sequencing when repeat biopsy is not feasible. We utilized the Sequenom MassArray System and OncoCarta panel for somatic mutation profiling. Matched samples, acquired from the same patient but at different time points were evaluated; these comprised formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) archival tumor tissue (primary and/or metastatic) and cpDNA. The feasibility, sensitivity, and specificity of this high-throughput, multiplex mutation detection approach was tested utilizing specimens acquired from 105 patients with solid tumors referred for participation in Phase I trials of molecularly targeted drugs. The median cpDNA concentration was 17 ng/ml (range: 0.5–1600); this was 3-fold higher than in healthy volunteers. Moreover, higher cpDNA concentrations associated with worse overall survival; there was an overall survival (OS) hazard ratio of 2.4 (95% CI 1.4, 4.2) for each 10-fold increase in cpDNA concentration and in multivariate analyses, cpDNA concentration, albumin, and performance status remained independent predictors of OS. These data suggest that plasma DNA in these cancer patients is largely derived from tumor. We also observed high detection concordance for critical ‘hot-spot’ mutations (KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA) in matched cpDNA and archival tumor tissue, and important differences between archival tumor and cpDNA. This multiplex sequencing assay can be utilized to detect somatic mutations from plasma in advanced cancer patients, when safe repeat tumor biopsy is not feasible and genomic analysis of archival tumor is deemed insufficient. Overall, circulating nucleic acid biomarker studies have clinically important multi-purpose utility in advanced cancer patients and further studies to pursue their incorporation into the standard of care are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3492590  PMID: 23144797
14.  Association between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and Toxicity of Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients Treated with Chemotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48350.
New therapeutic approaches are being developed based on the findings that several genetic abnormalities underlying non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) could influence chemosensitivity. In this study, we assessed whether polymorphisms in genes of nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway, including ERCC5, ERCC6, MMS19L, CCNH, XPC, RRM1, can affect the tolerability of platinum-based chemotherapy in NSCLC patients. We used AllGloTM probe to assess genotyping and polymorphisms in 388 stage IIIB and IV NSCLC patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. MMS19L might be associated with the adverse events of chemotherapy in NSCLC, especially for all grade leucopenia (P = 0.020), all grade jaundice (P = 0.037) and all grade creatinine increasing (P = 0.013). In terms of grade 3/4 adverse events, MMS19L was related with total grade 3/4 adverse events (P = 0.024) and grade 3/4 thrombocytopenia (P = 0.035), while RRM1 was related with total grade 3/4 adverse events (P = 0.047) and grade 3/4 vomiting (P = 0.046). ERCC5 was related with more infection (P = 0.017). We found that some SNPs in NER pathway genes were correlated with toxicity treated with double chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC patients, especially for SNPs of MMS19L, RRM1 and ERCC5.
PMCID: PMC3485208  PMID: 23118991
15.  Development of Multiplexed Bead-Based Immunoassays for the Detection of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer Using a Combination of Serum Biomarkers 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44960.
CA125 as a biomarker of ovarian cancer is ineffective for the general population. The aim of this study was to evaluate multiplexed bead-based immunoassay of multiple ovarian cancer-associated biomarkers such as transthyretin and apolipoprotein A1, together with CA125, to improve the identification and evaluation of prognosis of ovarian cancer. We measured the serum levels of CA125, transthyretin, and apolipoprotein A1 from the serum of 61 healthy individuals, 84 patients with benign ovarian disease, and 118 patients with ovarian cancer using a multiplex liquid assay system, Luminex 100. The results were then analyzed according to healthy and/or benign versus ovarian cancer subjects. When CA125 was combined with the other biomarkers, the overall sensitivity and specificity were significantly improved in the ROC curve, which showed 95% and 97% sensitivity and specificity, respectively. At 95% specificity for all stages the sensitivity increased to 95.5% compared to 67% for CA125 alone. For stage I+II, the sensitivity increased from 30% for CA125 alone to 93.9%. For stage III+IV, the corresponding values were 96.5% and 91.6%, respectively. Also, the three biomarkers were sufficient for maximum separation between noncancer (healthy plus benign group) and stage I+II or all stages (I−IV) of disease. The new combination of transthyretin, and apolipoprotein A1 with CA125 improved both the sensitivity and the specificity of ovarian cancer diagnosis compared with those of individual biomarkers. These findings suggest the benefit of the combination of these markers for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3438175  PMID: 22970327
16.  Gemcitabine and Irinotecan as First-Line Therapy for Carcinoma of Unknown Primary: Results of a Multicenter Phase II Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39285.
Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) has a very poor prognosis, and no standard first-line therapy currently exists. Here, we report the results of a phase II study utilizing a combination of gemcitabine and irinotecan as first-line therapy. Treatment was with gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 and irinotecan 75 mg/m2 weekly times four on a six week cycle (Cohort I). Due to excessive toxicity, the dose and schedule were modified as follows: gemcitabine 750 mg/m2 and irinotecan 75 mg/m2 given weekly times three on a four week cycle (Cohort II). The primary endpoint was the confirmed response rate (CR + PR). Secondary endpoints consisted of adverse events based upon the presence or absence of the UDP glucuronosyltransferase 1 family, polypeptide A1*28 (UGT1A1*28) polymorphism, time to progression, and overall survival. Thirty-one patients were enrolled with a median age of 63 (range: 38–94), and 26 patients were evaluable for efficacy. Significant toxicity was observed in Cohort 1, characterized by 50% (7/14) patients experiencing a grade 4+ adverse event, but not in cohort II. The confirmed response rate including patients from both cohorts was 12% (95% CI: 2–30%), which did not meet the criteria for continued enrollment. Overall median survival was 7.2 months (95% CI: 4.0 to 11.6) for the entire cohort but notably longer in cohort II than in cohort I (9.3 months (95% CI: 4.1 to 12.1) versus 4.0 months (95% CI: 2.2 to 15.6)). Gemcitabine and irinotecan is not an active combination when used as first line therapy in patients with metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary. Efforts into developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches remain important for improving the outlook for this heterogeneous group of patients.
Trial Registration NCT00066781
PMCID: PMC3398897  PMID: 22815703
17.  Phase I Evaluation of Intravenous Ascorbic Acid in Combination with Gemcitabine and Erlotinib in Patients with Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29794.
Preclinical data support further investigation of ascorbic acid in pancreatic cancer. There are currently insufficient safety data in human subjects, particularly when ascorbic acid is combined with chemotherapy.
Methods and Findings
14 subjects with metastatic stage IV pancreatic cancer were recruited to receive an eight week cycle of intravenous ascorbic acid (three infusions per week), using a dose escalation design, along with standard treatment of gemcitabine and erlotinib. Of 14 recruited subjects enrolled, nine completed the study (three in each dosage tier). There were fifteen non-serious adverse events and eight serious adverse events, all likely related to progression of disease or treatment with gemcitabine or erlotinib. Applying RECIST 1.0 criteria, seven of the nine subjects had stable disease while the other two had progressive disease.
These initial safety data do not reveal increased toxicity with the addition of ascorbic acid to gemcitabine and erlotinib in pancreatic cancer patients. This, combined with the observed response to treatment, suggests the need for a phase II study of longer duration.
Trial Registration NCT00954525
PMCID: PMC3260161  PMID: 22272248
18.  Cigarette Smoking and p16INK4α Gene Promoter Hypermethylation in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Patients: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28882.
Aberrant methylation of promoter DNA and transcriptional repression of specific tumor suppressor genes play an important role in carcinogenesis. Recently, many studies have investigated the association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α gene hypermethylation in lung cancer, but could not reach a unanimous conclusion.
Methods and Findings
Nineteen cross-sectional studies on the association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α methylation in surgically resected tumor tissues from non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients were identified in PubMed database until June 2011. For each study, a 2×2 cross-table was extracted. In total, 2,037 smoker and 765 nonsmoker patients were pooled with a fixed-effects model weighting for the inverse of the variance. Overall, the frequency of p16INK4α hypermethylation was higher in NSCLC patients with smoking habits than that in non-smoking patients (OR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.81–2.80). The positive association between cigarette smoking and p16INK4α hypermethylation was similar in adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma. In the stratified analyses, the association was stronger in Asian patients and in the studies with larger sample sizes.
Cigarette smoking is positively correlated to p16INK4α gene hypermethylation in NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3236763  PMID: 22174919
19.  Carcinoma-Derived Interleukin-8 Disorients Dendritic Cell Migration Without Impairing T-Cell Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17922.
Interleukin-8 (IL-8, CXCL8) is readily produced by human malignant cells. Dendritic cells (DC) both produce IL-8 and express the IL-8 functional receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2. Most human colon carcinomas produce IL-8. IL-8 importance in malignancies has been ascribed to angiogeneis promotion.
Principal Findings
IL-8 effects on human monocyte-derived DC biology were explored upon DC exposure to recombinant IL-8 and with the help of an IL-8 neutralizing mAb. In vivo experiments were performed in immunodeficient mice xenografted with IL-8-producing human colon carcinomas and comparatively with cell lines that do not produce IL-8. Allogenic T lymphocyte stimulation by DC was explored under the influence of IL-8. DC and neutrophil chemotaxis were measured by transwell-migration assays. Sera from tumor-xenografted mice contained increasing concentrations of IL-8 as the tumors progress. IL-8 production by carcinoma cells can be modulated by low doses of cyclophosphamide at the transcription level. If human DC are injected into HT29 or CaCo2 xenografted tumors, DC are retained intratumorally in an IL-8-dependent fashion. However, IL-8 did not modify the ability of DC to stimulate T cells. Interestingly, pre-exposure of DC to IL-8 desensitizes such cells for IL-8-mediated in vitro or in vivo chemoattraction. Thereby DC become disoriented to subsequently follow IL-8 chemotactic gradients towards malignant or inflamed tissue.
IL-8 as produced by carcinoma cells changes DC migration cues, without directly interfering with DC-mediated T-cell stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3056721  PMID: 21423807

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