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1.  Mechanisms of immune evasion and current status of checkpoint inhibitors in non‐small cell lung cancer 
Cancer Medicine  2016;5(9):2567-2578.
In the past several years, immunotherapy has emerged as a viable treatment option for patients with advanced non‐small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) without actionable driver mutations that have progressed on standard chemotherapy. We are also beginning to understand the methods of immune evasion employed by NSCLC which likely contribute to the 20% response rate to immunotherapy. It is also yet unclear what tumor or patient factors predict response to immunotherapy. The objectives of this review are (1) review the immunogenicity of NSCLC (2) describe the mechanisms of immune evasion (3) summarize efforts to target the anti‐program death‐1 (PD‐1) and anti‐program death‐ligand 1(PD‐L1) pathway (4) outline determinants of response to PD‐1/PD‐L1 therapy and (5) discuss potential future areas for research.
PMCID: PMC5055165  PMID: 27416962
Determinants of response; immune evasion; non‐small cell lung cancer; PD‐1; PD‐L1
2.  Optimizing the Detection of Circulating Markers to Aid in Early Lung Cancer Detection 
Cancers  2016;8(7):61.
Improving early detection of lung cancer is critical to improving lung cancer survival. Studies have shown that computerized tomography (CT) screening can reduce mortality from lung cancer, but this involves risks of radiation exposure and can identify non-cancer lung nodules that lead to unnecessary interventions for some. There is a critical need to develop alternative, less invasive methods to identify patients who have early-stage lung cancer. The detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are a promising area of research, but current technology is limited by a low yield of CTCs. Alternate studies are investigating circulating nucleic acids and proteins as possible tumor markers. It is critical to develop innovative methods for early lung cancer detection that may include CTCs or other markers that are low-risk and low-cost, yet specific and sensitive, to facilitate improved survival by diagnosing the disease when it is surgically curable.
PMCID: PMC4963803  PMID: 27367729
biomarkers; circulating tumor cells; microRNA; lung cancer; proteomics
3.  The VA Point-of-Care Precision Oncology Program: Balancing Access with Rapid Learning in Molecular Cancer Medicine 
Biomarkers in Cancer  2016;8:9-16.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognized the need to balance patient-centered care with responsible creation of generalizable knowledge on the effectiveness of molecular medicine tools. Embracing the principles of the rapid learning health-care system, a new clinical program called the Precision Oncology Program (POP) was created in New England. The POP integrates generalized knowledge about molecular medicine in cancer with a database of observations from previously treated veterans. The program assures access to modern genomic oncology practice in the veterans affairs (VA), removes disparities of access across the VA network of clinical centers, disseminates the products of learning that are generalizable to non-VA settings, and systematically presents opportunities for patients to participate in clinical trials of targeted therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4772906  PMID: 26949343
veterans; precision oncology; learning health-care system; lung cancer; Bayesian
4.  Cigarette Smoking and Gemcitabine-Induced Neutropenia in Advanced Solid Tumors 
Oncology  2013;85(4):216-222.
Chemotherapy-associated neutropenia has been reported to be a pharmacodynamic marker of response in some advanced solid tumors. Factors that accelerate drug clearance lead to lower plasma concentrations and toxicity, including neutropenia. Smoking accelerates themetabolism of several drugs, including chemotherapy. We sought to study the effects of smoking on gemcitabine-induced neutropenia in this retrospective study.
Smoking status and neutropenia along with other clinical parameters were recorded in 151 patients receiving first-line gemcitabine-based chemotherapy for advanced solid tumors.
Tumor types included breast (9.3%), lung (4.6%), pancreatobiliary (70.9%), or other/unknown primary cancer (15.2%). Logistic regression showed that never smokers had increased neutropenia versus current smokers (odds ratio:3.5; 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.1–11.4). A 5-unit increase in pack-years reduced the odds of having higher neutropenia toxicity by 6.3% (95% CI 12 to 1%; p = 0.036).
Smokers had less neutropenia than nonsmokers, a finding that was more pronounced with increasing pack-years. This pharmacodynamic marker of gemcitabine-induced neutropenia may result in less efficacy of gemcitabine. Future prospective trials should correlate smoking, metabolizing phenotype, neutropenia, and response to gemcitabine therapy.
PMCID: PMC4768297  PMID: 24080957
Chemotherapy; Neutropenia; Pharmacodynamics; Smoking
6.  A Radial Flow Microfluidic Device for Ultra-high-throughput Affinity-based Isolation of Circulating Tumor Cells 
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are believed to play an important role in metastasis, a process responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths. But their rarity in the bloodstream makes microfluidic isolation complex and time-consuming. Additionally the low processing speeds can be a hindrance to obtaining higher yields of CTCs, limiting their potential use as biomarkers for early diagnosis. Here we report a high throughput microfluidic technology, the OncoBean Chip, employing radial flow that introduces a varying shear profile across the device enabling efficient cell capture by affinity at high flow rates. The recovery from whole blood was validated with cancer cell lines H1650 and MCF7, achieving a mean efficiency >80% at a throughput of 10 mL hr−1 in contrast to a flow rate of 1 mL hr−1 standardly reported with other microfluidic devices. Cells were recovered with a viability rate of 93% at these high speeds, increasing the ability to use captured CTCs for downstream analysis. Broad clinical application was demonstrated using comparable flow rates from blood specimens obtained from breast, pancreatic and lung cancer patients. Comparable CTC numbers were recovered in all the samples at the two flow rates demonstrating the ability of the technology to perform at high-throughputs.
PMCID: PMC4455044  PMID: 25074448
Circulating tumor cells; microfluidics; cancer; high-throughput
7.  Effects of selenomethionine on acute toxicities from concurrent chemoradiation for inoperable stage III non-small cell lung cancer 
AIM: To prospectively determine the safety and tolerability of oral L-selenomethionine (SLM) with concurrent chemoradiation (CCRT) for Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and estimate if the incidence and/or severity of adverse events could be reduced by its use.
METHODS: Sixteen patients with stage III NSCLC were accrued to this single arm, phase II study. CCRT consisted of radiation given at 2 Gy per fraction for 30-33 fractions, 5 d per week with concurrent weekly IV paclitaxel 50 mg/m2 followed by carboplatin dosed at an area under the time-concentration curve of 2. SLM was dosed in a loading phase at 4800 μg twice daily for one week prior to CCRT followed by once daily dosing during treatment.
RESULTS: No selenium-related toxicity was observed. Analysis revealed grade 3 or higher esophagitis in 3 of 16 patients (19%), pneumonitis in 0, leukopenia in 2 (12.5%), and anemia in 1 (6%); the latter two were significantly reduced when compared to the protocol-stated expected rate of 35% (P = 0.045 for leukopenia, and P < 0.01 for anemia). Median overall survival was 14.9 mo and median failure-free survival was 9 mo (95%CI: 3.3-21.5).
CONCLUSION: There may be some protective benefit of selenium in the setting of CCRT for inoperable NSCLC. The data suggests decreased rates of myelosuppression when compared to similarly-treated historical and contemporary controls. Further evaluation of selenium in this setting may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC4600190  PMID: 26468452
Selenium; Chemoprotective; Radioprotector; Toxicity; Radiotherapy
8.  MAP3K3 expression in tumor cells and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is correlated with favorable patient survival in lung cancer 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11471.
MAP3K3 is involved in both the immune response and in tumor progression. Its potential biological role in vitro in lung cancer cell lines and the association of mRNA/protein expression patterns with clinical outcome of primary lung tumors were investigated in this study. Silencing MAP3K3 using siRNA in lung cancer cell lines resulted in decreased cell proliferation, migration and invasion. These effects were associated with down-regulation of the JNK, p38, AKT, and GSK3β pathways as determined using phospho-protein and gene expression array analyses. However, MAP3K3 mRNA and protein overexpression in primary lung tumors correlated significantly with favorable patient survival. Gene cluster and pathway analyses of primary tumor datasets indicated that genes positively-correlated with MAP3K3 are significantly involved in immune response rather than the cell cycle regulators observed using in vitro analyses. These results indicate that although MAP3K3 overexpression has an oncogenic role in vitro, in primary lung adenocarcinomas it correlates with an active immune response in the tumor environment that correlates with improved patient survival. MAP3K3 may potentially not only serve as diagnostic/prognostic markers for patients with lung cancer but also provide an indicator for future investigations into immunomodulatory therapies for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4650617  PMID: 26088427
9.  Epigenetic Regulation of Vitamin D Metabolism in Human Lung Adenocarcinoma 
1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) is antiproliferative in pre-clinical models of lung cancer, but in tumor tissues its efficacy may be limited by CYP24A1 expression. CYP24A1 is the rate limiting catabolic enzyme for 1,25-D3 and is overexpressed in human lung adenocarcinoma (AC) by unknown mechanisms.
The DNA methylation status of CYP24A1 was determined by bisulfite DNA pyrosequencing in a panel of 30 lung cell lines and 90 surgically resected lung AC. The level of CYP24A1 methylation was correlated with CYP24A1 expression in lung AC cell lines and tumors. In addition, histone modifications were assessed by quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR (ChIP-qPCR) in A549, NCI-H460 and SK-LU-1.
Bisulfite DNA pyrosequencing analysis revealed that CYP24A1 gene was heterogeneously methylated in lung AC. Expression of CYP24A1 was inversely correlated with promoter DNA methylation in lung AC cell lines and tumors. Treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) as well as trichostatin A (TSA) increased CYP24A1 expression in lung AC. We observed that CYP24A1 promoter hypermethylation decreased CYP24A1 enzyme activity in vitro, whereas treatment with 5-Aza and/or TSA increased CYP24A1 enzyme affinity for its substrate 1,25-D3. In addition, ChIP-qPCR analysis revealed specific histone modifications within the CYP24A1 promoter region. Treatment with TSA increased H3K4me2 and H3K9ac and simultaneously decreased H3K9me2 at the CYP24A1 promoter.
The expression of CYP24A1 gene in human lung AC is in part epigenetically regulated by promoter DNA methylation and repressive histone modifications. These findings should be taken into consideration when targeting CYP24A1 to optimize antiproliferative effects of 1,25-D3 in lung AC.
PMCID: PMC3994461  PMID: 24736069
vitamin D metabolism; CYP24A1; 1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin-D3; DNA methylation; histone modification; lung adenocarcinoma
10.  Current Status of CTCs as Liquid Biopsy in Lung Cancer and Future Directions 
Frontiers in Oncology  2015;5:209.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have garnered a lot of attention in the past few decades. Isolation of these rare cells from the billions of blood cells has been a challenge until recent times. With the advent of new sensitive technologies that permit live cell isolation and downstream genomic analysis, the existing paradigm of CTC research has evolved to explore clinical utility of these cells. CTCs have been identified as prognostic and pharmacodynamic biomarkers in many solid tumors, including lung cancer. As a means of liquid biopsy, CTCs could play a major role in the development of personalized medicine and targeted therapies. This review discusses the state of various isolation strategies, cell separation techniques and key studies that illustrate the application of liquid biopsy to lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4588111  PMID: 26484313
circulating tumor cells; liquid biopsy; review of literature; prognostic biomarkers; non-small-cell lung cancer; small-cell lung cancer; lung cancer
11.  Expansion of CTCs from early stage lung cancer patients using a microfluidic co-culture model 
Oncotarget  2014;5(23):12383-12397.
The potential utility of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) to guide clinical care in oncology patients has gained momentum with emerging micro- and nanotechnologies. Establishing the role of CTCs in tumor progression and metastasis depends both on enumeration and on obtaining sufficient numbers of CTCs for downstream assays. The numbers of CTCs are few in early stages of cancer, limiting detailed molecular characterization. Recent attempts in the literature to culture CTCs isolated from metastatic patients using monoculture have had limited success rates of less than 20%. Herein, we have developed a novel in-situ capture and culture methodology for ex-vivo expansion of CTCs using a three dimensional co-culture model, simulating a tumor microenvironment to support tumor development. We have successfully expanded CTCs isolated from 14 of 19 early stage lung cancer patients. Expanded lung CTCs carried mutations of the TP53 gene identical to those observed in the matched primary tumors. Next-generation sequencing further revealed additional matched mutations between primary tumor and CTCs of cancer-related genes. This strategy sets the stage to further characterize the biology of CTCs derived from patients with early lung cancers, thereby leading to a better understanding of these putative drivers of metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4323004  PMID: 25474037
expansion of CTCs; early stage lung cancer; microfluidic co-culture
12.  Sensitive capture of circulating tumour cells by functionalised graphene oxide nanosheets 
Nature nanotechnology  2013;8(10):735-741.
The spread of cancer throughout the body is driven by circulating tumour cells (CTCs)1. These cells detach from the primary tumour and move from the blood stream to a new site of subsequent tumour growth. They also carry information about the primary tumour and have the potential to be valuable biomarkers for disease diagnosis and progression, and for the molecular characterization of certain biological properties of the tumour. However, the limited sensitivity and specificity of current methods to measure and study these cells in patient blood samples prevent the realization of their full clinical potential. The use of microfluidic devices is a promising method for isolating CTCs2, 3; however, the devices are reliant on three-dimensional structures, which limit further characterization and expansion of cells on the chip. Here we demonstrate an effective approach to isolate CTCs from blood samples of pancreatic, breast and lung cancer patients, by using functionalised graphene oxide nanosheets on a patterned gold surface. CTCs were captured with high sensitivity at low concentration of target cells (73% ± 32.4 at 3–5 cells/mL blood).
PMCID: PMC4017624  PMID: 24077027
13.  Characterization of vitamin D receptor (VDR) in lung adenocarcinoma 
The anti-proliferative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3, calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D) are mediated by the nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR). In the present study, we characterized VDR expression in lung adenocarcinoma (AC).
Experimental Design
We examined VDR mRNA expression using a quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in 100 patients who underwent surgery for lung AC. In a subset of these patients (n = 89), we examined VDR protein expression using immunohistochemistry. We also examined the association of VDR protein expression with circulating serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-D3) and 1,25-D3. The antiproliferative effects and cell cycle arrest of 1,25-D3 were examined using lung cancer cell lines with high (SKLU-1) as well as low (A549) expression of VDR mRNA.
Higher VDR expression correlates with longer survival after adjusting for age, sex, disease stage and tumor grade (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.58–0.91). In addition, there was a positive correlation (r = 0.38) between serum 1,25-D3 and tumor VDR protein expression. A greater anti-proliferative effect of 1,25-D3 was observed in high compared to low VDR-expressing cell lines; these effects corresponded to G1 cell cycle arrest; this was associated with a decline in cyclin D1, S-phase kinase protein 2 (Skp2), retinoblastoma (Rb) and minichromosome maintenance 2 (MCM2) proteins involved in S-phase entry.
Increased VDR expression in lung AC is associated with improved survival. This may relate to a lower proliferative status and G1 arrest in high VDR-expressing tumors.
PMCID: PMC3396768  PMID: 22564539
VDR; Vitamin D; 1,25-D3; Lung Adenocarcinoma; Survival
14.  Changes in Global Function and Regional Ventilation and Perfusion on SPECT During the Course of Radiotherapy in Patients With Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
This study aimed to (1) examine changes in dyspnea, global pulmonary function test (PFT) results, and functional activity on ventilation (V)/perfusion (Q) single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scans during the course of radiation (RT), and (2) factors associated with the changes in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods and Materials
Fifty-six stage I to III NSCLC patients treated with definitive RT with or without chemotherapy were enrolled prospectively. Dyspnea was graded according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 3.0 prior to and weekly during RT. V/Q SPECT-computed tomography (CT) and PFTs were performed prior to and during RT at approximately 45 Gy. Functions of V and Q activities were assessed using a semiquantitative scoring of SPECT images.
Breathing improved significantly at the third week (mean dyspnea grade, 0.8 vs. 0.6; paired t-test p = 0.011) and worsened during the later course of RT (p > 0.05). Global PFT results did not change significantly, while regional lung function on V/Q SPECT improved significantly after ~45 Gy. The V defect score (DS) was 4.9 pre-RT versus 4.3 during RT (p = 0.01); Q DS was 4.3 pre-RT versus 4.0 during RT (p < 0.01). Improvements in V and Q functions were seen primarily in the ipsilateral lung (V DS, 1.9 pre-RT versus 1.4 during RT, p < 0.01; Q DS, 1.7 pre-RT versus 1.5 during RT, p < 0.01). Baseline primary tumor volume was significantly correlated with pre-RT V/Q DS (p < 0.01). Patients with central lung tumors had greater interval changes in V and Q than those with more peripheral tumors (p < 0.05 for both V and Q DS).
Regional ventilation and perfusion improved during RT at 45 Gy. This suggests that adaptive planning based on V/Q SPECT during RT may allow sparing of functionally recoverable lung tissue.
PMCID: PMC3381888  PMID: 22197235
Non-small-cell lung cancer; Perfusion; Radiotherapy; Single-photon emission computerized tomography; Ventilation
15.  Development and Validation of a qRT-PCR Classifier for Lung Cancer Prognosis 
This prospective study aimed to develop a robust and clinically-applicable method to identify high-risk early stage lung cancer patients and then to validate this method for use in future translational studies.
Patients and Methods
Three published Affymetrix microarray data sets representing 680 primary tumors were used in the survival-related gene selection procedure using clustering, Cox model and random survival forest (RSF) analysis. A final set of 91 genes was selected and tested as a predictor of survival using a qRT-PCR-based assay utilizing an independent cohort of 101 lung adenocarcinomas.
The RSF model built from 91 genes in the training set predicted patient survival in an independent cohort of 101 lung adenocarcinomas, with a prediction error rate of 26.6%. The mortality risk index (MRI) was significantly related to survival (Cox model p < 0.00001) and separated all patients into low, medium, and high-risk groups (HR = 1.00, 2.82, 4.42). The MRI was also related to survival in stage 1 patients (Cox model p = 0.001), separating patients into low, medium, and high-risk groups (HR = 1.00, 3.29, 3.77).
The development and validation of this robust qRT-PCR platform allows prediction of patient survival with early stage lung cancer. Utilization will now allow investigators to evaluate it prospectively by incorporation into new clinical trials with the goal of personalized treatment of lung cancer patients and improving patient survival.
PMCID: PMC3167380  PMID: 21792073
Lung cancer; qRT-PCR; Prognosis
16.  Semi-Quantification and Classification of Local Pulmonary Function by V/Q SPECT in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Potential Indication for Radiotherapy Planning 
Journal of Thoracic Oncology  2011;6(1):71-78.
Perfusion (Q) single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) has been used to divert dose away from higher-functioning lung during radiation therapy (RT) planning. This study aimed to 1) study regional lung function through co-registered pulmonary ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) SPECT-CT, and 2) classify these defects for its potential value in radiation planning in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Patients with stages I-III NSCLC requiring radiation-based therapy were eligible for this prospective study. V/Q SPECT performed within 2 weeks prior to radiation start was interpreted by nuclear medicine physicians and then measured by a semi-quantitative score. The potential mechanism of V, Q defect was analyzed; the potential impact of V/Q SPECT over Q SPECT alone was completed through classified applications (high dose RT versus RT avoidance) during planning.
Images of 51 consecutive patients were analyzed. The V, Q defects were matched, reverse mismatched (V- defect greater than Q-defect), and mismatched (Q-defect greater than V-defect) in 61%, 31% and 8% patients, respectively. Tumor was the leading cause of the defects of ipsilateral lung in 73% patients. The defect scores of the ipsilateral lung were greater in patients with central primaries than those with peripheral primaries for both V- (2.3±1.1 vs. 1.5±0.8, p=0.017) and Q-SPECT (2.2±0.8 vs. 1.4±0.6, p=0.000). The patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had greater defect scores in contralateral lung for both V- (1.5±0.7 vs. 1.0±0.8, p=0.006) and Q- SPECT (1.4±0.6 vs. 1.0±0.4, p=0.010). On assessing the potential value of SPECT on RT plan, 39% patients could have their RT plan if applying V/Q SPECT rather than Q SPECT alone.
V/Q SPECT provides a more comprehensive functional assessment, may provide additional value over Q-SPECT alone in assessing local pulmonary function and guide RT plan decisions in patients with NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3351273  PMID: 21119546
Non-small cell lung cancer; Ventilation; Perfusion; Single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT); Radiotherapy
17.  CYP24A1 Is an Independent Prognostic Marker of Survival in Patients with Lung Adenocarcinoma 
The active form of vitamin D, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) exerts antiproliferative effects in cancers, including lung adenocarcinoma (AC). CYP24A1 is overexpressed in many cancers and catabolizes 1,25-D3. The purpose of our study was to assess CYP24A1 as a prognostic marker and to study its relevance to antiproliferative activity of 1,25-D3 in lung AC cells.
Experimental Design
Tumors and corresponding normal specimens from 86 patients with lung AC (stages I–III) were available. AffymetrixR array data and subsequent confirmation by quantitative real time-PCR were used to determine CYP24A1 mRNA expression. A subsequent validation set of 101 lung AC was used to confirm CYP24A1 mRNA expression and its associations with clinical variables. The antiproliferative effects of 1,25-D3 were examined using lung cancer cell lines with high as well as low expression of CYP24A1 mRNA.
CYP24A1 mRNA was elevated 8–50 fold in lung AC (compared to normal nonneoplastic lung) and significantly higher in poorly-differentiated cancers. At 5 years of follow-up, the probability of survival was 42% (high CYP24A1, n = 29) versus 81% (low CYP24A1, n = 57) (P = 0.007). The validation set of 101 tumors showed that CYP24A1 was independently prognostic of survival (multivariate Cox model adjusted for age, gender and stage, P = 0.001). A549 cells (high CYP24A1) were more resistant to antiproliferative effects of 1,25-D3 compared with SKLU-1 cells (low CYP24A1).
CYP24A1 overexpression is associated with poorer survival in lung AC. This may relate to abrogation of antiproliferative effects of 1,25-D3 in high CYP24A1 expressing lung AC.
PMCID: PMC3058389  PMID: 21169243
18.  A Phase II Study of Dasatinib in Patients with Chemo-sensitive Relapsed Small Cell Lung Cancer (CALGB 30602) 
SRC is an oncogene with an essential role in the invasiveness and metastasis of solid tumors including small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Dasatinib is a potent inhibitor of SRC as well as other tyrosine kinases. The primary objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of second-line dasatinib in patients with chemo-sensitive (relapse or progression ≥90 days after completing first-line therapy) SCLC.
Patients and Methods:
Patients with measurable disease, performance status (PS) 0-1, no more than 1 prior platinum-based chemotherapy regimen, and adequate hematologic, hepatic, and renal function were eligible. Dasatinib was administered orally at 70 mg twice daily continuously (1 cycle = 21 days) until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Response was determined after every 2 cycles. Patients were followed until disease progression or death. The study was prospectively designed to simultaneously discriminate between complete plus partial response rates of 5% versus 20% and progression-free survival (PFS) rates at 6 weeks of 50% versus 70.7% in 53 evaluable patients with at least 92% power. The study was to be terminated early and declared negative if 1 or less objective response and 14 or fewer instances of PFS ≥ 6 weeks were observed among the initial 27 patients; however, patient accrual continued while the initial 27 patients were evaluated.
Between 4/2007 and 12/2008, 45 patients were enrolled, but one patient never received any protocol therapy and one patient was ineligible: male/female, 17/26; white/black/unknown, 40/2/1; median age, 64 (range, 35-84) years; and PS 0/1, 12/31. No objective response was recorded among the 43 eligible and treated patients. Among the initial 27 patients, only 13 instances of PFS ≥ 6 weeks were observed. With a median follow up time of 7.1 months, median estimated overall survival and PFS times for the 43 eligible and treated patients were 17.0 and 5.9 weeks, respectively. Common reasons for removal of patients from protocol treatment were progressive disease (65%) and adverse events (26%). Toxicity was generally mild to moderate: grade 3 events of >5% frequency included fatigue, and pleural and pericardial effusions; and no grade 4 or 5 events were encountered.
Dasatinib did not reach our specified efficacy criteria in this clinical setting, and the study was terminated.
PMCID: PMC2853764  PMID: 20087228
Phase II; Dasatinib; Small cell lung cancer
19.  Ethnic Differences and Functional Analysis of MET Mutations in Lung Cancer 
African Americans have higher incidence and poorer response to lung cancer treatment compared with Caucasians. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms for the significant ethnic difference are not known. The present study examines the ethnic differences in the type and frequency of MET proto-oncogene (MET) mutation in lung cancer and correlated them with other frequently mutated genes such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), KRAS2, and TP53.
Experimental Design
Using tumor tissue genomic DNA from 141 Asian, 76 Caucasian, and 66 African American lung cancer patients, exons coding for MET and EGFR were PCR amplified, and mutations were detected by sequencing. Mutation carriers were further screened for KRAS2 and TP53 mutations. Functional implications of important MET mutations were explored by molecular modeling and hepatocyte growth factor binding studies.
Unlike the frequently encountered somatic mutations in EGFR, MET mutations in lung tumors were germline. MET-N375S, the most frequent mutation of MET, occurred in 13% of East Asians compared with none in African Americans. The frequency of MET mutations was highest among male smokers and squamous cell carcinoma. The MET-N375S mutation seems to confer resistance to MET inhibition based on hepatocyte growth factor ligand binding, molecular modeling, and apoptotic susceptibility to MET inhibitor studies.
MET in lung cancer tissues contained nonsynonymous mutations in the semaphorin and juxtamembrane domains but not in the tyrosine kinase domain. All the MET mutations were germline. East Asians, African-Americans, and Caucasians had different MET genotypes and haplotypes. MET mutations in the semaphorin domain affected ligand binding.
PMCID: PMC2767337  PMID: 19723643
20.  Metachronous and Synchronous Presentation of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Lung Cancer 
Leukemia research  2009;33(9):1208-1211.
Smoking is associated with both acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and lung cancer. We therefore searched our database for concomitant presentation of AML and lung cancer. Among 775 AML cases and 5225 lung cancer cases presenting to Roswell Park Cancer Institute between the years January 1992 and May 2008 we found 12 (1.5% of AML cases; 0.23% of lung cancer cases) cases (seven metachronous and five synchronous) with AML and lung cancer. All but one patient were smokers. There were no unique characteristic of either AML or lung cancer in these patients. Nine patients succumbed to AML, one died from an unrelated cause while undergoing treatment for AML, one died of lung cancer and one patient is alive after allogeneic transplantation for AML. In summary, this study supports the need for effective smoking cessation programs.
PMCID: PMC2749654  PMID: 19181380
Acute myeloid leukemia; lung cancer; smoking
21.  “Treatment outcomes of different prognostic groups of patients on Cancer and Leukemia Group B trial 39801: Induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiotherapy compared with chemoradiotherapy alone for unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer” 
In Cancer and Leukemia Group B 39801, we evaluated whether induction chemotherapy before concurrent chemoradiotherapy would result in improved survival, and demonstrated no significant benefit from the addition of induction chemotherapy. The primary objective of this analysis was to dichotomize patients into prognostic groups using factors predictive of survival, and to investigate if induction chemotherapy was beneficial in either prognostic group.
Patients and Methods
A Cox proportional hazard model was used to assess the impact on survival of the following factors: (≥ 70 vs. < 70 years), gender, race, stage (IIIB vs. IIIA), hemoglobin (hgb) (< 13 vs. ≥13 g/dl), performance status (PS) (1 vs.0), weight loss (≥5% vs. < 5%), treatment arm, and the interaction between weight loss and hgb.
Factors predictive of decreased survival were weight loss ≥ 5%, age ≥ 70 years, PS of 1, and hgb < 13 g/dl (p<0.05). Patients were classified as having ≥2 poor prognostic factors (n=165) or ≤ 1 factor (n=166). The hazard ratio (HR) for overall survival for the patients with ≥ 2 versus patients with ≤ 1 was 1.88 (95% CI, 1.49 to 2.37; p= < 0.0001); median survival times observed were 9 (95% CI, 8 to 11) and 18 (95% CI, 16 to 24) months, respectively. There was no significant difference in survival between treatment arms in patients with ≥ 2 factors (HR=0.86, 95% CI, 0.63 to 1.17; p=0.34) or ≤1 factor (HR=0.97, 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.35; p=0.87)
There is no evidence that induction chemotherapy is beneficial in either prognostic group.
PMCID: PMC2778485  PMID: 19652624
locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer; combined modality therapy; chemoradiation; CALGB; prognostic factors; induction chemotherapy
22.  Lung Cancer Xenografting Alters MicroRNA Profile but not Immunophenotype 
Lung tumor xenografts grown in immunocompromised mice provide a renewable source of tumor tissue for research and a means to study individualized response to chemotherapy. Critical to this utility is verification that the xenograft cells retain core phenotypic characteristics of the original tumor. We compared eight non-small cell lung carcinomas with their corresponding xenografts grown in mice with severe combined immunodeficiency by way of histology, immunohistochemistry, and microRNA expression profiling. Six of the eight xenografts closely resembled their original tumor by light microscopy. The xenografts also largely retained key immunophenotypic features. With expression profiling of human microRNAs, however, xenografts clustered separately from the original tumors. While this may be partly due to contamination by non-neoplastic human and mouse stroma, the results suggest that miRNA expression may be altered in xenografts and that this possibility should be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC2742962  PMID: 19523437
gene expression; immunophenotype; lung carcinoma; microRNA; xenografts
23.  Nuclear or cytoplasmic expression of survivin: What is the significance? 
Growing evidence suggests that survivin expression in cancer cell nuclei may represent an important prognostic marker to predict disease outcome for cancer patients. Current reports in this research area, however, are inconsistent and propose opposing conclusions regarding the significance and prognostic value of survivin nuclear expression. The aim of our study is to review and discuss the data reported in the original publications. We have also provided new experimental data to support our view regarding the possible reasons for the observed inconsistencies in the literature. This would alert researchers to pay attention to potential pitfalls in the determination of nuclear or cytoplasmic expression of survivin for the future.
PMCID: PMC2829944  PMID: 15578717
survivin expression; cancer; cytoplasmic; nuclear; immunohistochemistry; prognostic marker
24.  Differential expression of survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3 is inversely associated with disease relapse and patient survival in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
Although it was observed that inhibition of the antiapoptotic protein survivin expression in lung cancer cells induces apoptosis, the expression and role of survivin variants (survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3) in lung cancer have not yet been characterized. We analyzed 24 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Surprisingly, our results revealed that high-level expression of survivin-2B is significantly associated with the patient category of “no relapse and alive” (p-value < 0.0001). In contrast, high-level expression of survivin-ΔEx3 is highly associated with the patient category of “relapse and dead” (p-value < 0.0001). Consistent with this observation, exogenous expression of survivin-2B in A549 lung cancer cells inhibited cell growth, disrupted the mitochondria potential, and induced apoptotic cell death, while expression of survivin-ΔEx3 protected the mitochondria potential and facilitated cell survival. These findings provide evidence that survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3 play opposite roles in disease relapse and NSCLC cell survival, which is likely through the differential modulation of mitochondrial potential. Thus, controlling the differential expression of survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3 may represent novel approaches for cancer therapeutics in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2827179  PMID: 15936846
Survivin-2B; Survivin-ΔEx3; Non-small-cell lung cancer
25.  Expression and Mutational Analysis of MET in Human Solid Cancers 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2008;47(12):1025-1037.
MET receptor tyrosine kinase and its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) regulate a variety of cellular functions, many of which can be dysregulated in human cancers. Activated MET signaling can lead to cell motility and scattering, angiogenesis, proliferation, branching morphogenesis, invasion, and eventual metastasis. We performed systematic analysis of the expression of the MET receptor and its ligand HGF in tumor tissue microarrays (TMA) from human solid cancers. Standard immunohistochemistry and a computerized automated scoring system were used. DNA sequencing for MET mutations in both non-kinase and kinase domains was also performed. MET was differentially overexpressed in human solid cancers. The ligand HGF was widely expressed in both tumor, primarily intra-tumoral, and non-malignant tissues. The MET/HGF likely is functional and may be activated in autocrine fashion in vivo. MET and SCF were found to be positively stained in the bronchioalevolar junctions of lung tumors. A number of novel mutations of MET were identified, particularly in the extracellular semaphorin domain and the juxtamembrane domain. MET-HGF pathway can be assayed in TMAs and is often overexpressed in a wide variety of human solid cancers. MET can be activated through overexpression, mutation, or autocrine signaling in malignant cells. Mutations in the non-kinase regions of MET might play important role in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. MET would be an important therapeutic anti-tumor target to be inhibited, and in lung cancer, MET may represent a cancer early progenitor cell marker.
PMCID: PMC2583960  PMID: 18709663

Results 1-25 (28)