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1.  Detection of tumor ALK status in neuroblastoma patients using peripheral blood 
Cancer Medicine  2015;4(4):540-550.
New protocols based on ALK-targeted therapy by crizotinib or other ALK-targeting molecules have opened for the treatment of patients with neuroblastoma (NB) if their tumors showed mutation and/or amplification of the ALK gene. However, tumor samples are not always available for analysis of ALK mutational status in particular at relapse. Here, we evaluated the ALK mutational status of NB samples by analysis of circulating DNA, using the droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) system. ddPCR assays was developed for the detection of ALK mutations at F1174 and R1275 hotspots found in NB tumors and was applied for the analysis of circulating DNA obtained from 200 μL of serum or plasma samples collected from 114 patients with NB. The mutations F1174L (exon 23 position 3520, T>C and position 3522, C>A) and the mutation R1275Q (exon 25 position 3824, G>A) were detected in circulating DNA. The sensitivity of our test was 100%, 85%, and 92%, respectively, and the specificity was 100%, 91%, and 98%, respectively. In conclusion, the assay that we have developed offers a reliable, noninvasive blood test to assess ALK mutational status at F1174 and R1275 hotspots and should help clinicians to identify patients showing an ALK mutation in particular when no tumor tissue is available.
doi:10.1002/cam4.414
PMCID: PMC4402069  PMID: 25653133
ALK mutation; cell-free DNA; ddPCR; neuroblastoma
2.  Influence of Neuroblastoma Stage on Serum-Based Detection of MYCN Amplification 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2009;53(3):329-331.
Background
MYCN oncogene amplification has been defined as the most important prognostic factor for neuroblastoma, the most common solid extracranial neoplasm in children. High copy numbers are strongly associated with rapid tumor progression and poor outcome, independently of tumor stage or patient age, and this has become an important factor in treatment stratification.
Procedure
By Real Time Quantitative PCR analysis, we evaluated the clinical relevance of circulating MYCN DNA of 267 patients with locoregional or metastatic neuroblastoma in children less than 18 months of age.
Results
For patients in this age group with INSS stage 4 or 4S NB and stage 3 patients, serum-based determination of MYCN DNA sequences had good sensitivity (85%, 83% and 75% respectively) and high specificity (100%) when compared to direct tumor gene determination. In contrast, the approach showed low sensitivity patients with stage 1 and 2 disease.
Conclusion
Our results show that the sensitivity of the serum-based MYCN DNA sequence determination depends on the stage of the disease. However, this simple, reproducible assay may represent a reasonably sensitive and very specific tool to assess tumor MYCN status in cases with stage 3 and metastatic disease for whom a wait and see strategy is often recommended.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22009
PMCID: PMC2857568  PMID: 19301388
Circulating DNA; MYCN amplification; neuroblastoma
3.  Effect of bortezomib on human neuroblastoma: analysis of molecular mechanisms involved in cytotoxicity 
Molecular Cancer  2008;7:50.
Background
Bortezomib, a specific and selective inhibitor of the 26S proteasome with antitumor activity against a wide range of malignancies, has been approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and other cancers. Recently, bortezomib has been identified as an effective inhibitor of neuroblastoma cell growth and angiogenesis.
Results
In the present study, we demonstrate that some neuroblastoma cell lines are actually resistant to bortezomib. We have sought to characterize the main pathway by which proteasome inhibition leads to apoptosis, and to define the mechanism responsible for resistance to bortezomib in neuroblastoma cells. Our results show that SB202190, an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38, enhances the ability of bortezomib to induce apoptosis by preventing the phosphorylation of the heat shock protein (HSP) 27.
Conclusion
This study opens the way to further clinical investigations and suggests a potential benefit of using a combination of bortezomib with an inhibitor of p38 MAPK for the treatment of neuroblastoma relapse.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-7-50
PMCID: PMC2442611  PMID: 18534018

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