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1.  Lymphopenia combined with low TCR diversity (divpenia) predicts poor overall survival in metastatic breast cancer patients 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(4):432-440.
Lymphopenia (< 1Giga/L) detected before initiation of chemotherapy is a predictive factor for death in metastatic solid tumors. Combinatorial T cell repertoire (TCR) diversity was investigated and tested either alone or in combination with lymphopenia as a prognostic factor at diagnosis for overall survival (OS) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. The combinatorial TCR diversity was measured by semi quantitative multi-N-plex PCR on blood samples before the initiation of the first line chemotherapy in a development (n = 66) and validation (n = 67) MBC patient cohorts. A prognostic score, combining lymphocyte count and TCR diversity was evaluated. Univariate and multivariate analyses of prognostic factors for OS were performed in both cohorts. Lymphopenia and severe restriction of TCR diversity called “divpenia” (diversity ≤ 33%) were independently associated with shorter OS. Lympho-divpenia combining lymphopenia and severe divpenia accurately identified patients with poor OS in both cohorts (7.6 and 10.6 vs 24.5 and 22.9 mo). In multivariate analysis including other prognostic clinical factors, lympho-divpenia was found to be an independent prognostic factor in the pooled cohort (p = 0.005) along with lack of HER2 and hormonal receptors expression (p = 0.011) and anemia (p = 0.009). Lympho-divpenia is a novel prognostic factor that will be used to improve quality of MBC patients’ medical care.
PMCID: PMC3382902  PMID: 22754761
divpenia; first line chemotherapy; lymphodivpenia; lymphopenia; metatastatic breast cancer; overall survival
2.  Incidence of Sarcoma Histotypes and Molecular Subtypes in a Prospective Epidemiological Study with Central Pathology Review and Molecular Testing 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e20294.
The exact overall incidence of sarcoma and sarcoma subtypes is not known. The objective of the present population-based study was to determine this incidence in a European region (Rhone-Alpes) of six million inhabitants, based on a central pathological review of the cases.
Methodology/Principal Findings
From March 2005 to February 2007, pathology reports and tumor blocks were prospectively collected from the 158 pathologists of the Rhone-Alpes region. All diagnosed or suspected cases of sarcoma were collected, reviewed centrally, examined for molecular alterations and classified according to the 2002 World Health Organization classification. Of the 1287 patients screened during the study period, 748 met the criteria for inclusion in the study. The overall crude and world age-standardized incidence rates were respectively 6.2 and 4.8 per 100,000/year. Incidence rates for soft tissue, visceral and bone sarcomas were respectively 3.6, 2.0 and 0.6 per 100,000. The most frequent histological subtypes were gastrointestinal stromal tumor (18%; 1.1/100,000), unclassified sarcoma (16%; 1/100,000), liposarcoma (15%; 0.9/100,000) and leiomyosarcoma (11%; 0.7/100,000).
The observed incidence of sarcomas was higher than expected. This study is the first detailed investigation of the crude incidence of histological and molecular subtypes of sarcomas.
PMCID: PMC3149593  PMID: 21826194
3.  Outcome of patients with advanced solitary fibrous tumors: the Centre Léon Bérard experience 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:109.
Solitary Fibrous Tumor is a rare type of soft tissue tumor of intermediate malignant potential which may recur or metastasize in 15-20% of cases. Data on the management of patients with advanced SFT is scarce: chemotherapy has been described as ineffective, while recent data suggests that anti-angiogenic therapies may be more efficient.
We conducted a retrospective study on patients treated for advanced SFT at a single institution: from January 1994 to December 2011, 30 patients were treated in the Centre Léon Bérard for an advanced SFT.
Twenty-three patients received cytotoxic chemotherapy as first-line therapy. Best responses were 2 (9%) partial responses, 13 (57%) stable diseases (SD) and 8 (35%) progressive diseases (PD). Median Progression Free Survival (PFS) was 5.2 (95% CI: 3.2-7.1) months and 9 patients were free of progression at 6 months. Ten patients received an anti-angiogenic treatment (sunitinib or pazopanib) as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th line. Best responses were 5 SD and 5 PD; median PFS was 5.1 months (95% CI 0.7-9.6). Four patients (36%) were progression-free for more than 6 months. Two patients receiving pazopanib were without progression at 6 and 8 months and two patients receiving sunitinib were free of progression at 30 months.
Response rate with standard chemotherapy was low and PFS appear similar between cytotoxic chemotherapy and anti-angiogenic agents.
PMCID: PMC3623626  PMID: 23496996
4.  Long-term outcome and effect of maintenance therapy in patients with advanced sarcoma treated with trabectedin: an analysis of 181 patients of the French ATU compassionate use program 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:64.
The long term outcome of advanced sarcoma patients treated with trabectedin outside of clinical trials and the utility of maintenance treatment has not been reported.
Between 2003 and 2008, patients with advanced sarcoma failing doxorubicin could be treated within a compassionate use program (ATU, Temporary Use Authorization) of trabectedin in France using the standard 3-weekly regimen. Data from 181 patients (55%) were collected from 11 centres and analyzed.
Trabectedin was given in first, second, third or fourth line in metastatic phase in 6%, 37%, 33% and 23% of patients respectively. With a median follow-up of 6 years, median PFS and OS were 3.6 months and 16.1 months respectively. The median number of cycles was 3 (range 1–19). Best response were partial response (PR, n = 18, 10%), stable disease (SD, n = 69, 39%) and progressive disease (PD, n = 83, 46%), non evaluable (NE, n = 9, 5%). Thirty patients (17%) had to be hospitalized for treatment- related side effects. Independent prognostic factors in multivariate analysis (Cox model) were myxoid LPS and line of trabectedin for PFS, and myxoid LPS and retroperitoneal sarcomas for OS. Patients in PR or SD after 6 cycles continuing treatment had a better PFS (median 5.3 vs 10.5 months, p = 0.001) and OS (median 13.9 vs 33.4 months, p = 0.009) as compared to patients who stopped after 6 cycles.
In this compassionate use program, trabectedin yielded similar or better PFS and OS than in clinical trials. Maintenance treatment beyond 6 cycles was associated with an improved survival.
PMCID: PMC3620689  PMID: 23388156
5.  Management of imatinib-associated skin rash in a patient with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor: a case report 
Long-term continuous imatinib is recommended for adult patients with unresectable and/or metastatic KIT+ gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) as long as the patient continues to benefit. In the adjuvant setting, recent findings indicate that patients at considerable risk of recurrence should receive at least 3 years of imatinib. Because imatinib is often administered for prolonged periods, proper management of imatinib-associated adverse events is crucial.
Case report
We report a 56-year-old man with metastatic KIT+ GIST of the liver who had Grade 3 imatinib intolerance (skin rash) when treatment was started. The rash was managed with antihistamine treatment (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate 4 mg per day) and several temporary (up to 2 weeks) dose interruptions. The patient’s skin rash partially improved, and he tolerated gradual reintroduction of imatinib over several months. The patient maintained imatinib 400 mg/d, and tolerated it during the 2 years when he was on antihistamine treatment. After 2 years, the patient continued imatinib therapy without having to take antihistamines. The patient responded according to RECIST 1.1 and Choi to imatinib treatment for his metastatic GIST (partial response). As of September, 2012, the patient has been on imatinib therapy for 131 months and remains progression free.
The results of this case report demonstrated that a patient with metastatic KIT+ GIST who was initially intolerant to imatinib maintained, and responded to imatinib therapy after treatment of an imatinib-associated adverse effect. These results suggest that initial intolerance to imatinib should not necessarily result in treatment discontinuation, as these adverse effects, when managed properly, may be tolerated and may decrease over time.
PMCID: PMC3547745  PMID: 23206868
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor; GIST; Metastasis; Imatinib mesylate; Skin rash
6.  Primary CNS Lymphoma in Children and Adolescents: A Descriptive Analysis from the International Primary CNS Lymphoma Collaborative Group (IPCG) 
To describe the demographic and clinical features and outcomes for children and adolescents with primary CNS lymphoma (PCNSL).
Experimental Design
A retrospective series of children and adolescents with PCNSL was assembled from ten cancer centers in three countries.
Twenty-nine patients with a median age of 14 years were identified. Sixteen (55%) had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) ≥ 1. Front line therapy consisted of chemotherapy (CT) only in twenty patients (69%), while 9 (31%) had CT plus cranial radiotherapy. Most patients received methotrexate (MTX)-based regimens. Overall response rate was 86% (CR 69%, PR 17%). The 2 year PFS and OS rates were 61% and 86%, respectively; the 3 year OS was 82%. Univariate analyses were conducted for age (≤ 14 vs > 14 years), PS (0 or 1 vs >1), deep brain lesions, MTX dose, primary treatment with CT alone, intrathecal chemotherapy and high-dose therapy. Primary treatment with CT alone was associated with better overall response rates with an OR of 0.125 (p=0.02). There was a marginally significant relationship between higher doses of MTX and response (OR =1.5, p = 0.06). ECOG-PS of 0–1 was the only factor associated with better outcome with hazard ratios of 0.136 (p = 0.017) and 0.073(p = 0.033) for PFS and OS, respectively.
This is the largest series collected of pediatric PCNSL. The outcome of children and adolescents appears to be better than in adults. PS of 0–1 is associated with better survival.
PMCID: PMC4058714  PMID: 21224370
7.  Complete Longitudinal Analyses of the Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Phase III Trial of Sunitinib in Patients with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Following Imatinib Failure 
To analyze final long-term survival and clinical outcomes from the randomized phase III study of sunitinib in gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) patients after imatinib failure; to assess correlative angiogenesis biomarkers with patient outcomes.
Experimental Design
Blinded sunitinib or placebo was given daily on a 4-week-on/2-week-off treatment schedule. Placebo-assigned patients could cross over to sunitinib at disease progression/study unblinding. Overall survival (OS) was analyzed using conventional statistical methods and the rank-preserving structural failure time (RPSFT) method to explore crossover impact. Circulating levels of angiogenesis biomarkers were analyzed.
In total, 243 patients were randomized to receive sunitinib and 118 to placebo, 103 of whom crossed over to open-label sunitinib. Conventional statistical analysis showed that OS converged in the sunitinib and placebo arms (median 72.7 versus 64.9 weeks; hazard ratio [HR], 0.876; P = 0.306) as expected, given the crossover design. RPSFT analysis estimated median OS for placebo of 39.0 weeks (HR, 0.505, 95% CI, 0.262–1.134; P = 0.306). No new safety concerns emerged with extended sunitinib treatment. No consistent associations were found between the pharmacodynamics of angiogenesis-related plasma proteins during sunitinib treatment and clinical outcome.
The crossover design provided evidence of sunitinib clinical benefit based on prolonged time to tumor progression during the double-blind phase of this trial. As expected, following crossover there was no statistical difference in OS. RPSFT analysis modeled the absence of crossover, estimating a substantial sunitinib OS benefit relative to placebo. Long-term sunitinib treatment was tolerated without new adverse events.
PMCID: PMC4030710  PMID: 22661587
Phase III; GIST; sunitinib; antiangiogenic; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
8.  Nilotinib: a Novel, Selective Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor 
Seminars in oncology  2011;38(0 1):S3-S9.
The development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was based on the discovery that CML stem and progenitor cells overexpress the abnormal fusion protein kinase BCR-ABL. The prototype TKI, imatinib, selectively inhibits BCR-ABL, as well as several other kinases, including DDR, KIT, PDGFR, and CSF-1R. Although the management of CML improved dramatically with the introduction of imatinib, not all patients benefit from treatment because of resistance or intolerance. Consequently, research efforts have focused on developing more potent TKIs with the ability to circumvent imatinib resistance. Nilotinib, a second-generation oral TKI, was rationally designed based on the crystal structure of imatinib to be highly active against a wide range of imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL mutants and is approved for the treatment of newly diagnosed or imatinib-resistant or -intolerant CML, and has shown superiority over imatinib in first-line in newly diagnosed CML. Furthermore, the activity of nilotinib against KIT and PDGFRα has led to its evaluation in advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). The purpose of this review is to describe the development of nilotinib, providing a structural explanation for the differential activity of nilotinib and imatinib in GIST. Activity of nilotinib against KIT and PDGFR and emerging evidence of differences in cellular uptake between nilotinib and imatinib are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4004101  PMID: 21419934
Nilotinib; AMN107; fusion proteins; BCR-ABL; stem cell factor receptor; receptors; platelet-derived growth factor; gastrointestinal stromal tumors; drug resistance
9.  Efficacy and safety of regorafenib for advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours after failure of imatinib and sunitinib: an international, multicentre, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial (GRID) 
Lancet  2012;381(9863):10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61857-1.
To date, only two agents, imatinib and sunitinib, have shown clinical benefit in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), but almost all metastatic GISTs eventually develop resistance to these agents, resulting in fatal disease progression. This phase 3 trial assessed efficacy and safety of regorafenib in patients with metastatic and/or unresectable GIST progressing after failure of at least imatinib and sunitinib.
Patients were randomised 2:1 to receive either regorafenib 160 mg orally daily or placebo, plus best supportive care in both arms, for the first 3 weeks of each 4-week cycle. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Upon disease progression, patients on placebo could cross over to regorafenib. Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), objective response rate, disease control rate (DCR: rate of durable stable disease lasting for ≥12 weeks plus complete or partial responses), and safety. This trial is registered at (NCT01271712).
From January to August 2011, 240 patients were screened at 57 centres in 17 countries, and 199 patients were randomised to receive regorafenib (n=133) or matching placebo (n=66). Median PFS per independent blinded central review was 4·8 months and 0·9 months, respectively (hazard ratio [HR] 0·27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0·19–0·39; p<0·0001). Following progression, 56/66 patients (84·8%) on placebo crossed over to regorafenib, resulting in no significant difference in OS between study arms (HR 0·77, 95% CI 0·42–1·41; p=0·199). A best response of partial response or stable disease was observed in 101/133 patients (75·9%) on regorafenib and 23/66 patients (34·8%) on placebo. DCR was 52·6% (70/133 patients) and 9·1% (6/66 patients), respectively. Drug-related adverse events were reported in 130 (98·5%) of 132 regorafenib patients and 45 (68·2%) of 66 placebo patients. The most common grade ≥3 regorafenib-related adverse events were hypertension (31/132, 23·5%), hand–foot skin reaction (26/132, 19·7%), and diarrhoea (7/132, 5·3%).
Regorafenib significantly improved PFS and DCR, compared with placebo, in patients with advanced GIST progressing after failure of at least imatinib and sunitinib.
PMCID: PMC3819942  PMID: 23177515
11.  Giant-cell tumor of bone, anti-RANKL therapy 
BoneKEy Reports  2012;1:149.
Giant-cell tumor of bone (GCTB) is a rare osteolytic tumor of the bone. Although classified as a benign tumor, GCTB is characterized by local aggressiveness and risk of local recurrence. In addition, GTCB can in some cases lead to the development of so-called 'benign' chest metastases. Surgical resection by intralesional curettage with high-speed burring and polymethylmethacrylate cement is the standard treatment for resectable tumors. In cases of metastatic or unresectable disease (when planned surgical procedure is impossible or would result in severe morbidity), medical treatments such as cytotoxic chemotherapy or interferon-α have limited efficacy. Bisphosphonates have been proposed as a therapeutic option to reduce osteoclast activity. In bone, various pathological states may result from an imbalance in the RANK (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B)/RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand)/OPG (osteoprotegerin) pathway. Involvement of the RANKL pathway in pathogenesis of GCTB was first proposed in 2000. Denosumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that binds and inhibits RANKL, thereby preventing the activation of the RANK pathway. As it showed the possibility to counteract osteoclast activation in GCTB and prevent the known physiopathological role of RANKL, denosumab has been under evaluation in the clinic as a treatment for GCTB since 2005. Results of a first Phase II trial demonstrate the therapeutic potential of denosumab to inhibit progressive bone destruction and metastatic progression in patients with unsalvageable giant-cell tumor (GCT), and have also provided key insights into the biology of GCT. Denosumab is currently a therapeutic option for patients with unresectable GCTB but its place in the global therapeutic strategy has not yet been defined.
PMCID: PMC3868728  PMID: 24363925
12.  Randomized Multicenter and Stratified Phase II Study of Gemcitabine Alone Versus Gemcitabine and Docetaxel in Patients with Metastatic or Relapsed Leiomyosarcomas: A Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre le Cancer (FNCLCC) French Sarcoma Group Study (TAXOGEM study) 
The Oncologist  2012;17(9):1213-1220.
This randomized multicenter phase II study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of single-agent gemcitabine versus gemcitabine plus docetaxel as second-line therapy for patients with metastatic or relapsed leiomyosarcoma. Patients were stratified by the leiomyosarcoma's site of origin (uterine versus nonuterine).
This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of single-agent gemcitabine versus gemcitabine plus docetaxel as second-line therapy in patients with uterine and nonuterine leiomyosarcoma (LMS).
Patients and Methods.
Patients had metastatic or unresectable LMS and had received one prior anthracycline-based regimen. A total of 90 patients received either single-agent gemcitabine (arm A; gemcitabine, 1,000 mg/m2 i.v. for 100 minutes on days 1, 8, and 15 of a 28-day cycle) or a combination of gemcitabine and docetaxel (arm B; gemcitabine, 900 mg/m2 i.v. for 90 minutes on days 1 and 8, plus docetaxel, 100 mg/m2 i.v. for 1 hour on day 8 of a 21-day cycle with lenograstim). The primary endpoint was the objective response rate.
The objective response rates were 19% and 24% in arm A (gemcitabine) and arm B (gemcitabine plus docetaxel), respectively, for patients with uterine LMS. For patients with nonuterine LMS, the objective response rates were 14% and 5% for arms A and B, respectively. The median progression-free survival times for arms A and B were 5.5 months and 4.7 months, respectively, for patients with uterine LMS. For patients with nonuterine LMS, the median progression-free survival times were 6.3 months and 3.8 months for arms A and B, respectively. One toxic death occurred in arm B.
Both single-agent gemcitabine and gemcitabine plus docetaxel were found to be effective second-line therapies for leiomyosarcomas, with a 3-month progression-free survival rate of 40% for LMS with both uterine and nonuterine sites of origin. Single-agent gemcitabine yielded results similar to those of gemcitabine plus docetaxel in this trial, but patients using single-agent gemcitabine experienced less toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3448415  PMID: 22907974
Leiomyosarcoma; Chemotherapy; Docetaxel; Gemcitabine
13.  ICOS is associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer as it promotes the amplification of immunosuppressive CD4+ T cells by plasmacytoid dendritic cells 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(3):e23185.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) that infiltrate primary breast tumors impair patient survival. The ICOS-mediated interaction between tumor-infiltrating CD4+ T cells and pDCs leads to the amplification of Tregs and interleukin-10 secretion. Importantly, ICOS+ cell infiltration correlates with adverse patient prognosis, identifying ICOS as a new target for cancer immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3661154  PMID: 23802069
breast cancer; ICOS; immunosuppression; regulatory T cells; plasmacytoid dendritic cells
14.  Sorafenib for Patients with Advanced Angiosarcoma: A Phase II Trial from the French Sarcoma Group (GSF/GETO) 
The Oncologist  2012;17(2):260-266.
The antitumor activity of sorafenib in patients with metastatic or advanced angiosarcomas was investigated in a phase II trial. Sorafenib showed limited antitumor activity in pretreated patients only, but tumor control was of short duration.
Angiosarcomas account for <2% of all soft tissue sarcomas. This subtype is one of the most aggressive forms of soft tissue sarcoma. The prognosis for angiosarcoma patients in the advanced phase remains poor with current cytotoxic agents (progression-free survival [PFS] time of ∼4 months and overall survival [OS] time of ∼8 months). We investigated the antitumor activity of sorafenib in patients with metastatic or advanced angiosarcomas in a phase II trial.
We conducted a stratified phase II trial. The primary endpoint was the progression-free rate (PFR) at 9 months according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. A two-stage design (optimal Simon design) was used. Patients received sorafenib (400 mg twice daily) for 9 months until unacceptable toxicity or tumor progression. Central pathological and radiological reviews were performed. Data on stratum A (superficial angiosarcoma) and stratum B (visceral angiosarcoma) are currently available. This trial is registered with (identifier, NCT00874874).
Strata A and B recruited 26 and 15 patients, respectively. The median age was 63 years (range, 31–82 years), with 17 male and 24 female patients. Fourteen cases arose in irradiated fields. Thirty patients (73.0%) had been pretreated with conventional chemotherapy. No unexpected toxicity occurred. The PFR at 9 months was 3.8% in stratum A and 0.0% in stratum B. The median PFS times were 1.8 months and 3.8 months, respectively, whereas the median OS times were 12.0 months and 9.0 months, respectively. No responses were observed in chemotherapy-naïve patients, whereas a 40% tumor control rate and 23% response rate were observed in the pretreated population. In this cohort, no activating mutation of the KDR gene (exons 15, 16, 24) was detected.
Sorafenib showed limited antitumor activity in pretreated patients only, for both visceral and superficial angiosarcoma, but tumor control was of short duration.
PMCID: PMC3286175  PMID: 22285963
Angiosarcoma; Sorafenib; Antiangiogenic agents
15.  Plasmacytoid dendritic cells deficient in IFNα production promote the amplification of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells and are associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer patients 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(1):e22338.
The accumulation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) within breast carcinoma lesions is associated with a poor clinical outcome. We demonstrated that the deleterious impact of tumor-associated pDCs (TApDCs) is due to their impaired capacity to produce Type I interferon, which in turn potentiates their ability to sustain the proliferation of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells.
PMCID: PMC3583914  PMID: 23482834
breast cancer; immunosuppression; plasmacytoid dendritic cells; regulatory T cells; tolerance
16.  Molecular characterisation of gastrointestinal stromal tumours in a South African population 
Oncology Letters  2012;5(1):155-160.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal tumours of the digestive tract. Pathogenesis is linked to activating mutations identified in two proto-oncogenes, v-kit Hardy/Zuckerman 4 feline sarcoma viral oncogene homologue KIT (KIT) and the platelet-derived growth factor α (PDGFRα). In addition, these mutations affect response to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In the present study, we report on the molecular characterisation of GISTs in the South African population. Tumour DNA was extracted from 46 GIST samples, followed by cycle sequencing of KIT exons 11, 13 and 17 and PDGFRα exons 12, 14 and 18. Fragment length analysis was used to detect a 6-bp duplication in KIT exon 9. Wild-type duplications were analysed further by PCR and sequencing of additional KIT and PDGFRα exons was performed. Overall, 78.3% of the samples had a mutation in KIT or PDGFRα. Of these, mutations were detected in KIT exon 11 (88.9%), PDGFRα exon 18 (8.3%) and KIT exon 9 (2.8%). Mutations varied from simple substitutions and duplications to large deletions (some with nucleotide insertions) resulting in missense mutations. In addition, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms were detected in 17 patients, one of which appears novel. The incidence of mutations in KIT exon 11 and PDGFRα exon 18 is consistent with the literature, however, the low incidence of KIT exon 9 mutations detected was unexpected. In contrast to previous western and Asian studies, this mutation appears to be rare in the South African population. The present study contributes to the molecular understanding of GISTs in the South African population.
PMCID: PMC3525459  PMID: 23255912
gastrointestinal stromal tumours; KIT mutations; PDGFRα mutations; South Africa
17.  Pazopanib for the treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma 
Pazopanib is a multikinase inhibitor which potently inhibits the activity of major receptor tyrosine kinases, including vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-a, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-a, and c-Kit. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2009 in the United States for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma, pazopanib has been tested in advanced or metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma. Unlike other tyrosine kinase inhibitors, a statistically significant efficacy in phase II but also in randomized phase III studies has been shown. In comparison with sunitinib or sorafenib, pazopanib has a similar toxicity profile and is generally well tolerated. This review details the development of this new therapeutic class in the treatment of metastatic soft-tissue sarcomas.
PMCID: PMC3508654  PMID: 23204874
soft-tissue sarcoma; pazopanib; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
18.  Innate immune recognition of breast tumor cells mediates CCL22 secretion favoring Treg recruitment within tumor environment 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(5):759-761.
Regulatory T cells (Treg) have been reported of poor prognosis for overall survival in primary breast tumors (BT). As CCL22 plays a major role in Treg recruitment within primary BT we deciphered the mechanisms involved in the CCL22 production by breast epithelial tumor cells and propose herein the major role of their innate immune recognition in this production.
PMCID: PMC3429586  PMID: 22934274
regulatory T cells; CCL22; NK cells; macrophages; breast cancer; breast epithelial cells; tolerance
19.  Inhibition of Chondrosarcoma Growth by mTOR Inhibitor in an In Vivo Syngeneic Rat Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e32458.
Chondrosarcomas are the second most frequent primary malignant type of bone tumor. No effective systemic treatment has been identified in advanced or adjuvant phases for chondrosarcoma. The aim of the present study was to determine the antitumor effects of doxorubicin and everolimus, an mTOR inhibitor on chondrosarcoma progression.
Methods and Findings
Doxorubin and/or everolimus were tested in vivo as single agent or in combination in the rat orthotopic Schwarm chondrosarcoma model, in macroscopic phase, as well as with microscopic residual disease. Response to everolimus and/or doxorubicin was evaluated using chondrosarcoma volume evolution (MRI). Histological response was evaluated with % of tumor necrosis, tumor proliferation index, metabolism quantification analysis between the treated and control groups. Statistical analyses were performed using chi square, Fishers exact test. Doxorubicin single agent has no effect of tumor growth as compared to no treatment; conversely, everolimus single agent significantly inhibited tumor progression in macroscopic tumors with no synergistic additive effect with doxorubicin. Everolimus inhibited chondrosarcoma proliferation as evaluated by Ki67 expression did not induce the apoptosis of tumor cells; everolimus reduced Glut1 and 4EBP1 expression. Importantly when given in rats with microscopic residual diseases, in a pseudo neoadjuvant setting, following R1 resection of the implanted tumor, everolimus significantly delayed or prevented tumor recurrence.
MTOR inhibitor everolimus blocks cell proliferation, Glut1 expression and HIF1a expression, and prevents in vivo chondrosarcoma tumor progression in both macroscopic and in adjuvant phase post R1 resection. Taken together, our preclinical data indicate that mTOR inhibitor may be effective as a single agent in treating chondrosarcoma patients. A clinical trial evaluating mTOr inhibitor as neo-adjuvant and adjuvant therapy in chondrosarcoma patients is being constructed.
PMCID: PMC3384598  PMID: 22761648
20.  Plasmacytoid dendritic cells infiltrating ovarian cancer are associated with poor prognosis 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(3):380-382.
Using two different and complementary approaches (flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry) on two independent cohorts of ovarian cancer patients, we found that accumulation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) in tumors is associated with early relapse. This deleterious effect of tumor-associated pDC was evident when they are present in cancer epithelium but not in lymphoid aggregates.
PMCID: PMC3382863  PMID: 22737622
immune tolerance; ovarian cancer; plasmacytoid dendritic cell; prognosis; progression-free survival
21.  Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor: Current Management and Recent Findings 
Sarcoma  2012;2012:714986.
Desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) is a rare and highly aggressive mesenchymal tumor that develops in the abdominal cavity of young men adults. Patients typically present with symptoms of abdominal sarcomatosis. Diagnosis is based on histological analysis of biopsies which typically show small round blue cells in nests separated by an abundant desmoplastic stroma. DSRCT is associated with a unique chromosomal translocation t(11:22) (p 13; q 12) that involves the EWSR1 and WT1 genes. The prognosis is particularly poor; median survival ranges from 17 to 25 months, largely due to the presentation of the majority of patients with metastatic disease. Management of DSRCT remains challenging and current schemes lack a significant cure rate despite the use of aggressive treatments such as polychemotherapy, debulking surgery and whole abdominal radiation. Several methods are being evaluated to improve survival: addition of chemotherapy and targeted therapies to standard neoadjuvant protocol, completion of surgical resection with HIPEC, postoperative IMRT, treatment of hepatic metastases with [90Y]Yttrium microsphere liver embolization.
PMCID: PMC3329898  PMID: 22550424
22.  Quality of Life and Utility in Patients with Metastatic Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma: The Sarcoma Treatment and Burden of Illness in North America and Europe (SABINE) Study 
Sarcoma  2012;2012:740279.
The aim of the study was to assess health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among metastatic soft tissue (mSTS) or bone sarcoma (mBS) patients who had attained a favourable response to chemotherapy. We employed the EORTC QLQ-C30, the 3-item Cancer-Related Symptoms Questionnaire, and the EQ-5D instrument. HRQoL was evaluated overall and by health state in 120 mSTS/mBS patients enrolled in the SABINE study across nine countries in Europe and North America. Utility was estimated from responses to the EQ-5D instrument using UK population-based weights. The mean EQ-5D utility score was 0.69 for the pooled patient sample with little variation across health states. However, patients with progressive disease reported a clinically significant lower utility (0.56). Among disease symptoms, pain and respiratory symptoms are common. This study showed that mSTS/mBS is associated with reduced HRQoL and utility among patients with metastatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3329673  PMID: 22550425
23.  miRNA Profiling: How to Bypass the Current Difficulties in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sarcomas 
Sarcoma  2011;2011:460650.
Sarcomas are divided into a group with specific alterations and a second presenting a complex karyotype, sometimes difficult to diagnose or with few therapeutic options available. We assessed if miRNA profiling by TaqMan low density arrays could predict the response of undifferentiated rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) and osteosarcoma to treatment. We showed that miRNA signatures in response to a therapeutic agent (chemotherapy or the mTOR inhibitor RAD-001) were cell and drug specific on cell lines and a rat osteosarcoma model. This miRNA signature was related to cell or tumour sensitivity to this treatment and might be not due to chromosomal aberrations, as revealed by a CGH array analysis of rat tumours. Strikingly, miRNA profiling gave promising results for patient rhabdomyosarcoma, discriminating all types of RMS: (Pax+) or undifferentiated alveolar RMS as well as embryonal RMS. As highlighted by these results, miRNA profiling emerges as a potent molecular diagnostic tool for complex karyotype sarcomas.
PMCID: PMC3061295  PMID: 21437224
24.  A Phase I Study of Single-Agent Nilotinib (AMN107) or in Combination with Imatinib in Patients with Imatinib-Resistant Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors 
To study the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics (PK) of the selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor nilotinib as a single-agent or in combination with imatinib in patients with advanced imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
Experimental Design
A Phase I intercohort dose-escalation trial was performed in patients who received either (1) single-agent nilotinib 400 mg bid or (2) escalating doses of nilotinib (200 mg qd, 400 mg qd, or 400 mg bid) plus imatinib 400 mg bid (10- and 14-hour interval daily), or (3) nilotinib 400 mg bid plus imatinib 400 mg qd. Safety, PK and tumor assessments were performed.
Oral clearance (CL/F) of nilotinib was similar across the combination groups (mean CL/F=19.1-25.6 L/h), and lower than in the single-agent cohort (mean CL/F=35.6 L/h). A linear relationship between nilotinib daily dose and peak concentration (Cmax) was observed in the combination cohorts. Observed adverse events (AEs) were mostly non-hematological. Frequently reported AEs were rash (40%), fatigue (38%), abdominal pain (36%) and nausea (36%). Severe AEs (grade 3 or 4) included abdominal pain (13%) and rash (9%), the latter mainly with the combination. Thirty-eight patients had stable disease and two patients achieved partial response with a median progression-free survival of 134 days for the entire group.
Nilotinib alone or in combination with imatinib was well tolerated overall and showed clinical activity in imatinib-resistant GIST patients. This Phase I trial identified single-agent nilotinib 400 mg bid or combined with imatinib 400 mg qd as possible Phase II doses for further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2861356  PMID: 19723647
nilotinib; imatinib; gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST); Phase I; pharmacokinetics (PK)
25.  Efficacy and safety of motesanib, an oral inhibitor of VEGF, PDGF, and Kit receptors, in patients with imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumors 
This multicenter phase 2 study assessed the tolerability and efficacy of motesanib, an oral inhibitor of Kit, platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), and vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR), in patients with imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
Patients with advanced GIST who failed imatinib mesylate after ≥8 weeks of treatment with ≥600 mg daily received motesanib 125 mg orally once daily continuously for 48 weeks or until unacceptable toxicity or disease progression occurred. The primary endpoint was confirmed objective tumor response per RECIST and independent review. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival (PFS), time to progression (TTP); objective response by 18FDG-PET and by changes in tumor size and/or density (Choi criteria); pharmacokinetics and safety.
In the patients evaluable for response (N = 102), the objective response rate was 3%; 59% of patients achieved stable disease, with 14% achieving durable stable disease ≥24 weeks; 38% had disease progression. Higher objective response rates were observed per 18FDG-PET (N = 91) (30%) and Choi criteria (41%). The median PFS was 16 weeks (95% CI = 14–24 weeks); the median TTP was 17 weeks (95% CI = 15–24 weeks). The most common motesanib treatment-related grade 3 adverse events included hypertension (23%), fatigue (9%), and diarrhea (5%). Motesanib did not accumulate with daily dosing.
In this study of patients with imatinib-resistant GIST, motesanib treatment resulted in acceptable tolerability and modest tumor control as evident in the proportion of patients who achieved stable disease and durable stable disease.
PMCID: PMC3123696  PMID: 20838998
Angiogenesis; GIST; Imatinib; Kit receptor; Motesanib; VEGF receptor

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