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1.  “Triple positive” early breast cancer: an observational multicenter retrospective analysis of outcome 
Oncotarget  2016;7(14):17932-17944.
We recently found that trastuzumab benefit may be lower in a small subset of early breast cancer (BC) patients (pts) with tumors expressing high levels of both hormonal receptors (HRs), i.e. triple positive (TP). To better investigate the role of HRs in HER2 positive BC, we retrospectively identified 872 TP BC pts treated with adjuvant chemotherapy alone (cohort A-366 pts), or plus trastuzumab (cohort B-506 pts). Relapse-free-survival (RFS) and breast-cancer-specific-survival (BCSS) were evaluated. Trastuzumab improved RFS and BCSS in all the subsets analyzed, but the effect on BCSS in tumors expressing both HRs in >30% of cells (TP30), and even on RFS in tumors with both HRs expressed in >50% of cells (TP50) was not significant. Distinct patterns of relapse were observed in TP50 and no-TP50 tumors, the former showing low and constant risk in the first 5 years, a late increase beyond 5 years and modest trastuzumab effect. Trastuzumab effect tended to disappear in pts whose tumors expressed ER in >50% of cells. Multivariate analysis of RFS confirmed a significant interaction between trastuzumab and ER expression, with benefit confined to pts whose tumors expressed ER in ≤50% of cells.
Our data suggest that the pattern of relapse of TP tumors with high HRs is similar to that of “luminal”, HER2 negative tumors, without clear benefit from adjuvant trastuzumab, which remains the standard treatment even in TP tumors. Confirmatory findings on the extent to which quantitative expression of HRs may impact clinical behavior of HER2 positive BC are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4951261  PMID: 26910921
triple positive; adjuvant breast cancer; trastuzumab; chemotherapy; hormonal receptors
2.  Maintenance bevacizumab beyond first-line paclitaxel plus bevacizumab in patients with Her2-negative hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer: efficacy in combination with hormonal therapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:482.
Data on efficacy of bevacizumab (B) beyond first-line taxane -including regimen (BT) as first-line treatment are lacking. Although preclinical results that anti-angiogenic agents combined with hormonal therapy (HT) could be active, no clinical data exist about combination of maintenance Bevacizumab (mBev) with HT.
Thirty-five patients who experienced a response after first-line BT, were given mBev at the dose of 15 mg/kg every 3 weeks. Among 30 pts with hormonal receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC), 20 (66.6%) received HT with mBev (mHTBev). Objective of the study was the outcome and safety of mBev and in two groups of patients receiving HT or not.
Complete response and partial response was achieved/maintained in 4 (11.4%) and 13 (37.1%) patients, respectively (overall response rate: 48.5%). Clinical benefit was obtained on 23 patients (65.7%). Median of mBev PFS and clinical benefit were 6.8 months (95% CI: 0.8-12.7) and 17.1 months (95% CI :12.2-21.9), respectively. Median PFS of patients who received mHTBev was longer than mBev without HT (13 months and 4.1 months, respectively, p = 0.05). The most common severe toxicities were proteinuria (11.4%) and hypertension (8.5%). No additional toxicity was observed with HTBev.
Maintenance bevacizumab with or without anti-hormonal therapy in patients with hormone receptor positive breast cancer is tolerable and associated with long-term clinical outcome; these results encourage the strategy of prolonging bevacizumab until progression in combination with anti-hormonal agents.
PMCID: PMC3488474  PMID: 23083011
Maintenance Bevacizumab; Antiangiogenic agents; HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer
3.  PI3K inhibition results in enhanced HER signaling and acquired ERK dependency in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer 
Oncogene  2011;30(22):2547-2557.
There is a strong rationale to therapeutically target the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in breast cancer since it is highly deregulated in this disease and it also mediates resistance to anti-HER2 therapies. However, initial studies with rapalogs, allosteric inhibitors of mTORC1, have resulted in limited clinical efficacy probably due to the release of a negative regulatory feedback loop that triggers AKT and ERK signaling. Since activation of AKT occurs via PI3K, we decided to explore whether PI3K inhibitors prevent the activation of these compensatory pathways. Using HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells as a model we observed that PI3K inhibitors abolished AKT activation. However, PI3K inhibition resulted in a compensatory activation of the ERK signaling pathway. This enhanced ERK signaling occurred as a result of activation of HER family receptors as evidenced by induction of HER receptors dimerization and phosphorylation, increased expression of HER3 and binding of adaptor molecules to HER2 and HER3. The activation of ERK was prevented with either MEK inhibitors or anti-HER2 monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Combined administration of PI3K inhibitors with either HER2 or MEK inhibitors resulted in decreased proliferation, enhanced cell death and superior antitumor activity compared to single agent PI3K inhibitors. Our findings indicate that PI3K inhibition in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer activates a new compensatory pathway that results in ERK dependency. Combined anti-MEK or anti-HER2 therapy with PI3K inhibitors may be required in order to achieve optimal efficacy in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer. This approach warrants clinical evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3107390  PMID: 21278786
PI3K/mTOR; HER2; feedback; ERK; BEZ235
4.  Magnitude of risks and benefits of the addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients: Meta-regression analysis of randomized trials 
Although the addition of bevacizumab significantly improves the efficacy of chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer, regulatory concerns still exist with regard to the magnitude of the benefits and the overall safety profile.
A literature-based meta-analysis to quantify the magnitude of benefit and safety of adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients was conducted. Meta-regression and sensitivity analyses were also performed to identify additional predictors of outcome and to assess the influence of trial design.
Five trials (3,841 patients) were gathered. A significant interaction according to treatment line was found for progression-free survival (PFS, p = 0.027); PFS was significantly improved for 1st line (Hazard Ratio, HR 0.68, p < 0.0001), with a 1-yr absolute difference (AD) of 8.4% (number needed to treat, NNT 12). A non-significant trend was found in overall survival (OS), and in PFS for 2nd line. Responses were improved with the addition of bevacizumab, without interaction between 1st line (Relative Risk, RR 1.46, p < 0.0001) and 2nd line (RR 1.58, p = 0.05). The most important toxicity was hypertension, accounting for a significant AD of 4.5% against bevacizumab (number needed to harm, NNH 22). Other significant, although less clinically meaningful, adverse events were proteinuria, neurotoxicity, febrile neutropenia, and bleeding. At the meta-regression analysis for 1st-line, more than 3 metastatic sites (p = 0.032), no adjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.00013), negative hormonal receptor status (p = 0.009), and prior anthracyclines-exposure (p = 0.019), did significantly affect PFS.
Although with heterogeneity, the addition of bevacizumab to 1st-line chemotherapy significantly improves PFS, and overall activity. Hypertension should be weighted with the overall benefit on the individual basis.
PMCID: PMC3120715  PMID: 21569417
5.  Brain metastases from solid tumors: disease outcome according to type of treatment and therapeutic resources of the treating center 
To evaluate the therapeutic strategies commonly employed in the clinic for the management of brain metastases (BMs) and to correlate disease outcome with type of treatment and therapeutic resources available at the treating center.
Four Cancer centres participated to the survey. Data were collected through a questionnaire filled in by one physician for each centre.
Clinical data regarding 290 cancer patients with BMs from solid tumors were collected. Median age was 59 and 59% of patients had ≤ 3 brain metastases. A local approach (surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery) was adopted in 31% of patients. The local approach demonstrated to be superior in terms of survival compared to the regional/systemic approach (whole brain radiotherapy and chemotherapy, p = <.0001 for survival at 2 years). In the multivariate analysis local treatment was an independent prognostic factor for survival. When patients were divided into 2 groups whether they were treated in centers where local approaches were available or not (group A vs group B respectively, 58% of patients with ≤ 3 BMs in both cohorts), more patients in group A received local strategies although no difference in time to brain progression at 1 year was observed between the two groups of patients.
In clinical practice, local strategies should be integrated in the management of brain metastases. Proper selection of patients who are candidate to local treatments is of crucial importance.
PMCID: PMC3033846  PMID: 21244695
6.  Treatment of recurrent malignant gliomas with fotemustine monotherapy: impact of dose and correlation with MGMT promoter methylation 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:101.
In recurrent malignant gliomas (MGs), a high rate of haematological toxicity is observed with the use of fotemustine at the conventional schedule (100 mg/m2 weekly for 3 consecutive weeks followed by triweekly administration after a 5-week rest period). Also, the impact of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status on fotemustine activity has never been explored in the clinical setting.
40 patients with recurrent pretreated MG were identified as being treated with fotemustine at doses ranging from 65 mg/m2 to 100 mg/m2. Patients were classified into 3 groups according to the dose of fotemustine received, from the lowest dosage received in group A, to the highest in group C. Analysis of MGMT promoter methylation in tumor tissue was successfully performed in 19 patients.
Overall, 20% of patients responded to treatment, for a disease control rate (DCR, responses plus stabilizations) of 47.5%. Groups A and B experienced a response rate of 40% and 26.5% respectively, while the corresponding value for group C was 10%. Out of 19 patients, MGMT promoter was found methylated in 12 cases among which a DCR of 66.5% was observed. All 7 patients with unmethylated MGMT promoter were progressive to fotemustine.
Low-dose fotemustine at 65–75 mg/m2 (induction phase) followed by 75–85 mg/m2 (maintenance phase) has an activity comparable to that of the conventional schedule. By determination of the MGMT promoter methylation status patients might be identified who are more likely to benefit from fotemustine chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2667532  PMID: 19335893

Results 1-6 (6)