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1.  O-6-methylguanine-deoxyribonucleic acid methyltransferase methylation enhances response to temozolomide treatment in esophageal cancer 
World-wide, esophageal cancer is a growing epidemic and patients frequently present with advanced disease that is surgically inoperable. Hence, chemotherapy is the predominate treatment. Cytotoxic platinum compounds are mostly used, but their efficacy is only moderate. Newer alkylating agents have shown promise in other tumor types, but little is known about their utility in esophageal cancer.
We utilized archived human esophageal cancer samples and esophageal cancer cell lines to evaluate O-6-methylguanine-deoxyribonucleic acid methyltransferase (MGMT) hypermethylation status and determined sensitivity to the alkylating drug temozolomide (TMZ). Immunoblot analysis was performed to determine MGMT protein expression in cell lines. To assess and confirm the effect of TMZ treatment in a methylated esophageal cancer cell line in vivo, a mouse flank xenograft tumor model was utilized.
Nearly 71% (12/17) of adenocarcinoma and 38% (3/8) of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) patient samples were MGMT hypermethylated. Out of four adenocarcinoma and nine SCC cell lines tested, one of each histology was hypermethylated. Immunoblot analyses confirmed that hypermethylated cell lines did not express the MGMT protein. In vitro cell viability assays showed the methylated Kyse-140 and FLO cells to be sensitive to TMZ at an IC50 of 52-420 μM, whereas unmethylated cells Kyse-410 and SKGT-4 did not respond. In an in vivo xenograft tumor model with Kyse-140 cells, which are MGMT hypermethylated, TMZ treatment abrogated tumor growth by more than 60%.
MGMT methylation may be an important biomarker in subsets of esophageal cancers and targeting by TMZ may be utilized to successfully treat these patients.
PMCID: PMC3853796  PMID: 24319345
Alkylating agents; deoxyribonucleic acid repair genes; in vivo pre-clinical; esophageal cancer; O-6-methylguanine-deoxyribonucleic acid methyltransferase hypermethylation; response to treatment; temozolomide
2.  Utilisation of a thoracic oncology database to capture radiological and pathological images for evaluation of response to chemotherapy in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001620.
An area of need in cancer informatics is the ability to store images in a comprehensive database as part of translational cancer research. To meet this need, we have implemented a novel tandem database infrastructure that facilitates image storage and utilisation.
We had previously implemented the Thoracic Oncology Program Database Project (TOPDP) database for our translational cancer research needs. While useful for many research endeavours, it is unable to store images, hence our need to implement an imaging database which could communicate easily with the TOPDP database.
The Thoracic Oncology Research Program (TORP) imaging database was designed using the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) platform, which was developed by Vanderbilt University. To demonstrate proof of principle and evaluate utility, we performed a retrospective investigation into tumour response for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) patients treated at the University of Chicago Medical Center with either of two analogous chemotherapy regimens and consented to at least one of two UCMC IRB protocols, 9571 and 13473A.
A cohort of 22 MPM patients was identified using clinical data in the TOPDP database. After measurements were acquired, two representative CT images and 0–35 histological images per patient were successfully stored in the TORP database, along with clinical and demographic data.
We implemented the TORP imaging database to be used in conjunction with our comprehensive TOPDP database. While it requires an additional effort to use two databases, our database infrastructure facilitates more comprehensive translational research.
The investigation described herein demonstrates the successful implementation of this novel tandem imaging database infrastructure, as well as the potential utility of investigations enabled by it. The data model presented here can be utilised as the basis for further development of other larger, more streamlined databases in the future.
PMCID: PMC3488720  PMID: 23103606
Basic Sciences
3.  Tumor genome analysis includes germline genome: Are we ready for surprises? 
We sought to describe the spectrum of potential and confirmed germline genomic events incidentally identified during routine medium-throughput somatic tumor DNA sequencing, and to provide a framework for pre- and post-test consent and counseling for patients and families. Targeted tumor-only next-generation sequencing (NGS) had been used to evaluate for possible druggable genomic events obtained from consecutive new patients with metastatic gastroesophageal, hepatobiliary or colorectal cancer seen at the University of Chicago. A panel of medical oncologists, cancer geneticists and genetic counselors retrospectively grouped these patients (N = 111) based on probability of possessing a potentially inherited mutation in a cancer susceptibility gene, both prior to and after incorporating tumor-only NGS results. High-risk patients (determined from NGS results) were contacted and counseled in person by a genetic counselor (N = 21). When possible and indicated, germline genetic testing was offered. Of 8 evaluable high-risk patients, 7 underwent germline testing. Three (37.5%) had confirmed actionable germline mutations (all in the BRCA2 gene). NGS offers promise, but poses significant challenges for oncologists who are ill prepared to handle incidental findings that have clinical implications for at risk family members. In this relatively small cohort of patients undergoing tumor genomic testing for gastrointestinal malignancies, we incidentally identified 3 BRCA2 mutations carriers. This report underscores the need for oncologists to develop a framework for pre- and post-test communication of risks to patients undergoing routine tumor-only sequencing.
What's new?
High-throughput, ‘next-generation sequencing’ (NGS) allows millions of DNA strands to be sequenced in parallel. NGS is increasingly used to test tumors for mutations that may guide therapy. Sometimes, however, this testing can reveal mutations that are known to be inherited, which means that family members are also at increased risk for cancer. How should this information be presented? This article underscores the need for oncologists to develop a framework for pre- and post-test communication and counseling regarding risk for patients undergoing tumor-only sequencing.
PMCID: PMC4303936  PMID: 25123297
somatic; germline; next generation sequencing; genetic counseling

Results 1-3 (3)