Publications by authors named "Rolf Stahel"

156 Publications

Prognostic Impact of KRAS G12C Mutation in Patients With NSCLC: Results From the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape Project.

J Thorac Oncol 2021 06 26;16(6):990-1002. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

European Thoracic Oncology Platform, Bern, Switzerland.

Introduction: KRAS mutations, the most frequent gain-of-function alterations in NSCLC, are currently emerging as potential predictive therapeutic targets. The role of KRAS-G12C (Kr_G12C) is of special interest after the recent discovery and preclinical analyses of two different Kr_G12C covalent inhibitors (AMG-510, MRTX849).

Methods: KRAS mutations were evaluated in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections by a microfluidic-based multiplex polymerase chain reaction platform as a component of the previously published European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape 003 Multiplex Mutation study, of clinically annotated, resected, stage I to III NSCLC. In this study, -Kr_G12C mutation prevalence and its association with clinicopathologic characteristics, molecular profiles, and postoperative patient outcome (overall survival, relapse-free survival, time-to-relapse) were explored.

Results: KRAS gene was tested in 2055 Lungscape cases (adenocarcinomas: 1014 [49%]) with I or II or III stage respective distribution of 53% or 24% or 22% and median follow-up of 57 months. KRAS mutation prevalence in the adenocarcinoma cohort was 38.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 35.0% to 41.0%), with Kr_G12C mutation representing 17.0% (95% CI: 14.7% to 19.4%). In the "histologic-subtype" cohort, Kr_G12C prevalence was 10.5% (95% CI: 9.2% to 11.9%). When adjusting for clinicopathologic characteristics, a significant negative prognostic effect of Kr_G12C presence versus other KRAS mutations or nonexistence of KRAS mutation was identified in the adenocarcinoma cohort alone and in the "histologic-subtype" cohort. For overall survival in adenocarcinomas, hazard ratio (HR) is equal to 1.39 (95% CI: 1.03 to 1.89, p = 0.031) and HR is equal to 1.32 (95% CI: 1.03 to 1.69, p = 0.028) (both also significant in the "histologic-subtype" cohort). For time-to-relapse, HR is equal to 1.41 (95% CI: 1.03 to 1.92, p = 0.030). In addition, among all patients, for relapse-free survival, HR is equal to 1.27 (95% CI: 1.04 to 1.54, p = 0.017).

Conclusions: In this large, clinically annotated stage I to III NSCLC cohort, the specific Kr_G12C mutation is significantly associated with poorer prognosis (adjusting for clinicopathologic characteristics) among adenocarcinomas and in unselected NSCLCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2021.02.016DOI Listing
June 2021

The Impact on Outcome by Adding Bevacizumab to Standard Induction Chemotherapy Prior to Mesothelioma Surgery: A Retrospective Single Center Analysis.

Front Oncol 2020 13;10:588563. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Objectives: Adding bevacizumab, an anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), to platinum-based chemotherapy/pemetrexed in 1 line treatment of advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), significantly improved overall survival. However, increased high grade bleeding after operation was reported in patients with colorectal cancer who previously received bevacizumab. In the present analysis, we assessed for the first time the impact of adding bevacizumab to induction chemotherapy prior to surgery for mesothelioma patients.

Methods: Two hundred twenty-seven MPM patients, intended to be treated with induction chemotherapy followed by surgery at the University Hospital of Zurich between 2002 and December 2018, were included in the present analysis. After propensity score matching for gender, histology and age (1:3 ratio), data from 88 patients were analyzed. Sixty-six patients underwent induction chemotherapy (with cis-/carboplatin and pemetrexed: control group) alone and 22 patients underwent induction chemotherapy with the addition of bevacizumab (bevacizumab group) prior macroscopic complete resection (MCR). Perioperative and long-term outcome variables were analyzed.

Results: Patients undergoing combination treatment with bevacizumab had a significantly better response than with chemotherapy alone as assessed by modified RECIST (p=0.046). Intraoperative complications in the bevacizumab group (one patient), or in the control group (three patients) were not related to intraoperative bleeding. Postoperative transfusion of blood products occurred in a larger amount in the control group than in the bevacizumab group (p=0.047). Overall survival was not statistically different between both groups.

Conclusion: These initial data demonstrate that MCR can be performed safely after triple induction chemotherapy with bevacizumab without increased intra- and postoperative bleeding complications. Response rates were significantly improved by the addition of bevacizumab.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.588563DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693632PMC
November 2020

Progression-Free and Overall Survival for Concurrent Nivolumab With Standard Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy in Locally Advanced Stage IIIA-B NSCLC: Results From the European Thoracic Oncology Platform NICOLAS Phase II Trial (European Thoracic Oncology Platform 6-14).

J Thorac Oncol 2021 02 12;16(2):278-288. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Department of Radiation Oncology (Maastro), Maastricht University Medical Center, GROW School for Oncology, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Introduction: The NICOLAS study is the first completed single-arm phase II trial in stage III NSCLC evaluating hierarchically first the safety and then the efficacy of adding nivolumab concurrently to standard definitive concurrent chemoradiotherapy. The safety end point was reported earlier; here, we present the efficacy results.

Methods: Stage IIIA-B unresectable treatment-naive patients with NSCLC received three cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy and concurrent radiotherapy (66 Gy, 33 fractions), along with nivolumab (360 mg, 3-weekly). Nivolumab was continued as monotherapy consolidation for a maximum of 1 year (480 mg, 4-weekly). The primary end point was 1-year progression-free survival (PFS), with a target improvement compared with historical data of at least 15%, from 45% to 60%. To test this efficacy hypothesis, a sample size of 74 assessable patients provided a power of 83% with a one-sided alpha of 5%.

Results: A total of 79 patients were enrolled with a median follow-up of 21.0 months (interquartile range: 15.8-25.8 mo) for the primary PFS analysis. A total of 35.4% of the patients had stage IIIA, and 63.3% had stage IIIB disease. The 1-year PFS was 53.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 42.0%-64.0%) and the median PFS was 12.7 months (95% CI: 10.1-22.8 mo). Because 37 PFS events occurred in the first year posttreatment among the first 74 assessable patients, a 1-year PFS rate of at least 45% could not be rejected (p = 0.23). At an extended follow-up (median 32.6 mo), 37 deaths have been recorded, with a median overall survival (OS) of 38.8 months (95% CI: 26.8 mo-not estimable) and a 2-year OS rate of 63.7% (95% CI: 51.9%-73.4%). The OS of patients with stage IIIA disease was found to be significantly higher than patients with stage IIIB disease, with a 2-year OS of 81% and 56%, respectively (p = 0.037).

Conclusions: PFS and OS are arithmetically higher in studies involving the same population. However, on the basis of the formal hierarchical efficacy analysis, we could not reject that the 1-year PFS rate is at least 45%.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2020.10.129DOI Listing
February 2021

Verification of a Blood-Based Targeted Proteomics Signature for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020 10 30;29(10):1973-1982. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

James Thoracic Center, James Cancer Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio.

Background: We have verified a mass spectrometry (MS)-based targeted proteomics signature for the detection of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) from the blood.

Methods: A seven-peptide biomarker MPM signature by targeted proteomics in serum was identified in a previous independent study. Here, we have verified the predictive accuracy of a reduced version of that signature, now composed of six-peptide biomarkers. We have applied liquid chromatography-selected reaction monitoring (LC-SRM), also known as multiple-reaction monitoring (MRM), for the investigation of 402 serum samples from 213 patients with MPM and 189 cancer-free asbestos-exposed donors from the United States, Australia, and Europe.

Results: Each of the biomarkers composing the signature was independently informative, with no apparent functional or physical relation to each other. The multiplexing possibility offered by MS proteomics allowed their integration into a single signature with a higher discriminating capacity than that of the single biomarkers alone. The strategy allowed in this way to increase their potential utility for clinical decisions. The signature discriminated patients with MPM and asbestos-exposed donors with AUC of 0.738. For early-stage MPM, AUC was 0.765. This signature was also prognostic, and Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a significant difference between high- and low-risk groups with an HR of 1.659 (95% CI, 1.075-2.562; = 0.021).

Conclusions: Targeted proteomics allowed the development of a multianalyte signature with diagnostic and prognostic potential for MPM from the blood.

Impact: The proteomic signature represents an additional diagnostic approach for informing clinical decisions for patients at risk for MPM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0543DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7541795PMC
October 2020

Prognostic value of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and their association with PD-L1 expression and DNA repair protein RAD51 in patients with resected non-small cell lung carcinoma.

Lung Cancer 2020 09 23;147:30-38. Epub 2020 Jun 23.

Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Cantonal Hospital, CH-9007, St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Objectives: DNA repair proteins have emerged as potential predictors for immunotherapy response alongside PD-L1 expression, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and tumor mutational burden. We analyzed expression of PD-L1, TILs count and expression of the homologous recombination (HR) protein RAD51, as potential prognostic factors in patients with resected non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).

Materials And Methods: Discovery set included 96 NSCLC patients from the University Hospital Olomouc (Czech Republic) and a replication set included 1109 NSCLC patients from University Hospital Zurich (Switzerland). Tissue microarrays (TMAs) were stained using the automated staining platform Ventana Benchmark Ultra with antibodies against RAD51,CD3, CD8, CD68 and PD-L1.

Results: Loss of nuclear RAD51 protein was associated with high TILs (r=-0.25, p = 0.01) and PD-L1 status (10.6 vs. 2.4 %, p = 0.012) in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemo-/radiotherapy (CT/RT). In silico analysis from the TCGA data set showed a negative relationship between RAD51 mRNA expression and CD45 (r = ‒0.422, p < 0.0001), CD68 (r = ‒0.326, p < 0.001), CD3 (r = ‒0.266, p < 0.001) and CD8 (r = ‒0.102, p < 0.001). RAD51 low/PD-L1 high patients were clustered as separate entity in the replication set and in TCGA dataset. High TILs status was significantly associated with improved OS in the replication set (unadjusted HR = 0.57, 95 % CI 0.42-0.76, p < 0.001). Similar results have been seen for CD3, CD8 and CD68.

Conclusions: In conclusion, RAD51 nuclear loss is weakly associated with increased TILs and high PD-L1 at the time of surgery in curatively resected NSCLC and after prior exposure to neoadjuvant chemo- or radiotherapy. Both high TILs and RAD51 nuclear loss were confirmed as independent prognostic factors in curatively resected NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2020.06.025DOI Listing
September 2020

A Randomized Open-Label Phase III Trial Evaluating the Addition of Denosumab to Standard First-Line Treatment in Advanced NSCLC: The European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) SPLENDOUR Trial.

J Thorac Oncol 2020 10 18;15(10):1647-1656. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Spanish lung cancer group (Grupo Español de Cancer de Pulmón (GECP)), Barcelona, Spain; Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.

Introduction: Receptor activator of NF-kB ligand stimulates NF-kB-dependent cell signaling and acts as the primary signal for bone resorption. Retrospective analysis of a large trial comparing denosumab versus zoledronic acid in bone metastatic solid tumors suggested significant overall survival (OS) advantage for patients with lung cancer with denosumab (p = 0.01). The randomized open-label phase III SPLENDOUR trial was designed to evaluate whether the addition of denosumab to standard first-line platinum-based doublet chemotherapy improved OS in advanced NSCLC.

Methods: Patients with stage IV NSCLC were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to either chemotherapy with or without denosumab (120 mg every 3-4 wks), stratified by the presence of bone metastases (at diagnosis), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, histology, and region. To detect an OS increase from 9 to 11.25 months (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.80), 847 OS events were required. The trial closed prematurely owing to decreasing accrual rate.

Results: A total of 514 patients were randomized, with 509 receiving one or more doses of the assigned treatment (chemotherapy: 252, chemotherapy-denosumab: 257). The median age was 66.1 years, 71% were men, and 59% were former smokers. Bone metastases were identified in 275 patients (53%). Median OS (95% confidence interval [CI]) was 8.7 (7.6-11.0) months in the control arm versus 8.2 (7.5-10.4) months in the chemotherapy-denosumab arm (HR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.78-1.19; one-sided p = 0.36). For patients with bone metastasis, HR was 1.02 (95% CI: 0.77-1.35), whereas for those without, HR was 0.90 (95% CI: 0.66-1.23). Adverse events grade 3 or greater were observed in 40.9%, 5.2%, 8.7% versus 45.5%, 10.9%, 10.5% of patients. Conditional power for OS benefit was less than or equal to 10%.

Conclusions: Denosumab was well-tolerated without unexpected safety concerns. There was no OS improvement for denosumab when added to chemotherapy in the intention-to-treat population and the subgroups with and without bone metastases. Our data do not provide evidence of a clinical benefit for denosumab in patients with NSCLC without bone metastases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2020.06.011DOI Listing
October 2020

Clinical Case Presentation and Discussion During ESO-ESMO Masterclass: a 10-Year Interactive Educational Experience.

J Cancer Educ 2020 Apr 17. Epub 2020 Apr 17.

European School of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

In this article, we report on the clinical case presentations that have been delivered during the ESO or ESO-ESMO Masterclasses in Clinical Oncology in the last 10 years. Masterclasses have been held in three different geographical continents including Europe, Middle East, and Latin America, in which participants had to submit a clinical case and present it either in front of a tumor board (multidisciplinary-like sessions) or in small groups. Clinical case presentation is a unique part of the educational program preparing young oncologists to present and discuss their own patients with distinguished experts. In each Masterclass, between 40 and 55 clinical cases-depending on the number of participants-are presented. All presentations are assessed and evaluated by faculty members as well as by the rest of the participants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13187-020-01744-yDOI Listing
April 2020

Current models, challenges and best practices for work conducted between European academic cooperative groups and industry.

ESMO Open 2020 03;5(2)

Public Policy, European Society for Medical Oncology, Lugano, Switzerland.

Background: The academia-industry interface is important, and, despite challenges that inevitably occur, bears the potential for positive synergies to emerge. Perceived barriers to wider collaboration in academia-industry oncology research in Europe need to be addressed, current academic cooperative group and industry models for collaboration need to be discussed, and a common terminology to facilitate understanding of both sectors' concerns needs to be established with an eye towards improving academia-industry partnerships on clinical trials for the benefit of patients with cancer.

Methodology: CAREFOR (Clinical Academic Cancer Research Forum), a multi-stakeholder platform formed to improve the direction for academic clinical trials in the field of oncology in Europe, formed the CAREFOR-Industry Working Group comprised of experienced professionals from European academic cooperative groups joined by industry representatives selected based on their activities in the area of medical oncology. They jointly discussed academic cooperative groups, clinical trials conducted between academic cooperative groups and industry, examples of successful collaborative models, common legal negotiation points in clinical trial contracts, data access, and principles of interaction.

Results: Four principles of interaction between the academia and industry are proposed: (1) clarify the roles and responsibilities of all partners involved in the study, (2) involve legal teams from an early stage; (3) acknowledge that data is an important output of the study, (4) agree on the intent of the trial prior to its start.

Conclusions: The CAREFOR-Industry Working Group describes current models, challenges, and effective strategies for academia-industry research in Europe with an eye towards improving academia-industry partnerships on clinical trials for patients with cancer. Current perceived challenges are explained, and future opportunities/recommendations for improvement are described for the areas of most significant impact. Challenges are addressed from both the academic and industry perspectives, and principles of interaction for the optimal alignment between academia and industry in selected areas are proposed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/esmoopen-2019-000628DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7103800PMC
March 2020

Changing the education paradigm in oncology: ESO masterclass, 17 years of continuous success.

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2020 Feb 1;146:102798. Epub 2019 Aug 1.

European School of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

In this review, we summarize the history of the 41 Masterclasses in Clinical Oncology (MCO) organized by ESO or ESO-ESMO during the last 17 years. MCOs have been held in five different geographical regions including: a) Central Europe, b) Eastern Europe and Balkans, c) Baltic and Euroasia, d) Arab World and Southern European Countries and e) Latin America. More than 2.000 young oncologists have attended and more than 250 distinguished faculty members have actively participated. The program exposes students to sessions covering all major tumors ("big killers") and to spotlights updating information on various important cancers and related topics. Participants are able to present their own clinical case in front of a tumor board or in parallel group sessions and are evaluated by a Learning Assessment Test (LAT) at the end of the event. They are asked to discuss the programme, using a questionnaire on the goals, quality and organization of the MCOs, which has been very highly scored by most of the participants. The Masterclass in Clinical Oncology has become the major educational event of ESO, intending to educate young oncologists from various countries within or outside Europe, providing an up-to-date interactive program based on solid evidence for all presented topics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.critrevonc.2019.07.022DOI Listing
February 2020

ESO-ESMO Masterclass in Clinical Oncology: Analysis and Evaluation of the Learning Self-Assessment Test.

J Cancer Educ 2021 Jun;36(3):556-560

European School of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

Masterclass in Clinical Oncology (MCO) represents the "key educational event" of European School of Oncology's (ESO) teaching program. MCO in collaboration with European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is a multidisciplinary and clinical oriented educational event offered mainly to young oncologists worldwide. It provides full immersion in oncology with clinical case presentations and a Learning Self-Assessment Test (LSAT).LSAT is consisting of 45 multiple choice questions on an electronic platform referring to the material taught during the MCO. Three questions related to their topics are requested in advance from each faculty member. The major intentions of LSAT are the following: (a) the learning reflection of the massive information given during 4-5 days of intensive teaching and (b) to offer the opportunity to the participants to prepare themselves for their National Boards or for ESMO examination.In this article, we are analyzing and evaluating the results of LSAT from the ESO-ESMO Central European MCOs. We used the information of Central European MCOs for analysis due to the homogeneity of the available data. We assessed the level of participants' knowledge in relation to their oncology specialty or to their country of origin and the level of the quality of faculty teaching.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13187-019-01664-6DOI Listing
June 2021

Evolution and Clinical Impact of EGFR Mutations in Circulating Free DNA in the BELIEF Trial.

J Thorac Oncol 2020 03 5;15(3):416-425. Epub 2019 Dec 5.

Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute and Hospital (IGTP), Badalona, Barcelona, Spain.

Introduction: Longitudinal evaluation of mutations in blood samples was a prespecified secondary objective in the BELIEF trial of erlotinib and bevacizumab in advanced EGFR-positive NSCLC. Here, we report the testing results and explore the correlation of EGFR status in blood with clinical outcomes.

Methods: Blood samples were prospectively collected from patients at baseline, at response evaluation, and at progression and sent to a central laboratory. Circulating free DNA was purified and EGFR mutations were analyzed with a validated real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay.

Results: EGFR exon 19/21 mutations were detected in 55 of 91 baseline blood samples (60.4%) and correlated with a significantly worse progression-free survival: 11.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.0-14.8 mo) for the patients who were positive versus 22.9 months (95% CI: 9.5-33.9 mo) for those who were negative (log-rank p = 0.0020). Among the 74 samples at response, exon 19/21 mutations were detected only in three samples (4.1%). In contrast, 29 of 58 patients (50.0%) were exon 19/21 positive at progression and showed a significantly worse median overall survival of 21.7 months (95% CI: 17.0-30.9 mo) compared with 37.4 months (95% CI: 22.6-53.1 mo) for those who were negative (log-rank p = 0.011). Blood samples at the three time points were available for 48 patients. Of those, among 14 exon 19/21 EGFR-negative at presentation, 13 (93%) were persistently negative for the sensitizing mutations after progression and the p.T790M could only be detected in the blood of two patients.

Conclusions: Longitudinal testing of EGFR mutations in blood can offer valuable clinical information. In patients of the BELIEF study, detection of EGFR mutations in circulating free DNA at presentation was associated with shorter progression-free survival, whereas positivity at progression correlated with shorter overall survival. Finally, patients negative in blood at presentation were almost invariably negative at relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2019.11.023DOI Listing
March 2020

Programmed death-ligand 1 expression influenced by tissue sample size. Scoring based on tissue microarrays' and cross-validation with resections, in patients with, stage I-III, non-small cell lung carcinoma of the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape cohort.

Mod Pathol 2020 05 18;33(5):792-801. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

PD-L1, as assessed by immunohistochemistry, is a predictive biomarker for immuno-oncology treatment in lung cancer. Different scoring methods have been used to assess its status, resulting in a wide range of positivity rates. We use the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape non-small cell lung carcinoma cohort to explore this issue. PD-L1 expression was assessed via immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays (up to four cores per case), using the DAKO 28-8 immunohistochemistry assay, following a two-round external quality assessment procedure. All samples were analyzed under the same protocol. Cross-validation of scoring between tissue microarray and whole sections was performed in 10% randomly selected samples. Cutoff points considered: ≥1, 50 (primarily), and 25%. At the two external quality assessment rounds, tissue microarray scoring agreement rates between pathologists were: 73% and 81%. There were 2008 cases with valid immunohistochemistry tissue microarray results (50% all cores evaluable). Concordant cases at 1, 25, and 50% were: 85, 91, and 93%. Tissue microarray core results were identical for 70% of cases. Sensitivity of the tissue microarray method for 1, 25, and 50% was: 80, 78, and 79% (specificity: 90, 95, 98%). Complete agreement between tissue microarrays and whole sections was achieved for 60% of the cases. Highest sensitivity rates for 1% and 50% cutoffs were detected for higher number of cores. Underestimation of PD-L1 expression on small samples is more common than overestimation. We demonstrated that classification of PD-L1 on small biopsy samples does not represent the overall expression of PD-L1 in all non-small cell cancer carcinoma cases, although the majority of cases are 'correctly' classified. In future studies, sampling more and larger biopsies, recording the biopsy size and tumor load may permit further refinement, increasing predictive accuracy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41379-019-0383-9DOI Listing
May 2020

Functional Genomic Screen in Mesothelioma Reveals that Loss of Function of BRCA1-Associated Protein 1 Induces Chemoresistance to Ribonucleotide Reductase Inhibition.

Mol Cancer Ther 2020 02 16;19(2):552-563. Epub 2019 Oct 16.

Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Lungen- und Thoraxonkologie Zentrum, University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.

Loss of function of BRCA1-associated protein 1 (BAP1) is observed in about 50% of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) cases. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this aspect could be exploited for targeted therapy. A genetically engineered model was established expressing either functional or nonfunctional BAP1, and whole-genome siRNA synthetic lethality screens were performed assessing differentially impaired survival between the two cell lines. The whole-genome siRNA screen unexpectedly revealed 11 hits (FDR < 0.05) that were more cytotoxic to -proficient cells. Two actionable targets, ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) catalytic subunit M1 (RRM1) and RNR regulatory subunit M2 (RRM2), were validated. In line with the screen results, primary mesothelioma ( ) overexpressing C91A (catalytically dead mutant) was more resistant to RNR inhibition, while knockdown in the -proficient cell lines rescued the cells from their vulnerability to RNR depletion. Gemcitabine and hydroxyurea were more cytotoxic in -proficient cell line-derived spheroids compared with deficient. Upregulation of RRM2 upon gemcitabine and hydroxyurea treatment was more profound in mut/del cell lines. Increased lethality mediated by RNR inhibition was observed in NCI-H2452 cells reconstituted with -WT but not with C91A. Upregulation of RRM2 in NCI-H2452- WT spheroids was modest compared with control or C91A mutant. Together, we found that BAP1 is involved in the regulation of RNR levels during replication stress. Our observations reveal a potential clinical application where BAP1 status could serve as predictive or stratification biomarker for RNR inhibition-based therapy in MPM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-19-0356DOI Listing
February 2020

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) as Salvage Therapy for Oligorecurrent Pleural Mesothelioma After Multi-Modality Therapy.

Front Oncol 2019 26;9:961. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Therapy options for patients with oligoprogressive malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) are limited. Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) may be a promising therapeutic option, as it delivers a localized ablative dose of radiation and therefore balances efficacy and treatment related toxicities. The intent of this retrospective analysis was to evaluate the feasibility of SBRT for limited pleural recurrences. This retrospective single-institution study is based on the 21 consecutive patients treated with hypofractionated radiotherapy for oligoprogressive MPM. Clinical and radiological data was collected at regular follow-up visits including toxicity, local control and survival. At primary diagnosis, 57% of the patients presented with stage III disease. Initial treatment of MPM consisted of induction chemotherapy ( = 12) prior to a macroscopic complete resection ( = 18). Three patients received additional intracavitary chemotherapy and another three patients were treated with chemotherapy alone without another treatment at the time of first diagnosis. A total of 50 lesions in recurrent MPM were treated with SBRT. The median number of radiotherapy fractions was 5 (range 3-20) with a median dose per fraction of 5 Gy (range 2.5-12.5 Gy). The median total treatment dose was 30 Gy (20-50 Gy) with a median prescription isodose line (IDL) of 65% (65-100%). Median follow-up of all patients from diagnosis was 28 months (range 7-152 months). Analyzing all lesions separately, the 12-months-local control from SBRT was 73.5%. The median progression free survival (PFS) after SBRT was 6 months (range 0-21 months) and the median OS from first first SBRT was 29 months (range 0-61 months). Only one patients experienced above Grade 3 toxicities. This analysis demonstrates the feasibility of a SBRT approach for oligorecurrent MPM. SBRT was well-tolerated even after multiple repetitions and local control was high with a promising median OS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2019.00961DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6775182PMC
September 2019

Intracavitary cisplatin-fibrin chemotherapy after surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma: A phase I trial.

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2019 Aug 22. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Objectives: Intracavitary chemotherapy is a promising concept to improve local tumor control for malignant pleural mesothelioma with reported high morbidity rates. We have demonstrated that administration of cisplatin loaded to fibrin increased local drug concentration and reduced systemic toxicity in preclinical models. We present a phase I trial of intracavitary cisplatin-fibrin after surgical tumor resection.

Methods: A total of 12 patients (75% International Mesothelioma Interest Group stage III-IV) were treated with 4 dose levels of intracavitary cisplatin-fibrin (11-44 mg/m body surface area) in a dose-escalating design. Cisplatin-fibrin was sprayed on the resected surfaces after pleurectomy/decortication. Blood and tissue samples were taken to assess toxicity and pharmacokinetics. Patients were regularly followed up.

Results: No dose-limiting toxicity was observed. Major morbidity occurred in 4 patients (33%). The 30-day and 90-day mortality were both 0%. Of 80 adverse events, 9 were classified serious, but none of these were related to study treatment. Local cisplatin concentration in the chest wall tissue was high at all dose levels (median, 46.3 μg/g [12-133 μg/g]). In serum, median cisplatin area under the concentration time curve values were always below renal toxicity levels. The median overall survival with 95% confidence interval was 21 months (10-31 months). In 1 patient with epithelioid malignant pleural mesothelioma (International Mesothelioma Interest Group stage I), there was no sign of relapse 48 months after treatment (44 mg/m body surface area).

Conclusions: The administration of intracavitary cisplatin-fibrin is safe with favorable pharmacokinetics. Although most patients had advanced disease, long-term outcomes are comparable to other multimodal concepts. A confirmation phase II trial is ongoing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcvs.2019.07.073DOI Listing
August 2019

Underweight and weight loss are predictors of poor outcome in patients with brain metastasis.

J Neurooncol 2019 Nov 30;145(2):339-347. Epub 2019 Sep 30.

Department of Neurology and Brain Tumor Center, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 26, 8091, Zurich, Switzerland.

Purpose: Overweight may be associated with favorable outcome whereas tumor cachexia may be associated with worse outcome in patients with metastatic cancer. Here we evaluate the association of abnormal body mass index and weight change with outcome in patients with brain metastasis.

Methods: Patients with a diagnosis of brain metastasis treated at the University Hospital Zurich (n = 703) were assessed for associations of body mass index, weight change, comorbidities and survival.

Results: Compared with patients with normal body mass index of 18.5-24.9 kg/m and a median overall survival of 9 months (95% confidence interval 7.5-10.5), overall survival was inferior in patients with body mass index < 18.5 kg/m (overall survival 6 months, 95% confidence interval 1.6-10.3, p = 0.04), but superior in patients with body mass index > 25 kg/m (overall survival 13 months, 95% confidence interval 11.0-15.0; p = 0.033). We report a median relative weight loss of 5% within the first 6 months of diagnosis of brain metastasis (95% confidence interval 3.3-6.5), and reduction exceeding the median was associated with an unfavorable outcome (weight loss < 5% 22.0 months, 95% confidence interval 19.2-24.8; weight loss > 5% 14.0 months, 95% confidence interval 11.9-16.).

Conclusion: High body mass index is associated with better, and underweight with worse outcome in patients with brain metastasis. Conversely, weight loss above median may predict poor outcome. Future studies need to address whether vigorous treatment of tumor cachexia, e.g. by specific nutrition management, might improve outcome of patients with brain metastasis. In contrast, regimens associated with weight loss such as ketogenic diet may be detrimental.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11060-019-03300-1DOI Listing
November 2019

Impact of delayed and prolonged fixation on the evaluation of immunohistochemical staining on lung carcinoma resection specimen.

Virchows Arch 2019 Aug 1;475(2):191-199. Epub 2019 Jul 1.

Department of Pathology, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Pre-analytical factors, such as fixation time, influence morphology of diagnostic and predictive immunohistochemical staining, which are increasingly used in the evaluation of lung cancer. Our aim was to investigate if variations in fixation time influence the outcome of immunohistochemical staining in lung cancer. From lung resections, specimen with tumor size bigger than 4 cm, 10 samples were obtained: 2 were put through the standard fixation protocol, 5 through the delayed, and 3 through the prolonged fixation protocol. After paraffin embedding, tissue microarrays (TMAs) were made. They were stained with 20 antibodies and scored for quality and intensity of staining. Samples with delay in fixation showed loss of TMA cores on glass slides and deterioration of tissue quality leading to reduction in the expression of CK 7, Keratin MNF116, CAM 5.2, CK 5/6, TTF-1, C-MET, Napsin A, D2-40, and PD-L1. Prolonged fixation had no influence on the performance of immunohistochemical stains. Delay of fixation negatively affects the expression of different immunohistochemical markers, influencing diagnostic (cytokeratins) and predictive (PD-L1) testing. These results emphasize the need for adequate fixation of resection specimen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00428-019-02595-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647403PMC
August 2019

Pattern of failure after adjuvant radiotherapy following extrapleural pneumonectomy of pleural mesothelioma in the SAKK 17/04 trial.

Radiother Oncol 2019 09 25;138:121-125. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Postoperative radiotherapy after extrapleural pneumonectomy of malignant pleural mesothelioma was investigated in the randomized phase II trial SAKK17/04. The relapse rate within the high and/or low-dose PTV without previous distant failure was 24%, the isolated in-field-relapse rate within the PTVs was 5% and the distant relapse rate outside of the PTVs was 81%. Clinical outcome was mainly determined by distant disease progression outside of the radiation field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2019.05.024DOI Listing
September 2019

miR-625-3p and lncRNA GAS5 in Liquid Biopsies for Predicting the Outcome of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Patients Treated with Neo-Adjuvant Chemotherapy and Surgery.

Noncoding RNA 2019 Jun 17;5(2). Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zürich, 8091 Zürich, Switzerland.

Combining neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and surgery is part of multimodality treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), but not all patients benefit from this approach. In this exploratory analysis, we investigated the prognostic value of circulating miR-625-3p and lncRNA GAS5 after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. 36 MPM patients from the SAKK 17/04 trial (NCT00334594), whose blood was available before and after chemotherapy were investigated. RNA was isolated from plasma and reverse transcribed into cDNA. miR-16-5p and β-actin were used as a reference gene for miR-625-3p and GAS5, respectively. After exclusion of samples due to hemolysis or RNA degradation, paired plasma samples from 32 patients before and after chemotherapy were further analyzed. Quantification of miR-625-3p levels in all 64 samples revealed a bimodal distribution and cloning and sequencing of miR-625-3p qPCR product revealed the presence of miR-625-3p isomiRs. Relative change of the circulating miR-625-3p and GAS5 levels after chemotherapy showed that increased circulating miR-625-3p and decreased GAS5 was significantly associated with disease progression (Fisher's test, = 0.0393). In addition, decreased levels of circulating GAS5 were significantly associated with shorter overall and progression-free survival. Our exploratory analysis revealed a potential value of circulating non-coding RNA for selection of patients likely to benefit from surgery after platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ncrna5020041DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6631473PMC
June 2019

A retrospective cohort study of PD-L1 prevalence, molecular associations and clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC: Results from the European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP) Lungscape Project.

Lung Cancer 2019 05 15;131:95-103. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Department of Respiratory Oncology, University Hospital KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Introduction: The PD-L1 biomarker is an important factor in selecting patients with non-small cell lung cancer for immunotherapy. While several reports suggest that PD-L1 positivity is linked to a poor prognosis, others suggest that PD-L1 positive status portends a good prognosis.

Methods: PD-L1 positivity prevalence, assessed via immunohistochemistry (IHC) on tissue microarrays (TMAs), and its association with clinicopathological characteristics, molecular profiles and patient outcome- Relapse-free Survival (RFS), Time-to-Relapse (TTR) and Overall Survival (OS)- is explored in the ETOP Lungscape cohort of stage I-III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Tumors are considered positive if they have ≥1/5/25/50% neoplastic cell membrane staining.

Results: PD-L1 expression was assessed in 2182 NSCLC cases (2008 evaluable, median follow-up 4.8 years, 54.6% still alive), from 15 ETOP centers. Adenocarcinomas represent 50.9% of the cohort (squamous cell: 42.4%). Former smokers are 53.7% (current: 31.6%, never: 10.5%). PD-L1 positivity prevalence is present in more than one third of the Lungscape cohort (1%/5% cut-offs). It doesn't differ between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell histologies, but is more frequently detected in higher stages, never smokers, larger tumors (1/5/25% cut-offs). With ≥1% cut-off it is significantly associated with IHC MET overexpression, expression of PTEN, EGFR and KRAS mutation (only for adenocarcinoma). Results for 5%, 25% and 50% cut-offs were similar, with MET being significantly associated with PD-L1 positivity both for AC (p < 0.001, 5%/25%/50% cut-offs) and SCC (p < 0.001, 5% & 50% cut-offs and p = 0.0017 for 25%). When adjusting for clinicopathological characteristics, a significant prognostic effect was identified in adenocarcinomas (adjusted p-values: 0.024/0.064/0.063 for RFS/TTR/OS 1% cut-off, analogous for 5%/25%, but not for 50%). Similar results obtained for the model including all histologies, but no effect was found for the squamous cell carcinomas.

Conclusion: PD-L1 positivity, when adjusted for clinicopathological characteristics, is associated with a better prognosis for non-metastatic adenocarcinoma patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2019.03.012DOI Listing
May 2019

Afatinib in NSCLC With HER2 Mutations: Results of the Prospective, Open-Label Phase II NICHE Trial of European Thoracic Oncology Platform (ETOP).

J Thorac Oncol 2019 06 27;14(6):1086-1094. Epub 2019 Feb 27.

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Département d'Oncologie, Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Introduction: Mutations in erb-b2 receptor tyrosine kinase 2 (HER2) oncogene are observed in approximately 3% of lung adenocarcinomas or mixed tumors with adenocarcinoma component. Activity of various biologically distinct HER2 inhibitors, including the pan-HER inhibitor afatinib, has been reported in several retrospective trials or small series in advanced pretreated NSCLC with HER2 mutations. We report the first prospective evaluation of afatinib for the treatment of this molecularly defined entity.

Methods: NICHE, a single-arm phase II trial using a two-stage Simon's design, explored the potential of afatinib to control disease in pretreated patients with advanced NSCLC harboring HER2 exon 20 mutations. A total of 13 patients entered the trial and were treated with afatinib 40 mg/day until tumor progression or lack of tolerability.

Results: The first-stage stopping boundary was crossed when five of nine patients did not achieve disease control at 12 weeks. The accrual into the trial was stopped with total 13 patients enrolled, with 7 (53.8%) achieving disease control at 12 weeks. Except for 1 patient with early death, progression was documented for all patients, with median progression-free survival of 15.9 weeks (95% confidence interval: 6.0-35.4), and median overall survival of 56.0 weeks (95% confidence interval: 16.3- upper limit not estimable). The toxicity profile was in the expected range.

Conclusions: Afatinib did not show the expected potential for disease control in NSCLC. However, more than half of the patients in the full cohort achieved disease control at 12 weeks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2019.02.017DOI Listing
June 2019

Current Status and Future Perspectives on Neoadjuvant Therapy in Lung Cancer.

J Thorac Oncol 2018 Dec 27;13(12):1818-1831. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Thoracic Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

This Review Article provides a multi-stakeholder view on the current status of neoadjuvant therapy in lung cancer. Given the success of oncogene-targeted therapy and immunotherapy for patients with advanced lung cancer, there is a renewed interest in studying these agents in earlier disease settings with the opportunity to have an even greater impact on patient outcomes. There are unique opportunities and challenges with the neoadjuvant approach to drug development. To achieve more rapid knowledge turns, study designs, endpoints, and definitions of pathologic response should be standardized and harmonized. Continued dialogue with all stakeholders will be critical to design and test novel induction strategies, which could expedite drug development for patients with early lung cancer who are at high risk for metastatic recurrence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2018.09.017DOI Listing
December 2018

Multimodal Treatment in Operable Stage III NSCLC: A Pooled Analysis on Long-Term Results of Three SAKK trials (SAKK 16/96, 16/00, and 16/01).

J Thorac Oncol 2019 01 26;14(1):115-123. Epub 2018 Sep 26.

Department of Medical Oncology, Cantonal Hospital of Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland.

Introduction: Long-term data on outcomes of operable stage III NSCLC are scarce.

Methods: Individual patient data from 368 patients enrolled in one phase III and two phase II trials were pooled and outcomes after applying the eighth (denoted with an asterisk [*]) versus the sixth TNM staging edition were compared. Patients were treated with either preoperative radiotherapy following 3 cycles of induction chemotherapy (trimodal) or neoadjuvant chemotherapy alone (bimodal).

Results: With the sixth version, the 5- and 10-year survival rates were 38% and 28% for stage IIIA, respectively, and 36% and 24% for stage IIIB, respectively. Factors associated with improved 5-year overall survival were younger age, R0 resection, and pathologic complete remission (pCR) (p = 0.043, p < 0.001 and p = 0.009). With the eighth TNM staging version, 162 patients were moved from stage IIIA to IIIB*. The 5- and 10-year survival rates were 41% and 29% for stage IIIA*, respectively, and 35% and 27% for stage IIIB* patients, respectively. There was no difference in the bi- versus trimodal group with regard to median overall survival (28 months [95% confidence interval (CI): 21-39 months] and 37 months [95% CI: 24-51 months], p = 0.9) and event-free survival (12 months [95% CI: 9-15 months] versus 13 months [95% CI: 10-22 months], p = 0.71).

Conclusions: We showed favorable 10-year survival rates of 29% and 27% in stage IIIA* and IIIB*, respectively. Younger age, R0 resection, and pathologic complete response were associated with improved long-term survival. Outcomes using the sixth versus eighth edition of the TNM classification were similar in operable stage III NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2018.09.011DOI Listing
January 2019

Computer-Based Intensity Measurement Assists Pathologists in Scoring Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog Immunohistochemistry - Clinical Associations in NSCLC Patients of the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape Cohort.

J Thorac Oncol 2018 12 18;13(12):1851-1863. Epub 2018 Sep 18.

Lunaphore Technologies SA, EPFL Innovation Park, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Introduction: Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss is frequently observed in NSCLC and associated with both phosphoinositide 3-kinase activation and tumoral immunosuppression. PTEN immunohistochemistry is a valuable readout, but lacks standardized staining protocol and cutoff value.

Methods: After an external quality assessment using SP218, 138G6 and 6H2.1 anti-PTEN antibodies, scored on webbook and tissue microarray, the European Thoracic Oncology Platform cohort samples (n = 2245 NSCLC patients, 8980 tissue microarray cores) were stained with SP218. All cores were H-scored by pathologists and by computerized pixel-based intensity measurements calibrated by pathologists.

Results: All three antibodies differentiated six PTEN+ versus six PTEN- cases on external quality assessment. For 138G6 and SP218, high sensitivity and specificity was found for all H-score threshold values including prospectively defined 0, calculated 8 (pathologists), and calculated 5 (computer). High concordance among pathologists in setting computer-based intensities and between pathologists and computer in H-scoring was observed. Because of over-integration of the human eye, pixel-based computer H-scores were overall 54% lower. For all cutoff values, PTEN- was associated with smoking history, squamous cell histology, and higher tumor stage (p < 0.001). In adenocarcinomas, PTEN- was associated with poor survival.

Conclusion: Calibration of immunoreactivity intensities by pathologists following computerized H-score measurements has the potential to improve reproducibility and homogeneity of biomarker detection regarding epitope validation in multicenter studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2018.08.2034DOI Listing
December 2018

Trastuzumab Emtansine (T-DM1) in Patients with Previously Treated HER2-Overexpressing Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Efficacy, Safety, and Biomarkers.

Clin Cancer Res 2019 01 11;25(1):64-72. Epub 2018 Sep 11.

Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Purpose: HER2-targeted therapy is not standard of care for HER2-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This phase II study investigated efficacy and safety of the HER2-targeted antibody-drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) in patients with previously treated advanced HER2-overexpressing NSCLC.

Patients And Methods: Eligible patients had HER2-overexpressing NSCLC (centrally tested IHC) and received previous platinum-based chemotherapy and targeted therapy in the case of mutation or gene rearrangement. Patients were divided into cohorts based on HER2 IHC (2+, 3+). All patients received T-DM1 3.6 mg/kg intravenously every 3 weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoint was investigator-determined overall response rate (ORR) using RECIST v1.1.

Results: Forty-nine patients received T-DM1 (29 IHC 2+, 20 IHC 3+). No treatment responses were observed in the IHC 2+ cohort. Four partial responses were observed in the IHC 3+ cohort (ORR, 20%; 95% confidence interval, 5.7%-43.7%). Clinical benefit rates were 7% and 30% in the IHC 2+ and 3+ cohorts, respectively. Response duration for the responders was 2.9, 7.3, 8.3, and 10.8 months. Median progression-free survival and overall survival were similar between cohorts. Three of 4 responders had gene amplification. No new safety signals were observed.

Conclusions: T-DM1 showed a signal of activity in patients with HER2-overexpressing (IHC 3+) advanced NSCLC. Additional investigation into HER2 pathway alterations is needed to refine the target population for T-DM1 in NSCLC; however, HER2 IHC as a single parameter was an insufficient predictive biomarker.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-1590DOI Listing
January 2019

Gemcitabine Synergizes with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors and Overcomes Resistance in a Preclinical Model and Mesothelioma Patients.

Clin Cancer Res 2018 12 28;24(24):6345-6354. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

Department of Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Purpose: Combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors with chemotherapy is under investigation for cancer treatment.

Experimental Design: We studied the rationale of such a combination for treating mesothelioma, a disease with limited treatment options.

Results: The combination of gemcitabine and immune checkpoint inhibitors outperformed immunotherapy alone with regard to tumor control and survival in a preclinical mesothelioma model; however, the addition of dexamethasone to gemcitabine and immune checkpoint inhibitors nullified the synergistic clinical response. Furthermore, treatment with gemcitabine plus anti-PD-1 resulted in an objective clinical response in two patients with mesothelioma, who were resistant to gemcitabine or anti-PD-1 as monotherapy.

Conclusions: Thus, treatment of mesothelioma with a combination of gemcitabine with immune checkpoint inhibitors is feasible and results in synergistic clinical response compared with single treatment in the absence of steroids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-1231DOI Listing
December 2018

Diagnostic value of F-fluordesoxyglucose positron emission tomography for patients with brain metastasis from unknown primary site.

Eur J Cancer 2018 06 17;96:64-72. Epub 2018 Apr 17.

Department of Neurology and Brain Tumor Center, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 26, CH-8091, Zurich, Switzerland; Neuro-oncology, Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Lille, Salengro Hospital, Rue Emile Laine, FR-59037, Lille, France; Neurology, Department of Medical Oncology, Oscar Lambret Center, FR-59020, Lille, France; Inserm U-1192, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.

Background: In 30% of patients with brain metastasis (BM), neurological symptoms are the first clinical manifestation of systemic malignancy, referred to as BM from cancer of unknown primary site (BM-CUPS). Here, we define the diagnostic value of F-fluordesoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in the workup of BM-CUPS.

Methods: We screened 565 patients operated for BM at the University Hospital Zurich and identified 64 patients with BM-CUPS with data on both FDG-PET/CT and contrast-enhanced chest/abdomen computed tomography (CT) available at BM diagnosis. A cohort of 125 patients with BM-CUPS from Lille and Vienna was used for validation.

Results: FDG-PET/CT was not superior to chest/abdomen CT in localising the primary lesion in the discovery cohort, presumably because most primary tumours were lung cancers. However, FDG-PET/CT identified additional lesions suspicious of extracranial metastases in 27 of 64 patients (42%). The inclusion of FDG-PET/CT findings shifted the graded prognostic assessment (GPA) score from 3 with CT alone to 2.5 for PET/CT (p = 3.8 × 10, Wilcoxon's test), resulting in a predicted survival of 5.3 versus 3.8 months (p = 6.1 × 10; Wilcoxon's test). All observations were confirmed in the validation cohort.

Conclusions: Lung cancers are the most common primary tumour in BM-CUPS; accordingly, CT alone shows similar overall sensitivity for detecting the primary tumour as FDG-PET/CT. Yet, FDG-PET/CT improves the accuracy of staging by detecting more metastases, reflected by decreased GPA scores and decreased predicted survival. Therefore, randomised trials on patients with BM should standardise methods of staging, notably when stratifying for GPA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2018.03.010DOI Listing
June 2018

Live-Cell Mesothelioma Biobank to Explore Mechanisms of Tumor Progression.

Front Oncol 2018 23;8:40. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Division of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.

Experimental models closely representing conditions allow investigating mechanisms of resistance. Our aims were to establish a live-cell biobank of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) samples and to obtain proof of principle that primary culture chemoresistant models, mimicking tumor progression observed in patients, can be obtained , providing a useful tool to investigate underlying mechanisms. Primary mesothelioma cultures were established from 235 samples between 2007 and 2014. Of two MPM patients, primary cultures obtained at different time points: at initial diagnosis, after neoadjuvant treatment at surgery and/or after tumor recurrence, were deeply investigated. Cells and corresponding tumor tissue were characterized by mesothelial protein and gene expression analysis. In addition, primary cultures from chemo naive patients were exposed to increasing doses of cisplatin/pemetrexed during three months and compared with non-treated cells in a cytotoxicity assay, and by selected profiling of senescence markers. chemoresistance in the primary mesothelioma cell cultures was associated with increased Thy1 (CD90) expression. Thy1 expression in MPM samples was significantly associated with poor overall survival in the TCGA MPM cohort. Our results illustrate that the establishment of a large live-cell MPM biobank contributes to a better understanding of therapy resistance observed , which eventually may lead to a more logical approach for developing new treatment strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5829086PMC
February 2018

Evaluation of NGS and RT-PCR Methods for ALK Rearrangement in European NSCLC Patients: Results from the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape Project.

J Thorac Oncol 2018 03 27;13(3):413-425. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Department of Histopathology, St James's Hospital and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

Introduction: The reported prevalence of ALK receptor tyrosine kinase gene (ALK) rearrangement in NSCLC ranges from 2% to 7%. The primary standard diagnostic method is fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Recently, immunohistochemistry (IHC) has also proved to be a reproducible and sensitive technique. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has also been advocated, and most recently, the advent of targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) for ALK and other fusions has become possible. This study compares anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) evaluation with all four techniques in resected NSCLC from the large European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape cohort.

Methods: A total of 96 cases from the European Thoracic Oncology Platform Lungscape iBiobank, with any ALK immunoreactivity were examined by FISH, central RT-PCR, and NGS. An H-score higher than 120 defines IHC positivity. RNA was extracted from the same formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. For RT-PCR, primers covered the most frequent ALK translocations. For NGS, the Oncomine Solid Tumour Fusion Transcript Kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, MA) was used. The concordance was assessed using the Cohen κ coefficient (two-sided α ≤ 5%).

Results: NGS provided results for 77 of the 95 cases tested (81.1%), whereas RT-PCR provided results for 77 of 96 (80.2%). Concordance occurred in 55 cases of the 60 cases tested with all four methods (43 ALK negative and 12 ALK positive). Using ALK copositivity for IHC and FISH as the criterion standard, we derived a sensitivity for RT-PCR/NGS of 70.0%/85.0%, with a specificity of 87.1%/79.0%. When either RT-PCR or NGS was combined with IHC, the sensitivity remained the same, whereas the specificity increased to 88.7% and 83.9% respectively.

Conclusion: NGS evaluation with the Oncomine Solid Tumour Fusion transcript kit and RT-PCR proved to have high sensitivity and specificity, advocating their use in routine practice. For maximal sensitivity and specificity, ALK status should be assessed by using two techniques and a third one in discordant cases. We therefore propose a customizable testing algorithm. These findings significantly influence existing testing paradigms and have clear clinical and economic impact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2017.11.117DOI Listing
March 2018

PD-1 blockade in advanced NSCLC: A focus on pembrolizumab.

Cancer Treat Rev 2018 Jan 23;62:39-49. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Department of Oncology, University Hospital Zürich, Rämistrasse 100, 8091 Zürich, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the most prevalent cancers and is responsible for a large proportion of all cancer-related deaths. Current treatment options are inadequate, reflecting a substantial unmet clinical need. Increasing knowledge regarding the mechanisms and genetic aberrations underlying tumor development and growth has heralded a new era of therapy in oncology, moving away from indiscriminate cytotoxic chemotherapy toward more finely focused, targeted medicine. The development of small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies directed toward specific components of dysfunctional molecular or immune pathways, and mutated genes specific to particular cancer types, is leading the field to more personalized and less toxic treatment options, many of which have demonstrated greater efficacy and survival benefits than their chemotherapeutic counterparts. Particularly successful examples are agents that interfere with the programmed death 1 (PD-1) pathway, which many tumors can hijack to avoid immune surveillance and editing. Pembrolizumab, a monoclonal antibody directed at PD-1 that blocks the engagement between PD-1 and its ligands, has been explored as a treatment for solid tumors, and demonstrated survival benefits in several studies. The use of PD-1 inhibitors such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab in advanced cancers is widespread, and pembrolizumab is available in more than 60 countries for at least one of the following: advanced melanoma, PD-L1-expressing NSCLC, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, and adult and pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. This work provides a brief overview of the role of pembrolizumab in the treatment of advanced (recurrent/metastatic) NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctrv.2017.10.002DOI Listing
January 2018
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