Publications by authors named "Steven C Clifford"

91 Publications

Combining multi-site magnetic resonance imaging with machine learning predicts survival in pediatric brain tumors.

Sci Rep 2021 Sep 23;11(1):18897. Epub 2021 Sep 23.

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, School of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Brain tumors represent the highest cause of mortality in the pediatric oncological population. Diagnosis is commonly performed with magnetic resonance imaging. Survival biomarkers are challenging to identify due to the relatively low numbers of individual tumor types. 69 children with biopsy-confirmed brain tumors were recruited into this study. All participants had perfusion and diffusion weighted imaging performed at diagnosis. Imaging data were processed using conventional methods, and a Bayesian survival analysis performed. Unsupervised and supervised machine learning were performed with the survival features, to determine novel sub-groups related to survival. Sub-group analysis was undertaken to understand differences in imaging features. Survival analysis showed that a combination of diffusion and perfusion imaging were able to determine two novel sub-groups of brain tumors with different survival characteristics (p < 0.01), which were subsequently classified with high accuracy (98%) by a neural network. Analysis of high-grade tumors showed a marked difference in survival (p = 0.029) between the two clusters with high risk and low risk imaging features. This study has developed a novel model of survival for pediatric brain tumors. Tumor perfusion plays a key role in determining survival and should be considered as a high priority for future imaging protocols.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-96189-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8460620PMC
September 2021

Emergence and maintenance of actionable genetic drivers at medulloblastoma relapse.

Neuro Oncol 2021 Jul 17. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, Translational & Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Background: <5% of medulloblastoma patients survive following failure of contemporary radiation-based therapies. Understanding the molecular drivers of medulloblastoma relapse (rMB) will be essential to improve outcomes. Initial genome-wide investigations suggested significant genetic divergence of the relapsed disease.

Methods: We undertook large-scale integrated characterization of the molecular features of rMB - molecular subgroup, novel subtypes, copy number variation (CNV) and driver gene mutation. 119 rMBs were assessed in comparison with their paired diagnostic samples (n=107), alongside an independent reference cohort sampled at diagnosis (n=282). rMB events were investigated for association with outcome post-relapse in clinically-annotated patients (n=54).

Results: Significant genetic evolution occurred over disease-course; 40% of putative rMB drivers emerged at relapse and differed significantly between molecular subgroups. MBSHH Non-infant displayed significantly more chromosomal CNVs at relapse (TP53 mutation-associated). Relapsed MBGroup4 demonstrated the greatest genetic divergence, enriched for targetable (e.g. CDK amplifications) and novel (e.g. USH2A mutations) events. Importantly, many hallmark features of medulloblastoma were stable over time; novel subtypes (>90% of tumors) and established genetic drivers (e.g. SHH/WNT/P53 mutations; 60% of rMB events) were maintained from diagnosis. Critically, acquired and maintained rMB events converged on targetable pathways which were significantly enriched at relapse (e.g. DNA damage-signaling) and specific events (e.g. 3p loss) predicted survival post-relapse.

Conclusions: rMB is defined by the emergence of novel events and pathways, in concert with selective maintenance of established genetic drivers. Together, these define the actionable genetic landscape of rMB and provide a basis for improved clinical management and development of stratified therapeutics, across disease-course.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/neuonc/noab178DOI Listing
July 2021

Acceptance and commitment therapy for young brain tumour survivors: study protocol for an acceptability and feasibility trial.

BMJ Open 2021 06 1;11(6):e051091. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK.

Introduction: Survivors of childhood brain tumours have the poorest health-related quality of life of all cancer survivors due to the multiple physical and psychological sequelae of brain tumours and their treatment. Remotely delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may be a suitable and accessible psychological intervention to support young people who have survived brain tumours. This study aims to assess the feasibility and acceptability of remotely delivered ACT to improve quality of life among these young survivors.

Methods And Analysis: This study is a two-arm, parallel group, randomised controlled trial comparing ACT with waitlist control at 12-week follow-up as the primary endpoint. Seventy-two participants will be recruited, who are aged 11-24 and have completed brain tumour treatment. Participants will be randomised to receive 12 weeks of ACT either immediately or after a 12-week wait. The DNA-v model of ACT will be employed, which is a developmentally appropriate model for young people. Feasibility will be assessed using the proportion of those showing interest who consent to the trial and complete the intervention. Acceptability will be assessed using participant evaluations of the intervention, alongside qualitative interviews and treatment diaries analysed thematically. A range of clinical outcome measures will also assess physical and mental health, everyday functioning, quality of life and service usage at 12-week follow-up. The durability of treatment effects will be assessed by further follow-up assessments at 24 weeks, 36 weeks and 48 weeks.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethical approval was given by East Midlands, Nottingham 1 Research Ethics Committee (Reference: 20/EM/0237). Study results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals, through public events and relevant third sector organisations.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN10903290; NCT04722237.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8173289PMC
June 2021

Inositol treatment inhibits medulloblastoma through suppression of epigenetic-driven metabolic adaptation.

Nat Commun 2021 04 12;12(1):2148. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.

Deregulation of chromatin modifiers plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma, the most common paediatric malignant brain tumour. Here, we identify a BMI1-dependent sensitivity to deregulation of inositol metabolism in a proportion of medulloblastoma. We demonstrate mTOR pathway activation and metabolic adaptation specifically in medulloblastoma of the molecular subgroup G4 characterised by a BMI1;CHD7 signature and show this can be counteracted by IP6 treatment. Finally, we demonstrate that IP6 synergises with cisplatin to enhance its cytotoxicity in vitro and extends survival in a pre-clinical BMI1;CHD7 xenograft model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22379-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8042111PMC
April 2021

Advanced molecular pathology for rare tumours: A national feasibility study and model for centralised medulloblastoma diagnostics.

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol 2021 10 2;47(6):736-747. Epub 2021 May 2.

Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Aims: Application of advanced molecular pathology in rare tumours is hindered by low sample numbers, access to specialised expertise/technologies and tissue/assay QC and rapid reporting requirements. We assessed the feasibility of co-ordinated real-time centralised pathology review (CPR), encompassing molecular diagnostics and contemporary genomics (RNA-seq/DNA methylation-array).

Methods: This nationwide trial in medulloblastoma (<80 UK diagnoses/year) introduced a national reference centre (NRC) and assessed its performance and reporting to World Health Organisation standards. Paired frozen/formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumour material were co-submitted from 135 patients (16 referral centres).

Results: Complete CPR diagnostics were successful for 88% (120/135). Inadequate sampling was the most common cause of failure; biomaterials were typically suitable for methylation-array (129/135, 94%), but frozen tissues commonly fell below RNA-seq QC requirements (53/135, 39%). Late reporting was most often due to delayed submission. CPR assigned or altered histological variant (vs local diagnosis) for 40/135 tumours (30%). Benchmarking/QC of specific biomarker assays impacted test results; fluorescent in-situ hybridisation most accurately identified high-risk MYC/MYCN amplification (20/135, 15%), while combined methods (CTNNB1/chr6 status, methylation-array subgrouping) best defined favourable-risk WNT tumours (14/135; 10%). Engagement of a specialist pathologist panel was essential for consensus assessment of histological variants and immunohistochemistry. Overall, CPR altered clinical risk-status for 29% of patients.

Conclusion: National real-time CPR is feasible, delivering robust diagnostics to WHO criteria and assignment of clinical risk-status, significantly altering clinical management. Recommendations and experience from our study are applicable to advanced molecular diagnostics systems, both local and centralised, across rare tumour types, enabling their application in biomarker-driven routine diagnostics and clinical/research studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nan.12716DOI Listing
October 2021

Inter and intra-tumoral heterogeneity as a platform for personalized therapies in medulloblastoma.

Pharmacol Ther 2021 Mar 1;228:107828. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Department of Applied Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant CNS tumor of childhood, affecting ~350 patients/year in the USA. In 2020, most children are cured of their disease, however, survivors are left with life-long late-effects as a consequence of intensive surgery, and application of chemo- and radio-therapy to the developing brain. A major contributor to improvements in patient survival has been the development of risk-stratified treatments derived from a better understanding of the prognostic value of disease biomarkers. The characterization and validation of these biomarkers has engendered a comprehensive understanding of the extensive heterogeneity that exists within the disease, which can occur both between and within tumors (inter- and intra-tumoral heterogeneity, respectively). In this review, we discuss inter-tumoral heterogeneity, describing the early characterization of clinical and histopathological disease heterogeneity, the more recent elucidation of molecular disease subgroups, and the potential for novel therapies based on specific molecular defects. We reflect on the limitations of current approaches when applied to a rare disease. We then review early investigations of intra-tumoral heterogeneity using FISH and immunohistochemical approaches, and focus on the application of next generation sequencing on bulk tumors to elucidate intra-tumoral heterogeneity. Finally, we critically appraise the applications of single-cell sequencing approaches and discuss their potential to drive next biological insights, and for routine clinical application.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107828DOI Listing
March 2021

Evaluation of Prognostic Factors and Role of Participation in a Randomized Trial or a Prospective Registry in Pediatric and Adolescent Nonmetastatic Medulloblastoma - A Report From the HIT 2000 Trial.

Adv Radiat Oncol 2020 Nov-Dec;5(6):1158-1169. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

University Children's Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland.

Purpose: We aimed to compare treatment results in and outside of a randomized trial and to confirm factors influencing outcome in a large retrospective cohort of nonmetastatic medulloblastoma treated in Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

Methods And Materials: Patients with nonmetastatic medulloblastoma (n = 382) aged 4 to 21 years and primary neurosurgical resection between 2001 and 2011 were assessed. Between 2001 and 2006, 176 of these patients (46.1%) were included in the randomized HIT SIOP PNET 4 trial. From 2001 to 2011 an additional 206 patients were registered to the HIT 2000 study center and underwent the identical central review program. Three different radiation therapy protocols were applied. Genetically defined tumor entity (former molecular subgroup) was available for 157 patients.

Results: Median follow-up time was 7.3 (range, 0.09-13.86) years. There was no difference between HIT SIOP PNET 4 trial patients and observational patients outside the randomized trial, with 7 years progression-free survival rates (PFS) of 79.5% ± 3.1% versus 78.7% ± 3.1% ( = .62). On univariate analysis, the time interval between surgery and irradiation (≤ 48 days vs ≥ 49 days) showed a strong trend to affect PFS (80.4% ± 2.2% vs 64.6% ± 9.1%; = .052). Furthermore, histologically and genetically defined tumor entities and the extent of postoperative residual tumor influenced PFS. On multivariate analyses, a genetically defined tumor entity wingless-related integration site-activated vs non-wingless-related integration site/non-SHH, group 3 hazard ratio, 5.49; = .014) and time interval between surgery and irradiation (hazard ratio, 2.2; = .018) were confirmed as independent risk factors.

Conclusions: Using a centralized review program and risk-stratified therapy for all patients registered to the study center, outcome was identical for patients with nonmetastatic medulloblastoma treated on and off the randomized HIT SIOP PNET 4 trial. The prognostic values of prolonged time to RT and genetically defined tumor entity were confirmed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adro.2020.09.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7718550PMC
October 2020

Author Correction: VEGFC negatively regulates the growth and aggressiveness of medulloblastoma cells.

Commun Biol 2020 Dec 7;3(1):758. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Université Côte d'Azur, Institute for Research on Cancer and Ageing of Nice (IRCAN), CNRS UMR7284, INSERM U1081, Fédération Claude Lalanne (FCL), Nice, France.

A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01502-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01502-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7721738PMC
December 2020

Time, pattern, and outcome of medulloblastoma relapse and their association with tumour biology at diagnosis and therapy: a multicentre cohort study.

Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2020 12 22;4(12):865-874. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Newcastle University Centre for Cancer, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:

Background: Disease relapse occurs in around 30% of children with medulloblastoma, and is almost universally fatal. We aimed to establish whether the clinical and molecular characteristics of the disease at diagnosis are associated with the nature of relapse and subsequent disease course, and whether these associations could inform clinical management.

Methods: In this multicentre cohort study we comprehensively surveyed the clinical features of medulloblastoma relapse (time to relapse, pattern of relapse, time from relapse to death, and overall outcome) in centrally reviewed patients who relapsed following standard upfront therapies, from 16 UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group institutions and four collaborating centres. We compared these relapse-associated features with clinical and molecular features at diagnosis, including established and recently described molecular features, prognostic factors, and treatment at diagnosis and relapse.

Findings: 247 patients (175 [71%] boys and 72 [29%] girls) with medulloblastoma relapse (median year of diagnosis 2000 [IQR 1995-2006]) were included in this study. 17 patients were later excluded from further analyses because they did not meet the age and treatment criteria for inclusion. Patients who received upfront craniospinal irradiation (irradiated group; 178 [72%] patients) had a more prolonged time to relapse compared with patients who did not receive upfront craniospinal irradiation (non-irradiated group; 52 [21%] patients; p<0·0001). In the non-irradiated group, craniospinal irradiation at relapse (hazard ratio [HR] 0·27, 95% CI 0·11-0·68) and desmoplastic/nodular histology (0·23, 0·07-0·77) were associated with prolonged time to death after relapse, MYC amplification was associated with a reduced overall survival (23·52, 4·85-114·05), and re-resection at relapse was associated with longer overall survival (0·17, 0·05-0·57). In the irradiated group, patients with MB tumours relapsed significantly more quickly than did patients with MB tumours (median 1·34 [0·99-1·89] years vs 2·04 [1·39-3·42 years; p=0·0043). Distant disease was prevalent in patients with MB (23 [92%] of 25 patients) and MB (56 [90%] of 62 patients) tumour relapses. Patients with distantly-relapsed MB and MB displayed both nodular and diffuse patterns of disease whereas isolated nodular relapses were rare in distantly-relapsed MB (1 [8%] of 12 distantly-relapsed MB were nodular alone compared with 26 [34%] of 77 distantly-relapsed MB and MB). In MB and MB, nodular disease was associated with a prolonged survival after relapse (HR 0·42, 0·21-0·81). Investigation of second-generation MB and MB molecular subtypes refined our understanding of heterogeneous relapse characteristics. Subtype VIII had prolonged time to relapse and subtype II had a rapid time from relapse to death. Subtypes II, III, and VIII developed a significantly higher incidence of distant disease at relapse whereas subtypes V and VII did not (equivalent rates to diagnosis).

Interpretation: This study suggests that the nature and outcome of medulloblastoma relapse are biology and therapy-dependent, providing translational opportunities for improved disease management through biology-directed disease surveillance, post-relapse prognostication, and risk-stratified selection of second-line treatment strategies.

Funding: Cancer Research UK, Action Medical Research, The Tom Grahame Trust, The JGW Patterson Foundation, Star for Harris, The Institute of Child Health - Newcastle University - Institute of Child Health High-Risk Childhood Brain Tumour Network (co-funded by The Brain Tumour Charity, Great Ormond Street Children's Charity, and Children with Cancer UK).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30246-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7671998PMC
December 2020

VEGFC negatively regulates the growth and aggressiveness of medulloblastoma cells.

Commun Biol 2020 10 16;3(1):579. Epub 2020 Oct 16.

Université Côte d'Azur, Institute for Research on Cancer and Ageing of Nice (IRCAN), CNRS UMR7284, INSERM U1081, Fédération Claude Lalanne (FCL), Nice, France.

Medulloblastoma (MB), the most common brain pediatric tumor, is a pathology composed of four molecular subgroups. Despite a multimodal treatment, 30% of the patients eventually relapse, with the fatal appearance of metastases within 5 years. The major actors of metastatic dissemination are the lymphatic vessel growth factor, VEGFC, and its receptors/co-receptors. Here, we show that VEGFC is inversely correlated to cell aggressiveness. Indeed, VEGFC decreases MB cell proliferation and migration, and their ability to form pseudo-vessel in vitro. Irradiation resistant-cells, which present high levels of VEGFC, lose the ability to migrate and to form vessel-like structures. Thus, irradiation reduces MB cell aggressiveness via a VEGFC-dependent process. Cells intrinsically or ectopically overexpressing VEGFC and irradiation-resistant cells form smaller experimental tumors in nude mice. Opposite to the common dogma, our results give strong arguments in favor of VEGFC as a negative regulator of MB growth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01306-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7568583PMC
October 2020

Pediatric pan-central nervous system tumor analysis of immune-cell infiltration identifies correlates of antitumor immunity.

Nat Commun 2020 08 28;11(1):4324. Epub 2020 Aug 28.

Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.

Immune-therapy is an attractive alternative therapeutic approach for targeting central nervous system (CNS) tumors and the constituency of the Tumor Immune Microenvironment (TIME) likely to predict patient response. Here, we describe the TIME of >6000 primarily pediatric CNS tumors using a deconvolution approach (methylCIBERSORT). We produce and validate a custom reference signature defining 11 non-cancer cell types to estimate relative proportions of infiltration in a panCNS tumor cohort spanning 80 subtypes. We group patients into three broad immune clusters associated with CNS tumor types/subtypes. In cohorts of medulloblastomas (n = 2325), malignant rhabdoid tumors (n = 229) and pediatric high-grade gliomas (n = 401), we show significant associations with molecular subgroups/subtypes, mutations, and prognosis. We further identify tumor-specific immune clusters with phenotypic characteristics relevant to immunotherapy response (i.e. Cytolytic score, PDL1 expression). Our analysis provides an indication of the potential future therapeutic and prognostic possibilities of immuno-methylomic profiling in pediatric CNS tumor patients that may ultimately inform approach to immune-therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18070-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7455736PMC
August 2020

Effects of the growth pattern of medulloblastoma on short-term neurological impairments after surgery: results from the prospective multicenter HIT-SIOP PNET 4 study.

J Neurosurg Pediatr 2020 Jan 17:1-9. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

20Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Germany.

Objective: Extensive resection of a tumor in the posterior fossa in children is associated with the risk of neurological deficits. The objective of this study was to prospectively evaluate the short-term neurological morbidity in children after medulloblastoma surgery and relate this to the tumor's growth pattern and to the extent of resection.

Methods: In 160 patients taking part in the HIT-SIOP PNET 4 (Hyperfractionated Versus Conventionally Fractionated Radiotherapy in Standard Risk Medulloblastoma) trial, neurosurgeons prospectively responded to questions concerning the growth pattern of the tumor they had resected. The extent of resection (gross, near, or subtotal) was evaluated using MRI. The patients' neurological status before resection and around 30 days after resection was recorded.

Results: Invasive tumor growth, defined as local invasion in the brain or meninges, cranial nerve, or major vessel, was reported in 58% of the patients. After surgery almost 70% of all patients were affected by one or several neurological impairments (e.g., impaired vision, impaired extraocular movements, and ataxia). However, this figure was very similar to the preoperative findings. Invasive tumor growth implied a significantly higher number of impairments after surgery (p = 0.03) and greater deterioration regarding extraocular movements (p = 0.012), facial weakness (p = 0.048), and ataxia in the arms (p = 0.014) and trunk (p = 0.025) compared with noninvasive tumor growth. This deterioration was not dependent on the extent of resection performed. Progression-free survival (PFS) at 5 years was 80% ± 4% and 76% ± 5% for patients with invasive and noninvasive tumor growth, respectively, with no difference in the 5-year PFS for extent of resection.

Conclusions: Preoperative neurological impairments and invasive tumor growth were strong predictors of deterioration in short-term neurological outcome after medulloblastoma neurosurgery, whereas the extent of resection was not. Neither tumor invasiveness nor extent of resection influenced PFS. These findings support the continuation of maximal safe resection in medulloblastoma surgery where functional risks are not taken in areas with tumor invasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3171/2019.11.PEDS19349DOI Listing
January 2020

The AHR pathway represses TGFβ-SMAD3 signalling and has a potent tumour suppressive role in SHH medulloblastoma.

Sci Rep 2020 01 10;10(1):148. Epub 2020 Jan 10.

Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology, King's College London, Floor 27, Guy's Hospital Tower Wing, London, SE1 9RT, UK.

Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) medulloblastomas are brain tumours that arise in the posterior fossa. Cancer-propagating cells (CPCs) provide a reservoir of cells capable of tumour regeneration and relapse post-treatment. Understanding and targeting the mechanisms by which CPCs are maintained and expanded in SHH medulloblastoma could present novel therapeutic opportunities. We identified the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) pathway as a potent tumour suppressor in a SHH medulloblastoma mouse model. Ahr-deficient tumours and CPCs grown in vitro, showed elevated activation of the TGFβ mediator, SMAD3. Pharmacological inhibition of the TGFβ/SMAD3 signalling axis was sufficient to inhibit the proliferation and promote the differentiation of Ahr-deficient CPCs. Human SHH medulloblastomas with high expression of the AHR repressor (AHRR) exhibited a significantly worse prognosis compared to AHRR tumours in two independent patient cohorts. Together, these findings suggest that reduced AHR pathway activity promotes SHH medulloblastoma progression, consistent with a tumour suppressive role for AHR. We propose that TGFβ/SMAD3 inhibition may represent an actionable therapeutic approach for a subset of aggressive SHH medulloblastomas characterised by reduced AHR pathway activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56876-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6954114PMC
January 2020

EANO-EURACAN clinical practice guideline for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of post-pubertal and adult patients with medulloblastoma.

Lancet Oncol 2019 12;20(12):e715-e728

Department of Neurology, University Hospital and University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The European Association of Neuro-Oncology (EANO) and EUropean RAre CANcer (EURACAN) guideline provides recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of post-pubertal and adult patients with medulloblastoma. The guideline is based on the 2016 WHO classification of tumours of the CNS and on scientific developments published since 1980. It aims to provide direction for diagnostic and management decisions, and for limiting unnecessary treatments and cost. In view of the scarcity of data in adults with medulloblastoma, we base our recommendations on adult data when possible, but also include recommendations derived from paediatric data if justified. Our recommendations are a resource for professionals involved in the management of post-pubertal and adult patients with medulloblastoma, for patients and caregivers, and for health-care providers in Europe. The implementation of this guideline requires multidisciplinary structures of care, and defined processes of diagnosis and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30669-2DOI Listing
December 2019

DNA methylation-based profiling for paediatric CNS tumour diagnosis and treatment: a population-based study.

Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2020 02 27;4(2):121-130. Epub 2019 Nov 27.

Department of Neuropathology, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK.

Background: Marked variation exists in the use of genomic data in tumour diagnosis, and optimal integration with conventional diagnostic technology remains uncertain despite several studies reporting improved diagnostic accuracy, selection for targeted treatments, and stratification for trials. Our aim was to assess the added value of molecular profiling in routine clinical practice and the impact on conventional and experimental treatments.

Methods: This population-based study assessed the diagnostic and clinical use of DNA methylation-based profiling in childhood CNS tumours using two large national cohorts in the UK. In the diagnostic cohort-which included routinely diagnosed CNS tumours between Sept 1, 2016, and Sept 1, 2018-we assessed how the methylation profile altered or refined diagnosis in routine clinical practice and estimated how this would affect standard patient management. For the archival cohort of diagnostically difficult cases, we established how many cases could be solved using modern standard pathology, how many could only be solved using the methylation profile, and how many remained unsolvable.

Findings: Of 484 patients younger than 20 years with CNS tumours, 306 had DNA methylation arrays requested by the neuropathologist and were included in the diagnostic cohort. Molecular profiling added a unique contribution to clinical diagnosis in 107 (35%; 95% CI 30-40) of 306 cases in routine diagnostic practice-providing additional molecular subtyping data in 99 cases, amended the final diagnosis in five cases, and making potentially significant predictions in three cases. We estimated that it could change conventional management in 11 (4%; 95% CI 2-6) of 306 patients. Among 195 historically difficult-to-diagnose tumours in the archival cohort, 99 (51%) could be diagnosed using standard methods, with the addition of methylation profiling solving a further 34 (17%) cases. The remaining 62 (32%) cases were unresolved despite specialist pathology and methylation profiling.

Interpretation: Together, these data provide estimates of the impact that could be expected from routine implementation of genomic profiling into clinical practice, and indicate limitations where additional techniques will be required. We conclude that DNA methylation arrays are a useful diagnostic adjunct for childhood CNS tumours.

Funding: The Brain Tumour Charity, Children with Cancer UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, Olivia Hodson Cancer Fund, Cancer Research UK, and the National Institute of Health Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(19)30342-6DOI Listing
February 2020

Second-generation molecular subgrouping of medulloblastoma: an international meta-analysis of Group 3 and Group 4 subtypes.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 08 10;138(2):309-326. Epub 2019 May 10.

Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

In 2012, an international consensus paper reported that medulloblastoma comprises four molecular subgroups (WNT, SHH, Group 3, and Group 4), each associated with distinct genomic features and clinical behavior. Independently, multiple recent reports have defined further intra-subgroup heterogeneity in the form of biologically and clinically relevant subtypes. However, owing to differences in patient cohorts and analytical methods, estimates of subtype number and definition have been inconsistent, especially within Group 3 and Group 4. Herein, we aimed to reconcile the definition of Group 3/Group 4 MB subtypes through the analysis of a series of 1501 medulloblastomas with DNA-methylation profiling data, including 852 with matched transcriptome data. Using multiple complementary bioinformatic approaches, we compared the concordance of subtype calls between published cohorts and analytical methods, including assessments of class-definition confidence and reproducibility. While the lowest complexity solutions continued to support the original consensus subgroups of Group 3 and Group 4, our analysis most strongly supported a definition comprising eight robust Group 3/Group 4 subtypes (types I-VIII). Subtype II was consistently identified across all component studies, while all others were supported by multiple class-definition methods. Regardless of analytical technique, increasing cohort size did not further increase the number of identified Group 3/Group 4 subtypes. Summarizing the molecular and clinico-pathological features of these eight subtypes indicated enrichment of specific driver gene alterations and cytogenetic events amongst subtypes, and identified highly disparate survival outcomes, further supporting their biological and clinical relevance. Collectively, this study provides continued support for consensus Groups 3 and 4 while enabling robust derivation of, and categorical accounting for, the extensive intertumoral heterogeneity within Groups 3 and 4, revealed by recent high-resolution subclassification approaches. Furthermore, these findings provide a basis for application of emerging methods (e.g., proteomics/single-cell approaches) which may additionally inform medulloblastoma subclassification. Outputs from this study will help shape definition of the next generation of medulloblastoma clinical protocols and facilitate the application of enhanced molecularly guided risk stratification to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients and their families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02020-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660496PMC
August 2019

Medulloblastoma.

Nat Rev Dis Primers 2019 02 14;5(1):11. Epub 2019 Feb 14.

Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

Medulloblastoma (MB) comprises a biologically heterogeneous group of embryonal tumours of the cerebellum. Four subgroups of MB have been described (WNT, sonic hedgehog (SHH), Group 3 and Group 4), each of which is associated with different genetic alterations, age at onset and prognosis. These subgroups have broadly been incorporated into the WHO classification of central nervous system tumours but still need to be accounted for to appropriately tailor disease risk to therapy intensity and to target therapy to disease biology. In this Primer, the epidemiology (including MB predisposition), molecular pathogenesis and integrative diagnosis taking histomorphology, molecular genetics and imaging into account are reviewed. In addition, management strategies, which encompass surgical resection of the tumour, cranio-spinal irradiation and chemotherapy, are discussed, together with the possibility of focusing more on disease biology and robust molecularly driven patient stratification in future clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41572-019-0063-6DOI Listing
February 2019

Prognostic effect of whole chromosomal aberration signatures in standard-risk, non-WNT/non-SHH medulloblastoma: a retrospective, molecular analysis of the HIT-SIOP PNET 4 trial.

Lancet Oncol 2018 12 1;19(12):1602-1616. Epub 2018 Nov 1.

Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:

Background: Most children with medulloblastoma fall within the standard-risk clinical disease group defined by absence of high-risk features (metastatic disease, large-cell/anaplastic histology, and MYC amplification), which includes 50-60% of patients and has a 5-year event-free survival of 75-85%. Within standard-risk medulloblastoma, patients in the WNT subgroup are established as having a favourable prognosis; however, outcome prediction for the remaining majority of patients is imprecise. We sought to identify novel prognostic biomarkers to enable improved risk-adapted therapies.

Methods: The HIT-SIOP PNET 4 trial recruited 338 patients aged 4-21 years with medulloblastoma between Jan 1, 2001, and Dec 31, 2006, in 120 treatment institutions in seven European countries to investigate hyperfractionated radiotherapy versus standard radiotherapy. In this retrospective analysis, we assessed the remaining tumour samples from patients in the HIT-SIOP PNET 4 trial (n=136). We assessed the clinical behaviour of the molecularly defined WNT and SHH subgroups, and identified novel independent prognostic markers and models for standard-risk patients with non-WNT/non-SHH disease. Because of the scarcity and low quality of available genomic material, we used a mass spectrometry-minimal methylation classifier assay (MS-MIMIC) to assess methylation subgroup and a molecular inversion probe array to detect genome-wide copy number aberrations. Prognostic biomarkers and models identified were validated in an independent, demographically matched cohort (n=70) of medulloblastoma patients with non-WNT/non-SHH standard-risk disease treated with conventional therapies (maximal surgical resection followed by adjuvant craniospinal irradiation [all patients] and chemotherapy [65 of 70 patients], at UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group and European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE) associated treatment centres between 1990 and 2014. These samples were analysed by Illumina 450k DNA methylation microarray. HIT-SIOP PNET 4 is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01351870.

Findings: We analysed methylation subgroup, genome-wide copy number aberrations, and mutational features in 136 assessable tumour samples from the HIT-SIOP PNET 4 cohort, representing 40% of the 338 patients in the trial cohort. This cohort of 136 samples consisted of 28 (21%) classified as WNT, 17 (13%) as SHH, and 91 (67%) as non-WNT/non-SHH (we considered Group3 and Group4 medulloblastoma together in our analysis because of their similar molecular and clinical features). Favourable outcomes for WNT tumours were confirmed in patients younger than 16 years, and all relapse events in SHH (four [24%] of 17) occurred in patients with TP53 mutation (TP53) or chromosome 17p loss. A novel whole chromosomal aberration signature associated with increased ploidy and multiple non-random whole chromosomal aberrations was identified in 38 (42%) of the 91 samples from patients with non-WNT/non-SHH medulloblastoma in the HIT-SIOP PNET 4 cohort. Biomarkers associated with this whole chromosomal aberration signature (at least two of chromosome 7 gain, chromosome 8 loss, and chromosome 11 loss) predicted favourable prognosis. Patients with non-WNT/non-SHH medulloblastoma could be reclassified by these markers as having favourable-risk or high-risk disease. In patients in the HIT-SIOP PNET4 cohort with non-WNT/non-SHH medulloblastoma, with a median follow-up of 6·7 years (IQR 5·8-8·2), 5-year event-free survival was 100% in the favourable-risk group and 68% (95% CI 57·5-82·7; p=0·00014) in the high-risk group. In the validation cohort, with a median follow-up of 5·6 years (IQR 3·1-8·1), 5-year event-free survival was 94·7% (95% CI 85·2-100) in the favourable-risk group and 58·6% (95% CI 45·1-76·1) in the high-risk group (hazard ratio 9·41, 95% CI 1·25-70·57; p=0·029). Our comprehensive molecular investigation identified subgroup-specific risk models which allowed 69 (51%) of 134 accessible patients from the standard-risk medulloblastoma HIT-SIOP PNET 4 cohort to be assigned to a favourable-risk group.

Interpretation: We define a whole chromosomal signature that allows the assignment of non-WNT/non-SHH medulloblastoma patients normally classified as standard-risk into favourable-risk and high-risk categories. In addition to patients younger than 16 years with WNT tumours, patients with non-WNT/non-SHH tumours with our defined whole chromosomal aberration signature and patients with SHH-TP53 tumours should be considered for therapy de-escalation in future biomarker-driven, risk-adapted clinical trials. The remaining subgroups of patients with high-risk medulloblastoma might benefit from more intensive therapies.

Funding: Cancer Research UK, Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, French Ministry of Health/French National Cancer Institute, and the German Children's Cancer Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30532-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262170PMC
December 2018

Development of a targeted sequencing approach to identify prognostic, predictive and diagnostic markers in paediatric solid tumours.

Oncotarget 2017 Dec 6;8(67):112036-112050. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Molecular Diagnostics Department, The Institute of Cancer Research and Clinical Genomics, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation, London, United Kingdom.

The implementation of personalised medicine in childhood cancers has been limited by a lack of clinically validated multi-target sequencing approaches specific for paediatric solid tumours. In order to support innovative clinical trials in high-risk patients with unmet need, we have developed a clinically relevant targeted sequencing panel spanning 311 kb and comprising 78 genes involved in childhood cancers. A total of 132 samples were used for the validation of the panel, including Horizon Discovery cell blends (n=4), cell lines (n=15), formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE, n=83) and fresh frozen tissue (FF, n=30) patient samples. Cell blends containing known single nucleotide variants (SNVs, n=528) and small insertion-deletions (indels n=108) were used to define panel sensitivities of ≥98% for SNVs and ≥83% for indels [95% CI] and panel specificity of ≥98% [95% CI] for SNVs. FFPE samples performed comparably to FF samples (n=15 paired). Of 95 well-characterised genetic abnormalities in 33 clinical specimens and 13 cell lines (including SNVs, indels, amplifications, rearrangements and chromosome losses), 94 (98.9%) were detected by our approach. We have validated a robust and practical methodology to guide clinical management of children with solid tumours based on their molecular profiles. Our work demonstrates the value of targeted gene sequencing in the development of precision medicine strategies in paediatric oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23000DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762377PMC
December 2017

TAp73 is a marker of glutamine addiction in medulloblastoma.

Genes Dev 2017 09 26;31(17):1738-1753. Epub 2017 Sep 26.

Blizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 2AT, United Kingdom.

Medulloblastoma is the most common solid primary brain tumor in children. Remarkable advancements in the understanding of the genetic and epigenetic basis of these tumors have informed their recent molecular classification. However, the genotype/phenotype correlation of the subgroups remains largely uncharacterized. In particular, the metabolic phenotype is of great interest because of its druggability, which could lead to the development of novel and more tailored therapies for a subset of medulloblastoma. p73 plays a critical role in a range of cellular metabolic processes. We show overexpression of p73 in a proportion of non-WNT medulloblastoma. In these tumors, p73 sustains cell growth and proliferation via regulation of glutamine metabolism. We validated our results in a xenograft model in which we observed an increase in survival time in mice on a glutamine restriction diet. Notably, glutamine starvation has a synergistic effect with cisplatin, a component of the current medulloblastoma chemotherapy. These findings raise the possibility that glutamine depletion can be used as an adjuvant treatment for p73-expressing medulloblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gad.302349.117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5666673PMC
September 2017

Novel molecular subgroups for clinical classification and outcome prediction in childhood medulloblastoma: a cohort study.

Lancet Oncol 2017 07 22;18(7):958-971. Epub 2017 May 22.

Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:

Background: International consensus recognises four medulloblastoma molecular subgroups: WNT (MB), SHH (MB), group 3 (MB), and group 4 (MB), each defined by their characteristic genome-wide transcriptomic and DNA methylomic profiles. These subgroups have distinct clinicopathological and molecular features, and underpin current disease subclassification and initial subgroup-directed therapies that are underway in clinical trials. However, substantial biological heterogeneity and differences in survival are apparent within each subgroup, which remain to be resolved. We aimed to investigate whether additional molecular subgroups exist within childhood medulloblastoma and whether these could be used to improve disease subclassification and prognosis predictions.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we assessed 428 primary medulloblastoma samples collected from UK Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) treatment centres (UK), collaborating European institutions, and the UKCCSG-SIOP-PNET3 European clinical trial. An independent validation cohort (n=276) of archival tumour samples was also analysed. We analysed samples from patients with childhood medulloblastoma who were aged 0-16 years at diagnosis, and had central review of pathology and comprehensive clinical data. We did comprehensive molecular profiling, including DNA methylation microarray analysis, and did unsupervised class discovery of test and validation cohorts to identify consensus primary molecular subgroups and characterise their clinical and biological significance. We modelled survival of patients aged 3-16 years in patients (n=215) who had craniospinal irradiation and had been treated with a curative intent.

Findings: Seven robust and reproducible primary molecular subgroups of childhood medulloblastoma were identified. MB remained unchanged and each remaining consensus subgroup was split in two. MB was split into age-dependent subgroups corresponding to infant (<4·3 years; MB; n=65) and childhood patients (≥4·3 years; MB; n=38). MB and MB were each split into high-risk (MB [n=65] and MB [n=85]) and low-risk (MB [n=50] and MB [n=73]) subgroups. These biological subgroups were validated in the independent cohort. We identified features of the seven subgroups that were predictive of outcome. Cross-validated subgroup-dependent survival models, incorporating these novel subgroups along with secondary clinicopathological and molecular features and established disease risk-factors, outperformed existing disease risk-stratification schemes. These subgroup-dependent models stratified patients into four clinical risk groups for 5-year progression-free survival: favourable risk (54 [25%] of 215 patients; 91% survival [95% CI 82-100]); standard risk (50 [23%] patients; 81% survival [70-94]); high-risk (82 [38%] patients; 42% survival [31-56]); and very high-risk (29 [13%] patients; 28% survival [14-56]).

Interpretation: The discovery of seven novel, clinically significant subgroups improves disease risk-stratification and could inform treatment decisions. These data provide a new foundation for future research and clinical investigations.

Funding: Cancer Research UK, The Tom Grahame Trust, Star for Harris, Action Medical Research, SPARKS, The JGW Patterson Foundation, The INSTINCT network (co-funded by The Brain Tumour Charity, Great Ormond Street Children's Charity, and Children with Cancer UK).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(17)30243-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489698PMC
July 2017

Relapse patterns and outcome after relapse in standard risk medulloblastoma: a report from the HIT-SIOP-PNET4 study.

J Neurooncol 2016 09 16;129(3):515-524. Epub 2016 Jul 16.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Gothenburg and Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

The HIT-SIOP-PNET4 randomised trial for standard risk medulloblastoma (MB) (2001-2006) included 338 patients and compared hyperfractionated and conventional radiotherapy. We here report the long-term outcome after a median follow up of 7.8 years, including detailed information on relapse and the treatment of relapse. Data were extracted from the HIT Group Relapsed MB database and by way of a specific case report form. The event-free and overall (OS) survival at 10 years were 76 ± 2 % and 78 ± 2 % respectively with no significant difference between the treatment arms. Seventy-two relapses and three second malignant neoplasms were reported. Thirteen relapses (18 %) were isolated local relapses in the posterior fossa (PF) and 59 (82 %) were craniospinal, metastatic relapses (isolated or multiple) with or without concurrent PF disease. Isolated PF relapse vs all other relapses occurred at mean/median of 38/35 and 28/26 months respectively (p = 0.24). Late relapse, i.e. >5 years from diagnosis, occurred in six patients (8 %). Relapse treatment consisted of combinations of surgery (25 %), focal radiotherapy (RT 22 %), high dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue (HDSCR 21 %) and conventional chemotherapy (90 %). OS at 5 years after relapse was 6.0 ± 4 %. In multivariate analysis; isolated relapse in PF, and surgery were significantly associated with prolonged survival whereas RT and HDSCR were not. Survival after relapse was not related to biological factors and was very poor despite several patients receiving intensive treatments. Exploration of new drugs is warranted, preferably based on tumour biology from biopsy of the relapsed tumour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11060-016-2202-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5020107PMC
September 2016

DNA methylation analysis of paediatric low-grade astrocytomas identifies a tumour-specific hypomethylation signature in pilocytic astrocytomas.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2016 05 27;4(1):54. Epub 2016 May 27.

Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 4 Newark Street, London, E1 2AT, UK.

Low-grade gliomas (LGGs) account for about a third of all brain tumours in children. We conducted a detailed study of DNA methylation and gene expression to improve our understanding of the biology of pilocytic and diffuse astrocytomas. Pilocytic astrocytomas were found to have a distinctive signature at 315 CpG sites, of which 312 were hypomethylated and 3 were hypermethylated. Genomic analysis revealed that 182 of these sites are within annotated enhancers. The signature was not present in diffuse astrocytomas, or in published profiles of other brain tumours and normal brain tissue. The AP-1 transcription factor was predicted to bind within 200 bp of a subset of the 315 differentially methylated CpG sites; the AP-1 factors, FOS and FOSL1 were found to be up-regulated in pilocytic astrocytomas. We also analysed splice variants of the AP-1 target gene, CCND1, which encodes cell cycle regulator cyclin D1. CCND1a was found to be highly expressed in both pilocytic and diffuse astrocytomas, but diffuse astrocytomas have far higher expression of the oncogenic variant, CCND1b. These findings highlight novel genetic and epigenetic differences between pilocytic and diffuse astrocytoma, in addition to well-described alterations involving BRAF, MYB and FGFR1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-016-0323-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882864PMC
May 2016

Highlights of Children with Cancer UK's Workshop on Drug Delivery in Paediatric Brain Tumours.

Ecancermedicalscience 2016 31;10:630. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9WL.

The first Workshop on Drug Delivery in Paediatric Brain Tumours was hosted in London by the charity Children with Cancer UK. The goals of the workshop were to break down the barriers to treating central nervous system (CNS) tumours in children, leading to new collaborations and further innovations in this under-represented and emotive field. These barriers include the physical delivery challenges presented by the blood-brain barrier, the underpinning reasons for the intractability of CNS cancers, and the practical difficulties of delivering cancer treatment to the brains of children. Novel techniques for overcoming these problems were discussed, new models brought forth, and experiences compared.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2016.630DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4817522PMC
April 2016

Risk stratification of childhood medulloblastoma in the molecular era: the current consensus.

Acta Neuropathol 2016 06 4;131(6):821-31. Epub 2016 Apr 4.

Department of Neurology, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.

Historical risk stratification criteria for medulloblastoma rely primarily on clinicopathological variables pertaining to age, presence of metastases, extent of resection, histological subtypes and in some instances individual genetic aberrations such as MYC and MYCN amplification. In 2010, an international panel of experts established consensus defining four main subgroups of medulloblastoma (WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4) delineated by transcriptional profiling. This has led to the current generation of biomarker-driven clinical trials assigning WNT tumors to a favorable prognosis group in addition to clinicopathological criteria including MYC and MYCN gene amplifications. However, outcome prediction of non-WNT subgroups is a challenge due to inconsistent survival reports. In 2015, a consensus conference was convened in Heidelberg with the objective to further refine the risk stratification in the context of subgroups and agree on a definition of risk groups of non-infant, childhood medulloblastoma (ages 3-17). Published and unpublished data over the past 5 years were reviewed, and a consensus was reached regarding the level of evidence for currently available biomarkers. The following risk groups were defined based on current survival rates: low risk (>90 % survival), average (standard) risk (75-90 % survival), high risk (50-75 % survival) and very high risk (<50 % survival) disease. The WNT subgroup and non-metastatic Group 4 tumors with whole chromosome 11 loss or whole chromosome 17 gain were recognized as low-risk tumors that may qualify for reduced therapy. High-risk strata were defined as patients with metastatic SHH or Group 4 tumors, or MYCN-amplified SHH medulloblastomas. Very high-risk patients are Group 3 with metastases or SHH with TP53 mutation. In addition, a number of consensus points were reached that should be standardized across future clinical trials. Although we anticipate new data will emerge from currently ongoing and recently completed clinical trials, this consensus can serve as an outline for prioritization of certain molecular subsets of tumors to define and validate risk groups as a basis for future clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-016-1569-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4867119PMC
June 2016

Divergent clonal selection dominates medulloblastoma at recurrence.

Nature 2016 Jan 13;529(7586):351-7. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Developmental &Stem Cell Biology Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario M5G 0A4, Canada.

The development of targeted anti-cancer therapies through the study of cancer genomes is intended to increase survival rates and decrease treatment-related toxicity. We treated a transposon-driven, functional genomic mouse model of medulloblastoma with 'humanized' in vivo therapy (microneurosurgical tumour resection followed by multi-fractionated, image-guided radiotherapy). Genetic events in recurrent murine medulloblastoma exhibit a very poor overlap with those in matched murine diagnostic samples (<5%). Whole-genome sequencing of 33 pairs of human diagnostic and post-therapy medulloblastomas demonstrated substantial genetic divergence of the dominant clone after therapy (<12% diagnostic events were retained at recurrence). In both mice and humans, the dominant clone at recurrence arose through clonal selection of a pre-existing minor clone present at diagnosis. Targeted therapy is unlikely to be effective in the absence of the target, therefore our results offer a simple, proximal, and remediable explanation for the failure of prior clinical trials of targeted therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature16478DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4936195PMC
January 2016

Biomarker-driven stratification of disease-risk in non-metastatic medulloblastoma: Results from the multi-center HIT-SIOP-PNET4 clinical trial.

Oncotarget 2015 Nov;6(36):38827-39

Department of Neuropathology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

Purpose: To improve stratification of risk-adapted treatment for non-metastatic (M0), standard-risk medulloblastoma patients by prospective evaluation of biomarkers of reported biological or prognostic significance, alongside clinico-pathological variables, within the multi-center HIT-SIOP-PNET4 trial.

Methods: Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissues were collected from 338 M0 patients (>4.0 years at diagnosis) for pathology review and assessment of the WNT subgroup (MBWNT) and genomic copy-number defects (chromosome 17, MYC/MYCN, 9q22 (PTCH1) and DNA ploidy). Clinical characteristics were reviewed centrally.

Results: The favorable prognosis of MBWNT was confirmed, however better outcomes were observed for non-MBWNT tumors in this clinical risk-defined cohort compared to previous disease-wide clinical trials. Chromosome 17p/q defects were heterogeneous when assessed at the cellular copy-number level, and predicted poor prognosis when they occurred against a diploid (ch17(im)/diploid(cen)), but not polyploid, genetic background. These factors, together with post-surgical tumor residuum (R+) and radiotherapy delay, were supported as independent prognostic markers in multivariate testing. Notably, MYC and MYCN amplification were not associated with adverse outcome. In cross-validated survival models derived for the clinical standard-risk (M0/R0) disease group, (ch17(im)/diploid(cen); 14% of patients) predicted high disease-risk, while the outcomes of patients without (ch17(im)/diploid(cen)) did not differ significantly from MBWNT, allowing re-classification of 86% as favorable-risk.

Conclusions: Biomarkers, established previously in disease-wide studies, behave differently in clinically-defined standard-risk disease. Distinct biomarkers are required to assess disease-risk in this group, and define improved risk-stratification models. Routine testing for specific patterns of chromosome 17 imbalance at the cellular level, and MBWNT, provides a strong basis for incorporation into future trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5149DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4770740PMC
November 2015

Epigenetic landscape correlates with genetic subtype but does not predict outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Epigenetics 2015 ;10(8):717-26

a Northern Institute for Cancer Research; Faculty of Medical Sciences; Newcastle University ; Newcastle upon Tyne , UK.

Although children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) generally have a good outcome, some patients do relapse and survival following relapse is poor. Altered DNA methylation is highly prevalent in ALL and raises the possibility that DNA methylation-based biomarkers could predict patient outcome. In this study, genome-wide methylation analysis, using the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip platform, was carried out on 52 diagnostic patient samples from 4 genetic subtypes [ETV6-RUNX1, high hyperdiploidy (HeH), TCF3-PBX1 and dic(9;20)(p11-13;q11)] in a 1:1 case-control design with patients who went on to relapse (as cases) and patients achieving long-term remission (as controls). Pyrosequencing assays for selected loci were used to confirm the array-generated data. Non-negative matrix factorization consensus clustering readily clustered samples according to genetic subgroups and gene enrichment pathway analysis suggested that this is in part driven by epigenetic disruption of subtype specific signaling pathways. Multiple bioinformatics approaches (including bump hunting and individual locus analysis) were used to identify CpG sites or regions associated with outcome. However, no associations with relapse were identified. Our data revealed that ETV6-RUNX1 and dic(9;20) subtypes were mostly associated with hypermethylation; conversely, TCF3-PBX1 and HeH were associated with hypomethylation. We observed significant enrichment of the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathway in TCF3-PBX1 as well as an enrichment of genes involved in immunity and infection pathways in ETV6-RUNX1 subtype. Taken together, our results suggest that altered DNA methylation may have differential impacts in distinct ALL genetic subtypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15592294.2015.1061174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622588PMC
May 2016

WNT activation by lithium abrogates TP53 mutation associated radiation resistance in medulloblastoma.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2014 Dec 24;2:174. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

TP53 mutations confer subgroup specific poor survival for children with medulloblastoma. We hypothesized that WNT activation which is associated with improved survival for such children abrogates TP53 related radioresistance and can be used to sensitize TP53 mutant tumors for radiation. We examined the subgroup-specific role of TP53 mutations in a cohort of 314 patients treated with radiation. TP53 wild-type or mutant human medulloblastoma cell-lines and normal neural stem cells were used to test radioresistance of TP53 mutations and the radiosensitizing effect of WNT activation on tumors and the developing brain. Children with WNT/TP53 mutant medulloblastoma had higher 5-year survival than those with SHH/TP53 mutant tumours (100% and 36.6%±8.7%, respectively (p<0.001)). Introduction of TP53 mutation into medulloblastoma cells induced radioresistance (survival fractions at 2Gy (SF2) of 89%±2% vs. 57.4%±1.8% (p<0.01)). In contrast, β-catenin mutation sensitized TP53 mutant cells to radiation (p<0.05). Lithium, an activator of the WNT pathway, sensitized TP53 mutant medulloblastoma to radiation (SF2 of 43.5%±1.5% in lithium treated cells vs. 56.6±3% (p<0.01)) accompanied by increased number of γH2AX foci. Normal neural stem cells were protected from lithium induced radiation damage (SF2 of 33%±8% for lithium treated cells vs. 27%±3% for untreated controls (p=0.05). Poor survival of patients with TP53 mutant medulloblastoma may be related to radiation resistance. Since constitutive activation of the WNT pathway by lithium sensitizes TP53 mutant medulloblastoma cells and protect normal neural stem cells from radiation, this oral drug may represent an attractive novel therapy for high-risk medulloblastomas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-014-0174-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297452PMC
December 2014
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