Publications by authors named "Thomas Herold"

63 Publications

HDAC Inhibition Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Mesenchymal-Epithelial Transition in a Novel Pleural-Effusion Derived Uterine Carcinosarcoma Cell Line.

Pathol Oncol Res 2021 26;27:636088. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Ruhrlandklinik, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Uterine carcinosarcoma (UCS) is a rare but highly aggressive malignancy with biphasic growth pattern. This morphology can be attributed to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) that often associates with tumor invasion and metastasis. Accordingly, we analyzed a novel patient-derived preclinical model to explore whether EMT is a potential target in UCS. A novel UCS cell line (PF338) was established from the malignant pleural effusion of a 59-year-old patient at time of disease progression. Immunohistochemistry was performed in primary and metastatic tumor lesions. Oncogenic mutations were identified by next-generation sequencing. Viability assays and cell cycle analyses were used to test sensitivity to different standard and novel treatments. E-cadherin, β-catenin and pSMAD2 expressions were measured by immunoblot. Whereas immunohistochemistry of the metastatic tumor showed a predominantly sarcomatous vimentin positive tumor that has lost E-cadherin expression, PF338 cells demonstrated biphasic growth and carried mutations in , , and . PF338 tumor cells were resistant to MEK- and TGF-β signaling-inhibition but sensitive to PIK3CA- and PARP-inhibition and first-line chemotherapeutics. Strikingly, histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition markedly reduced cell viability by inducing a dose-dependent G0/1 arrest and led to mesenchymal-epithelial transition as evidenced by morphological change and increased E-cadherin and β-catenin expression. Our data suggest that HDAC inhibition is effective in a novel UCS cell line by interfering with both viability and differentiation. These findings emphasize the dynamic manner of EMT/MET and epigenetics and the importance of molecular profiling to pave the way for novel therapies in UCS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/pore.2021.636088DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262245PMC
March 2021

Efficacy of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Alone or in Combination With Chemotherapy in NSCLC Harboring ERBB2 Mutations.

J Thorac Oncol 2021 Jul 8. Epub 2021 Jul 8.

Department for Pathology, University Hospital, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Introduction: In contrast to other driver mutations, no targeted therapies have yet been approved in ERBB2-mutated NSCLC (HER2mu NSCLC). Nevertheless, several compounds have revealed promising early efficacy data, which need to be evaluated in the context of current standard approaches. Although data on the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in second or subsequent lines of treatment remain limited and conflicting, there are virtually no data on patient outcome under ICI/platinum-doublet combinations in the first-line setting.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated outcomes of patients with HER2mu NSCLC treated with ICI alone or in combination with chemotherapy within the German National Network Genomic Medicine Lung Cancer consortium by means of overall response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS).

Results: ICI either in combination with chemotherapy or as monotherapy was applied as first-line treatment in 27 patients, whereas 34 received single-agent ICI in second or subsequent lines. Patient characteristics were in line with previously published data. In treatment-naive patients receiving ICI in combination with chemotherapy, the ORR, median PFS, and OS rate at 1 year were 52%, 6 months, and 88%, respectively. In second or subsequent lines, ICI monotherapy was associated with an ORR of 16%, a median PFS of 4 months, and a median OS of 10 months.

Conclusions: ICIs are effective as monotherapy and in combination with platinum-doublet chemotherapy. Therefore, ICI-based treatments may be found as the current standard of care and benchmark for targeted therapies in HER2mu NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2021.06.025DOI Listing
July 2021

A randomized, multicenter phase II study comparing efficacy, safety and tolerability of two dosing regimens of cisplatin and pemetrexed in patients with advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

Ther Adv Med Oncol 2021 9;13:1758835921996506. Epub 2021 Mar 9.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, Hufelandstraße 55, Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, 45147, Germany.

Background: Pemetrexed and cisplatin is a first-line standard in non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer without targetable mutations. It became the backbone of checkpoint-inhibitor-chemotherapy combinations. Single high doses of cisplatin pose toxicity risks and require hyperhydration, potentially prolonging outpatient application. The aim of this study was to compare efficacy, safety and tolerability of split-dose cisplatin with the standard schedule.

Methods: Patients with metastatic non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer were randomly assigned to up to six 21-day cycles of pemetrexed 500 mg/m and cisplatin 75 mg/m on day 1 (arm A), or pemetrexed 500 mg/m (day 1) and cisplatin 40 mg/m (day 1 + 8, arm B), followed by pemetrexed maintenance. Primary endpoint was objective response rate. Secondary objectives were overall survival, progression-free survival, time to progression, treatment compliance, toxicity profile, and quality of life.

Results: We enrolled 130 patients (129 evaluable). Median cycle numbers in A and B were six (1-6) and five (1-6). Dose intensities were comparable between arms. More patients in A received pemetrexed maintenance (24.2% 11.1%). With 16 (24.2%) in A and 19 (30.2%) patients in B achieving objective responses [odds ratio 0.74 (0.34-1.62),  = 0.55] the primary endpoint was met. Overall survival was not different between arms (median 14.4 14.9 months); [HR = 1.07; (0.68-1.68),  = 0.78]. Median progression-free survival was 7.0 months in A and 6.2 months in B [HR = 1.63; (1.17-2.38);  = 0.01]. Adverse events of CTCAE grade ⩾3, particularly hematological, were more frequent in B. No difference in grade 4 and 5 infections between arms was noted. Treatment-related asthenia and nausea/vomiting of any grade were more frequent in A. Global health status, fatigue and constipation measured on day 1 of cycle 4 demonstrated superior scores in B.

Conclusion: Pemetrexed and split-dose cisplatin is safe and effective. Advantages of split-dose cisplatin with regard to specific toxicities allow personalization of this important chemotherapy backbone.

Trial Registration: European Clinical Trials Database (EudraCT) number 2011-001963-37.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1758835921996506DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8164550PMC
March 2021

BRAF mutations and BRAF mutation functional class have no negative impact on the clinical outcome of advanced NSCLC and associate with susceptibility to immunotherapy.

Eur J Cancer 2021 May 16;149:211-221. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany; Division of Thoracic Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Medicine Essen - Ruhrlandklinik, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany; German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Partner Site University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.

Objective: BRAF mutations have been subtyped in three functional classes with different oncogenic modes of action. The clinical impact of BRAF mutational subtypes in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains to be defined. So far, ambiguous results were reported from analyses of heterogeneous patient cohorts.

Methods: We studied patients with metastatic or recurrent NSCLC who were sequentially enrolled in precision oncology programs at two large German lung cancer centres from 2009 to 2019. The study period allowed evaluating the specific impact of BRAF V600E-targeting.

Results: In a cohort of 72 patients, BRAF mutation subtyping revealed p.V600E mutations in 31 cases (43%), whereas 41 cases (57%) harboured 18 different BRAF mutational subtypes of functional classes II/III. Functionally relevant comutations were observed in 6.4% of class I, and 24.4% of class II/III BRAF mutations. Most patients were treated with chemotherapy. Targeted therapy was administered in 11 patients with a response rate of 72.7%. PD-1/PD-L1-immunotherapy was given in 14 patients with a response rate of 28.6%. Overall survival of patients with BRAF-mutated NSCLC was inferior (HR 1.38, p = 0.048) as compared to patients with BRAF wild-type cancers. Median time-to-treatment-failure with BRAF-targeting agents was shorter as compared to approved targeted therapy of other oncogenic drivers (HR 1.97, p = 0.05). Survival outcomes were not impacted by BRAF mutation subtype functional class.

Conclusions: Patients with BRAF-mutated NSCLC have an inferior prognosis, which is not determined by BRAF mutation functional class. In contrast to NSCLC with other tractable driver mutations, BRAF-mutated NSCLC exhibit high susceptibility to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.02.036DOI Listing
May 2021

Detection of gene fusions using targeted next-generation sequencing: a comparative evaluation.

BMC Med Genomics 2021 02 27;14(1):62. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Cologne, Kerpener Str. 62, 50937, Cologne, Germany.

Background: Gene fusions represent promising targets for cancer therapy in lung cancer. Reliable detection of multiple gene fusions is therefore essential.

Methods: Five commercially available parallel sequencing assays were evaluated for their ability to detect gene fusions in eight cell lines and 18 FFPE tissue samples carrying a variety of known gene fusions. Four RNA-based assays and one DNA-based assay were compared; two were hybrid capture-based, TruSight Tumor 170 Assay (Illumina) and SureSelect XT HS Custom Panel (Agilent), and three were amplicon-based, Archer FusionPlex Lung Panel (ArcherDX), QIAseq RNAscan Custom Panel (Qiagen) and Oncomine Focus Assay (Thermo Fisher Scientific).

Results: The Illumina assay detected all tested fusions and showed the smallest number of false positive results. Both, the ArcherDX and Qiagen panels missed only one fusion event. Among the RNA-based assays, the Qiagen panel had the highest number of false positive events. The Oncomine Focus Assay (Thermo Fisher Scientific) was the least adequate assay for our purposes, seven fusions were not covered by the assay and two fusions were classified as uncertain. The DNA-based SureSelect XT HS Custom Panel (Agilent) missed three fusions and nine fusions were only called by one software version. Additionally, many false positive fusions were observed.

Conclusions: In summary, especially RNA-based parallel sequencing approaches are potent tools for reliable detection of targetable gene fusions in clinical diagnostics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12920-021-00909-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7912891PMC
February 2021

Acquired Resistance to BRAF/MEK Inhibitor Therapy in BRAF-V-mutated Squamous Cell Lung Cancer: Concurrent Evolvement of PTEN and MEK1 Mutations.

Clin Lung Cancer 2020 Dec 2. Epub 2020 Dec 2.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2020.11.008DOI Listing
December 2020

Inferior vena cava-syndrome.

Vasa 2021 Jul 18;50(4):250-264. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Diagnostic and Interventionel Radiology, Ernst von Bergmann Klinikum Potsdam, Germany.

Inferior vena cava syndrome (IVCS) is caused by agenesis, compression, invasion, or thrombosis of the IVC, or may be associated with Budd-Chiari syndrome. Its incidence and prevalence are unknown. Benign IVCS is separated from malignant IVCS. Both cover a wide clinical spectrum reaching from asymptomatic to highly symptomatic cases correlated to the underlying cause, the acuity, the extent of the venous obstruction, and the recruitment and development of venous collateral circuits. Imaging is necessary to determine the underlying cause of IVCS and to guide clinical decisions. Interventional therapy has changed the therapeutic approach in symptomatic patients. This article provides an overview over IVCS and focuses on interventional therapeutic methods and results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1024/0301-1526/a000919DOI Listing
July 2021

Impact of metallothionein-knockdown on cisplatin resistance in malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Sci Rep 2020 10 29;10(1):18677. Epub 2020 Oct 29.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare, but aggressive tumor with dismal prognosis. Platinum-based chemotherapy is regularly used as part of multimodality therapy. The expression of metallothioneins (MT) has been identified as a reason for cisplatin resistance, which often leads to early therapy failure or relapse. Thus, knockdown of MT expression may improve response to cisplatin treatment. The MT gene- and protein expression of the MPM-cell lines MSTO-211H, NCI-H2052 and NCI-H2452 and the human fibroblast cell line MRC-5, as well as their sensitivity to cisplatin treatment have been evaluated. Knockdown of MT1A, 1B and 2A expression was induced by RNA interference. MT expression was measured using quantitative real-time PCR. An in vitro Assay based on enzyme activity was used to detect cell viability, necrosis and apoptosis before and after incubation with cisplatin. MT2A gene expression could be detected in all MPM cell lines, showing the highest expression in NCI-H2452 and NCI-H2052, whereas gene expression levels of MT1A and MT1B were low or absent. The immunohistochemically protein expression of MT-I/II reflect MT2A gene expression levels. Especially for MSTO-211H cell presenting low initial MT2A levels, a strong induction of MT2A expression could be observed during cisplatin treatment, indicating a cell line-specific and platin-dependent adaption mechanism. Additionally, a MT2A-dependent cellular evasion of apoptosis during cisplatin could be observed, leading to three different MT based phenotypes. MSTO-211H cells showed lower apoptosis rates at an increased expression level of MT2A after cisplatin treatment (from sixfold to fourfold). NCI-H2052 cells showed no changes in MT2A expression, while apoptosis rate is the highest (8-12-fold). NCI-H2452 cells showed neither changes in alteration rate of MT2A expression nor changes in apoptosis rates, indicating an MT2A-independent resistance mechanism. Knockdown of MT2A expression levels resulted in significantly induced apoptotic rates during cisplatin treatment with strongest induction of apoptosis in each of the MPM cell lines, but in different markedness. A therapeutic meaningful effect of MT2A knockdown and subsequent cisplatin treatment could be observed in MSTO-211H cells. The present study showed MT2A to be part of the underlying mechanism of cisplatin resistance in MPM. Especially in MSTO-211H cells we could demonstrate major effects by knockdown of MT2A expression, verifying our hypothesis of an MT driven resistance mechanism. We could prove the inhibition of MT2A as a powerful tool to boost response rates to cisplatin-based therapy in vitro. These data carry the potential to enhance the clinical outcome and management of MPM in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75807-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7596082PMC
October 2020

Superior vena cava syndrome.

Vasa 2020 Oct;49(6):437-448

Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Ernst von Bergmann Klinikum Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany.

The superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) is caused by compression, invasion, and/or thrombosis of the superior vena cava and/or the brachiocephalic veins. Benign SVCS is separated from malignant SVCS. SVCS comprises a broad clinical spectrum reaching from asymptomatic cases to rare life-threatening emergencies with upper airway obstruction and increased intracranial pressure. Symptoms are correlated to the acuity and extent of the venous obstruction and inversely correlated to the development of the venous collateral circuits. Imaging is necessary to determine the exact underlying cause and to guide further interventions. Interventional therapy has widely changed the therapeutic approach in symptomatic patients. This article provides an overview over this complex syndrome and focuses on interventional therapeutic methods and results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1024/0301-1526/a000908DOI Listing
October 2020

ERK phosphorylation as a marker of RAS activity and its prognostic value in non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung Cancer 2020 11 10;149:10-16. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany; Division of Thoracic Oncology, West German Cancer Center, Ruhrlandklinik, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Deregulated signal transduction pathways play a key role in development, progression and therapeutic resistance of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). The purpose of this study is to assess the downstream markers of two well-characterized pathways and to correlate them with clinical outcome.

Design: 670 patients with metastatic NSCLC were prospectively enrolled in a comprehensive biomarker profiling program at a single center from 2012 to 2016. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK), and protein kinase B (p-AKT) was assessed by standardized immunohistochemistry. Product of scores for quantity and quality of staining were calculated (immunoreactive score, 0-9). Somatic mutations of Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog [KRAS], epithelial growth factor receptor [EGFR], v-Raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B [BRAF] and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase [PIK3CA]) were detected by Sanger (2012-03/2015) and amplicon NGS (04/2015-02/2016). Patients enrolled during the first year (2012) were used as discovery cohort. Patients enrolled from 2013 to 02/2016 were used as validation cohort. Clinical data were retrieved from the electronic medical records and were analyzed retrospectively.

Results: Using a discovery cohort, we identified an immunoreactive score of p-ERK ≥3 to be prognostically relevant. The validation cohort confirmed that higher levels of p-ERK correlated with worse overall survival (OS) and higher proportion of RAS mutations. Multivariate analysis including established risk factors such EGFR, ALK or ROS mutations and metastatic disease showed a trend of a detrimental effect of high p-ERK on OS (HR 1.23, CI 0.94-1.59, p = 0.131 for p-ERK immunoreactive score ≥3) and time to treatment failure after first-line therapy in the validation cohort. Phosphorylated AKT did not correlate with clinical outcome.

Conclusion: While serving as a prognosticator in univariate analysis, highly phosphorylated ERK does not convey a significant prognostic effect for OS in the presence of other prognostic factors. Phosphorylated ERK indicates a higher activity of RAS in advanced NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2020.09.005DOI Listing
November 2020

Prevalence of APC and PTEN Alterations in Urachal Cancer.

Pathol Oncol Res 2020 Oct 4;26(4):2773-2781. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

Department of Urology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, 1082, Hungary.

Urachal carcinoma (UrC) is a rare tumor with remarkable histological and molecular similarities to colorectal cancer (CRC). Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) is the most frequently affected gene in CRC, but the prevalence and significance of its alterations in UrC is poorly understood. In addition, loss of phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) was shown to be associated with therapy resistance in CRC. Our primary aim was to assess specific genetic alterations including APC and PTEN in a large series of UrC samples in order to identify clinically significant genomic alterations. We analyzed a total of 40 UrC cases. Targeted 5-gene (APC, PTEN, DICER1, PRKAR1A, TSHR, WRN) panel sequencing was performed on the Illumina MiSeq platform (n = 34). In addition, ß-catenin (n = 38) and PTEN (n = 30) expressions were assessed by immunohistochemistry. APC and PTEN genes were affected in 15% (5/34) and 6% (2/34) of cases. Two of five APC alterations (p.Y1075*, p.K1199*) were truncating pathogenic mutations. One of the two PTEN variants was a pathogenic frameshift insertion (p.C211fs). In 29% (11/38) of samples, at least some weak nuclear ß-catenin immunostaining was detected and PTEN loss was observed in 20% (6/30) of samples. The low prevalence of APC mutations in UrC represents a characteristic difference to CRC. Based on APC and ß-catenin results, the Wnt pathway seems to be rarely affected in UrC. Considering the formerly described involvement of PTEN protein loss in anti-EGFR therapy-resistance its immunohistochemical testing may have therapeutic relevance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12253-020-00872-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7471184PMC
October 2020

Biweekly Cetuximab Plus FOLFOX6 as First-Line Therapy in Patients With RAS Wild-Type Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: The CEBIFOX Trial.

Clin Colorectal Cancer 2020 12 19;19(4):236-247.e6. Epub 2020 Mar 19.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: The multicenter, single-arm, phase II study CEBIFOX evaluated the efficacy of a biweekly cetuximab administration in combination with FOLFOX6 as first-line therapy in KRAS (exon 2) wild-type (wt) metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

Patients And Methods: Patients received FOLFOX6 with cetuximab (500 mg/m) every second week. Primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR), among others secondary endpoints were safety, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and patient-reported outcome (PRO). The impact on the treatment efficacy was evaluated in explorative subgroup analyses, including extended molecular profiling and primary tumor location.

Results: In total, 57 were included in the intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses. New RAS mutations were detected in 14.0% by post hoc next-generation sequencing analysis in 43 patients. The ORR in the all RASwt population was 70.3% with a median PFS and OS of 10.9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.0-12.9) and 33.8 (95% CI, 21.1-45.5) months. Grade 3-5 adverse events occurred in 66.7% of the ITT, without significant impact on the PRO. Patients with right-sided primary tumors had a reduced ORR (54.5%), and median PFS and OS (10.1 and 23.8 months). BRAF mutations were detected in 11.3%. These patients had a significantly lower ORR, and median PFS and OS. Patients with RASwt/BRAFwt tumors had a notably high median PFS and OS of 14.3 and 38.9 months.

Conclusions: This study supports the efficacy and safety of biweekly cetuximab given in combination with FOLFOX6 in patients with RASwt/BRAFwt mCRC with left-sided primary tumor. CEBIFOX is the first trial reporting the complete dataset, including extended molecular profiling and tumor location of a biweekly administered cetuximab/FOLFOX6 in mCRC. Clinical trial number: NCT01051167.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clcc.2020.03.003DOI Listing
December 2020

HDAC Inhibition Induces PD-L1 Expression in a Novel Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Cell Line.

Pathol Oncol Res 2020 Oct 26;26(4):2523-2535. Epub 2020 Jun 26.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Medicine Essen - Ruhrlandklinik, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

While papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) has largely favorable prognosis, anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare but extremely aggressive malignancy with grim clinical outcome. Even though new therapeutic options are emerging for ATC, additional preclinical models and novel combinations are needed for specific subsets of patients. We established a novel cell line (PF49) from the malignant pleural effusion of a 68-year-old male patient with ATC that rapidly transformed from a BRAF and TERT promoter mutant PTC. PF49 cells demonstrated a robust migratory activity in vitro and strong invasive capacity in vivo in a pleural carcinosis model. Combined BRAF and MEK inhibition decreased the proliferation and migration of PF49 cells, however could not induce cell death. Importantly, HDAC inhibitor treatment with SAHA or valproic acid induced cell cycle arrest and strongly increased PD-L1 expression of the tumor cells. Induction of PD-L1 expression was also present when paclitaxel-cisplatin chemotherapeutic treatment was combined with HDAC inhibitor treatment. Increased PD-L1 expression after HDAC inhibition was recapitulated in an international ATC cell model. Our data suggest that HDAC inhibition alone or in combination with standard chemotherapy may potentiate anaplastic thyroid cancer cells for immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12253-020-00834-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7471186PMC
October 2020

HDAC inhibition synergizes with ALK inhibitors to overcome resistance in a novel ALK mutated lung adenocarcinoma model.

Lung Cancer 2020 06 18;144:20-29. Epub 2020 Apr 18.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen - Ruhrlandklinik, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany. Electronic address:

Objectives: Somatic chromosomal rearrangements resulting in ALK fusion oncogenes are observed in 3-7 % of lung adenocarcinomas. ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (ALKi) induce initially response, however, various resistance mechanisms limit their efficacy. Novel therapeutic approaches are of utmost importance to tailor these targeted therapies.

Materials And Methods: A synchronous ALK-rearranged and mutated lung cancer cell line pair was established from malignant pleural effusion (PF240-PE) and carcinosis (PF240-PC) at time of ALKi resistance. Immunohistochemistry, FISH and sequencing were performed in pre- and post-treatment tumors and in both cell lines. Differentiation markers were measured by immunoblot. Viability was tested following treatment with ALKi and/or a pan-HDAC inhibitor. Additionally, a novel treatment-naïve ALK-rearranged cell line served as control. In vivo tumorigenicity was evaluated in subcutaneous xenografts.

Results: Two distinct resistance mutations were identified in different carcinosis tissues at time of resistance, the previously described resistance mutation L1152R and the hitherto uncharacterized E1161K. Strikingly, PF240-PC cells carried E1161K and PF240-PE cells harbored L1152R. Immunohistochemistry and immunoblot identified epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition markers upregulated following ALKi resistance development both in carcinosis tissues and cell lines. While both lines grew as xenografts, they differed in morphology, migration, in vivo growth and sensitivity to ALKi in vitro. Strikingly, the combination of ALKi with SAHA yielded strong synergism.

Conclusion: Using a patient-derived ALKi resistant lung cancer model we demonstrated the synergism of HDAC and ALK inhibition. Furthermore, our findings provide strong evidence for intratumoral heterogeneity under targeted therapy and highlight the importance of site-specific mutational analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2020.04.002DOI Listing
June 2020

Screening of Pleural Mesothelioma Cell Lines for Kinase Activity May Identify New Mechanisms of Therapy Resistance in Patients Receiving Platin-Based Chemotherapy.

J Oncol 2019 23;2019:2902985. Epub 2019 Dec 23.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare, predominantly asbestos-related and biologically highly aggressive tumor associated with a dismal prognosis. Multimodal therapy consisting of platinum-based chemotherapy is the treatment of choice. The reasons underlying the rather poor efficacy of platinum compounds remain largely unknown. Kinase activity might influence cellular response to these regimens.

Materials And Methods: For this exploratory study, we screened MPM cell lines (NCI-H2452, NCI-H2052, and MSTO-211H) differing in response to cisplatin and benign control fibroblasts (MRC-5) for overall phosphorylation patterns as well as kinase activity with respect to cellular response to cisplatin-based therapeutics. We analysed the cell lines for cellular kinases in a high-throughput manner using the highly innovative technique PamGene. Cell state analysis including apoptosis, necrosis, and cell viability was performed by using enzyme activity and fluorescent-based assays.

Results: Cisplatin alters cellular phosphorylation patterns affecting cell cycle, migration, adhesion, signal transduction, immune modulation, and apoptosis. In cisplatin-responsive cell lines, phosphorylation of AKT1 and GSK3B was decreased but could not be influenced in cisplatin-resistant NCI-H2452 cells. Cisplatin-responsive cell lines showed increased phosphorylation levels of JNK1/2/3 but decreased phosphorylation in cisplatin-resistant NCI-H2452 cells.

Conclusion: Kinase phosphorylation and activity might play a crucial role in cellular response to cytostatic agents. Cisplatin influences phosphorylation patterns with distinct features in cisplatin-resistant cells. These alterations exert a significant impact on cell cycle, migration, adhesion, signal transduction, immune modulation, and apoptosis of the respective tumor cells. Based on our results, the induction of p38 or JNK1/3, or inhibition of AKT1 by, for example, BIA-6, might offer a positive synergistic effect by induction of an apoptotic response to cisplatin-based treatment, thus potentially enhancing the clinical outcome of MPM patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2019/2902985DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6942867PMC
December 2019

New insights into intranuclear inclusions in thyroid carcinoma: Association with autophagy and with BRAFV600E mutation.

PLoS One 2019 16;14(12):e0226199. Epub 2019 Dec 16.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: Intranuclear inclusions (NI) in normal and neoplastic tissues have been known for years, representing one of the diagnostic criteria for papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). BRAF activation is involved among others in autophagy. NI in hepatocellular carcinoma contain autophagy-associated proteins. Our aim was to clarify if NI in thyroid carcinoma (TC) have a biological function.

Methods: NI in 107 paraffin-embedded specimens of TC including all major subtypes were analyzed. We considered an inclusion as positive if it was delimited by a lamin AC (nuclear membrane marker) stained intact membrane and completely closed. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunohistochemistry (IHC), immunofluorescence (IF) and 3D reconstruction were performed to investigate content and shape of NI; BRAFV600E mutation was analyzed by next generation sequencing.

Results: In 29% of the TCs at least one lamin AC positive intranuclear inclusion was detected; most frequently (76%) in PTCs. TEM analyses revealed degenerated organelles and heterolysosomes within such NI; 3D reconstruction of IF stained nuclei confirmed complete closure by the nuclear membrane without any contact to the cytoplasm. NI were positively stained for the autophagy-associated proteins LC3B, ubiquitin, cathepsin D, p62/sequestosome1 and cathepsin B in 14-29% of the cases. Double-IF revealed co-localization of LC3B & ubiquitin, p62 & ubiquitin and LC3B & p62 in the same NI. BRAFV600E mutation, exclusively detected in PTCs, was significantly associated with the number of NI/PTC (p = 0.042) and with immunoreactivity for autophagy-associated proteins in the NI (p≤0.035). BRAF-IHC revealed that some of these BRAF-positive thyrocytes contained mutant BRAF in their NI co-localized with autophagy-associated proteins.

Conclusions: NI are completely delimited by nuclear membrane in TC. The presence of autophagy-associated proteins within the NI together with degenerated organelles and lysosomal proteases suggests their involvement in autophagy and proteolysis. Whether and how BRAFV600E protein is degraded in NI needs further investigation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0226199PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6913918PMC
April 2020

Clinical response to crizotinib and emergence of resistance in lung adenocarcinoma harboring a MET c-Cbl binding site mutation.

Lung Cancer 2020 01 26;139:165-168. Epub 2019 Nov 26.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany; Division of Thoracic Oncology, West German Lung Center, Ruhrlandklinik - University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany; German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Partner Site University Hospital Essen, Germany.

Objectives: MET c-Cbl binding site mutations constitute about 2 % of MET exon 14 alterations in lung cancer. Preclinical data suggests regarding these mutations as functional analogs of MET exon 14 skipping mutations, but clinical validation is lacking.

Results: We report the case of a patient with metastastic lung adenocarcinoma harboring a c-Cbl binding site alteration and demonstrate clinical, radiological and metabolic response to crizotinib with a PFS of 10.6 months. As escape mechanism, a typical MET resistance mutation could be identified.

Conclusion: MET c-Cbl binding site mutations should be regarded as a distinct subtype of MET exon 14 alterations. Patients with lung cancer harboring such mutations should be offered targeted therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2019.11.020DOI Listing
January 2020

KIT-Dependent and KIT-Independent Genomic Heterogeneity of Resistance in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors - TORC1/2 Inhibition as Salvage Strategy.

Mol Cancer Ther 2019 11 15;18(11):1985-1996. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

Department of Medical Oncology, Sarcoma Center, West German Cancer Center, University Duisburg-Essen, Medical School, Essen, Germany.

Sporadic gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), characterized by activating mutations of or , favorably respond to KIT inhibitory treatment but eventually become resistant. The development of effective salvage treatments is complicated by the heterogeneity of secondary resistance mutations. Recently, additional mutations that independently activate KIT-downstream signaling have been found in pretreated patients-adding further complexity to the scope of resistance. We collected genotyping data for from tumor samples of pretreated GIST, providing a representative overview on the distribution and incidence of secondary mutations ( = 80). Analyzing next-generation sequencing data of 109 GIST, we found that 18% carried mutations in KIT-downstream signaling intermediates () potentially mediating resistance to KIT inhibitors. Notably, we found no apparent other driver mutations in refractory cases that were analyzed by whole exome/genome sequencing (13/109). Using CRISPR/Cas9 methods, we generated a panel of GIST cell lines harboring mutations in , and We utilized this panel to evaluate sapanisertib, a novel mTOR kinase inhibitor, as a salvage strategy. Sapanisertib had potent antiproliferative effects in all cell lines, including those with KIT-downstream mutations. Combinations with KIT or MEK inhibitors completely abrogated GIST-survival signaling and displayed synergistic effects. Our isogenic cell line panel closely approximates the genetic heterogeneity of resistance observed in heavily pretreated patients with GIST. With the clinical development of novel, broad spectrum KIT inhibitors, emergence of non-KIT-related resistance may require combination treatments with inhibitors of KIT-downstream signaling such as mTOR or MEK.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-18-1224DOI Listing
November 2019

Gene expression profiling of homologous recombination repair pathway indicates susceptibility for olaparib treatment in malignant pleural mesothelioma in vitro.

BMC Cancer 2019 Jan 30;19(1):108. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a tumour arising from pleural cavities with poor prognosis. Multimodality treatment with pemetrexed combined with cisplatin shows unsatisfying response-rates of 40%. The reasons for the rather poor efficacy of chemotherapeutic treatment are largely unknown. However, it is conceivable that DNA repair mechanisms lead to an impaired therapy response. We hypothesize a major role of homologous recombination (HR) for genome stability and survival of this tumour. Therefore, we analysed genes compiled under the term "BRCAness". An inhibition of this pathway with olaparib might abrogate this effect and induce apoptosis.

Methods: We investigated the response of three MPM cell lines and lung fibroblasts serving as a control to treatment with pemetrexed, cisplatin and olaparib. Furthermore, we aimed to find possible correlations between response and gene expression patterns associated with BRCAness phenotype. Therefore, 91 clinical MPM samples were digitally screened for gene expression patterns of HR members.

Results: A BRCAness-dependent increase of apoptosis and senescence during olaparib-based treatment of BRCA-associated-protein 1 (BAP1)-mutated cell lines was observed. The gene expression pattern identified could be found in approx. 10% of patient samples. Against this background, patients could be grouped according to their defects in the HR system. Gene expression levels of Aurora Kinase A (AURKA), RAD50 as well as DNA damage-binding protein 2 (DDB2) could be identified as prognostic markers in MPM.

Conclusions: Defects in HR compiled under the term BRCAness are a common event in MPM. The present data can lead to a better understanding of the underlaying cellular mechanisms and leave the door wide open for new therapeutic approaches for this severe disease with infaust prognosis. Response to Poly (ADP-ribose)-Polymerase (PARP)-Inhibition could be demonstrated in the BAP1-mutated NCI-H2452 cells, especially when combined with cisplatin. Thus, this combination therapy might be effective for up to 2/3 of patients, promising to enhance patients' clinical management and outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-019-5314-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6354412PMC
January 2019

Impact of RAS mutation subtype on clinical outcome-a cross-entity comparison of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

Oncogene 2019 04 19;38(16):2953-2966. Epub 2018 Dec 19.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122, Essen, Germany.

Mutated RAS onco-proteins are key drivers across many cancers. The distribution of somatic RAS mutations varies between cancer entities. Retrospective analyses have associated some RAS mutations with distinct clinical outcomes. However, the clinical impact of the full spectrum of RAS mutations in their disease contextuality remains to be defined. To improve upon this situation, we studied genomically and clinically annotated, prospectively recruited cohorts of patients with RAS-mutated metastatic lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Mutational spectra were compared with predictions derived from analyzing the mutagenic impact at the genome level for each entity. Interestingly, we found concordance of predicted signatures with those actually observed in our patients. Thus, composition of the functionally active RAS mutational subtypes is primarily determined by the mutagenic context. Most RAS mutations seemed dominant oncogenic drivers with entity-dependent clinical outcomes. RAS comutations were enriched in tumors harboring class 2/3 BRAF mutations, highlighting the functional dependency of some mutated BRAF isoforms on RAS. With our dataset, we established a probabilistic model for cross-entity comparison of the prognostic impact of specific RAS mutational subtypes. The resulting prognostic clusters showed largely consistent clinical categorizations in both entities. This suggests mutant subtype-specific functional properties leading to similar clinical effects. A notable exception is KRAS G12C, which imparted an adverse prognosis only in colorectal cancer. Our findings provide a framework for risk stratification of specific RAS mutations across several cancer entities, which is required to guide the analysis of clinical findings in patients treated with direct RAS inhibitors or agents targeting downstream pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-018-0634-0DOI Listing
April 2019

Rapid and Highly Sensitive Detection of Therapeutically Relevant Oncogenic Driver Mutations in EBUS-TBNA Specimens From Patients With Lung Adenocarcinoma.

Clin Lung Cancer 2018 11 22;19(6):e879-e884. Epub 2018 Aug 22.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany; German Cancer Consortium, Partner Site University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: First-line afatinib treatment prolongs overall survival in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring exon 19 deletion of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRdelEx19) mutations. In contrast, Kirsten rat sarcoma 2 viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations are negative predictors for benefit from EGFR-targeting agents. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is well-established for lung cancer diagnosis and staging. Next generation sequencing (NGS) allows for simultaneous interrogation for multiple mutations but has limitations (required tumor tissue amount, assay times). Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using light-Cycler technology (LCRT-PCR) can rapidly and sensitively detect somatic mutations from NSCLC patients. In the present study, we analyzed the feasibility of LCRT-PCR for rapid EGFRdelEx19 and KRAS exon 2 mutation detection in EBUS-TBNA samples and compared the LCRT-PCR and NGS results.

Materials And Methods: A total of 48 EBUS-TBNA samples from 47 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of pulmonary adenocarcinoma were analyzed using LCRT-PCR (as previously described) and NGS (MiSeq; Illumina) using targeted resequencing and a customized multiplex PCR panel. The processing time was ∼1 week for the NGS and < 24 hours for the LCRT-PCR analyses.

Results: All (100%) EGFRdelEx19 and KRAS exon 2 mutations detected by NGS were detected by LCRT-PCR. In addition, LCRT-PCR detected 2 KRAS exon 2 mutations and 3 EGFRdelEx19 mutations that were not detected by NGS.

Conclusion: LCRT-PCR is a highly sensitive method to rapidly detect mutations of therapeutic relevance (eg, EGFRdelEx19 and KRAS exon 2) in EBUS-TBNAs from NSCLC patients. It is of value as an initial assay for first-line treatment decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2018.08.016DOI Listing
November 2018

Pneumokokkensepsis und Osteoidosteom – eine seltene Koinzidenz.

Rofo 2018 Nov 6;190(11):1070-1072. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Department of Radiology, HELIOS-Klinikum Berlin-Buch, Berlin, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-0620-9034DOI Listing
November 2018

Biomarkers in Urachal Cancer and Adenocarcinomas in the Bladder: A Comprehensive Review Supplemented by Own Data.

Dis Markers 2018 12;2018:7308168. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

Department of Urology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Hufelandstr 55, 45147 Essen, Germany.

Urachal cancer (UrC) is a rare but aggressive cancer. Due to overlapping histomorphology, discrimination of urachal from primary bladder adenocarcinomas (PBAC) and adenocarcinomas secondarily involving the bladder (particularly colorectal adenocarcinomas, CRC) can be challenging. Therefore, we aimed to give an overview of helpful (immunohistochemical) biomarkers and clinicopathological factors in addition to survival analyses and included institutional data from 12 urachal adenocarcinomas. A PubMed search yielded 319 suitable studies since 1930 in the English literature with 1984 cases of UrC including 1834 adenocarcinomas (92%) and 150 nonadenocarcinomas (8%). UrC was more common in men (63%), showed a median age at diagnosis of 50.8 years and a median tumor size of 6.0 cm. No associations were noted for overall survival and progression-free survival (PFS) and clinicopathological factors beside a favorable PFS in male patients ( = 0.047). The immunohistochemical markers found to be potentially helpful in the differential diagnostic situation are AMACR and CK34E12 (UrC versus CRC and PBAC), CK7, -Catenin and CD15 (UrC and PBAC versus CRC), and CEA and GATA3 (UrC and CRC versus PBAC). Serum markers like CEA, CA19-9 and CA125 might additionally be useful in the follow-up and monitoring of UrC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2018/7308168DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5867586PMC
September 2018

Pathogenic and targetable genetic alterations in 70 urachal adenocarcinomas.

Int J Cancer 2018 10 10;143(7):1764-1773. Epub 2018 May 10.

German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Partner Site University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany.

Urachal cancer (UrC) is a rare but aggressive malignancy often diagnosed in advanced stages requiring systemic treatment. Although cytotoxic chemotherapy is of limited effectiveness, prospective clinical studies can hardly be conducted. Targeted therapeutic treatment approaches and potentially immunotherapy based on a biological rationale may provide an alternative strategy. We therefore subjected 70 urachal adenocarcinomas to targeted next-generation sequencing, conducted in situ and immunohistochemical analyses (including PD-L1 and DNA mismatch repair proteins [MMR]) and evaluated the microsatellite instability (MSI) status. The analytical findings were correlated with clinicopathological and outcome data and Kaplan-Meier and univariable/multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed. The patients had a mean age of 50 years, 66% were male and a 5-year overall survival (OS) of 58% and recurrence-free survival (RFS) of 45% was detected. Sequence variations were observed in TP53 (66%), KRAS (21%), BRAF (4%), PIK3CA (4%), FGFR1 (1%), MET (1%), NRAS (1%), and PDGFRA (1%). Gene amplifications were found in EGFR (5%), ERBB2 (2%), and MET (2%). We detected no evidence of MMR-deficiency (MMR-d)/MSI-high (MSI-h), whereas 10 of 63 cases (16%) expressed PD-L1. Therefore, anti-PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy approaches might be tested in UrC. Importantly, we found aberrations in intracellular signal transduction pathways (RAS/RAF/PI3K) in 31% of UrCs with potential implications for anti-EGFR therapy. Less frequent potentially actionable genetic alterations were additionally detected in ERBB2 (HER2), MET, FGFR1, and PDGFRA. The molecular profile strengthens the notion that UrC is a distinct entity on the genomic level with closer resemblance to colorectal than to bladder cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.31547DOI Listing
October 2018

MET Expression in Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Effect on Clinical Outcomes of Chemotherapy, Targeted Therapy, and Immunotherapy.

Clin Lung Cancer 2018 07 17;19(4):e441-e463. Epub 2018 Mar 17.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Centre, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: The receptor tyrosine kinase MET is implicated in malignant transformation, tumor progression, metastasis, and acquired treatment resistance. We conducted an analysis of the effect of MET expression and MET genomic aberrations on the outcome of patients with advanced or metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinomas prospectively enrolled in an institutional precision oncology program.

Patients And Methods: Standardized immunohistochemistry (IHC) analyses of MET and markers of pathway activation were available in 384 patients, and next-generation sequencing-based MET hotspot mutation analyses were available from 892 patients. Clinical data were retrieved with a median follow-up from initial diagnosis of 37 months.

Results: High MET expression, defined as MET IHC 3+ or MET H-Score in the upper quartile, was observed in 102 of 384 patients (26.6%). MET exon 14 mutations were only detected in 7 of 892 patients (0.78%). High MET expression correlated with activation markers of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) pathways only in cases without Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), v-Raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF), anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase ROS (ROS1) aberrations. There was no association of MET expression with outcome during chemotherapy. High MET expression negatively affected the outcome during EGFR-targeting therapy but was associated with more favorable results with programmed death 1/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1)-directed therapy, independent of smoking history, PD-L1 expression or KRAS mutation. Two patients with MET exon 14 mutation and high PD-L1 expression failed to respond to pembrolizumab.

Conclusion: MET expression affects the outcomes of targeted therapies in non-small-cell lung cancer, thus supporting the development of biomarker-informed combination strategies. The interaction of MET expression and MET mutation with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy is novel and merits further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2018.03.010DOI Listing
July 2018

Phosphorylation of p70 Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinase β-1 is an Independent Prognostic Parameter in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

Clin Colorectal Cancer 2018 06 17;17(2):e331-e352. Epub 2018 Feb 17.

Department of Medical Oncology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany; German Cancer Consortium, Partner Site University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Deregulation of signal transduction pathways plays a critical role in oncogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC) and directly affects sensitivity to targeted therapies. Against this background we developed a comprehensive biomarker profiling program including markers of downstream signaling to study their association with clinical outcomes.

Patients And Methods: A prospectively studied cohort of 160 patients with metastatic CRC was included. Standard diagnostic workup included mutational analyses of Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS), neuroblastoma RAS viral oncogene homolog (NRAS), and v-Raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF). In addition, markers of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) and mammalian target of rapamycin pathway activation (phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase [ERK], AKT, and p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase β-1 [p70S6K]) were studied using standardized immunohistochemistry.

Results: There was a significant correlation between markers of ERK and AKT activation in the full cohort. In addition, phosphorylation of p70S6K correlated strongly with ERK and AKT phosphorylation and primary tumor localization in the right colon. Subgroup analyses specified these correlations to patients with all-RAS wild type tumors. In contrast, tumors harboring RAS mutations predominantly exhibited ERK phosphorylation. Interestingly, patients with CRC showing high p70S6K phosphorylation (highest quartile) had a significantly inferior overall survival (hazard ratio [HR], 2.4; P = .002) irrespective of RAS mutational status. This effect remained significant in multivariate analysis (P = .002). A patient subgroup characterized by high p70S6K phosphorylation and right-sided primary tumors had a particularly poor prognosis with a dramatically inferior overall survival (HR, 5.2; P < .001). Patients with right-sided primary tumor and low p70S6K phosphorylation had responses to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibody-based therapies and overall survival similar to patients with left-sided primary tumors.

Conclusion: High phosphorylation of p70S6K is a novel, independent biomarker for poor prognosis, in particular in patients with right-sided primary tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clcc.2018.02.003DOI Listing
June 2018

Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations are rare in urachal cancer.

Pathol Int 2017 Dec 19;67(12):597-601. Epub 2017 Oct 19.

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

High rates of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations have recently been described in urothelial carcinoma (UC). Unlike UC in the bladder, adenocarcinomas account for the majority of urachal cancer (UrC) cases. As data in UrC is unclear, we analyzed TERT promoter mutations in a large cohort of UrC for its differential diagnostic, clinicopathological and prognostic significance. UrC cases from six academic centers were analyzed for c.-146C>T (C250T) and c.-124C>T (C228T) TERT promoter mutations by PCR and Sanger sequencing. Clinicopathological and survival data were collected. The cohort consisted of 15 men (56%) and 12 women (44%) with a median age of 50 years including 23 adenocarcinomas, two squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), one UC and one undifferentiated carcinoma. In one case of (mucinous) urachal adenocarcinoma a C228T mutation was detected (1/23; 4%), like in a case of SCC in addition to one C250T mutation in the UC case. TERT promoter mutations are very rare in urachal adenocarcinomas (unlike in UC) with differential diagnostic implications. Additionally, the low TERT promoter mutation rate in urachal adenocarcinomas is more comparable to colorectal adenocarcinomas than to UC, giving further support to recent genetic findings and therapeutic considerations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pin.12594DOI Listing
December 2017

NGS based identification of mutational hotspots for targeted therapy in anaplastic thyroid carcinoma.

Oncotarget 2017 Jun;8(26):42613-42620

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

Context: Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) represents one of the most aggressive carcinomas with no consistent survival benefit when treated with conventional radiochemotherapy. Approaches targeting "oncogene addiction" of ATC are increasingly explored and first promising results have been reported in single case studies.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of mutations in known thyroid oncogenes and signalling pathways amendable to targeted therapy in a large cohort of ATC.

Results: In 118 ATC (57 male/ 61 female) a total of 165 mutations were found. Genes involved in the MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathway (BRAF 11.0%, HRAS 4.2%, KRAS 7.6%, NRAS 7.6%, PI3KCA 11.8%) were altered in 33%. Targetable receptor tyrosine kinases were mutated in 11%. The most frequently altered genes were TERT in 86/118 (73%) and p53 in 65/118 (55%) cases. No mutations were found analysing ALK, KIT, MET and mTOR.

Materials And Methods: Next generation sequencing (NGS) was performed in FFPE samples from 118 ATC using MiSeq (Illumina) and CLC Cancer Research Workbench (CLCbio; Qiagen) for mutation analysis in: ALK, BRAF, CDKN2A, EGFR, ERBB2, HRAS, KIT, KRAS, MET, mTOR, NRAS, PDGFRA, PI3KCA, p53, RB1, RET and TSC2. Sanger sequencing was used to detect TERT promotor mutations.

Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the largest study analysing mutations for targeted therapy of ATC. We found that 33% of ATC harbour mutations in pathways amendable to targeted therapy. Molecular screening in ATC is suggested for targeted therapies since current conventional treatment for ATC proved mainly futile.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17300DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5522092PMC
June 2017

Comparison of the PI3KCA pathway in circulating tumor cells and corresponding tumor tissue of patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Mol Med Rep 2017 May 30;15(5):2957-2968. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg‑Essen, D‑45122 Essen, Germany.

The aim of the present study was to compare the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3KCA)-AKT serine/threonine kinase (AKT) pathway in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and corresponding cancerous tissues. Stemness‑like circulating tumor cells (slCTCs) and CTCs in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) have been implicated as the active source of metastatic spread in breast cancer (BC). In this regard, the PI3KCA‑AKT signaling pathway was demonstrated to be implicated in and to be frequently mutated in BC. The present study compared this pathway in slCTCs/CTCs in EMT and the corresponding tumor tissues of 90 metastatic BC patients (pts). slCTCs and CTCs in EMT were isolated using the AdnaTest EMT-1/StemCell for the detection of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 family member A1 (ALDH1) (singleplex PCR) and PI3KCA, AKT2 and twist family bHLH transcription factor 1 (multiplex PCR). Tumor tissue was investigated for PI3KCA hotspot mutations using Sanger sequencing of genomic DNA from micro‑dissected formalin‑fixed paraffin‑embedded tissue, and for the expression of ALDH1 and phosphorylated AKT (pAKT), and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss, by immunohistochemistry. slCTCs were identified in 23% of pts (21/90 pts) and CTCs in EMT in 56% (50/90 pts) of pts. pAKT and ALDH1 positivity in tumor tissue was identified in 47 and 9% of cases, respectively, and a PTEN loss was observed in 18% of pts. A significant association was detected between pAKT expression in cancerous tissue and AKT2 expression in CTCs (P=0.037). PI3KCA mutations were detected in 32% of pts, most frequently on exons 21 (55%) and 10 (45%). Pts with PI3KCA mutations in tumor tissue had a significantly longer overall survival than pts with wild-type PI3KCA expression (P=0.007). Similar results were obtained for pts with aberrant PI3KCA signaling in CTCs and/or aberrant signaling in cancerous tissue (P=0.009). Therapy‑resistant CTCs, potentially derived from the primary tumor or metastatic tissue, may be eliminated with specific PI3K pathway inhibitors, alone or in combination, to improve the prognosis of metastatic BC pts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2017.6415DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5428904PMC
May 2017
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