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Last Modified, October 17, 2021
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Computational modeling identifies multitargeted kinase inhibitors as effective therapies for metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

2021 Peter Nelson; Taranjit Gujral; Thomas Bello

Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is an advanced subtype of prostate cancer with limited therapeutic options. Here, we applied a systems-based modeling approach called kinome regularization (KiR) to identify multitargeted kinase inhibitors (KIs) that abrogate CRPC growth. Two predicted KIs, PP121 and SC-1, suppressed CRPC growth in two-dimensional in vitro experiments and in vivo subcutaneous xenografts. An ex vivo bone mimetic environment and in vivo tibia xenografts revealed resistance to these KIs in bone. Combining PP121 or SC-1 with docetaxel, standard-of-care chemotherapy for late-stage CRPC, significantly reduced tibia tumor growth in vivo, decreased growth factor signaling, and vastly extended overall survival, compared to either docetaxel monotherapy. These results highlight the utility of computational modeling in forming physiologically relevant predictions and provide evidence for the role of multitargeted KIs as chemosensitizers for late-stage, metastatic CRPC.

Subtype heterogeneity and epigenetic convergence in neuroendocrine prostate cancer

Nat Commun

2021 Michael Haffner; Eva Corey; Peter Nelson; Radhika Patel; Ilsa Coleman

Neuroendocrine carcinomas (NEC) are tumors expressing markers of neuronal differentiation that can arise at different anatomic sites but have strong histological and clinical similarities. Here we report the chromatin landscapes of a range of human NECs and show convergence to the activation of a common epigenetic program. With a particular focus on treatment emergent neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC), we analyze cell lines, patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models and human clinical samples to show the existence of two distinct NEPC subtypes based on the expression of the neuronal transcription factors ASCL1 and NEUROD1. While in cell lines and PDX models these subtypes are mutually exclusive, single-cell analysis of human clinical samples exhibits a more complex tumor structure with subtypes coexisting as separate sub-populations within the same tumor. These tumor sub-populations differ genetically and epigenetically contributing to intra- and inter-tumoral heterogeneity in human metastases. Overall, our results provide a deeper understanding of the shared clinicopathological characteristics shown by NECs. Furthermore, the intratumoral heterogeneity of human NEPCs suggests the requirement of simultaneous targeting of coexisting tumor populations as a therapeutic strategy.

Special delivery! CAR-T cells transport RN7SL1 to the tumor microenvironment

Trends Mol Med

2021 Shivani Srivastava; William Nutt

In a recent Cell publication, Johnson et al. demonstrate that engineering chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells to produce RN7SL1, a novel RNA adjuvant that activates the viral sensors RIG-I and MDA5, improves intrinsic CAR-T cell function, activates tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells, and enhances endogenous tumor-specific T cell responses, resulting in improved tumor control despite CAR antigen loss in multiple mouse models.

Single-dose HPV vaccination efficacy among adolescent girls and young women in Kenya (the KEN SHE Study): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial


2021 Rachel Winer; Nelly Mugo; Ruanne Barnabas; Deborah Donnell; Elizabeth Brown; Denise Galloway

BACKGROUND: HPV infection is the primary cause of cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer among women in Kenya and many sub-Saharan African countries. High coverage of HPV vaccination is a World Health Organization priority to eliminate cervical cancer globally, but vaccine supply and logistics limit widespread implementation of the current two or three dose HPV vaccine schedule. METHODS: We are conducting an individual randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether a single dose of the bivalent (HPV 16/18) or nonavalent (HPV 16/18/31/33/45/52/58/6/11) HPV vaccine prevents persistent HPV infection, a surrogate marker for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. The primary objective is to compare the efficacy of immediate, single-dose bivalent or nonavalent vaccination with delayed HPV vaccination. Kenyan women age 15-20years old are randomized to immediate bivalent HPV and delayed meningococcal vaccine (group 1), immediate nonavalent HPV vaccine and delayed meningococcal vaccine (group 2), or immediate meningococcal vaccine and delayed HPV vaccine (group 3) with 36months of follow-up. The primary outcome is persistent vaccine-type HPV infection by month 18 and by month 36 for the final durability outcome. The secondary objectives include to (1) evaluate non-inferiority of antibody titers among girls and adolescents (age 9 to 14years) from another Tanzanian study, the DoRIS Study (NCT02834637), compared to KEN SHE Study participants; (2) assess the memory B cell immune response at months 36 and 37; and (3) estimate cost-effectiveness using the trial results and health economic models. DISCUSSION: This study will evaluate single-dose HPV vaccine efficacy in Africa and has the potential to guide public health policy and increase HPV vaccine coverage. The secondary aims will assess generalizability of the trial results by evaluating immunobridging from younger ages, durability of the immune response, and the long-term health benefits and cost of single-dose HPV vaccine delivery. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03675256 . Registered on September 18, 2018.

Circulating tumor DNA is readily detectable among Ghanaian breast cancer patients supporting non-invasive cancer genomic studies in Africa

NPJ Precis Oncol

2021 Gavin Ha

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) sequencing studies could provide novel insights into the molecular pathology of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. In 15 patient plasma samples collected at the time of diagnosis as part of the Ghana Breast Health Study and unselected for tumor grade and subtype, ctDNA was detected in a majority of patients based on whole- genome sequencing at high (30×) and low (0.1×) depths. Breast cancer driver copy number alterations were observed in the majority of patients.

Hepsin regulates TGF beta signaling via fibronectin proteolysis


2021 Valeri Vasioukhin; Olga Klezovitch

Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) is a multifunctional cytokine with a well-established role in mammary gland development and both oncogenic and tumor-suppressive functions. The extracellular matrix (ECM) indirectly regulates TGFβ activity by acting as a storage compartment of latent-TGFβ, but how TGFβ is released from the ECM via proteolytic mechanisms remains largely unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that hepsin, a type II transmembrane protease overexpressed in 70% of breast tumors, promotes canonical TGFβ signaling through the release of latent-TGFβ from the ECM storage compartment. Mammary glands in hepsin CRISPR knockout mice showed reduced TGFβ signaling and increased epithelial branching, accompanied by increased levels of fibronectin and latent-TGFβ1, while overexpression of hepsin in mammary tumors increased TGFβ signaling. Cell-free and cell-based experiments showed that hepsin is capable of direct proteolytic cleavage of fibronectin but not latent-TGFβ and, importantly, that the ability of hepsin to activate TGFβ signaling is dependent on fibronectin. Altogether, this study demonstrates a role for hepsin as a regulator of the TGFβ pathway in the mammary gland via a novel mechanism involving proteolytic downmodulation of fibronectin.

Efficacy of systemic therapies in men with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer harboring germline ATM versus BRCA2 mutations


2021 Roman Gulati; Celestia Higano; Robert Montgomery; Peter Nelson; Heather Cheng; Evan Yu; Michael Schweizer; Navonil De Sarkar; Petros Grivas

BACKGROUND: Among men with metastatic prostate cancer, about 10% have germline alterations in DNA damage response genes. Most studies have examined BRCA2 alone or an aggregate of BRCA1/2 and ATM. Emerging data suggest that ATM mutations may have distinct biology and warrant individual evaluation. The objective of this study is to determine whether response to prostate cancer systemic therapies differs between men with germline mutations in ATM (gATM) and BRCA2 (gBRCA2). METHODS: This is an international multicenter retrospective matched cohort study of men with prostate cancer harboring gATM or gBRCA2. PSA50 response (50% decline in prostate-specific antigen) was compared using Fisher's exact test. RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: The study included 45 gATM and 45 gBRCA2 patients, matched on stage and year of germline testing. Patients with gATM and gBRCA2 had similar age, Gleason grade, and PSA at diagnosis. We did not observe differences in PSA50 responses to abiraterone, enzalutamide, or docetaxel in metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer between the two groups; however, 0/7 with gATM and 12/14 with gBRCA2 achieved PSA50 response to PARPi (p<.001). Median (95% confidence interval) overall survival from diagnosis to death was 10.9 years (9.5-not reached) versus 9.9 years (7.1-not reached, p=.07) for the gATM and gBRCA2 cohorts, respectively. Limitations include the retrospective design and lack of mutation zygosity data. CONCLUSIONS: Conventional therapies can be effective in gATM carriers and should be considered before PARPi, which shows limited efficacy in this group. Men with gATM mutations warrant prioritization for novel treatment strategies.

Treatment in the absence of disease reclassification among men on active surveillance for prostate cancer


2021 Yingye Zheng; John Gore; Kehao Zhu; Lisa Newcomb; Jeannette Schenk; William Ellis; Daniel Lin; Peter Nelson

BACKGROUND: Maintaining men on active surveillance for prostate cancer can be challenging. Although most men who eventually undergo treatment have experienced clinical progression, a smaller subset elects treatment in the absence of disease reclassification. This study sought to understand factors associated with treatment in a large, contemporary, prospective cohort. METHODS: This study identified 1789 men in the Canary Prostate Cancer Active Surveillance Study cohort enrolled as of 2020 with a median follow-up of 5.6years. Clinical and demographic data as well as information on patient-reported quality of life and urinary symptoms were used in multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models to identify factors associated with the time to treatment RESULTS: Within 4 years of their diagnosis, 33% of men (95% confidence interval [CI], 30%-35%) underwent treatment, and 10% (95% CI, 9%-12%) were treated in the absence of reclassification. The most significant factor associated with any treatment was an increasing Gleason grade group (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 14.5; 95% CI, 11.7-17.9). Urinary quality-of-life scores were associated with treatment without reclassification (aHR comparing "mostly dissatisfied/terrible" with "pleased/mixed," 2.65; 95% CI, 1.54-4.59). In a subset analysis (n=692), married men, compared with single men, were more likely to undergo treatment in the absence of reclassification (aHR, 2.63; 95% CI, 1.04-6.66). CONCLUSIONS: A substantial number of men with prostate cancer undergo treatment in the absence of clinical changes in their cancers, and quality-of-life changes and marital status may be important factors in these decisions. LAY SUMMARY: This analysis of men on active surveillance for prostate cancer shows that approximately 1 in 10 men will decide to be treated within 4years of their diagnosis even if their cancer is stable. These choices may be related in part to quality-or-life or spousal concerns.

Patients with mesenchymal tumours and high Fusobacteriales prevalence have worse prognosis in colorectal cancer (CRC)


2021 Susan Bullman

OBJECTIVES: Transcriptomic-based subtyping, consensus molecular subtyping (CMS) and colorectal cancer intrinsic subtyping (CRIS) identify a patient subpopulation with mesenchymal traits (CMS4/CRIS-B) and poorer outcome. Here, we investigated the relationship between prevalence of Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) and Fusobacteriales, CMS/CRIS subtyping, cell type composition, immune infiltrates and host contexture to refine patient stratification and to identify druggable context-specific vulnerabilities. DESIGN: We coupled cell culture experiments with characterisation of Fn/Fusobacteriales prevalence and host biology/microenviroment in tumours from two independent colorectal cancer patient cohorts (Taxonomy: n=140, colon and rectal cases of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA-COAD-READ) cohort: n=605). RESULTS: In vitro, Fn infection induced inflammation via nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells/tumour necrosis factor alpha in HCT116 and HT29 cancer cell lines. In patients, high Fn/Fusobacteriales were found in CMS1, microsatellite unstable () tumours, with infiltration of M1 macrophages, reduced M2 macrophages, and high interleukin (IL)-6/IL-8/IL-1 signalling. Analysis of the Taxonomy cohort suggested that Fn was prognostic for CMS4/CRIS-B patients, despite having lower Fn load than CMS1 patients. In the TCGA-COAD-READ cohort, we likewise identified a differential association between Fusobacteriales relative abundance and outcome when stratifying patients in mesenchymal (either CMS4 and/or CRIS-B) versus non-mesenchymal (neither CMS4 nor CRIS-B). Patients with mesenchymal tumours and high Fusobacteriales had approximately twofold higher risk of worse outcome. These associations were null in non-mesenchymal patients. Modelling the three-way association between Fusobacteriales prevalence, molecular subtyping and host contexture with logistic models with an interaction term disentangled the pathogen-host signalling relationship and identified aberrations (including NOTCH, CSF1-3 and IL-6/IL-8) as candidate targets. CONCLUSION: This study identifies CMS4/CRIS-B patients with high Fn/Fusobacteriales prevalence as a high-risk subpopulation that may benefit from therapeutics targeting mesenchymal biology.

Molecular Pathology of Prostate Cancer

Surg Pathol Clin

2021 Michael Haffner

Molecular profiling studies have shed new light on the complex biology of prostate cancer. Genomic studies have highlighted that structural rearrangements are among the most common recurrent alterations. In addition, both germline and somatic mutations in DNA repair genes are enriched in patients with advanced disease. Primary prostate cancer has long been known to be multifocal, but recent studies demonstrate that a large fraction of prostate cancer shows evidence of multiclonality, suggesting that genetically distinct, independently arising tumor clones coexist. Metastatic prostate cancer shows a high level of morphologic and molecular diversity, which is associated with resistance to systemic therapies. The resulting high level of intratumoral heterogeneity has important implications for diagnosis and poses major challenges for the implementation of molecular studies. Here we provide a concise review of the molecular pathology of prostate cancer, highlight clinically relevant alterations, and discuss opportunities for molecular testing.