Research Paper

Targeting of Aberrant αvβ6 Integrin Expression in Solid Tumors Using Chimeric Antigen Receptor-Engineered T Cells.

Abstract: Expression of the αvβ6 integrin is upregulated in several solid tumors. In contrast, physiologic expression of this epithelial-specific integrin is restricted to development and epithelial re-modeling. Here, we describe, for the first time, the development of a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that couples the recognition of this integrin to the delivery of potent therapeutic activity in a diverse repertoire of solid tumor models. Highly selective targeting αvβ6 was achieved using a foot and mouth disease virus-derived A20 peptide, coupled to a fused CD28(+)CD3 endodomain. To achieve selective expansion of CAR T cells ex vivo, an IL-4-responsive fusion gene (4αβ) was co-expressed, which delivers a selective mitogenic signal to engineered T cells only. In vivo efficacy was demonstrated in mice with established ovarian, breast, and pancreatic tumor xenografts, all of which express αvβ6 at intermediate to high levels. SCID beige mice were used for these studies because they are susceptible to cytokine release syndrome, unlike more immune-compromised strains. Nonetheless, although the CAR also engages mouse αvβ6, mild and reversible toxicity was only observed when supra-therapeutic doses of CAR T cells were administered parenterally. These data support the clinical evaluation of αvβ6 re-targeted CAR T cell immunotherapy in solid tumors that express this integrin.

Pub.: 28 Jan '17, Pinned: 07 Mar '17

Research Paper

ER stress protein AGR2 precedes and is involved in the regulation of pancreatic cancer initiation.

Abstract: The mechanisms of initiation of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are still largely unknown. In the present study, we analysed the role of anterior gradient-2 (AGR2) in the earliest stages of pancreatic neoplasia. Immunohistochemical analysis of chronic pancreatitis (CP) and peritumoral areas in PDAC tissues showed that AGR2 was present in tubular complexes (TC) and early pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs). Moreover, AGR2 was also found in discrete subpopulations of non-transformed cells neighbouring these pre-neoplastic lesions. In primary cells derived from human patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model, flow-cytometry revealed that AGR2 was overexpressed in pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSC) compared with non-stem cancer cells. In LSL-Kras(G12D);Pdx1-Cre (KC) mouse model Agr2 induction preceded the formation of pre-neoplastic lesions and their development was largely inhibited by Agr2 deletion in engineered LSL-Kras(G12D);Pdx1-Cre; Agr2(-/-) mice. In vitro, AGR2 expression was stimulated by tunicamycin-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in both KRAS wild-type normal pancreas cells, as well as in KRAS mutated pancreatic cancer cells and was essential for ER homoeostasis. The unfolded protein response proteins GRP78, ATF6 and XBP1s were found expressed in CP and PDAC peritumoral tissues, but in contrast to AGR2, their expression was switched off during TC and PanIN formation. Real-time PCR and ELISA analyses showed that ER stress induced a pro-inflammatory phenotype in pancreatic normal, cancer and stellate cells. Moreover, AGR2 expression was inducible by paracrine transfer of ER stress and pro-inflammation between different pancreatic cell types. Our findings demonstrate that AGR2 induced in ER-stressed and inflammatory pre-neoplastic pancreas is a potential marker of cancer progenitor cells with an important functional role in PDAC initiation.Oncogene advance online publication, 12 December 2016; doi:10.1038/onc.2016.459.

Pub.: 13 Dec '16, Pinned: 10 Feb '17

Research Paper

Heterogeneous response and progression patterns reveal phenotypic heterogeneity of tyrosine kinase inhibitor response in metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

Abstract: Molecular intratumour heterogeneity (ITH) is common in clear cell renal carcinomas (ccRCCs). However, it remains unknown whether this is mirrored by heterogeneity of drug responses between metastases in the same patient.We performed a retrospective central radiological analysis of patients with treatment-naïve metastatic ccRCC receiving anti-angiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) (sunitinib or pazopanib) within three similar phase II trials. Treatment was briefly interrupted for cytoreductive nephrectomy. All patients had multiple metastases that were measured by regular computed tomography scans from baseline until Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumours (RECIST)-defined progression. Each metastasis was categorised as responding, stable or progressing. Patients were classed as having a homogeneous response if all lesions were of the same response category and a heterogeneous response if they differed.A total of 115 metastases were assessed longitudinally in 27 patients. Of these patients, 56% had a heterogeneous response. Progression occurred through the appearance of new metastases in 67%, through progression of existing lesions in 11% and by both in 22% of patients. Despite RECIST-defined progression, 57% of existing metastases remained controlled. The sum of controlled lesions was greater than that of uncontrolled lesions in 47% of patients who progressed only with measurable new lesions.We identified frequent ITH of anti-angiogenic TKI responses, with subsets of metastases responding and progressing within individual patients. This mirrors molecular ITH and may indicate that anti-angiogenic drug resistance is confined to subclones and not encoded on the trunk of the tumours' phylogenetic trees. This is clinically important, as patients with small-volume progression may benefit from drug continuation. Predominant progression with new rather than in existing metastases supports a change in disease biology through anti-angiogenics. The results highlight limitations of RECIST in heterogeneous cancers, which may influence clinical trial data validity. This analysis requires prospective confirmation.European Clinical Trials Database(EudraCT): 2009-016675-29 , registered 17 March 2010; EudraCT: 2006-004511-21 , registered 09 March 2007; EudraCT: 2006-006491-38 , registered 22 December 2006.

Pub.: 16 Nov '16, Pinned: 17 Jan '17

Research Paper

Safety and Efficacy of Pazopanib Therapy Prior to Planned Nephrectomy in Metastatic Clear Cell Renal Cancer.

Abstract: The role of cytoreductive nephrectomy in patients with metastatic renal cancer in the era of targeted therapy is uncertain.To establish the safety and efficacy of upfront pazopanib therapy prior to cytoreductive nephrectomy in previously untreated patients with metastatic clear cell renal cancer.Single-arm phase 2 study of 104 previously untreated patients with metastatic clear cell renal cancer recruited between June 2008 and October 2012 at cancer treatment centers with access to nephrectomy services. The minimum follow-up was 30 months.Patients received 12 to 14 weeks of preoperative pazopanib therapy prior to planned cytoreductive nephrectomy and continued pazopanib therapy after surgery. Treatment was stopped at disease progression.The primary end point was clinical benefit (using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, version 1.1) prior to surgery (at 12-14 weeks). Secondary end points included surgical complications, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and biomarker analysis.Of 104 patients recruited, 100 patients were assessable for clinical benefit prior to planned nephrectomy; 80 of 104 (76.9%) were men; median [interquartile range] age, 64 [56-71] years). Overall, 84 of 100 (84% [95% CI, 75%-91%]) gained clinical benefit before planned nephrectomy. The median reduction in the size of the primary tumor was 14.4% (interquartile range, 1.4%-21.1%). No patients were unable to undergo surgery as a result of local progression of disease. Nephrectomy was performed in 63 (61%) of patients; 14 (22%) reported surgical complications. The 2 most common reasons for not undergoing surgery were progression of disease (n = 13) and patient choice (n = 9). There was 1 postoperative surgical death. The median PFS and OS for the whole cohort were 7.1 (95% CI, 6.0-9.2) and 22.7 (95% CI, 14.3-not estimable) months, respectively. Patients with MSKCC poor-risk disease or progressive disease prior to surgery had a poor outcome (median OS, 5.7 [95% CI, 2.6-10.8] and 3.9 [95% CI, 0.5-9.1] months, respectively). Surgical complications were observed in 14 (22%) of the nephrectomies. Biomarker analysis from sequential tissue samples revealed a decrease in CD8 expression (20.00 vs 13.75; P = .05) and significant reduction in expression of von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor (100 vs 40; P < .001) and C-MET (300 vs 100; P < .001) and increased programmed cell death ligand 1 expression (0 vs 1.5; P < .001) in the immune component. No on-treatment biomarker correlated with response.Nephrectomy after upfront pazopanib therapy could be performed safely and was associated with good outcomes in patients with intermediate-risk metastatic clear cell renal cancer.

Pub.: 03 Jun '16, Pinned: 01 Dec '16

Research Paper

Arginine Deprivation With Pegylated Arginine Deiminase in Patients With Argininosuccinate Synthetase 1-Deficient Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Abstract: Preclinical studies show that arginine deprivation is synthetically lethal in argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1)-negative cancers, including mesothelioma. The role of the arginine-lowering agent pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20) has not been evaluated in a randomized and biomarker-driven study among patients with cancer.To assess the clinical impact of arginine depletion in patients with ASS1-deficient malignant pleural mesothelioma.A multicenter phase 2 randomized clinical trial, the Arginine Deiminase and Mesothelioma (ADAM) study, was conducted between March 2, 2011, and May 21, 2013, at 8 academic cancer centers. Immunohistochemical screening of 201 patients (2011-2013) identified 68 with advanced ASS1-deficient malignant pleural mesothelioma.Randomization 2:1 to arginine deprivation (ADI-PEG20, 36.8 mg/m2, weekly intramuscular) plus best supportive care (BSC) or BSC alone.The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS) assessed by modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) (target hazard ratio, 0.60). Secondary end points were overall survival (OS), tumor response rate, safety, and quality of life, analyzed by intention to treat. We measured plasma arginine and citrulline levels, anti-ADI-PEG20 antibody titer, ASS1 methylation status, and metabolic response by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomography.Median (range) follow-up in 68 adults (median [range] age, 66 [48-83] years; 19% female) was 38 (2.5-39) months. The PFS hazard ratio was 0.56 (95% CI, 0.33-0.96), with a median of 3.2 months in the ADI-PEG20 group vs 2.0 months in the BSC group (P = .03) (absolute risk, 18% vs 0% at 6 months). Best response at 4 months (modified RECIST) was stable disease: 12 of 23 (52%) in the ADI-PEG20 group vs 2 of 9 (22%) in the BSC group (P = .23). The OS curves crossed, so life expectancy was used: 15.7 months in the ADI-PEG20 group vs 12.1 months in the BSC group (difference of 3.6 [95% CI, -1.0 to 8.1] months; P = .13). The incidence of symptomatic adverse events of grade at least 3 was 11 of 44 (25%) in the ADI-PEG20 group vs 4 of 24 (17%) in the BSC group (P = .43), the most common being immune related, nonfebrile neutropenia, gastrointestinal events, and fatigue. Differential ASS1 gene-body methylation correlated with ASS1 immunohistochemistry, and longer arginine deprivation correlated with improved PFS.In this trial, arginine deprivation with ADI-PEG20 improved PFS in patients with ASS1-deficient mesothelioma. Targeting arginine is safe and warrants further clinical investigation in arginine-dependent cancers.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01279967.

Pub.: 02 Sep '16, Pinned: 29 Nov '16

Research Paper

Increased uptake and improved outcomes of bowel cancer screening with a faecal immunochemical test: results from a pilot study within the national screening programme in England.

Abstract: The National Health Service Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) in England uses a guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBt). A quantitative faecal immunochemical test (FIT) for haemoglobin (Hb) has many advantages, including being specific for human blood, detecting Hb at a much lower concentration with a single faecal sample and improved uptake.In 2014, a large comparative pilot study was performed within BCSP to establish the acceptability and diagnostic performance of FIT. Over a 6-month period, 40 930 (1 in 28) subjects were sent a FIT (OC-SENSOR) instead of a gFOBt. A bespoke FIT package was used to mail FIT sampling devices to and from FIT subjects. All participants positive with either gFOBt or FIT (cut-off 20 µg Hb/g faeces) were referred for follow-up. Subgroup analysis included cut-off concentrations, age, sex, screening history and deprivation quintile.While overall uptake increased by over 7 percentage points with FIT (66.4% vs 59.3%, OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.33 to 1.38), uptake by previous non-responders almost doubled (FIT 23.9% vs gFOBt 12.5%, OR 2.20, 95% CI 2.10 to 2.29). The increase in overall uptake was significantly higher in men than women and was observed across all deprivation quintiles. With the conventional 20 µg/g cut-off, FIT positivity was 7.8% and ranged from 5.7% in 59-64-year-old women to 11.1% in 70-75-year-old men. Cancer detection increased twofold and that for advanced adenomas nearly fivefold. Detection rates remained higher with FIT for advanced adenomas, even at 180 µg Hb/g.Markedly improved participation rates were achieved in a mature gFOBt-based national screening programme and disparities between men and women were reduced. High positivity rates, particularly in men and previous non-respondents, challenge the available colonoscopy resource, but improvements in neoplasia detection are still achievable within this limited resource.

Pub.: 09 Jun '16, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

TNFRSF14 aberrations in follicular lymphoma increase clinically significant allogeneic T-cell responses.

Abstract: Donor T-cell immune responses can eradicate lymphomas after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, but can also damage healthy tissues resulting in harmful Graft-versus-Host Disease (GvHD). Next-generation sequencing has recently identified many new genetic lesions in follicular lymphoma. One such gene, ITALIC! TNFRSF14, abnormal in 40% of follicular lymphoma patients, encodes the herpes-virus-entry mediator (HVEM) which limits T-cell activation via ligation of B- and T-lymphocyte attenuator. As lymphoma B-cells can act as antigen-presenting cells, we hypothesized that ITALIC! TNFRSF14aberrations that reduce HVEM expression could alter the capacity of follicular lymphoma B-cells to stimulate allogeneic T-cell responses and impact the outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. In an ITALIC! in vitromodel of alloreactivity, human lymphoma B-cells with ITALIC! TNFRSF14aberrations had reduced HVEM expression and greater alloantigen-presenting capacity than wild-type lymphoma B-cells. The increased immune stimulatory capacity of lymphoma B-cells with ITALIC! TNFRSF14aberrations had clinical relevance, associating with higher incidence of acute GvHD and in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. Follicular lymphoma patients with ITALIC! TNFRSF14aberrations may benefit from more aggressive immunosuppression to reduce harmful GvHD after transplantation. Importantly, this study is the first to demonstrate the impact of an acquired genetic lesion on the capacity of tumor cells to stimulate allogeneic T-cell immune responses which may have wider consequences for adoptive immunotherapy strategies.

Pub.: 23 Apr '16, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

Phase II Randomized Preoperative Window-of-Opportunity Study of the PI3K Inhibitor Pictilisib Plus Anastrozole Compared With Anastrozole Alone in Patients With Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer.

Abstract: Preclinical data support a key role for the PI3K pathway in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and suggest that combining PI3K inhibitors with endocrine therapy may overcome resistance. This preoperative window study assessed whether adding the PI3K inhibitor pictilisib (GDC-0941) can increase the antitumor effects of anastrozole in primary breast cancer and aimed to identify the most appropriate patient population for combination therapy.In this randomized, open-label phase II trial, postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed operable estrogen receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancers were recruited. Participants were randomly allocated (2:1, favoring the combination) to 2 weeks of preoperative treatment with anastrozole 1 mg once per day (n = 26) or the combination of anastrozole 1 mg with pictilisib 260 mg once per day (n = 49). The primary end point was inhibition of tumor cell proliferation as measured by change in Ki-67 protein expression between tumor samples taken before and at the end of treatment.There was significantly greater geometric mean Ki-67 suppression of 83.8% (one-sided 95% CI, ≥ 79.0%) for the combination and 66.0% (95% CI, ≤ 75.4%) for anastrozole (geometric mean ratio [combination:anastrozole], 0.48; 95% CI, ≤ 0.72; P = .004). PIK3CA mutations were not predictive of response to pictilisib, but there was significant interaction between response to treatment and molecular subtype (P = .03); for patients with luminal B tumors, the combination:anastrozole geometric mean ratio of Ki-67 suppression was 0.37 (95% CI, ≤ 0.67; P = .008), whereas no significant Ki-67 response was observed for pictilisib in luminal A tumors (1.01; P = .98). Multivariable analysis confirmed Ki-67 response to the combination treatment of patients with luminal B tumors irrespective of progesterone receptor status or baseline Ki-67 expression.Adding pictilisib to anastrozole significantly increases suppression of tumor cell proliferation in luminal B primary breast cancer.

Pub.: 16 Mar '16, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

The E1B19K-deleted oncolytic adenovirus mutant AdΔ19K sensitizes pancreatic cancer cells to drug-induced DNA-damage by down-regulating Claspin and Mre11.

Abstract: Adenovirus-mediated sensitization of cancer cells to cytotoxic drugs depends on simultaneous interactions of early viral genes with cell death and survival pathways. It is unclear what cellular factors mediate these interactions in the presence of DNA-damaging drugs. We found that adenovirus prevents Chk1-mediated checkpoint activation through inactivation of Mre11 and downregulation of the pChk1 adaptor-protein, Claspin, in cells with high levels of DNA-damage induced by the cytotoxic drugs gemcitabine and irinotecan. The mechanisms for Claspin downregulation involve decreased transcription and increased degradation, further attenuating pChk1-mediated signalling. Live cell imaging demonstrated that low doses of gemcitabine caused multiple mitotic aberrations including multipolar spindles, micro- and multi-nucleation and cytokinesis failure. A mutant virus with the anti-apoptotic E1B19K-gene deleted (AdΔ19K) further enhanced cell killing, Claspin downregulation, and potentiated drug-induced DNA damage and mitotic aberrations. Decreased Claspin expression and inactivation of Mre11 contributed to the enhanced cell killing in combination with DNA-damaging drugs. These results reveal novel mechanisms that are utilised by adenovirus to ensure completion of its life cycle in the presence of cellular DNA damage. Taken together, our findings reveal novel cellular targets that may be exploited when developing improved anti-cancer therapeutics.

Pub.: 13 Feb '16, Pinned: 26 Oct '16

Research Paper

Anastrozole-Induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Results From the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study II Prevention Trial.

Abstract: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist in the carpal tunnel. It has been suggested that hormonal risk factors may be involved in the pathogenesis of CTS, and a higher incidence of CTS has been reported in randomized clinical trials with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) compared with tamoxifen.This was an exploratory analysis of the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study II, a double-blind randomized clinical trial in which women at increased risk of breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive anastrozole or placebo. This is the first report of risk factors for and characteristics of CTS in women taking an AI in a placebo-controlled trial.Overall, 96 participants with CTS were observed: 65 (3.4%) in the anastrozole arm and 31 (1.6%) in the placebo arm (odds ratio, 2.16 [1.40 to 3.33]; P < .001). Ten participants were reported as having severe CTS, of which eight were taking anastrozole (P = .08). Eighteen women (0.9%) in the anastrozole arm and six women (0.3%) in the placebo arm reported surgical intervention, which was significantly different (odds ratio, 3.06 [1.21 to 7.72], P = .018). Six women discontinued with the allocated treatment because of the onset of CTS. Apart from treatment allocation, a high body mass index and an a prior report of musculoskeletal symptoms after trial entry were the only other risk factors for CTS identified in these postmenopausal women.The use of anastrozole was associated with a higher incidence of CTS but few participants required surgery. Further investigations are warranted into the risk factors and treatment of AI-induced CTS.

Pub.: 26 Nov '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

RAD51 and BRCA2 Enhance Oncolytic Adenovirus Type 5 Activity in Ovarian Cancer.

Abstract: Homologous recombination (HR) function is critically important in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). HGSOC with intact HR has a worse prognosis and is less likely to respond to platinum chemotherapy and PARP inhibitors. Oncolytic adenovirus, a novel therapy for human malignancies, stimulates a potent DNA damage response that influences overall antitumor activity. Here, the importance of HR was investigated by determining the efficacy of adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vectors in ovarian cancer. Using matched BRCA2-mutant and wild-type HGSOC cells, it was demonstrated that intact HR function promotes viral DNA replication and augments overall efficacy, without influencing viral DNA processing. These data were confirmed in a wider panel of HR competent and defective ovarian cancer lines. Mechanistically, both BRCA2 and RAD51 localize to viral replication centers within the infected cell nucleus and that RAD51 localization occurs independently of BRCA2. In addition, a direct interaction was identified between RAD51 and adenovirus E2 DNA binding protein. Finally, using functional assays of HR competence, despite inducing degradation of MRE11, Ad5 infection does not alter cellular ability to repair DNA double-strand break damage via HR. These data reveal that Ad5 redistributes critical HR components to viral replication centers and enhances cytotoxicity.Oncolytic adenoviral therapy may be most clinically relevant in tumors with intact HR function. Mol Cancer Res; 14(1); 44-55. ©2015 AACR.

Pub.: 11 Oct '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

Identification of a Three-Biomarker Panel in Urine for Early Detection of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.

Abstract: Noninvasive biomarkers for early detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are currently not available. Here, we aimed to identify a set of urine proteins able to distinguish patients with early-stage PDAC from healthy individuals.Proteomes of 18 urine samples from healthy controls, chronic pancreatitis, and patients with PDAC (six/group) were assayed using GeLC/MS/MS analysis. The selected biomarkers were subsequently validated with ELISA assays using multiple logistic regression applied to a training dataset in a multicenter cohort comprising 488 urine samples.LYVE-1, REG1A, and TFF1 were selected as candidate biomarkers. When comparing PDAC (n = 192) with healthy (n = 87) urine specimens, the resulting areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUC) of the panel were 0.89 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.84-0.94] in the training (70% of the data) and 0.92 (95% CI, 0.86-0.98) in the validation (30% of the data) datasets. When comparing PDAC stage I-II (n = 71) with healthy urine specimens, the panel achieved AUCs of 0.90 (95% CI, 0.84-0.96) and 0.93 (95% CI, 0.84-1.00) in the training and validation datasets, respectively. In PDAC stage I-II and healthy samples with matching plasma CA19.9, the panel achieved a higher AUC of 0.97 (95% CI, 0.94-0.99) than CA19.9 (AUC = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.81-0.95, P = 0.005). Adding plasma CA19.9 to the panel increased the AUC from 0.97 (95% CI, 0.94-0.99) to 0.99 (95% CI, 0.97-1.00, P = 0.04), but did not improve the comparison of stage I-IIA PDAC (n = 17) with healthy urine.We have established a novel, three-protein biomarker panel that is able to detect patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer in urine specimens.

Pub.: 05 Aug '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

PD-L1 checkpoint blockade prevents immune dysfunction and leukemia development in a mouse model of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Abstract: Blockade of the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint augments antitumor immunity and induces durable responses in patients with solid cancers, but data on clinical efficacy in leukemias are sparse. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is associated with a tumor-supportive microenvironment and a dysfunctional immune system, as shown by "exhausted" T cells, defective immunologic synapse formation, and immunosuppressive myeloid cells. These defects involve aberrant expression of PD-L1 and are closely mirrored in the Eµ-TCL1 mouse model for CLL. In this study, we treated mice after adoptive transfer of Eµ-TCL1 CLL with PD-L1-blocking antibodies, which prevented CLL development and was accompanied by a reactivation of immune effector functions. This included restoration of mature macrophages and major histocompatibility complex class II-expressing dendritic cells and prevention of aberrant and exhaustion-like T-cell phenotypes. In addition, PD-L1 blockade restored CD8 T-cell cytotoxicity and immune synapse formation and normalized T-cell cytokines and proliferation ex vivo and in vivo. Our data demonstrate that early PD-L1 blockade effectively corrects leukemia-induced immune dysfunction and thus prevents CLL development in mice. Targeting PD-L1/PD-1 interactions should therefore be further explored in clinical studies with CLL patients, ideally in combination with novel compounds to help eliminate CLL.

Pub.: 25 Mar '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

Empirical inference of circuitry and plasticity in a kinase signaling network.

Abstract: Our understanding of physiology and disease is hampered by the difficulty of measuring the circuitry and plasticity of signaling networks that regulate cell biology, and how these relate to phenotypes. Here, using mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics, we systematically characterized the topology of a network comprising the PI3K/Akt/mTOR and MEK/ERK signaling axes and confirmed its biological relevance by assessing its dynamics upon EGF and IGF1 stimulation. Measuring the activity of this network in models of acquired drug resistance revealed that cells chronically treated with PI3K or mTORC1/2 inhibitors differed in the way their networks were remodeled. Unexpectedly, we also observed a degree of heterogeneity in the network state between cells resistant to the same inhibitor, indicating that even identical and carefully controlled experimental conditions can give rise to the evolution of distinct kinase network statuses. These data suggest that the initial conditions of the system do not necessarily determine the mechanism by which cancer cells become resistant to PI3K/mTOR targeted therapies. The patterns of signaling network activity observed in the resistant cells mirrored the patterns of response to several drug combination treatments, suggesting that the activity of the defined signaling network truly reflected the evolved phenotypic diversity.

Pub.: 11 Jun '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

Pharmacological Inhibition of β3 Integrin Reduces the Inflammatory Toxicities Caused by Oncolytic Adenovirus without Compromising Anticancer Activity.

Abstract: Adenoviruses have been clinically tested as anticancer therapies but their utility has been severely limited by rapid, systemic cytokine release and consequent inflammatory toxicity. Here, we describe a new approach to tackling these dangerous side effects. Using human ovarian cancer cell lines as well as malignant epithelial cells harvested from the ascites of women with ovarian cancer, we show that tumor cells do not produce cytokines in the first 24 hours following in vitro infection with the oncolytic adenovirus dl922-947. In contrast, dl922-947 does induce inflammatory cytokines at early time points following intraperitoneal delivery in mice with human ovarian cancer intraperitoneal xenografts. In these animals, cytokines originate predominantly in murine tissues, especially in macrophage-rich organs such as the spleen. We use a nonreplicating adenovirus to confirm that early cytokine production is independent of adenoviral replication. Using β3 integrin knockout mice injected intraperitoneally with dl922-947 and β3 null murine peritoneal macrophages, we confirm a role for macrophage cell surface β3 integrin in this dl922-947-induced inflammation. We present new evidence that co-administration of a cyclic RGD-mimetic-specific inhibitor of β3 integrin significantly attenuates the cytokine release and inflammatory hepatic toxicity induced by dl922-947 in an intraperitoneal murine model of ovarian cancer. Importantly, we find no evidence that β3 inhibition compromises viral infectivity and oncolysis in vitro or anticancer efficacy in vivo. By enabling safe, systemic delivery of replicating adenoviruses, this novel approach could have a major impact on the future development of these effective anticancer agents.

Pub.: 16 May '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16

Research Paper

Arginine deprivation using pegylated arginine deiminase has activity against primary acute myeloid leukemia cells in vivo.

Abstract: The strategy of enzymatic degradation of amino acids to deprive malignant cells of important nutrients is an established component of induction therapy of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Here we show that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells from most patients with AML are deficient in a critical enzyme required for arginine synthesis, argininosuccinate synthetase-1 (ASS1). Thus, these ASS1-deficient AML cells are dependent on importing extracellular arginine. We therefore investigated the effect of plasma arginine deprivation using pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG 20) against primary AMLs in a xenograft model and in vitro. ADI-PEG 20 alone induced responses in 19 of 38 AMLs in vitro and 3 of 6 AMLs in vivo, leading to caspase activation in sensitive AMLs. ADI-PEG 20-resistant AMLs showed higher relative expression of ASS1 than sensitive AMLs. This suggests that the resistant AMLs survive by producing arginine through this metabolic pathway and ASS1 expression could be used as a biomarker for response. Sensitive AMLs showed more avid uptake of arginine from the extracellular environment consistent with their auxotrophy for arginine. The combination of ADI-PEG 20 and cytarabine chemotherapy was more effective than either treatment alone resulting in responses in 6 of 6 AMLs tested in vivo. Our data show that arginine deprivation is a reasonable strategy in AML that paves the way for clinical trials.

Pub.: 22 Apr '15, Pinned: 25 Oct '16