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      Concordance of anaplastic lymphoma kinase ( ALK) gene rearrangements between circulating tumor cells and tumor in non-small cell lung cancer

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          Anaplastic lymphoma kinase ( ALK) gene rearrangement in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is routinely evaluated by fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) testing on biopsy tissues. Testing can be challenging however, when suitable tissue samples are unavailable. We examined the relevance of circulating tumor cells (CTC) as a surrogate for biopsy-based FISH testing. We assessed paired tumor and CTC samples from patients with ALK rearranged lung cancer ( n = 14), ALK-negative lung cancer ( n = 12), and healthy controls ( n = 5) to derive discriminant CTC counts, and to compare ALK rearrangement patterns. Blood samples were enriched for CTCs to be used for ALK FISH testing. ALK-positive CTCs counts were higher in ALK-positive NSCLC patients (3–15 cells/1.88 mL of blood) compared with ALK-negative NSCLC patients and healthy donors (0–2 cells/1.88 mL of blood). The latter range was validated as the ‘false positive’ cutoff for ALK FISH testing of CTCs. ALK FISH signal patterns observed on tumor biopsies were recapitulated in CTCs in all cases. Sequential CTC counts in an index case of lung cancer with no evaluable tumor tissue treated with crizotinib showed six, three and eleven ALK-positive CTCs per 1.88 mL blood at baseline, partial response and post-progression time points, respectively. Furthermore, ALK FISH rearrangement suggestive of gene copy number increase was observed in CTCs following progression. Recapitulation of ALK rearrangement patterns in the tumor on CTCs, suggested that CTCs might be used to complement tissue-based ALK testing in NSCLC to guide ALK-targeted therapy when suitable tissue biopsy samples are unavailable for testing.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Clinical features and outcome of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who harbor EML4-ALK.

          The EML4-ALK fusion oncogene represents a novel molecular target in a small subset of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC). To aid in identification and treatment of these patients, we examined the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients who had NSCLC with and without EML4-ALK. Patients with NSCLC were selected for genetic screening on the basis of two or more of the following characteristics: female sex, Asian ethnicity, never/light smoking history, and adenocarcinoma histology. EML4-ALK was identified by using fluorescent in situ hybridization for ALK rearrangements and was confirmed by immunohistochemistry for ALK expression. EGFR and KRAS mutations were determined by DNA sequencing. Of 141 tumors screened, 19 (13%) were EML4-ALK mutant, 31 (22%) were EGFR mutant, and 91 (65%) were wild type (WT/WT) for both ALK and EGFR. Compared with the EGFR mutant and WT/WT cohorts, patients with EML4-ALK mutant tumors were significantly younger (P < .001 and P = .005) and were more likely to be men (P = .036 and P = .039). Patients with EML4-ALK-positive tumors, like patients who harbored EGFR mutations, also were more likely to be never/light smokers compared with patients in the WT/WT cohort (P < .001). Eighteen of the 19 EML4-ALK tumors were adenocarcinomas, predominantly the signet ring cell subtype. Among patients with metastatic disease, EML4-ALK positivity was associated with resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Patients in the EML4-ALK cohort and the WT/WT cohort showed similar response rates to platinum-based combination chemotherapy and no difference in overall survival. EML4-ALK defines a molecular subset of NSCLC with distinct clinical characteristics. Patients who harbor this mutation do not benefit from EGFR TKIs and should be directed to trials of ALK-targeted agents.
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            Circulating tumor cells: liquid biopsy of cancer.

            The detection and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are one of the most active areas of translational cancer research, with >400 clinical studies having included CTCs as a biomarker. The aims of research on CTCs include (a) estimation of the risk for metastatic relapse or metastatic progression (prognostic information), (b) stratification and real-time monitoring of therapies, (c) identification of therapeutic targets and resistance mechanisms, and (d) understanding metastasis development in cancer patients. This review focuses on the technologies used for the enrichment and detection of CTCs. We outline and discuss the current technologies that are based on exploiting the physical and biological properties of CTCs. A number of innovative technologies to improve methods for CTC detection have recently been developed, including CTC microchips, filtration devices, quantitative reverse-transcription PCR assays, and automated microscopy systems. Molecular-characterization studies have indicated, however, that CTCs are very heterogeneous, a finding that underscores the need for multiplex approaches to capture all of the relevant CTC subsets. We therefore emphasize the current challenges of increasing the yield and detection of CTCs that have undergone an epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Increasing assay analytical sensitivity may lead, however, to a decrease in analytical specificity (e.g., through the detection of circulating normal epithelial cells). A considerable number of promising CTC-detection techniques have been developed in recent years. The analytical specificity and clinical utility of these methods must be demonstrated in large prospective multicenter studies to reach the high level of evidence required for their introduction into clinical practice. © 2012 American Association for Clinical Chemistry
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              Mechanisms of resistance to crizotinib in patients with ALK gene rearranged non-small cell lung cancer.

              Patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements often manifest dramatic responses to crizotinib, a small-molecule ALK inhibitor. Unfortunately, not every patient responds and acquired drug resistance inevitably develops in those who do respond. This study aimed to define molecular mechanisms of resistance to crizotinib in patients with ALK(+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We analyzed tissue obtained from 14 patients with ALK(+) NSCLC showing evidence of radiologic progression while on crizotinib to define mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired resistance to crizotinib. Eleven patients had material evaluable for molecular analysis. Four patients (36%) developed secondary mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of ALK. A novel mutation in the ALK domain, encoding a G1269A amino acid substitution that confers resistance to crizotinib in vitro, was identified in two of these cases. Two patients, one with a resistance mutation, exhibited new onset ALK copy number gain (CNG). One patient showed outgrowth of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant NSCLC without evidence of a persistent ALK gene rearrangement. Two patients exhibited a KRAS mutation, one of which occurred without evidence of a persisting ALK gene rearrangement. One patient showed the emergence of an ALK gene fusion-negative tumor compared with the baseline sample but with no identifiable alternate driver. Two patients retained ALK positivity with no identifiable resistance mechanism. Crizotinib resistance in ALK(+) NSCLC occurs through somatic kinase domain mutations, ALK gene fusion CNG, and emergence of separate oncogenic drivers.

                Author and article information

                Impact Journals LLC
                26 April 2016
                16 March 2016
                : 7
                : 17
                : 23251-23262
                1 Department of Pathology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore
                2 Department of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Center Singapore, Singapore
                3 Department of Molecular Oncology, National University Health System Singapore, Singapore
                4 Faculty of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
                5 Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
                6 Clearbridge Biomedics Pte Ltd, Singapore
                7 Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Wan-Teck Lim, dmolwt@ 123456nccs.com.sg
                Copyright: © 2016 Tan et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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