Nilesh Brijwani 1 , 2 , Misti Jain 1 , Muthu Dhandapani 3 , Farrah Zahed 1 , Pragnashree Mukhopadhyay 4 , Manjusha Biswas 4 , Deepak Khatri 3 , Vinod D. Radhakrishna 5 , Biswanath Majumder 4 , Padhma Radhakrishnan 6 , Saravanan Thiyagarajan 3 , 5 ,
4 May 2017
KRAS mutation status can distinguish between metastatic colorectal carcinoma (mCRC) patients who may benefit from therapies that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), such as cetuximab. However, patients whose tumors harbor mutant KRAS (codons 12/13, 61 and 146) are often excluded from EGFR-targeted regimens, while other patients with wild type KRAS will sometimes respond favorably to these same drugs. These conflicting observations suggest that a more robust approach to individualize therapy may enable greater frequency of positive clinical outcome for mCRC patients. Here, we utilized alive tumor tissues in ex-vivo platform termed CANscript, which preserves the native tumor heterogeneity, in order to interrogate the antitumor effects of EGFR-targeted drugs in mCRC ( n = 40). We demonstrated that, irrespective of KRAS status, cetuximab did not induce an antitumor response in a majority of patient tumors. In the subset of non-responsive tumors, data showed that expression levels of EGFR ligands contributed to a mechanism of resistance. Transcriptomic and phosphoproteomic profiling revealed deregulation of multiple pathways, significantly the Notch and Erbb2. Targeting these nodes concurrently resulted in antitumor efficacy in a majority of cetuximab-resistant tumors. These findings highlight the importance of integrating molecular profile and functional testing tools for optimization of alternate strategies in resistant population.