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Detection of circulating tumor DNA in early- and late-stage human malignancies.

Science translational medicine

Young Adult, Adult, pathology, genetics, blood, Neoplasms, Neoplasm Metastasis, Middle Aged, Male, Humans, Female, DNA, Neoplasm, Aged, 80 and over, Aged

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      Abstract

      The development of noninvasive methods to detect and monitor tumors continues to be a major challenge in oncology. We used digital polymerase chain reaction-based technologies to evaluate the ability of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) to detect tumors in 640 patients with various cancer types. We found that ctDNA was detectable in >75% of patients with advanced pancreatic, ovarian, colorectal, bladder, gastroesophageal, breast, melanoma, hepatocellular, and head and neck cancers, but in less than 50% of primary brain, renal, prostate, or thyroid cancers. In patients with localized tumors, ctDNA was detected in 73, 57, 48, and 50% of patients with colorectal cancer, gastroesophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and breast adenocarcinoma, respectively. ctDNA was often present in patients without detectable circulating tumor cells, suggesting that these two biomarkers are distinct entities. In a separate panel of 206 patients with metastatic colorectal cancers, we showed that the sensitivity of ctDNA for detection of clinically relevant KRAS gene mutations was 87.2% and its specificity was 99.2%. Finally, we assessed whether ctDNA could provide clues into the mechanisms underlying resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor blockade in 24 patients who objectively responded to therapy but subsequently relapsed. Twenty-three (96%) of these patients developed one or more mutations in genes involved in the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Together, these data suggest that ctDNA is a broadly applicable, sensitive, and specific biomarker that can be used for a variety of clinical and research purposes in patients with multiple different types of cancer.

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      Most cited references 51

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      Cancer genome landscapes.

      Over the past decade, comprehensive sequencing efforts have revealed the genomic landscapes of common forms of human cancer. For most cancer types, this landscape consists of a small number of "mountains" (genes altered in a high percentage of tumors) and a much larger number of "hills" (genes altered infrequently). To date, these studies have revealed ~140 genes that, when altered by intragenic mutations, can promote or "drive" tumorigenesis. A typical tumor contains two to eight of these "driver gene" mutations; the remaining mutations are passengers that confer no selective growth advantage. Driver genes can be classified into 12 signaling pathways that regulate three core cellular processes: cell fate, cell survival, and genome maintenance. A better understanding of these pathways is one of the most pressing needs in basic cancer research. Even now, however, our knowledge of cancer genomes is sufficient to guide the development of more effective approaches for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality.
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        Core signaling pathways in human pancreatic cancers revealed by global genomic analyses.

        There are currently few therapeutic options for patients with pancreatic cancer, and new insights into the pathogenesis of this lethal disease are urgently needed. Toward this end, we performed a comprehensive genetic analysis of 24 pancreatic cancers. We first determined the sequences of 23,219 transcripts, representing 20,661 protein-coding genes, in these samples. Then, we searched for homozygous deletions and amplifications in the tumor DNA by using microarrays containing probes for approximately 10(6) single-nucleotide polymorphisms. We found that pancreatic cancers contain an average of 63 genetic alterations, the majority of which are point mutations. These alterations defined a core set of 12 cellular signaling pathways and processes that were each genetically altered in 67 to 100% of the tumors. Analysis of these tumors' transcriptomes with next-generation sequencing-by-synthesis technologies provided independent evidence for the importance of these pathways and processes. Our data indicate that genetically altered core pathways and regulatory processes only become evident once the coding regions of the genome are analyzed in depth. Dysregulation of these core pathways and processes through mutation can explain the major features of pancreatic tumorigenesis.
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          K-ras mutations and benefit from cetuximab in advanced colorectal cancer.

          Treatment with cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor, improves overall and progression-free survival and preserves the quality of life in patients with colorectal cancer that has not responded to chemotherapy. The mutation status of the K-ras gene in the tumor may affect the response to cetuximab and have treatment-independent prognostic value. We analyzed tumor samples, obtained from 394 of 572 patients (68.9%) with colorectal cancer who were randomly assigned to receive cetuximab plus best supportive care or best supportive care alone, to look for activating mutations in exon 2 of the K-ras gene. We assessed whether the mutation status of the K-ras gene was associated with survival in the cetuximab and supportive-care groups. Of the tumors evaluated for K-ras mutations, 42.3% had at least one mutation in exon 2 of the gene. The effectiveness of cetuximab was significantly associated with K-ras mutation status (P=0.01 and P<0.001 for the interaction of K-ras mutation status with overall survival and progression-free survival, respectively). In patients with wild-type K-ras tumors, treatment with cetuximab as compared with supportive care alone significantly improved overall survival (median, 9.5 vs. 4.8 months; hazard ratio for death, 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41 to 0.74; P<0.001) and progression-free survival (median, 3.7 months vs. 1.9 months; hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.54; P<0.001). Among patients with mutated K-ras tumors, there was no significant difference between those who were treated with cetuximab and those who received supportive care alone with respect to overall survival (hazard ratio, 0.98; P=0.89) or progression-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.99; P=0.96). In the group of patients receiving best supportive care alone, the mutation status of the K-ras gene was not significantly associated with overall survival (hazard ratio for death, 1.01; P=0.97). Patients with a colorectal tumor bearing mutated K-ras did not benefit from cetuximab, whereas patients with a tumor bearing wild-type K-ras did benefit from cetuximab. The mutation status of the K-ras gene had no influence on survival among patients treated with best supportive care alone. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00079066.) 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            24553385
            4017867
            10.1126/scitranslmed.3007094

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