Immunotherapy has shifted the therapeutic landscape in thoracic cancers. However, assessment of biomarkers for patient selection and disease monitoring remain challenging, especially considering the lack of tissue sample availability for clinical and research purposes. In this scenario, liquid biopsy (LB), defined as the study and characterization of biomarkers in body fluids, represents a useful alternative strategy. In other malignancies such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer or melanoma, the potential of LB has been more extensively explored for monitoring minimal residual disease or response to treatment, and to investigate mechanisms of resistance to targeted agents. Even if various experiences have already been published about the applications of LB in immunotherapy in thoracic cancers, the standardization of methodology and assessment of its clinical utility is still pending. In this review, the authors will focus on the applications of LB in immunotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and malignant pleural mesothelioma, describing available data and future perspectives.
Poly-ADP-ribose polymerase inhibitors (PARP-I) represent one of the most attractive and promising class of biological agents studied both in relapsed ovarian cancer (OC) and in the advanced setting. The availability of this new class of drugs has changed the clinical management of OC ensuring an unprecedented advance in such an aggressive cancer. Three oral PARP-I are currently available: olaparib, niraparib and rucaparib. Another two are in active clinical exploration: veliparib and talazoparib. Here the authors report clinical data with PARP-I with a particular emphasis on the phase II and III trials that support PARP-I approval by regulatory agencies in OC patients.
Tanshinone is a herbal medicinal compound described in Chinese medicine, extracted from the roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen). This family of compounds, including Tanshinone IIA and Tanshinone I, have shown remarkable potential as anti-cancer molecules, especially against breast, cervical, colorectal, gastric, lung, and prostate cancer cell lines, as well as leukaemia, melanoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma among others. Recent data has indicated that Tanshinones can modulate multiple molecular pathways such as PI3K/Akt, MAPK and JAK/STAT3, and exert their pharmacological effects against different malignancies. In addition, preclinical and clinical data, together with the safety profile of Tanshinones, encourage further applications of these compounds in cancer therapeutics. In this review article, the effect of Tanshinones on different cancers, challenges in their pharmacological development, and opportunities to harness their clinical potential have been documented.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a common form of leukemia and is dependent on growth-promoting signaling via the B-cell receptor. The Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) is an important mediator of B-cell receptor signaling and the irreversible BTK inhibitor ibrutinib can trigger dramatic clinical responses in treated patients. However, emergence of resistance and toxicity are major limitations which lead to treatment discontinuation. There remains, therefore, a clear need for new therapeutic options. In this review, we discuss recent progress in the development of BTK-targeted proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) describing how such agents may provide advantages over ibrutinib and highlighting features of PROTACs that are important for the development of effective BTK degrading agents. Overall, PROTACs appear to be an exciting new approach to target BTK. However, development is at a very early stage and considerable progress is required to refine these agents and optimize their drug-like properties before progression to clinical testing.
Several preclinical studies suggested a potential benefit from combined treatment with inhibitors of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and angiogenesis, both effective in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In pretreated patients with advanced EGFR wild type NSCLC, bevacizumab plus erlotinib improved progression-free survival as second-line therapy in the BeTa study and as maintenance therapy in the ATLAS trial, although the benefit was modest and did not translate into an advantage in overall survival. Disappointing results were reported with oral VEGF inhibitors plus erlotinib in pretreated patients with EGFR wild type NSCLC. On the contrary, erlotinib plus bevacizumab or ramucirumab showed a clinically relevant improvement of progression-free survival in naïve patients with EGFR mutations, leading to the approval of these two regimens as first-line treatment of NSCLC patients with EGFR mutant tumors. Several clinical studies are evaluating the feasibility and activity of osimertinib plus bevacizumab or ramucirumab. However, limits that could affect its use in clinical practice are the need of an intravenous infusion for angiogenesis inhibitors, the increased incidence of treatment associated adverse events, the exclusion of patients with tumors located in central position or at risk of hemorrhage. The identification of predictive biomarkers is an important goal of research to optimize the combined use of these agents.
All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induces complete remission in a high proportion of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Nevertheless it is be associated with adverse drug reactions that might be life-threatening including differentiation syndrome, myocarditis, myositis, Sweet’s syndrome and ulcers. We describe a case of APL who during induction therapy developed ATRA syndrome, cardiac arrhythmia and multiple episodes of intestinal necrosis that required surgery. In particular, we report here for the first intestinal necrosis attributable to ATRA treatment in the absence of histological evidence of promyelocytes infiltration or leukocytoclastic vasculitis.
Dysregulation of cellular pH is frequent in solid tumours and provides potential opportunities for therapeutic intervention. The acidic microenvironment within a tumour can promote migration, invasion and metastasis of cancer cells through a variety of mechanisms. Pathways associated with the control of intracellular pH that are under consideration for intervention include carbonic anhydrase IX, the monocarboxylate transporters (MCT, MCT1 and MCT4), the vacuolar-type H+-ATPase proton pump, and the sodium-hydrogen exchanger 1. This review will describe progress in the development of inhibitors to these targets.
Single biomarker diagnostic test of BRAFV600 locus in metastatic melanoma is mandatory for treatment decision; however, multiple-gene based techniques, such as targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) are being used to maximize the number of patients that can benefit from a targeted therapy. The main objective of this study is to investigate whether an NGS panel could be adopted in routine clinical care for advanced melanoma.
Patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma at our center from 2017 to 2019 were included. Presence of genetic alterations was performed using two methods: real-time polymerase chain reaction-based Idylla test (Biocartis) and NGS with the oncomine solid tumor DNA kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific). Total genomic DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed and paraffin embedded samples for sequencing.
A total of 155 samples were evaluated for molecular analysis but 40 samples (25.8%) were inadequate for sequencing. The clinical utility of BRAFV600 real-time polymerase chain reaction and targeted-NGS was compared in 29 samples and a very good concordance was observed (Kappa = 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.68 ± 1.05). An oncogenic mutation by NGS was found in 75 samples (65%)–53% of whom were candidates for personalized therapies. The most prevalent mutated genes were BRAF (39%), TP53 (23%), and NRAS (14%). Other genes identified at lower incidence (< 5%) were: PIK3CA, ERBB4, CTNNB1, STK11, FGFR1, SMAD4, KRAS, FGFR3, PTEN and AKT. Co-occurrence of oncogenic mutations was detected in 40% of the samples. Among the mutations identified, TP53 was significantly more prevalent in men (men 31.8% versus women 12.2%, P = 0.03) and NRAS in women (men 9.1% versus women 24.4%, P = 0.03).
Targeted-NGS testing is a feasible technique to implement in the routine clinical practice. Based on our results, NGS has provided more information on target-genes than RT-PCR technique, maximizing the benefit for patients with advanced melanoma.
Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is an heterogeneous disease in which different genetic alterations play a role in its pathogenesis and progression and offer potential for therapeutic intervention. The research on predictive biomarkers in metastatic CRC (mCRC) mainly focused on the identification of biomarkers of response or resistance to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibodies. In this respect, international guidelines suggest testing mCRC patients only for KRAS, NRAS and BRAF mutations and for microsatellite instability. However, the use of novel testing methods is raising relevant issue related to these biomarkers, such as the presence of sub-clonal RAS mutations or the clinical interpretation of rare no-V600 BRAF variants. In addition, a number of novel biomarkers is emerging from recent studies including amplification of ERBB2, mutations in ERBB2, MAP2K1 and NF1 and rearrangements of ALK, ROS1, NTRK and RET. Mutations in POLE and the levels of tumor mutation burden also appear as possible biomarkers of response to immunotherapy in CRC. Finally, the consensus molecular subtypes classification of CRC based on gene expression profiling has prognostic and predictive implications. Integration of all these information will be likely necessary in the next future in order to improve precision/personalized medicine in mCRC patients.
The Fanconi anaemia (FA) pathway is an important mechanism for cellular DNA damage repair, which functions to remove toxic DNA interstrand crosslinks. This is particularly relevant in the context of ovarian and other cancers which rely extensively on interstrand cross-link generating platinum chemotherapy as standard of care treatment. These cancers often respond well to initial treatment, but reoccur with resistant disease and upregulation of DNA damage repair pathways. The FA pathway is therefore of great interest as a target for therapies that aim to improve the efficacy of platinum chemotherapies, and reverse tumour resistance to these. In this review, we discuss recent advances in understanding the mechanism of interstrand cross-link repair by the FA pathway, and the potential of the component parts as targets for therapeutic agents. We then focus on the current state of play of inhibitor development, covering both the characterisation of broad spectrum inhibitors and high throughput screening approaches to identify novel small molecule inhibitors. We also consider synthetic lethality between the FA pathway and other DNA damage repair pathways as a therapeutic approach.
Cancer development is frequently associated with dysregulation of mRNA translation to enhance both increased global protein synthesis and translation of specific mRNAs encoding oncoproteins. Thus, targeted inhibition of mRNA translation is viewed as a promising new approach for cancer therapy. In this article we review current progress in investigating dysregulation of mRNA translation initiation in mature B-cell neoplasms, focusing on chronic lymphocytic leukemia, follicular lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. We discuss mechanisms and regulation of mRNA translation, potential pathways by which genetic alterations and the tumor microenvironment alters mRNA translation in malignant B cells, preclinical evaluation of drugs targeted against specific eukaryotic initiation factors and current progress towards clinical development. Overall, inhibition of mRNA translation initiation factors is an exciting and promising area for development of novel targeted anti-tumor drugs.