bims-ovdlit Biomed News
on Ovarian cancer: early diagnosis, liquid biopsy and therapy
Issue of 2021‒03‒28
three papers selected by
Lara Paracchini
Humanitas Research

  1. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2021 Mar 24.
      Anticancer drug development is a costly and protracted activity, and failure at late phases of clinical testing is common. We have previously proposed the Pharmacological Audit Trail (PhAT) intended to improve the efficiency of drug development, with a focus on the use of tumour tissue-based biomarkers. Blood-based 'liquid biopsy' approaches, such as targeted or whole-genome sequencing studies of plasma circulating cell-free tumour DNA (ctDNA) and circulating tumour cells (CTCs), are of increasing relevance to this drug development paradigm. Liquid biopsy assays can provide quantitative and qualitative data on prognostic, predictive, pharmacodynamic and clinical response biomarkers, and can also enable the characterization of disease evolution and resistance mechanisms. In this Perspective, we examine the promise of integrating liquid biopsy analyses into the PhAT, focusing on the current evidence, advances, limitations and challenges. We emphasize the continued importance of analytical validation and clinical qualification of circulating tumour biomarkers through prospective clinical trials.
  2. Lancet Oncol. 2021 Mar 18. pii: S1470-2045(21)00073-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Olaparib, a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor, has previously been shown to extend progression-free survival versus placebo when given to patients with relapsed high-grade serous or endometrioid ovarian cancer who were platinum sensitive and who had a BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) mutation, as part of the SOLO2/ENGOT-Ov21 trial. The aim of this final analysis is to investigate the effect of olaparib on overall survival.METHODS: This double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial was done across 123 medical centres in 16 countries. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older, had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status at baseline of 0-1, had histologically confirmed, relapsed, high-grade serous or high-grade endometrioid ovarian cancer, including primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer, and had received two or more previous platinum regimens. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive olaparib tablets (300 mg in two 150 mg tablets twice daily) or matching placebo tablets using an interactive web or voice-response system. Stratification was by response to previous chemotherapy and length of platinum-free interval. Treatment assignment was masked to patients, treatment providers, and data assessors. The primary endpoint of progression-free survival has been reported previously. Overall survival was a key secondary endpoint and was analysed in all patients as randomly allocated. Safety was assessed in all patients who received at least one treatment dose. This trial is registered with, NCT01874353, and is no longer recruiting patients.
    FINDINGS: Between Sept 3, 2013 and Nov 21, 2014, 295 patients were enrolled. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either olaparib (n=196 [66%]) or placebo (n=99 [34%]). One patient, randomised in error, did not receive olaparib. Median follow-up was 65·7 months (IQR 63·6-69·3) with olaparib and 64·5 months (63·4-68·7) with placebo. Median overall survival was 51·7 months (95% CI 41·5-59·1) with olaparib and 38·8 months (31·4-48·6) with placebo (hazard ratio 0·74 [95% CI 0·54-1·00]; p=0·054), unadjusted for the 38% of patients in the placebo group who received subsequent PARP inhibitor therapy. The most common grade 3 or worse treatment-emergent adverse event was anaemia (which occurred in 41 [21%] of 195 patients in the olaparib group and two [2%] of 99 patients in the placebo group). Serious treatment-emergent adverse events were reported in 50 (26%) of 195 patients receiving olaparib and eight (8%) of 99 patients receiving placebo. Treatment-emergent adverse events with a fatal outcome occurred in eight (4%) of the 195 patients receiving olaparib, six of which were judged to be treatment-related (attributed to myelodysplastic syndrome [n=3] and acute myeloid leukaemia [n=3]).
    INTERPRETATION: Olaparib provided a median overall survival benefit of 12·9 months compared with placebo in patients with platinum-sensitive, relapsed ovarian cancer and a BRCA1/2 mutation. Although statistical significance was not reached, these findings are arguably clinically meaningful and support the use of maintenance olaparib in these patients.
    FUNDING: AstraZeneca and Merck.
  3. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Mar 22.
      Cyclin-dependent kinase 12 (CDK12) is an emerging therapeutic target due to its role in regulating transcription of DNA-damage response (DDR) genes. However, development of selective small molecules targeting CDK12 has been challenging due to the high degree of homology between kinase domains of CDK12 and other transcriptional CDKs, most notably CDK13. In the present study, we report the rational design and characterization of a CDK12-specific degrader, BSJ-4-116. BSJ-4-116 selectively degraded CDK12 as assessed through quantitative proteomics. Selective degradation of CDK12 resulted in premature cleavage and poly(adenylation) of DDR genes. Moreover, BSJ-4-116 exhibited potent antiproliferative effects, alone and in combination with the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor olaparib, as well as when used as a single agent against cell lines resistant to covalent CDK12 inhibitors. Two point mutations in CDK12 were identified that confer resistance to BSJ-4-116, demonstrating a potential mechanism that tumor cells can use to evade bivalent degrader molecules.