bims-ovdlit Biomed News
on Ovarian cancer: early diagnosis, liquid biopsy and therapy
Issue of 2021‒06‒06
eight papers selected by
Lara Paracchini
Humanitas Research

  1. Genes (Basel). 2021 May 20. pii: 780. [Epub ahead of print]12(5):
      Pathological mutations in homology-directed repair (HDR) genes impact both future cancer risk and therapeutic options for patients. HDR is a high-fidelity DNA repair pathway for resolving DNA double-strand breaks throughout the genome. BRCA2 is an essential protein that mediates the loading of RAD51 onto resected DNA breaks, a key step in HDR. Germline mutations in BRCA2 are associated with an increased risk for breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Clinical findings of germline or somatic BRCA2 mutations in tumors suggest treatment with platinum agents or PARP inhibitors. However, when genetic analysis reveals a variant of uncertain significance (VUS) in the BRCA2 gene, precision medicine-based decisions become complex. VUS are genetic changes with unknown pathological impact. Current statistics indicate that between 10-20% of BRCA sequencing results are VUS, and of these, more than 50% are missense mutations. Functional assays to determine the pathological outcome of VUS are urgently needed to provide clinical guidance regarding cancer risk and treatment options. In this review, we provide a brief overview of BRCA2 functions in HDR, describe how BRCA2 VUS are currently assessed in the clinic, and how genetic and biochemical functional assays could be integrated into the clinical decision process. We suggest a multi-step workflow composed of robust and accurate functional assays to correctly evaluate the potential pathogenic or benign nature of BRCA2 VUS. Success in this precision medicine endeavor will offer actionable information to patients and their physicians.
    Keywords:  BRCA2; BRCAness; DNA repair; hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC); homologous recombination; variants of uncertain significance
  2. Cancers (Basel). 2021 May 13. pii: 2354. [Epub ahead of print]13(10):
      Germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. Germline and somatic BRCA1/2 mutations may define therapeutic targets and refine cancer treatment options. However, routine BRCA diagnostic approaches cannot reveal the exact time and origin of BRCA1/2 mutation formation, and thus, the fine details of their contribution to tumor progression remain less clear. Here, we establish a diagnostic pipeline using high-resolution microscopy and laser microcapture microscopy to test for BRCA1/2 mutations in the tumor at the single-cell level, followed by deep next-generation sequencing of various tissues from the patient. To demonstrate the power of our approach, here, we describe a detailed single-cell-level analysis of an ovarian cancer patient we found to exhibit constitutional somatic mosaicism of a pathogenic BRCA2 mutation. Employing next-generation sequencing, BRCA2 c.7795G>T, p.(Glu2599Ter) was detected in 78% of reads in DNA extracted from ovarian cancer tissue and 25% of reads in DNA derived from peripheral blood, which differs significantly from the expected 50% of a hereditary mutation. The BRCA2 mutation was subsequently observed at 17-20% levels in the normal ovarian and buccal tissue of the patient. Together, our findings suggest that this mutation occurred early in embryonic development. Characterization of the mosaic mutation at the single-cell level contributes to a better understanding of BRCA mutation formation and supports the concept that the combination of single-cell and next-generation sequencing methods is advantageous over traditional mutational analysis methods. This study is the first to characterize constitutional mosaicism down to the single-cell level, and it demonstrates that BRCA2 mosaicism occurring early during embryogenesis can drive tumorigenesis in ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  BRCA2; laser microcapture microscopy; tumor sequencing
  3. J Gynecol Oncol. 2021 Jul;32(4): e53
      In 2020 series, we summarized the major clinical research advances in gynecologic oncology with providing representative figures of the most influential study for 1 of each 3 gynecologic cancers: cervix, ovary, and uterine corpus. Review for cervical cancer covered targeted agents and immune checkpoint inhibitors, adjuvant radiation therapy or concurrent/sequential chemoradiation therapy after radical hysterectomy in early cervical cancer, radical surgery in early cervical cancer; and prevention and screening. Ovarian cancer research included studies of various combinations of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors with chemotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and/or vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors according to the clinical setting. For uterine corpus cancer, molecular classification upon which the decision of adjuvant treatments might be based, World Health Organization recommendation of 2-tier grading system (low grade vs. high grade), sentinel lymph node assessment and ovarian preservation in clinically early-stage endometrial cancer were reviewed. Molecular targeted agents including immune checkpoint inhibitors which showed promising anti-tumor activities in advanced/recurrent endometrial cancer were also included in this review.
    Keywords:  Adjuvant Chemotherapy; Adjuvant Radiotherapy; Cytoreduction Surgical Procedures; Immunotherapy; Molecular Targeted Therapy; Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase
  4. NPJ Precis Oncol. 2021 Jun 02. 5(1): 47
      Endometrioid ovarian carcinoma (EnOC) is an under-investigated ovarian cancer type. Recent studies have described disease subtypes defined by genomics and hormone receptor expression patterns; here, we determine the relationship between these subtyping layers to define the molecular landscape of EnOC with high granularity and identify therapeutic vulnerabilities in high-risk cases. Whole exome sequencing data were integrated with progesterone and oestrogen receptor (PR and ER) expression-defined subtypes in 90 EnOC cases following robust pathological assessment, revealing dominant clinical and molecular features in the resulting integrated subtypes. We demonstrate significant correlation between subtyping approaches: PR-high (PR + /ER + , PR + /ER-) cases were predominantly CTNNB1-mutant (73.2% vs 18.4%, P < 0.001), while PR-low (PR-/ER + , PR-/ER-) cases displayed higher TP53 mutation frequency (38.8% vs 7.3%, P = 0.001), greater genomic complexity (P = 0.007) and more frequent copy number alterations (P = 0.001). PR-high EnOC patients experience favourable disease-specific survival independent of clinicopathological and genomic features (HR = 0.16, 95% CI 0.04-0.71). TP53 mutation further delineates the outcome of patients with PR-low tumours (HR = 2.56, 95% CI 1.14-5.75). A simple, routinely applicable, classification algorithm utilising immunohistochemistry for PR and p53 recapitulated these subtypes and their survival profiles. The genomic profile of high-risk EnOC subtypes suggests that inhibitors of the MAPK and PI3K-AKT pathways, alongside PARP inhibitors, represent promising candidate agents for improving patient survival. Patients with PR-low TP53-mutant EnOC have the greatest unmet clinical need, while PR-high tumours-which are typically CTNNB1-mutant and TP53 wild-type-experience excellent survival and may represent candidates for trials investigating de-escalation of adjuvant chemotherapy to agents such as endocrine therapy.
  5. JAMA Oncol. 2021 Jun 04.
      Importance: DNA damage repair (DDR) gene mutations represent actionable alterations that can guide precision medicine strategies for advanced prostate cancer. However, acquisition of contemporary tissue samples for molecular testing can be a barrier to deploying precision medicine approaches. We hypothesized that most DDR alterations represent truncal events in prostate cancer and that primary tissue would faithfully reflect mutations found in cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and/or metastatic tissue.Objective: To assess concordance in DDR gene alterations between primary prostate cancer and metastases or ctDNA specimens.
    Design, Setting, and Participants: Patients were included if a DDR pathway mutation was detected in metastatic tissue or ctDNA and primary tissue sequencing was available for comparison. Sequencing data from 3 cohorts were analyzed: (1) FoundationOne, (2) University of Washington clinical cases (University of Washington-OncoPlex or Stand Up to Cancer-Prostate Cancer Foundation International Dream Team sequencing pipelines), and (3) University of Washington rapid autopsy series. Only pathogenic somatic mutations were included, and more than 30 days between primary tumor tissue and ctDNA and/or metastatic tissue acquisition was required. Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) and germline events were adjudicated by an expert molecular pathologist and excluded.
    Main Outcomes and Measures: The DDR gene alterations detected in primary prostate tissue matched with metastatic tissue and/or ctDNA findings.
    Results: A total of 72 men with known DDR alterations were included in the analysis, and primary samples with paired ctDNA and/or metastatic tissue were sequenced. After excluding patients with ctDNA where only CHIP and/or germline events (n = 21) were observed, 51 patients remained and were included in the final analysis. The median (range) time from acquisition of primary tissue to acquisition of ctDNA or tumor tissue was 55 (5-193) months. Concordance in DDR gene mutation status across samples was 84% (95% CI, 71%-92%). Rates of concordance between metastatic-primary and ctDNA-primary pairs were similar when patients with CHIP events were excluded. Multiclonal BRCA2 reversion mutations associated with resistance to PARP inhibitors and platinum chemotherapy were detected in ctDNA from 2 patients.
    Conclusions and Relevance: In this genetic association study of 3 patient cohorts, primary prostate tissue accurately reflected the mutational status of actionable DDR genes in metastatic tissue, consistent with DDR alterations being truncal in most patients. After excluding likely CHIP events, ctDNA profiling accurately captured these DDR mutations while also detecting reversion alterations that may suggest resistance mechanisms.
  6. N Engl J Med. 2021 Jun 03.
      BACKGROUND: Poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase inhibitors target cancers with defects in homologous recombination repair by synthetic lethality. New therapies are needed to reduce recurrence in patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline mutation-associated early breast cancer.METHODS: We conducted a phase 3, double-blind, randomized trial involving patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative early breast cancer with BRCA1 or BRCA2 germline pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants and high-risk clinicopathological factors who had received local treatment and neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients were randomly assigned (in a 1:1 ratio) to 1 year of oral olaparib or placebo. The primary end point was invasive disease-free survival.
    RESULTS: A total of 1836 patients underwent randomization. At a prespecified event-driven interim analysis with a median follow-up of 2.5 years, the 3-year invasive disease-free survival was 85.9% in the olaparib group and 77.1% in the placebo group (difference, 8.8 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.5 to 13.0; hazard ratio for invasive disease or death, 0.58; 99.5% CI, 0.41 to 0.82; P<0.001). The 3-year distant disease-free survival was 87.5% in the olaparib group and 80.4% in the placebo group (difference, 7.1 percentage points; 95% CI, 3.0 to 11.1; hazard ratio for distant disease or death, 0.57; 99.5% CI, 0.39 to 0.83; P<0.001). Olaparib was associated with fewer deaths than placebo (59 and 86, respectively) (hazard ratio, 0.68; 99% CI, 0.44 to 1.05; P = 0.02); however, the between-group difference was not significant at an interim-analysis boundary of a P value of less than 0.01. Safety data were consistent with known side effects of olaparib, with no excess serious adverse events or adverse events of special interest.
    CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with high-risk, HER2-negative early breast cancer and germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants, adjuvant olaparib after completion of local treatment and neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy was associated with significantly longer survival free of invasive or distant disease than was placebo. Olaparib had limited effects on global patient-reported quality of life. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute and AstraZeneca; OlympiA number, NCT02032823.).
  7. Lancet Oncol. 2021 Jun;pii: S1470-2045(21)00187-X. [Epub ahead of print]22(6): e231
  8. Lancet Oncol. 2021 Jun;pii: S1470-2045(21)00277-1. [Epub ahead of print]22(6): e232