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NPJ genomic medicine

Signaling pathway screening platforms are an efficient approach to identify therapeutic targets in cancers that lack known driver mutations: a case report for a cancer of unknown primary origin.


PMID 29951225

Abstract

Precision medicine aims to tailor cancer therapies to target specific tumor-promoting aberrations. For tumors that lack actionable drivers, which occurs frequently in the clinic, extensive molecular characterization and pre-clinical drug efficacy studies will be required. A cell line maintained at low passage and a patient- derived xenograft model (PDX) were generated using a fresh biopsy from a patient with a poorly-differentiated neuroendocrine tumor of unknown primary origin. Next-generation sequencing, high throughput signaling network analysis, and drug efficacy trials were then conducted to identify actionable targets for therapeutic intervention. No actionable mutations were identified after whole exome sequencing of the patient's DNA. However, whole genome sequencing revealed amplification of the 3q and 5p chromosomal arms, that include the PIK3CA and RICTOR genes, respectively. We then conducted pathway analysis, which revealed activation of the AKT pathway. Based on this analysis, efficacy of PIK3CA and AKT inhibitors were evaluated in the tumor biopsy-derived cell culture and PDX, and response to the AKT inhibitor AZD5363 was observed both in vitro and in vivo indicating the patient would benefit from targeted therapies directed against the serine/threonine kinase AKT. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that high throughput signaling pathway analysis will significantly aid in identifying actionable alterations in rare tumors and guide patient stratification into early-phase clinical trials.