Introduction: Current treatment of osteosarcoma includes surgical resection of all gross disease in conjunction with systemic chemotherapy to control micro-metastatic disease. This yields a 5-year event free survival (EFS) of approximately 70% for patients with localized osteosarcoma while patients with metastatic or recurrent disease fare poorly with overall survival rates of less than 20%. Areas covered: This review outlines the current and future approach towards the treatment of osteosarcoma. A literature search was performed utilizing PubMed. Several recent clinical trials are reviewed in detail, as is innovative research evaluating novel agents and surgical techniques which hold promise. Expert commentary: The outcome for patients with osteosarcoma has not changed in several decades. This plateau in survival rates highlights the need for a novel approach towards research. There remains a great deal of interest in utilizing the very high risk population of recurrent osteosarcoma patients to rapidly and sequentially evaluate novel agents to determine if any of these agents hold promise. Several phase II studies are ongoing or in development that offer hope based on intriguing preclinical data. Furthermore, initiatives in obtaining specimens to further explore the genetic and immunological profile behind osteosarcoma will be essential towards identifying novel pathways and targets to exploit.
HER2 amplification is seen in up to 20% of breast cancers and is associated with an aggressive phenotype. Trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody to HER2, accrues significant clinical benefit in the metastatic and adjuvant settings. However, some patients suffer disease recurrence despite adjuvant trastuzumab therapy, and many patients with metastatic disease do not respond to therapy or develop refractory disease within 1 year of treatment. Given the increased recognition of de novo and acquired resistance to therapy, considerable research has been dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance. Here, we highlight putative models of resistance, including activation of the downstream PI3K-signaling pathway, accumulation of a constitutively active form of HER2, and crosstalk of HER2 with other growth factor receptors. The identification of these specific mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance has provided a rationale for the development of several novel HER2-targeted agents as the mechanisms have largely suggested a continued tumor dependence on HER2 signaling. We explore the emerging data for the treatment of trastuzumab-refractory disease with novel agents including lapatinib, neratinib, pertuzumab, trastuzumab-DM1, HSP90 and PI3K pathway inhibitors, and the future potential for these inhibitors which, if combined with reliable biomarkers of resistance, may ultimately usher in a new era of personalized medicine for this disease.
The incidence of melanoma is continuing to increase worldwide. UV exposure is a known risk factor for melanoma. Geographic location is known to influence UV exposure and the distribution of the incidence of melanoma. Furthermore, epidemiologic data suggest that gender and genetics may influence the distribution of melanoma on the body surface and histopathologic characteristics of the lesion. This article describes what is known about the impact of gender, ethnicity and geography on the progression of melanoma. Advanced-stage cutaneous melanoma has a median survival time of less than 1 year. Surgical removal, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapies and a variety of immunotherapies have been utilized in the treatment of melanoma. Current treatment strategies and the results of recent clinical trials are also discussed in this article.
Introduction: Children with neuroblastoma have widely divergent outcomes, ranging from cure in >90% of patients with low risk disease to <50% for those with high risk disease. Recent research has shed light on the biology of neuroblastoma, allowing for more accurate risk stratification and treatment reduction in many cases, although newer treatment strategies for children with high-risk and relapsed neuroblastoma are needed to improve outcomes. Areas covered: Neuroblastoma epidemiology, diagnosis, risk stratification, and recent advances in treatment of both newly diagnosed and relapsed neuroblastoma. Expert commentary: The identification of newer tumor targets and of novel cell-mediated immunotherapy agents may lead to novel therapeutic approaches, and clinical trials for regimens designed to target individual genetic aberrations in tumors are underway. A combination of therapeutic modalities will likely be required to improve survival and cure rates for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma.
Acetylation and deacetylation are counteracting, post-translational modifications that affect a large number of histone and nonhistone proteins. The significance of histone acetylation in the modification of chromatin structure and dynamics, and thereby gene transcription regulation, has been well recognized. A steadily growing number of nonhistone proteins have been identified as acetylation targets and reversible lysine acetylation in these proteins plays an important role(s) in the regulation of mRNA stability, protein localization and degradation, and protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. The recruitment of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) to the transcriptional machinery is a key element in the dynamic regulation of genes controlling cellular proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Many nonhistone proteins targeted by acetylation are the products of oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes and are directly involved in tumorigenesis, tumor progression and metastasis. Aberrant activity of HDACs has been documented in several types of cancers and HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) have been employed for therapeutic purposes. Here we review the published literature in this field and provide updated information on the regulation and function of nonhistone protein acetylation. While concentrating on the molecular mechanism and pathways involved in the addition and removal of the acetyl moiety, therapeutic modalities of HDACi are also discussed.
Osteosarcoma is the most common malignant bone tumor, currently treated with pre-and postoperative chemotherapy in association with the surgical removal of the tumor. About 15-20% of patients have evidence of metastases at diagnosis, mostly in the lungs. Patients with metastatic disease still have a very poor prognosis, with approximately 20-30% of long-term survivors, as compared with 65-70% of patients with localized disease. The optimum management of these patients has not been standardized yet due to several patterns of metastatic disease harboring different prognosis. Complete surgical resection of all sites of disease is mandatory and predictive of survival. Patients with multiple sites of disease not amenable to complete surgery removal should be considered for innovative therapeutic approaches because of poor prognosis.
Introduction: CD40 is a promising therapeutic target for cancer immunotherapy. In patients with advanced solid malignancies, CD40 agonists have demonstrated some anti-tumor activity and a manageable toxicity profile. A 2 nd generation of CD40 agonists has now been designed with optimized Fc receptor (FcR) binding based on preclinical evidence suggesting a critical role for FcR engagement in defining the potency of CD40 agonists in vivo. Areas covered: We provide a comprehensive review using PubMed and Google Patent databases on the current clinical status of CD40 agonists, strategies for applying CD40 agonists in cancer therapy, and the preclinical data that supports and is guiding the future development of CD40 agonists. Expert commentary: There is a wealth of preclinical data that provide rationale on several distinct approaches for using CD40 agonists in cancer immunotherapy. This data illustrates the need to strategically combine CD40 agonists with other clinically active treatment regimens in order to realize the full potential of activating CD40 in vivo. Thus, critical to the success of this class of immune-oncology drugs, which have the potential to restore both innate and adaptive immunosurveillance, will be the identification of biomarkers for monitoring and predicting responses as well as informing mechanisms of treatment resistance.
Introduction: Immune-related ocular toxicities are uncommon but serious adverse events that may be associated with the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors. The objective of this review is to assess the incidence and risk of ocular toxicities which are potentially immune-related and occur with immune checkpoint treatment of solid tumors. Areas covered: PubMed database has been searched till June 2016. Prospective clinical trials reporting the occurrence of immune-related ocular toxicities in solid tumor patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors were included. Eleven trials with 4965 participants were included. These studies included one study for ipilimumab and tremelimumab, three studies for nivolumab, five studies for pembrolizumab and one study comparing pembrolizumab to ipilimumab. No atezolizumab studies were included. The most common ocular toxicities reported with these agents included uveitis and dry eyes. Pooled analysis for odds ratio of all-grade immune-related ocular toxicities is 3.40 [95% CI: 1.32-8.71; P = 0.01]. Expert commentary: Despite being uncommon, immune-related ocular toxicities (particularly uveitis and dry eyes) occur with a higher frequency in cancer patients treated immune checkpoint inhibitors compared to those treated with control regimens.
Romidepsin is a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDI), approved by the US FDA for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Although various mechanisms have been proposed for the activity of HDIs, including induction of genes controlling cell cycle, acetylation of cytoplasmic proteins and direct induction of apoptosis, the mechanism underlying activity of romidepsin and other HDIs in CTCL is not known. Romidepsin induces long-lasting responses. The side-effect profile is similar to that of other HDIs, causing fatigue, nausea and thrombocytopenia. Management of the CTCL population requires vigilence to prevent infection with skin contaminants, and monitoring of potassium and magnesium, electrolytes found to be low in a large proportion of patients. Electrocardiographic (ECG) changes are common but are not associated with myocardial damage. When molecular end points were evaluated in 61 patients enrolled on a Phase II trial with romidepsin, response was associated with persistence of acetylated histone H3, suggesting that drug exposure is important in effective therapy with romidepsin. Future studies will endeavor to identify combination strategies to increase the efficacy both in resistant CTCL and in solid tumors and to identify biomarkers of response that will allow selection of patients most likely to benefit from the therapy.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain tumor. Standard treatment includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Prognosis is dismal with an average survival of approximately 1 year. Gliadel wafers are one treatment option, working as a source for local chemotherapy delivery. Their use is controversial with questionable survival benefit and potential side effects. We reviewed the literature in an effort to clarify their role in the treatment of high-grade gliomas. A systematic PubMed search was performed using the keywords 'Gliadel', 'carmustine' or 'BCNU wafers' in newly diagnosed high-grade glioma patients. Treatment regimen, and median survival were analyzed. Adverse event ratio was calculated by computing the number of adverse events in a study per patient receiving carmustine wafers. Nineteen studies with 795 patients were included in our review. Survival was 8.7-22.6 months with a mean overall survival (OS) of 16.2 months (control survival is approximately 14 months with surgery and adjuvant chemoradiotherapy). Adverse event ratio using Gliadel wafersin control group. Complication rate was 42.7%. Gliadel wafers may marginally increase survival and local control in newly diagnosed GBM patients but are associated with a high complication rate; therefore, we do not recommend using Gliadel wafers in patients with GBM. Further research may be warranted once a safer alternative to Gliadel wafers has been introduced.
Introduction: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers, in fact, >80% of cases are diagnosed as advanced-stage disease associated with a high mortality rate (<40% of women cured). A systematic review was performed to estimate the role of HE4 in the diagnosis, prognosis and follow-up of ovarian tumors. Areas covered: A comprehensive search of the literature from January 1952 to August 2016 was conducted using the terms 'ovarian tumor' and 'ovarian cancer' combined with 'HE4' and 'human epididymis protein 4'. The search identified a total of 259 citations, of which 141 were potentially relevant after initial evaluation. Of these studies, 75 primary studies met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed, with a total of 14,773 patients. Expert commentary: Serum HE4 dosage is a useful preoperative test for predicting the benign or malignant nature of pelvic masses. It seems to have a promising role in the prediction of clinical and surgical outcomes. Moreover, HE4 seems to better predict recurrence in comparison to CA-125.
Introduction: The adenosine pathway plays a key role in modulating immune responses in health and in disease. In health, anti-inflammatory effects of adenosine balance pro-inflammatory ATP, limiting tissue destruction by activated immune cells. In disease, this balance is disturbed. Areas covered: This review focuses on cancer and explains how in the microenvironment, the ATP-adenosine balance shifts towards an excess of extracellular adenosine Expert commentary: The CD73-adenosine axis plays a key role in the inhibition of anti-tumor functions of immune effector cells. Today, adenosine emerges as one of the immune checkpoints that are implicated in the tumor escape from the host immune system. The adenosine pathway is currently viewed as a significant barrier to the effectiveness of immune therapies and becomes an important therapeutic target in cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors or antibodies specific for the components of the adenosine pathways or adenosine receptors show efficacy in pre-clinical studies and are entering the clinical arena.
Tumor immunotherapy is emerging as a promising new treatment option for patients with cancer. T-VEC is an intralesional oncolytic virus therapy based on a modified herpes simplex virus type-1. T-VEC selectively targets tumor cells, causing regression in injected lesions and inducing immunologic responses that mediate regression at uninjected/distant sites. In a randomized phase III trial, T-VEC met its primary endpoint of improving the durable response rate vs granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in patients with unresectable melanoma. Responses were observed in injected and uninjected regional and visceral lesions. Exploratory analyses suggested survival differences in favor of T-VEC in patients with untreated or stage IIIB/IIIC/IVM1a disease. T-VEC was generally well tolerated, the most common adverse events being flu-like symptoms. Here, we overview recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, focusing on the clinical development of T-VEC, from first-in-human studies and studies in other cancer types, to ongoing combination trials with checkpoint inhibitors.
Tumor budding describes the presence of single tumor cells or small tumor cell clusters at the invasion front of carcinomas. It is currently thought to be the result of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation. Tumor budding can be appreciated histologically during routine evaluation of malignant polyps or surgical specimens of malignant tumors. Many studies have been published assessing cancers in all locations from the esophagus to the rectum, almost always reporting similar results. This seems especially remarkable as a generally accepted definition of how budding must be evaluated is still lacking. Regardless of the location, tumor budding generally is associated with nodal metastases and aggressive behavior, and it is mostly independent from other adverse factors. While the prognostic value of tumor budding is evident, especially in stage II colorectal cancers, it still has no therapeutic implications. This is owing to the heterogeneity of the performed studies and the lack of oncological studies, which are urgently needed.
Gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (AEs) are frequently observed in patients receiving EGF receptor (EGFR; also known as HER1 or ErbB1) tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. GI AEs are among the most common and most impactful on a patient's quality of life. Severe diarrhea can result in fluid and electrolyte losses, leading to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and renal insufficiency. Afatinib is an irreversible, oral, ErbB family blocker, inhibiting EGFR (ErbB1), HER2 (ErbB2) and ErbB4 receptor kinases. It also inhibits transphosphorylation of ErbB3. Similar to reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitors of EGFR, GI AEs - in particular, diarrhea - have frequently been observed in afatinib-treated patients. This article summarizes current data on afatinib-associated diarrhea and provides strategies for its management. Patient education, early identification, timely management and ongoing assessment will help to prevent aggravation, afatinib dose reductions or therapy discontinuation, encouraging patient compliance and allowing patients to obtain the maximum therapeutic benefit from this agent.
Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in males and second in females, and the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Currently, about 60-70% of diagnosed cases in symptomatic patients are detected at an advanced stage of disease. Earlier stage detection through the use of screening strategies would allow for better outcomes in terms of reducing the disease burden. Areas covered: The aim of this paper is to review the current published evidence from literature which assesses the performance and effectiveness of different screening tests for the early detection of CRC. Expert commentary: Adequate screening strategies can reduce CRC incidence and mortality. In the last few decades, several tests have been proposed for CRC screening. To date, there is still insufficient evidence to identify which approach is definitively superior, and no screening strategy for CRC can therefore be defined as universally ideal. The best strategy would be the one that can be economically viable and to which the patient can adhere best to over time. The latest guidelines suggest colonoscopy every 10 years or annual fecal immuno-chemical test (FIT) for people with normal risk, while for individuals with high risk or hereditary syndromes specific recommendations are provided.
Breast cancer is immunogenic, and infiltrating immune cells in primary breast tumors convey important clinical prognostic and predictive information. Furthermore, the immune system is critically involved in clinical responses to some standard cancer therapies. Early breast cancer vaccine trials have established the safety and bioactivity of breast cancer immunotherapy, with hints of clinical activity. Novel strategies for modulating regulators of immunity, including regulatory T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells and immune checkpoint pathways (monoclonal antibodies specific for the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 or programmed death), are now available. In particular, immune checkpoint blockade has enormous therapeutic potential. Integrative breast cancer immunotherapies that strategically combine established breast cancer therapies with breast cancer vaccines, immune checkpoint blockade or both should result in durable clinical responses and increased cures.
ROS1 is one of 58 receptor tyrosine kinases, and one of two orphan receptor tyrosine kinases where its ligand is unknown. ROS1 is evolutionarily related to ALK. ROS1 rearrangement was discovered in glioblastoma in 1987, in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in 2007, and in cholangiocarcinoma in 2011. While the clinicopathologic characteristics of ROS1-rearranged glioblastoma and cholangiocarcinoma patients remain to be defined, the clinicopathologic characteristics of ROS1-rearranged NSCLC patients have recently been described. Although ROS1 shares only 49% amino acid sequence homology with ALK in the kinase domains, several ALK inhibitors have demonstrated in vitro inhibitory activity against ROS1. With the recent US approval of crizotinib, a multi-targeted ALK/MET kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of ALK-rearranged NSCLC, attention has turned to ROS1-rearranged tumors, especially NSCLC. The next few years should witness a rapid pace of clinical research in ROS1-rearranged tumors utilizing available ALK inhibitors.
Introduction: While ovarian cancer (OC) is relatively rare, it remains one of the most fatal cancers. Lack of robust screening methods for eOC lead to detection of most cases at advanced stages, and most patients relapse following initial treatment. Areas covered: This review summarizes epidemiology and treatment patterns of epithelial ovarian cancer (eOC). MEDLINE, EMBASE, conference proceedings, and the Cochrane Library were searched using key terms and Medical Subject Headings for ovarian cancer, treatment patterns, and epidemiology to identify articles published from 2005-2015. Expert commentary: To improve early detection, future studies should focus on the identification of biomarkers that can detect asymptomatic disease. Following diagnosis and eventual relapse, response to first-line platinum appears to guide physicians' choice of subsequent therapies, but we do not understand what patients ultimately receive or its relationship to categories of response to first-line platinum. Improved understanding of later-line treatment patterns, by initial response to platinum, could correlate with overall outcomes among relapsed patients and promote development of more effective treatment guidelines. Novel treatment approaches, such as immunotherapies, would fulfill a need for an effective strategy against advanced stages of OC that results in fewer toxic side effects.
Introduction: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and ROS1 rearrangements define important molecular subgroups of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The identification of these genetic driver alterations created new potential for highly active therapeutic interventions. After discovery of ALK rearrangements in NSCLC, it was recognized that these confer sensitivity to ALK inhibition. Areas covered: Crizotinib, the first-in-class ALK/ROS1/MET inhibitor, was initially approved as second-line treatment of ALK-positive advanced NSCLC but after this, it was firmly established as the standard first-line therapy for advanced ALK-positive NSCLC. After initial response to crizotinib, tumors inevitably relapse. Next-generation ALK inhibitors, more potent and brain-penetrable than crizotinib, may be effective in re-inducing remissions when cancers are still addicted to ALK. Ceritinib and alectinib are approved for metastatic ALK positive NSCLC patients, while brigatinib received granted accelerated approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Regarding ROS1 rearrangement, to date crizotinib is the only ALK-tyrosine kinase inhibitor receiving indication as treatment of ROS1 positive advanced NSCLC. Expert commentary: Although novel ALK-inhibitors are under clinical investigation compared to crizotinib as front-line treatment for ALK-positive NSCLC, nowadays the current standard first-line therapy for these patients is crizotinib. Further research will clarify the best management of ALK-positive NSCLC, above all who progress on first-line crizotinib.