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BACKGROUND - Checkpoint inhibitor therapy is a standard of care for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Treatment options after checkpoint inhibitor therapy include vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF-R) tyrosine kinase inhibitors, although no prospective data regarding their use in this setting exist. Axitinib is a VEGF-R inhibitor with clinical data supporting increased activity with dose titration. We aimed to investigate the activity of dose titrated axitinib in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma who were previously treated with checkpoint inhibitor.
METHODS - We did a multicentre, phase 2 trial of axitinib given on an individualised dosing algorithm. Patients at least 18 years of age with histologically or cytologically confirmed locally recurrent or metastatic renal cell carcinoma with clear cell histology, a Karnofsky Performance Status of 70% or more, and measurable disease who received checkpoint inhibitor therapy as the most recent treatment were eligible. There was no limit on number of previous therapies received. Patients received oral axitinib at a starting dose of 5 mg twice daily with dose titration every 14 days in 1 mg increments (ie, 5 mg twice daily to 6 mg twice daily, up to 10 mg twice daily maximum dose) if there was no axitinib-related grade 2 or higher mucositis, diarrhoea, hand-foot syndrome, or fatigue. If one or more of these grade 2 adverse events occurred, axitinib was withheld for 3 days before the same dose was resumed. Dose reductions were made if recurrent grade 2 adverse events despite treatment breaks or grade 3-4 adverse events occurred. The primary outcome was progression-free survival. Analyses were done per protocol in all patients who received at least one dose of axitinib. Recruitment has been completed and the trial is ongoing. This trial is registered with ClincalTrials.gov, number NCT02579811.
FINDINGS - Between Jan 5, 2016 and Feb 21, 2018, 40 patients were enrolled and received at least one dose of study treatment. With a median follow-up of 8·7 months (IQR 3·7-14·2), the median progression-free survival was 8·8 months (95% CI 5·7-16·6). Fatigue (83%) and hypertension (75%) were the most common all-grade adverse events. The most common grade 3 adverse event was hypertension (24 patients [60%]). There was one (3%) grade 4 adverse event (elevated lipase) and no treatment-related deaths occurred. Serious adverse events that were likely related to therapy occurred in eight (20%) patients; the most common were dehydration (n=4) and diarrhoea (n=2).
INTERPRETATION - Individualised axitinib dosing in patients with metastatic renal cell inoma previously treated with checkpoint inhibitors did not meet the prespecified threshold for progression free survival, but these data show that this individualised titration scheme is feasible and has robust clinical activity. These prospective results warrant consideration of axitinib in this setting.
FUNDING - Pfizer.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The field of hereditary kidney cancer has begun to mature following the identification of several germline syndromes that define genetic and molecular features of this cancer. Molecular defects within these hereditary syndromes demonstrate consistent deficits in angiogenesis and metabolic signaling, largely driven by altered hypoxia signaling. The classical mutation, loss of function of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor, provides a human pathogenesis model for critical aspects of pseudohypoxia. These features are mimicked in a less common hereditary renal tumor syndrome, known as hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma. Here, we review renal tumor angiogenesis and metabolism from a HIF-centric perspective, considering alterations in the hypoxic landscape, and molecular deviations resulting from high levels of HIF family members. Mutations underlying HIF deregulation drive multifactorial aberrations in angiogenic signals and metabolism. The mechanisms by which these defects drive tumor growth are still emerging. However, the distinctive patterns of angiogenesis and glycolysis-/glutamine-dependent bioenergetics provide insight into the cellular environment of these cancers. The result is a scenario permissive for aggressive tumorigenesis especially within the proximal renal tubule. These features of tumorigenesis have been highly actionable in kidney cancer treatments, and will likely continue as central tenets of kidney cancer therapeutics.
Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is one of the most aggressive renal cell carcinomas. It predominantly afflicts young adults and adolescents with sickle cell trait and other sickle hemoglobinopathies, and is refractory to targeted and antiangiogenic therapies used in patients with clear-cell renal cell carcinoma. Platinum-based cytotoxic chemotherapy is the mainstay for RMC treatment. On the basis of recent advances in the diagnosis, management, and clinical trial development for RMC, a panel of experts met in October 2017 and developed updated consensus recommendations to inform clinicians, researchers, and patients. Because RMC often aggressively recurs while patients are still recovering from nephrectomy, upfront chemotherapy should be considered for most patients, including those with localized disease. After safety and dosing information has been established in adults, phase II and III trials enrolling patients with RMC should allow patients aged 12 years and older to be accrued. Patients with the very rare unclassified renal cell carcinoma with medullary phenotype variant should be included in RMC trials. Medical providers should be aware that RMC can afflict subjects of all races, and not only those of African descent, and that the presence of sickle cell trait, or of other sickle hemoglobinopathies, can affect drug responses and toxicity.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Wilms tumor (WT) is the most common childhood kidney cancer worldwide, yet its incidence and clinical behavior vary according to race and access to adequate healthcare resources. To guide and streamline therapy in the war-torn and resource-constrained city of Baghdad, Iraq, we conducted a first-ever molecular analysis of 20 WT specimens to characterize the biological features of this lethal disease within this challenged population.
METHODS - Next-generation sequencing of ten target genes associated with WT development and treatment resistance (WT1, CTNNB1, WTX, IGF2, CITED1, SIX2, p53, N-MYC, CRABP2, and TOP2A) was completed. Immunohistochemistry was performed for 6 marker proteins of WT (WT1, CTNNB1, NCAM, CITED1, SIX2, and p53). Patient outcomes were compiled.
RESULTS - Mutations were detected in previously described WT "hot spots" (e.g., WT1 and CTNNB1) as well as novel loci that may be unique to the Iraqi population. Immunohistochemistry showed expression domains most typical of blastemal-predominant WT. Remarkably, despite the challenges facing families and care providers, only one child, with combined WT1 and CTNNB1 mutations, was confirmed dead from disease. Median clinical follow-up was 40.5 months (range 6-78 months).
CONCLUSIONS - These data suggest that WT biology within a population of Iraqi children manifests features both similar to and unique from disease variants in other regions of the world. These observations will help to risk stratify WT patients living in this difficult environment to more or less intensive therapies and to focus treatment on cell-specific targets.
Human endogenous retroviruses (hERVs) are remnants of exogenous retroviruses that have integrated into the genome throughout evolution. We developed a computational workflow, hervQuant, which identified more than 3,000 transcriptionally active hERVs within The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pan-cancer RNA-Seq database. hERV expression was associated with clinical prognosis in several tumor types, most significantly clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). We explored two mechanisms by which hERV expression may influence the tumor immune microenvironment in ccRCC: (i) RIG-I-like signaling and (ii) retroviral antigen activation of adaptive immunity. We demonstrated the ability of hERV signatures associated with these immune mechanisms to predict patient survival in ccRCC, independent of clinical staging and molecular subtyping. We identified potential tumor-specific hERV epitopes with evidence of translational activity through the use of a ccRCC ribosome profiling (Ribo-Seq) dataset, validated their ability to bind HLA in vitro, and identified the presence of MHC tetramer-positive T cells against predicted epitopes. hERV sequences identified through this screening approach were significantly more highly expressed in ccRCC tumors responsive to treatment with programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibition. hervQuant provides insights into the role of hERVs within the tumor immune microenvironment, as well as evidence that hERV expression could serve as a biomarker for patient prognosis and response to immunotherapy.
Although a subset of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) patients respond to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), predictors of response remain uncertain. We investigated whether abnormal expression of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) in tumors is associated with local immune checkpoint activation (ICA) and response to ICB. Twenty potentially immunogenic ERVs (πERVs) were identified in ccRCC in The Cancer Genome Atlas data set, and tumors were stratified into 3 groups based on their expression levels. πERV-high ccRCC tumors showed increased immune infiltration, checkpoint pathway upregulation, and higher CD8+ T cell fraction in infiltrating leukocytes compared with πERV-low ccRCC tumors. Similar results were observed in ER+/HER2- breast, colon, and head and neck squamous cell cancers. ERV expression correlated with expression of genes associated with histone methylation and chromatin regulation, and πERV-high ccRCC was enriched in BAP1 mutant tumors. ERV3-2 expression correlated with ICA in 11 solid cancers, including the 4 named above. In a small retrospective cohort of 24 metastatic ccRCC patients treated with single-agent PD-1/PD-L1 blockade, ERV3-2 expression in tumors was significantly higher in responders compared with nonresponders. Thus, abnormal expression of πERVs is associated with ICA in several solid cancers, including ccRCC, and ERV3-2 expression is associated with response to ICB in ccRCC.
BACKGROUND - Functional and molecular changes often precede gross anatomical changes, so early assessment of a tumor's functional and molecular response to therapy can help reduce a patient's exposure to the side effects of ineffective chemotherapeutics or other treatment strategies.
OBJECTIVE - Our intent was to test the hypothesis that an ultrasound microvascular imaging approach might provide indications of response to therapy prior to assessment of tumor size.
METHODS - Mice bearing clear-cell renal cell carcinoma xenograft tumors were treated with antiangiogenic and Notch inhibition therapies. An ultrasound measurement of microvascular density was used to serially track the tumor response to therapy.
RESULTS - Data indicated that ultrasound-derived microvascular density can indicate response to therapy a week prior to changes in tumor volume and is strongly correlated with physiological characteristics of the tumors as measured by histology ([Formula: see text]). Furthermore, data demonstrated that ultrasound measurements of vascular density can determine response to therapy and classify between-treatment groups with high sensitivity and specificity.
CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE - Results suggests that future applications utilizing ultrasound imaging to monitor tumor response to therapy may be able to provide earlier insight into tumor behavior from metrics of microvascular density rather than anatomical tumor size measurements.
Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) are a diverse set of malignancies that have recently been shown to harbour mutations in a number of chromatin modifier genes - including PBRM1, SETD2, BAP1, KDM5C, KDM6A, and MLL2 - through high-throughput sequencing efforts. Current research focuses on understanding the biological activities that chromatin modifiers employ to suppress tumorigenesis and on developing clinical approaches that take advantage of this knowledge. Unsurprisingly, several common themes unify the functions of these epigenetic modifiers, particularly regulation of histone post-translational modifications and nucleosome organization. Furthermore, chromatin modifiers also govern processes crucial for DNA repair and maintenance of genomic integrity as well as the regulation of splicing and other key processes. Many chromatin modifiers have additional non-canonical roles in cytoskeletal regulation, which further contribute to genomic stability, expanding the repertoire of functions that might be essential in tumorigenesis. Our understanding of how mutations in chromatin modifiers contribute to tumorigenesis in RCC is improving but remains an area of intense investigation. Importantly, elucidating the activities of chromatin modifiers offers intriguing opportunities for the development of new therapeutic interventions in RCC.
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase protein is a hallmark of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Identifying how pathways affected by VHL loss contribute to ccRCC remains challenging. We used a genome-wide in vitro expression strategy to identify proteins that bind VHL when hydroxylated. Zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 (ZHX2) was found as a VHL target, and its hydroxylation allowed VHL to regulate its protein stability. Tumor cells from ccRCC patients with loss-of-function mutations usually had increased abundance and nuclear localization of ZHX2. Functionally, depletion of ZHX2 inhibited VHL-deficient ccRCC cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, integrated chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and microarray analysis showed that ZHX2 promoted nuclear factor κB activation. These studies reveal ZHX2 as a potential therapeutic target for ccRCC.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
We describe results from IMmotion150, a randomized phase 2 study of atezolizumab (anti-PD-L1) alone or combined with bevacizumab (anti-VEGF) versus sunitinib in 305 patients with treatment-naive metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Co-primary endpoints were progression-free survival (PFS) in intent-to-treat and PD-L1+ populations. Intent-to-treat PFS hazard ratios for atezolizumab + bevacizumab or atezolizumab monotherapy versus sunitinib were 1.0 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.69-1.45) and 1.19 (95% CI, 0.82-1.71), respectively; PD-L1+ PFS hazard ratios were 0.64 (95% CI, 0.38-1.08) and 1.03 (95% CI, 0.63-1.67), respectively. Exploratory biomarker analyses indicated that tumor mutation and neoantigen burden were not associated with PFS. Angiogenesis, T-effector/IFN-γ response, and myeloid inflammatory gene expression signatures were strongly and differentially associated with PFS within and across the treatments. These molecular profiles suggest that prediction of outcomes with anti-VEGF and immunotherapy may be possible and offer mechanistic insights into how blocking VEGF may overcome resistance to immune checkpoint blockade.