N V Rajeshkumar

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States

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Publications (37)206.58 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) remains a lethal human malignancy with historically limited success in treatment. The role of aberrant Notch signaling, which requires the constitutive activation of γ-secretase, in the initiation and progression of PDA is well defined and inhibitors of this pathway are currently in clinical trials. Here we investigated the in vivo therapeutic effect of PF-03084014, a selective γ-secretase inhibitor, alone and in combination with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer xenografts. PF-03084014 treatment inhibited the cleavage of nuclear Notch 1 intracellular domain and Notch targets Hes-1 and Hey-1. Gemcitabine treatment showed good response but not capable of inducing tumor regressions and targeting the tumor-resident cancer stem cells (CD24(+)CD44(+) and ALDH(+) tumor cells). A combination of PF-03084014 and gemcitabine treatment resulted tumor regression in 3 of 4 subcutaneously implanted xenograft models. PF-03084014, and in combination with gemcitabine reduced putative cancer stem cells, indicating that PF-03084014 target the especially dangerous and resilient cancer stem cells within pancreatic tumors. Tumor re-growth curves plotted after drug treatments demonstrated that the effect of the combination therapy was sustainable than that of gemcitabine. Notably, in a highly aggressive orthotopic model, PF-03084014 and gemcitabine combination was effective in inducing apoptosis, inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis, resulting in the attenuation of primary tumor growth as well as controlling metastatic dissemination, compared to gemcitabine treatment. In summary, our preclinical data suggest that PF-03084014 has greater anti-tumor activity in combination with gemcitabine in PDA and provides rationale for further investigation of this combination in PDA.
    Cancer letters 02/2013; · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    Anne Le, N V Rajeshkumar, Anirban Maitra, Chi V Dang
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (a.k.a. pancreatic cancer) remains one of the most feared and clinically challenging diseases to treat despite continual improvements in therapies. The genetic landscape of pancreatic cancer shows near ubiquitous activating mutations of KRAS, and recurrent inactivating mutations of CDKN2A, SMAD4, and TP53. To date, attempts to develop agents to target KRAS to specifically kill cancer cells have been disappointing. In this regard, an understanding of cellular metabolic derangements in pancreatic cancer could lead to novel therapeutic approaches. Like other cancers, pancreatic cancer cells rely on fuel sources for homeostasis and proliferation; as such, interrupting the use of two major nutrients, glucose and glutamine, may provide new therapeutic avenues. In addition, KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancers have been documented to depend on autophagy, and the inhibition of autophagy in the preclinical setting has shown promise. Herein, the conceptual framework for blocking the pancreatic fuel supply is reviewed.
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2012; 18(16):4285-90. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    Anne Le, N V Rajeshkumar, Anirban Maitra
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2012; 18:4285-4290. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    Anne Le, N V Rajeshkumar, Anirban Maitra
    Clinical Cancer Research 08/2012; 18:4285-4290. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy, with most patients facing an adverse clinical outcome. Aberrant Notch pathway activation has been implicated in the initiation and progression of PDAC, specifically the aggressive phenotype of the disease. We used a panel of human PDAC cell lines as well as patient-derived PDAC xenografts to determine whether pharmacologic targeting of Notch pathway could inhibit PDAC growth and potentiate gemcitabine sensitivity. MRK-003, a potent and selective γ-secretase inhibitor, treatment resulted in the downregulation of nuclear Notch1 intracellular domain, inhibition of anchorage-independent growth, and reduction of tumor-initiating cells capable of extensive self-renewal. Pretreatment of PDAC cells with MRK-003 in cell culture significantly inhibited the subsequent engraftment in immunocompromised mice. MRK-003 monotherapy significantly blocked tumor growth in 5 of 9 (56%) PDAC xenografts. A combination of MRK-003 and gemcitabine showed enhanced antitumor effects compared with gemcitabine in 4 of 9 (44%) PDAC xenografts, reduced tumor cell proliferation, and induced both apoptosis and intratumoral necrosis. Gene expression analysis of untreated tumors indicated that upregulation of NF-κB pathway components was predictive of sensitivity to MRK-003, whereas upregulation in B-cell receptor signaling and nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 pathway correlated with response to the combination of MRK-003 with gemcitabine. Our findings strengthen the rationale for small-molecule inhibition of Notch signaling as a therapeutic strategy in PDAC. Mol Cancer Ther; 11(9); 1999-2009. ©2012 AACR.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 07/2012; 11(9):1999-2009. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A high throughput screening for anticancer activity of FDA approved drugs identified mycophenolic acid (MPA), an inhibitor of inositol monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) as an active agent with an antiangiogenesis mode of action. Exposure of pancreatic cancer cell lines to MPA resulted in growth inhibition and reduced the expression of VEGF that was reversed by supplementing the media with guanosine supporting and IMPDH-dependant mechanism. In preclinical in vivo study, MPA showed a moderate inhibition of tumor growth in a panel of 6 human derived pancreatic cancer xenografts but reduced the expression of VEGF. To investigate the effects of MPA in human pancreatic cancer, a total of 12 patients with resectable pancreatic cancer (PDA) received increasing doses of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) in cohorts of 6 patients each from 5-15 days prior to surgical resection. Treatment was well tolerated with one episode of grade 1 muscle pain, one episode of grade 2 lymphopenia (2 gr/day dose) and one episode of grade 2 elevantion in LFT (all in the 2 gr./day dose). Patients recovered from surgery uneventfully with no increased post-operative complications. Assessment of CD31, VEGF, and TUNEL in resected specimens compared to a non treated control of 6 patients showed no significant variations in any of the study endpoints. In conclusion, this study shows the feasibility of translating a preclinical observation to the clinical setting and to explore a drug mechanism of action in patients. MPA, however, did not show any hints of antiangiogenesis of anticancer clinical activity questioning if this agent should be further developed in PDA.
    Investigational New Drugs 06/2012; · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose S-trans,trans-Farnesylthiosalicylic Acid (FTS, salirasib) inhibits Ras-dependent cell growth by dislodging all isoforms of Ras, including mutant Ras, from the plasma membrane. This study evaluated the activity, safety, and toxicity of salirasib in preclinical models and patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDA). Patients and methods In the preclinical study, salirasib was tested, alone and in combination with gemcitabine, in patient derived xenografts (PDX) of PDA. In the clinical study, treatment-naïve patients with advanced, metastatic PDA were treated with a standard dose schedule of gemcitabine and salirasib 200-800 mg orally (PO) twice daily (bid) for 21 days every 28 days. Tissue from preclinical models and patients' biopsies were collected pre-treatment and on Cycle (C) 1, Day (D) 9 to characterize the effect of gemcitabine and salirasib on activated Ras protein levels. Plasma samples for pharmacokinetics were collected for salirasib administered alone and in combination. Results Salirasib inhibited the growth of 2/14 PDX models of PDA and modulated Ras signaling in these tumors. Nineteen patients were enrolled. No DLTs occurred. Common adverse events included hematologic and gastrointestinal toxicities and fatigue. The median overall survival was 6.2 months and the 1 year survival 37 %. In 2 patients in whom paired tissue biopsies were available, Ras and KRas protein levels were decreased on C1D9. Salirasib exposure was not altered by gemcitabine and did not correlate with PD outcomes. Conclusion The combination of gemcitabine and salirasib appears well-tolerated, with no alteration of salirasib exposure, and exerted clinical and PD activity in PDA.
    Investigational New Drugs 05/2012; · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The trial objectives were to identify the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) of first-line gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel in metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma and to provide efficacy and safety data. Additional objectives were to evaluate positron emission tomography (PET) scan response, secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC), and CA19-9 levels in relation to efficacy. Subsequent preclinical studies investigated the changes involving the pancreatic stroma and drug uptake. Patients with previously untreated advanced pancreatic cancer were treated with 100, 125, or 150 mg/m(2) nab-paclitaxel followed by gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m(2) on days 1, 8, and 15 every 28 days. In the preclinical study, mice were implanted with human pancreatic cancers and treated with study agents. A total of 20, 44, and three patients received nab-paclitaxel at 100, 125, and 150 mg/m(2), respectively. The MTD was 1,000 mg/m(2) of gemcitabine plus 125 mg/m(2) of nab-paclitaxel once a week for 3 weeks, every 28 days. Dose-limiting toxicities were sepsis and neutropenia. At the MTD, the response rate was 48%, with 12.2 median months of overall survival (OS) and 48% 1-year survival. Improved OS was observed in patients who had a complete metabolic response on [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose PET. Decreases in CA19-9 levels were correlated with increased response rate, progression-free survival, and OS. SPARC in the stroma, but not in the tumor, was correlated with improved survival. In mice with human pancreatic cancer xenografts, nab-paclitaxel alone and in combination with gemcitabine depleted the desmoplastic stroma. The intratumoral concentration of gemcitabine was increased by 2.8-fold in mice receiving nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine versus those receiving gemcitabine alone. The regimen of nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine has tolerable adverse effects with substantial antitumor activity, warranting phase III evaluation.
    Journal of Clinical Oncology 12/2011; 29(34):4548-54. · 18.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal of human malignancies, and potent therapeutic options are lacking. Inhibition of cell cycle progression through pharmacological blockade of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK) has been suggested as a potential treatment option for human cancers with deregulated cell cycle control. Dinaciclib (SCH727965) is a novel small molecule multi-CDK inhibitor with low nanomolar potency against CDK1, CDK2, CDK5 and CDK9 that has shown favorable toxicity and efficacy in preliminary mouse experiments, and has been well tolerated in Phase I clinical trials. In the current study, the therapeutic efficacy of SCH727965 on human pancreatic cancer cells was tested using in vitro and in vivo model systems. Treatment with SCH727965 significantly reduced in vitro cell growth, motility and colony formation in soft agar of MIAPaCa-2 and Pa20C cells. These phenotypic changes were accompanied by marked reduction of phosphorylation of Retinoblastoma (Rb) and reduced activation of RalA. Single agent therapy with SCH727965 (40 mg/kg i.p. twice weekly) for 4 weeks significantly reduced subcutaneous tumor growth in 10/10 (100%) of tested low-passage human pancreatic cancer xenografts. Treatment of low passage pancreatic cancer xenografts with a combination of SCH727965 and gemcitabine was significantly more effective than either agent alone. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis identified overrepresentation of the Notch and Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathways in the xenografts least responsive to SCH727965 treatment. Treatment with the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor SCH727965 alone or in combination is a highly promising novel experimental therapeutic strategy against pancreatic cancer.
    Cancer biology & therapy 10/2011; 12(7):598-609. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of this study was to evaluate prospectively the engraftment rate, factors influencing engraftment, and predictability of clinical outcome of low-passage xenografts from patients with resectable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) and to establish a bank of PDA xenografts. Patients with resectable PDA scheduled for resection at the Johns Hopkins Hospital were eligible. Representative pieces of tumor were implanted in nude mice. The status of the SMAD4 gene and content of tumor-generating cells were determined by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression was carried out by using a U133 Plus 2.0 array. Patients were followed for progression and survival. A total of 94 patients with PDA were resected, 69 tumors implanted in nude mice, and 42 (61%) engrafted. Engrafted carcinomas were more often SMAD4 mutant, and had a metastatic gene expression signature and worse prognosis. Tumors from patients resistant to gemcitabine were enriched in stroma-related gene pathways. Tumors sensitive to gemcitabine were enriched in cell cycle and pyrimidine gene pathways. The time to progression for patients who received treatment with gemcitabine for metastatic disease (n = 7) was double in patients with xenografts sensitive to gemcitabine. A successful xenograft was generated in 61% of patients attempted, generating a pool of 42 PDA xenografts with significant biological information and annotated clinical data. Patients with PDA and SMAD4 inactivation have a better engraftment rate. Engraftment is a poor prognosis factor, and engrafted tumors have a metastatic gene expression signature. Tumors from gemcitabine-resistant patients were enriched in stromal pathways.
    Clinical Cancer Research 07/2011; 17(17):5793-800. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic cancer is especially a deadly form of cancer with a survival rate less than 2%. Pancreatic cancers respond poorly to existing chemotherapeutic agents and radiation, and progress for the treatment of pancreatic cancer remains elusive. To address this unmet medical need, a better understanding of critical pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in pancreatic tumor development, progression, and resistance to traditional therapy is therefore critical. Reduction-oxidation (redox) signaling systems are emerging as important targets in pancreatic cancer. AP endonuclease1/Redox effector factor 1 (APE1/Ref-1) is upregulated in human pancreatic cancer cells and modulation of its redox activity blocks the proliferation and migration of pancreatic cancer cells and pancreatic cancer-associated endothelial cells in vitro. Modulation of APE1/Ref-1 using a specific inhibitor of APE1/Ref-1's redox function, E3330, leads to a decrease in transcription factor activity for NFκB, AP-1, and HIF1α in vitro. This study aims to further establish the redox signaling protein APE1/Ref-1 as a molecular target in pancreatic cancer. Here, we show that inhibition of APE1/Ref-1 via E3330 results in tumor growth inhibition in cell lines and pancreatic cancer xenograft models in mice. Pharmacokinetic studies also show that E3330 attains more than10 μmol/L blood concentrations and is detectable in tumor xenografts. Through inhibition of APE1/Ref-1, the activity of NFκB, AP-1, and HIF1α that are key transcriptional regulators involved in survival, invasion, and metastasis is blocked. These data indicate that E3330, inhibitor of APE1/Ref-1, has potential in pancreatic cancer and clinical investigation of APE1/Ref-1 molecular target is warranted.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 06/2011; 10(9):1698-708. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with many advanced solid cancers have very poor prognosis, and improvements in life expectancy are measured only in months. We have recently reported the remarkable clinical outcome of a patient with advanced, gemcitabine-resistant, pancreatic cancer who was later treated with DNA-damaging agents, on the basis of the observation of significant activity of this class of drugs against a personalized tumorgraft generated from the patient's surgically resected tumor. Here, we extend the approach to patients with other advanced cancers. Tumors resected from 14 patients with refractory advanced cancers were propagated in immunodeficient mice and treated with 63 drugs in 232 treatment regimens. An effective treatment regimen in the xenograft model was identified for 12 patients. One patient died before receiving treatment, and the remaining 11 patients received 17 prospectively guided treatments. Fifteen of these treatments resulted in durable partial remissions. In 2 subjects, no effective treatments were found. Overall, there was a remarkable correlation between drug activity in the model and clinical outcome, both in terms of resistance and sensitivity. The data support the use of the personalized tumorgraft model as a powerful investigational platform for therapeutic decision making and to efficiently guide cancer treatment in the clinic.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 06/2011; 10(8):1311-6. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Investigate the efficacy and pharmacodynamic effects of MK-1775, a potent Wee1 inhibitor, in both monotherapy and in combination with gemcitabine (GEM) using a panel of p53-deficient and p53 wild-type human pancreatic cancer xenografts. Nine individual patient-derived pancreatic cancer xenografts (6 with p53-deficient and 3 with p53 wild-type status) from the PancXenoBank collection at Johns Hopkins were treated with MK-1775, GEM, or GEM followed 24 hour later by MK-1775, for 4 weeks. Tumor growth rate/regressions were calculated on day 28. Target modulation was assessed by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. MK-1775 treatment led to the inhibition of Wee1 kinase and reduced inhibitory phosphorylation of its substrate Cdc2. MK-1775, when dosed with GEM, abrogated the checkpoint arrest to promote mitotic entry and facilitated tumor cell death as compared to control and GEM-treated tumors. MK-1775 monotherapy did not induce tumor regressions. However, the combination of GEM with MK-1775 produced robust antitumor activity and remarkably enhanced tumor regression response (4.01-fold) compared to GEM treatment in p53-deficient tumors. Tumor regrowth curves plotted after the drug treatment period suggest that the effect of the combination therapy is longer-lasting than that of GEM. None of the agents produced tumor regressions in p53 wild-type xenografts. These results indicate that MK-1775 selectively synergizes with GEM to achieve tumor regressions, selectively in p53-deficient pancreatic cancer xenografts.
    Clinical Cancer Research 03/2011; 17(9):2799-806. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metastasis and drug resistance are the major causes of mortality in patients with pancreatic cancer. Once developed, the progression of pancreatic cancer metastasis is virtually unstoppable with current therapies. Here, we report the remarkable clinical outcome of a patient with advanced, gemcitabine-resistant, pancreatic cancer who was later treated with DNA damaging agents, on the basis of the observation of significant activity of this class of drugs against a personalized xenograft generated from the patient's surgically resected tumor. Mitomycin C treatment, selected on the basis of its robust preclinical activity in a personalized xenograft generated from the patient's tumor, resulted in long-lasting (36+ months) tumor response. Global genomic sequencing revealed biallelic inactivation of the gene encoding PalB2 protein in this patient's cancer; the mutation is predicted to disrupt BRCA1 and BRCA2 interactions critical to DNA double-strand break repair. This work suggests that inactivation of the PALB2 gene is a determinant of response to DNA damage in pancreatic cancer and a new target for personalizing cancer treatment. Integrating personalized xenografts with unbiased exomic sequencing led to customized therapy, tailored to the genetic environment of the patient's tumor, and identification of a new biomarker of drug response in a lethal cancer.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 01/2011; 10(1):3-8. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor-initiating cells (TICs) are defined by their ability to form tumors after xenotransplantation in immunodeficient mice and appear to be relatively rare in most human cancers. Recent data in melanoma indicate that the frequency of TICs increases dramatically via more permissive xenotransplantation conditions, raising the possibility that the true frequency of TICs has been greatly underestimated in most human tumors. We compared the growth of human pancreatic, non-small cell lung, and head and neck carcinomas in NOD/SCID and NSG mice. Although TIC frequency was detected up to 10-fold higher in NSG mice, it remained low (<1 in 2500 cells) in all cases. Moreover, aldehyde dehydrogenase-positive (ALDH(+)) and CD44(+)CD24(+) cells, phenotypically distinct cells enriched in TICs, were equally tumorigenic in NOD/SCID and NSG mice. Our findings demonstrate that TICs are rare in these cancers and that the identification of TICs and their frequency in other human malignancies should be validated via primary tumors and highly permissive xenotransplantation conditions.
    Cell stem cell 09/2010; 7(3):279-82. · 23.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is an aggressive malignancy with one of the worst outcomes among all cancers. PDA often recurs after initial treatment to result in patient death despite the use of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. PDA contains a subset of tumor-initiating cells capable of extensive self-renewal known as cancer stem cells (CSC), which may contribute to therapeutic resistance and metastasis. At present, conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy are largely ineffective in depleting CSC pool, suggesting the need for novel therapies that specifically target the cancer-sustaining stem cells for tumor eradication and to improve the poor prognosis of PDA patients. In this study, we report that death receptor 5 (DR5) is enriched in pancreatic CSCs compared with the bulk of the tumor cells. Treating a collection of freshly generated patient-derived PDA xenografts with gemcitabine, the first-line chemotherapeutic agent for PDA, is initially effective in reducing tumor size, but largely ineffective in diminishing the CSC populations, and eventually culminated in tumor relapse. However, a combination of tigatuzumab, a fully humanized DR5 agonist monoclonal antibody, with gemcitabine proved to be more efficacious by providing a double hit to kill both CSCs and bulk tumor cells. The combination therapy produced remarkable reduction in pancreatic CSCs, tumor remissions, and significant improvements in time to tumor progression in a model that is considered more difficult to treat. These data provide the rationale to explore the DR5-directed therapies in combination with chemotherapy as a therapeutic option to improve the current standard of care for pancreatic cancer patients.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 09/2010; 9(9):2582-92. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this work was to determine the efficacy of inhibiting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in pancreatic cancer preclinical models and translate preclinical observations to the clinic. Temsirolimus (20 mg Kg(-1) daily) was administered to freshly generated pancreatic cancer xenografts. Tumour growth inhibition was determined after 28 days. Xenografts were characterised at baseline by gene expression and comparative genomic hybridisation. Patients with advanced, gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer were treated with sirolimus (5 mg daily). The primary end point was 6-month survival rate (6mSR). Correlative studies included immunohistochemistry assessment of pathway expression in baseline tumours, drug pharmacokinetics (PKs), response assessment by FDG-PET and pharmacodynamic effects in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). In all, 4 of 17 xenografts (23%) responded to treatment. Sensitive tumours were characterised by gene copy number variations and overexpression of genes leading to activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. Activation of p70S6K correlated with drug activity in the preclinical studies. Sirolimus was well tolerated in the clinic, showed predictable PKs, exerted pathway inhibition in post-treatment PBMCs and resulted in a 6mSR of 26%. No correlation, however, was found between activated p70S6K in tumour tissues and anti-tumour effects. Sirolimus activity in pancreatic cancer was marginal and not predicted by the selected biomarker.
    British Journal of Cancer 08/2010; 103(5):649-55. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Specific populations of highly tumorigenic cells are thought to exist in many human tumors, including pancreatic adenocarcinoma. However, the clinical significance of these tumor-initiating (ie, cancer stem) cells remains unclear. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity can identify tumor-initiating cells and normal stem cells from several human tissues. We examined the prognostic significance and functional features of ALDH expression in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. ALDH expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in 269 primary surgical specimens of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and examined for association with clinical outcomes and in paired primary tumors and metastatic lesions from eight pancreatic cancer patients who had participated in a rapid autopsy program. The clonogenic growth potential of ALDH-positive pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells was assessed in vitro by a colony formation assay and by tumor growth in immunodeficient mice (10-14 mice per group). Mesenchymal features of ALDH-positive pancreatic tumor cells were examined by using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and an in vitro cell invasion assay. Gene expression levels and the invasive potential of ADLH-positive pancreatic cancer cells relative to the bulk cell population were examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and an in vitro invasion assays, respectively. All statistical tests were two-sided. ALDH-positive tumor cells were detected in 90 of the 269 primary surgical specimens, and their presence was associated with worse survival (median survival for patients with ALDH-positive vs ALDH-negative tumors: 14 vs 18 months, hazard ratio of death = 1.28, 95% confidence interval = 1.02 to 1.68, P = .05). Six (75%) of the eight patients with matched primary and metastatic tumor samples had ALDH-negative primary tumors, and in four (67%) of these six patients, the matched metastatic lesions (located in liver and lung) contained ALDH-positive cells. ALDH-positive cells were approximately five- to 11-fold more clonogenic in vitro and in vivo compared with unsorted or ALHD-negative cells, expressed genes consistent with a mesenchymal state, and had in vitro migratory and invasive potentials that were threefold greater than those of unsorted cells. ALDH expression marks pancreatic cancer cells that have stem cell and mesenchymal features. The enhanced clonogenic growth and migratory properties of ALDH-positive pancreatic cancer cells suggest that they play a key role in the development of metastatic disease that negatively affects the overall survival of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
    CancerSpectrum Knowledge Environment 02/2010; 102(5):340-51. · 14.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This work aimed to discover targets for combination treatment with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer. We selected 11 tumors from our live collection of freshly generated pancreatic cancer xenografts with known degrees of varying gemcitabine sensitivity. We briefly (6 h) exposed fine-needle aspiration material to control vehicle or gemcitabine (1 mumol/L) and compared the gene expression of the treated and untreated samples using a reverse transcription-PCR-based, customized low-density array with 45 target genes of therapeutic interest. The gene expression of the untreated sample (which can be considered a baseline/static readout) was not predictive of gemcitabine efficacy in these tumors. Altogether, the only gene that differentiated sensitive versus resistant cases was polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), showing >50% downregulation in sensitive cases and no change in the resistant cases. Inhibition of Plk1 by either small interfering RNA gene knockdown or with the Plk1 pathway modulator (ON 01910.Na) synergized with gemcitabine in gemcitabine-refractory in vitro models providing mechanistic proof of concept. In vivo experiments in gemcitabine-resistant xenografts showed synergistic activity decreasing cell proliferation and tumor regressions. A quantitative gene expression-based vulnerability assay identified Plk1 as a relevant target dictating the susceptibility of pancreatic cancer to gemcitabine. Dynamic interrogation of cancer has the potential to provide key information about mechanisms of resistance and to enhance individualization of treatment.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 02/2010; 9(2):311-8. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, Src tyrosine kinase has emerged as an attractive target for anticancer therapy, and Src is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. The purpose of the study was to investigate the in vivo efficacy and pharmacodynamic effects of bosutinib (SKI-606), a Src/Abl inhibitor, using a panel of human pancreatic tumor xenografts. Surgically resected human pancreatic tumors were implanted into female nude mice and randomized to bosutinib versus control. Src and other pathways were analyzed by Western Blot, IHC, and Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 gene arrays. Of 15 patient tumors, 3 patient tumors were found to be sensitive to bosutinib, defined as tumor growth of <45% than that of control tumors. There were no definite differences between sensitive and resistant tumors in the baseline Src kinase pathway protein expression assessed by Western Blot. Caveolin-1 expression, as assessed by reverse transcription-PCR and immunohistochemistry, was frequently higher in sensitive cases. In sensitive tumors, bosutinib resulted in increased apoptosis. Phosphorylation of key signaling molecules downstream of Src, signal transducers and activators of transcription 3, and signal transducers and activators of transcription 3, were significantly inhibited by bosutinib. K-Top Scoring Pairs analysis of gene arrays gave a six-gene classifier that predicted resistance versus sensitivity in six validation cases. These results may aid the clinical development of bosutinib and other Src inhibitors in pancreas cancer.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 06/2009; 8(6):1484-93. · 5.60 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

647 Citations
442 Downloads
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206.58 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2013
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Pathology
      Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 2011
    • Translational Genomics Research Institute
      Phoenix, Arizona, United States
    • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2009–2010
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
    • University of Colorado
      Denver, Colorado, United States
  • 2005–2007
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
      • Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2003–2007
    • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
      • Department of Pathology
      Bethesda, MD, United States