An integrative strategy for targeted evaluation of biomarker expression in non-small cell lung cancer
Sammanfattning: Despite improvements in therapy, the prognosis for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients remains poor, and cure is only possible in localized tumors after surgical resection. A new generation of targeted cancer drugs has led to the expectation that lung cancer therapy can be significantly improved, but these drugs are today only an option in a small subset of NSCLC patients, and their effect is temporary. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to characterize NSCLC in order to find new treatment targets and to evaluate biomarkers that further optimize therapy selection.In Paper I, the expression of the potential treatment targets claudin 6 and claudin 18.2 were evaluated based on immunohistochemical- and gene expression analysis. High ectopic protein and gene expression were demonstrated for both claudins in small subgroups of NSCLC. Clinical trials using humanized monoclonal antibodies against both proteins are ongoing in other cancer forms and may be extended to NSCLC.In Paper II, the prognostic impact of the inflammatory mediator cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) was evaluated. No prognostic significance was found in a meta-analysis incorporating gene expression data of 1337 NSCLC patients. Likewise, COX-2 protein expression in tumor cells was not associated with survival in two independent NSCLC cohorts. However, in one of the analyzed cohorts, higher COX-2 expression in the tumor stroma was associated with longer survival and may therefore be a subject for further investigation. In Paper III, tumor and stromal COX-2 protein expression was examined in patients treated with the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib in order to evaluate if COX-2 expression is a predictive biomarker for benefit of celecoxib therapy. Celecoxib did not prolong overall survival neither in the whole cohort nor in patients stratified according to COX-2 expression in tumor or stromal cells. Noteworthy, a tendency towards longer survival was again demonstrated in patients with high COX-2 stromal expression.In Paper IV, the diagnostic methods for identification of ALK rearrangements were assessed in a large representative Swedish NSCLC population. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), as the diagnostic standard, was compared to two immunohistochemical assays. ALK gene expression levels were incorporated to supplement the molecular data. The frequency of ALK rearrangements was lower than previously reported. The different methods to detect the ALK fusion demonstrated overlapping results. However, the overlap was poor, so the methods cannot be regarded as interchangeable and should thereby be interpreted with caution when used in clinical diagnostics.In summary, this thesis applied an integrative translational approach to characterize potential new treatment targets and to evaluate the detection of existing predictive biomarkers in NSCLC.
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