Prospective Molecular Profiling of Circulating Tumor Cells from Patients with Melanoma Receiving Combinatorial Immunotherapy.

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Clinical chemistry


BACKGROUND: Blood molecular profiling of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can enable monitoring of patients with metastatic melanoma during checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy (CII) and in combination with targeted therapies. We developed a microfluidics-based CTC platform to explore CTC profiling utility in CII-treated patients with melanoma using a melanoma messenger RNA (mRNA)/DNA biomarker panel.

METHODS: Blood samples (n = 213) were collected prospectively from 75 American Joint Committee on Cancer-staged III/IV melanoma patients during CII treatment and those enriched for CTCs. CTC profiling was performed using 5 known melanoma mRNA biomarkers and BRAF V600E DNA mutation. CTC biomarker status associations with clinical outcomes were assessed.

RESULTS: CTCs were detected in 88% of blood samples from patients with melanoma. CTC-derived biomarkers and clinical variables analyzed using classification and regression tree analysis revealed that a combination of lactate dehydrogenase, CTC-mRNA biomarkers, and tumor BRAF-mutation status was indicative of clinical outcomes for patients with stage IV melanoma (n = 52). The panel stratified low-risk and high-risk patients, whereby the latter had poor disease-free (

CONCLUSIONS: CTC-derived mRNA/DNA biomarkers have utility for monitoring CII, targeted, and combinatorial therapies in metastatic melanoma patients.

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