Circulating Tumor DNA Identifies Diverse Landscape of Acquired Resistance to Anti-Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Therapy in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

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Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology


oregon; chiles


Purpose: Anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies are effective treatments for metastatic colorectal cancer. Improved understanding of acquired resistance mechanisms may facilitate circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) monitoring, anti-EGFR rechallenge, and combinatorial strategies to delay resistance.

Methods: Patients with treatment-refractory metastatic colorectal cancer (n = 169) enrolled on the CO.26 trial had pre-anti-EGFR tissue whole-exome sequencing (WES) compared with baseline and week 8 ctDNA assessments with the GuardantOMNI assay. Acquired alterations were compared between patients with prior anti-EGFR therapy (n = 66) and those without. Anti-EGFR therapy occurred a median of 111 days before ctDNA assessment.

Results: ctDNA identified 12 genes with increased mutation frequency after anti-EGFR therapy, including EGFR (P = .0007), KRAS (P = .0017), LRP1B (P = .0046), ZNF217 (P = .0086), MAP2K1 (P = .018), PIK3CG (P = .018), BRAF (P = .048), and NRAS (P = .048). Acquired mutations appeared as multiple concurrent subclonal alterations, with most showing decay over time. Significant increases in copy-gain frequency were noted in 29 genes after anti-EGFR exposure, with notable alterations including EGFR (P < .0001), SMO (P < .0001), BRAF (P < .0001), MET (P = .0002), FLT3 (P = .0002), NOTCH4 (P = .0006), ERBB2 (P = .004), and FGFR1 (P = .006). Copy gains appeared stable without decay 8 weeks later. There were 13 gene fusions noted among 11 patients, all but one of which was associated with prior anti-EGFR therapy. Polyclonal resistance was common with acquisition of ≥ 10 resistance related alterations noted in 21% of patients with previous anti-EGFR therapy compared with 5% in those without (P = .010). Although tumor mutation burden (TMB) did not differ pretreatment (P = .63), anti-EGFR exposure increased TMB (P = .028), whereas lack of anti-EGFR exposure resulted in declining TMB (P = .014).

Conclusion: Paired tissue and ctDNA sequencing identified multiple novel mutations, copy gains, and fusions associated with anti-EGFR therapy that frequently co-occur as subclonal alterations in the same patient.

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Clinical Institute

Digestive Health