With more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific publications, findings from the POG program are influencing precision oncology approaches around the world.
Given the success of targeted agents in specific populations it is expected that some degree of molecular biomarker testing will become standard of care for many, if not all, cancers. To facilitate this, cancer centers worldwide are experimenting with targeted “panel” sequencing of selected mutations. Recent advances in genomic technology enable the generation of genome-scale data sets for individual patients. Recognizing the risk, inherent in panel sequencing, of failing to detect meaningful somatic alterations, we sought to establish processes to integrate data from whole-genome analysis (WGA) into routine cancer care. Between June 2012 and August 2014, 100 adult patients with incurable cancers consented to participate in the Personalized OncoGenomics (POG) study. Fresh tumor and blood samples were obtained and used for whole-genome and RNA sequencing. Computational approaches were used to identify candidate driver mutations, genes, and pathways. Diagnostic and drug information were then sought based on these candidate “drivers.” Reports were generated and discussed weekly in a multidisciplinary team setting. Other multidisciplinary working groups were assembled to establish guidelines on the interpretation, communication, and integration of individual genomic findings into patient care. Of 78 patients for whom WGA was possible, results were considered actionable in 55 cases. In 23 of these 55 cases, the patients received treatments motivated by WGA. Our experience indicates that a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and scientists can implement a paradigm in which WGA is integrated into the care of late stage cancer patients to inform systemic therapy decisions.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare and sometimes lethal malignancy that presents a clinical challenge for both diagnosis and management. Recent studies have led to a better understanding of the molecular biology of peritoneal mesothelioma. Translation of the emerging data into better treatments and outcome is needed. From two patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, we derived whole genome sequences, RNA expression profiles, and targeted deep sequencing data. Molecular data were made available for translation into a clinical treatment plan. Treatment responses and outcomes were later examined in the context of molecular findings. Molecular studies presented here provide the first reported whole genome sequences of peritoneal mesothelioma. Mutations in known mesothelioma-related genes NF2, CDKN2A, LATS2, amongst others, were identified. Activation of MET-related signaling pathways was demonstrated in both cases. A hypermutated phenotype was observed in one case (434 vs. 18 single nucleotide variants) and was associated with a favourable outcome despite sarcomatoid histology and multifocal disease. This study represents the first report of whole genome analyses of peritoneal mesothelioma, a key step in the understanding and treatment of this disease.
Extraordinary advancements in sequencing technology have made what was once a decade‐long multi‐institutional endeavor into a methodology with the potential for practical use in a clinical setting. We therefore set out to examine the clinical value of next‐generation sequencing by enrolling patients with incurable or ambiguous tumors into the Personalized OncoGenomics initiative at the British Columbia Cancer Agency whereby whole genome and transcriptome analyses of tumor/normal tissue pairs are completed with the ultimate goal of directing therapeutics. First, we established that the sequencing, analysis, and communication with oncologists could be completed in less than 5 weeks. Second, we found that cancer diagnostics is an area that can greatly benefit from the comprehensiveness of a whole genome analysis. Here, we present a scenario in which a metastasized sphenoid mass, which was initially thought of as an undifferentiated squamous cell carcinoma, was rediagnosed as an SMARCB1 ‐negative rhabdoid tumor based on the newly acquired finding of homozygous SMARCB1 deletion. The new diagnosis led to a change in chemotherapy and a complete nodal response in the patient. This study also provides additional insight into the mutational landscape of an adult SMARCB1 ‐negative tumor that has not been explored at a whole genome and transcriptome level.
Adenocarcinomas of the tongue are rare and represent the minority (20 to 25%) of salivary gland tumors affecting the tongue. We investigated the utility of massively parallel sequencing to characterize an adenocarcinoma of the tongue, before and after treatment.
In the pre-treatment tumor we identified 7,629 genes within regions of copy number gain. There were 1,078 genes that exhibited increased expression relative to the blood and unrelated tumors and four genes contained somatic protein-coding mutations. Our analysis suggested the tumor cells were driven by the RET oncogene. Genes whose protein products are targeted by the RET inhibitors sunitinib and sorafenib correlated with being amplified and or highly expressed. Consistent with our observations, administration of sunitinib was associated with stable disease lasting 4 months, after which the lung lesions began to grow. Administration of sorafenib and sulindac provided disease stabilization for an additional 3 months after which the cancer progressed and new lesions appeared. A recurring metastasis possessed 7,288 genes within copy number amplicons, 385 genes exhibiting increased expression relative to other tumors and 9 new somatic protein coding mutations. The observed mutations and amplifications were consistent with therapeutic resistance arising through activation of the MAPK and AKT pathways.
We conclude that complete genomic characterization of a rare tumor has the potential to aid in clinical decision making and identifying therapeutic approaches where no established treatment protocols exist. These results also provide direct in vivo genomic evidence for mutational evolution within a tumor under drug selection and potential mechanisms of drug resistance accrual.