• Intratumoral stromal morphometry predicts disease recurrence but not response to 5-fluorouracil-results from the QUASAR trial of colorectal cancer.

    12 December 2017

    The biological importance of tumour-associated stroma is becoming increasingly apparent, but its clinical utility remains ill-defined. For stage II/Dukes B colorectal cancer (CRC), clinical biomarkers are urgently required to direct therapeutic options. We report here prognostic/predictive analyses, and molecular associations, of stromal morphometric quantification in the Quick and Simple and Reliable (QUASAR) trial of CRC.Relative proportions of tumour epithelium (PoT) or stroma (PoS) were morphometrically quantified on digitised haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) sections derived from 1800 patients enrolled in QUASAR, which randomised 3239 (91% stage II) CRC patients between adjuvant fluorouracil/folinic acid (FUFA) chemotherapy and observation. The prognostic and predictive values of PoT/PoS measurements were determined by the use of stratified log-rank analyses. A high proportion of tumour stroma (≥50%) was associated with an increased recurrence risk: 31.3% (143/457) recurrence for ≥50% versus 21.9% (294/1343) for <50% [rate ratio (RR) 1.62; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30-2.02; P < 0.0001]. Of patients with stromal proportions of ≥65%, 40% (46/115) had recurrent disease within 10 years. The adverse prognostic effect of a high stromal proportion was independent of established prognostic variables, and was maintained in stage II/Dukes B patients (RR 1.62; 95% CI 1.26-2.08; P = 0.0002). KRAS mutation in the presence of a high stromal proportion augmented recurrence risk (RR 2.93; 95% CI 1.87-4.59; P = 0.0005). Stromal morphometry did not predict response to FUFA chemotherapy.Simple digital morphometry applied to a single representative H&E section identifies CRC patients with a >50% higher risk of disease recurrence. This technique can reliably partition patients into subpopulations with different risks of tumour recurrence in a simple and cost-effective manner. Further prospective validation is warranted.

  • Association analyses based on false discovery rate implicate new loci for coronary artery disease.

    13 December 2017

    Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in coronary artery disease (CAD) had identified 66 loci at 'genome-wide significance' (P < 5 × 10(-8)) at the time of this analysis, but a much larger number of putative loci at a false discovery rate (FDR) of 5% (refs. 1,2,3,4). Here we leverage an interim release of UK Biobank (UKBB) data to evaluate the validity of the FDR approach. We tested a CAD phenotype inclusive of angina (SOFT; ncases = 10,801) as well as a stricter definition without angina (HARD; ncases = 6,482) and selected cases with the former phenotype to conduct a meta-analysis using the two most recent CAD GWAS. This approach identified 13 new loci at genome-wide significance, 12 of which were on our previous list of loci meeting the 5% FDR threshold, thus providing strong support that the remaining loci identified by FDR represent genuine signals. The 304 independent variants associated at 5% FDR in this study explain 21.2% of CAD heritability and identify 243 loci that implicate pathways in blood vessel morphogenesis as well as lipid metabolism, nitric oxide signaling and inflammation.

  • A randomised controlled trial of intravenous zoledronic acid in malignant pleural disease: a proof of principle pilot study.

    15 December 2017

    INTRODUCTION: Animal studies have shown Zoledronic Acid (ZA) may diminish pleural fluid accumulation and tumour bulk in malignant pleural disease (MPD). We performed a pilot study to evaluate its effects in humans. METHODS: We undertook a single centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in adults with MPD. Patients were randomised (1:1) to receive 2 doses of intravenous ZA or placebo, 3 weeks apart and were followed-up for 6 weeks. The co-primary outcomes were change in Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score measured breathlessness during trial follow-up and change in the initial area under the curve (iAUC) on thoracic Dynamic Contrast Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) from randomisation to week 5. Multiple secondary endpoints were also evaluated. RESULTS: Between January 2010 and May 2013, 30 patients were enrolled, 24 randomised and 4 withdrew after randomisation (1 withdrew consent; 3 had a clinical decline). At baseline, the ZA group were more breathless, had more advanced disease on radiology and worse quality of life than the placebo group. There was no significant difference between the groups with regards change in breathlessness (Adjusted mean difference (AMD) 4.16 (95%CI -4.7 to 13.0)) or change in DCE-MRI iAUC (AMD -15.4 (95%CI -58.1 to 27.3). Two of nine (22%) in the ZA arm had a >10% improvement by modified RECIST (vs 0/11 who received placebo). There was no significant difference in quality of life measured by the QLQ-C30 score (global QOL: AMD -4.1 (-13.0 to 4.9)), side effects or serious adverse event rates. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first human study to evaluate ZA in MPD. The study is limited by small numbers and imbalanced baseline characteristics. Although no convincing treatment effect was identified, potential benefits for specific subgroups of patients cannot be excluded. This study provides important information regarding the feasibility of future trials to evaluate the effects of ZA further. TRIAL REGISTRATION: UK Clinical Research Network ID 8877 ISRCTN17030426 www.isrctn.com.

  • A prospective randomised phase II trial of thalidomide with carboplatin compared with carboplatin alone as a first-line therapy in women with ovarian cancer, with evaluation of potential surrogate markers of angiogenesis.

    12 December 2017

    OBJECTIVES: To compare the safety and efficacy of thalidomide in combination with carboplatin to carboplatin alone as a first-line therapy in women with ovarian cancer and to evaluate the anti-angiogenic effects of thalidomide by measurement of surrogate markers of angiogenesis. METHODS: Forty patients with Stage IC-IV ovarian cancer were randomly assigned to receive either carboplatin (AUC 7) intravenously every four weeks for up to six doses (n = 20) or carboplatin at the same dose and schedule, plus thalidomide 100 mg orally daily for six months (n = 20). RESULTS: After median follow-up of 1.95 years, there was no difference in the overall response rate (90% in carboplatin arm, 75% in combination arm; p = 0.41). Increased incidence of symptoms of constipation, dizziness, tiredness and peripheral neuropathy was observed in the combination arm. There was a significant fall in CA-125 and E-selectin in both arms after treatment and VCAM-1 in the carboplatin arm. No significant difference between the two arms was observed in any of the markers analysed. CONCLUSIONS: In our trial the addition of thalidomide to carboplatin was well tolerated with no increased efficacy. The fall in some of the angiogenic markers in both groups may reflect tumour response rather than any specific anti-angiogenic effect of thalidomide.

  • Paraneoplastic tumefactive demyelination with underlying combined germ cell cancer.

    5 December 2017

    Paraneoplastic demyelination is a rare disorder of the central nervous system. We describe a 60-year-old man with tumefactive demyelination who had an underlying retroperitoneal germ cell cancer. He presented with visuospatial problems and memory loss and had a visual field defect. His MRI was interpreted as a glioma but stereotactic biopsy showed active demyelination. Investigation for multiple sclerosis was negative but CT imaging showed retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy, and nodal biopsy confirmed a combined germ cell cancer. He responded poorly to corticosteroid treatment, and his visual field defect progressed. However, 6 months after plasma exchange and successful chemotherapy, he has partially improved clinically and radiographically. Tumefactive demyelination is typically associated with multiple sclerosis but may be paraneoplastic. It is important to recognise paraneoplastic tumefactive demyelination early, as the neurological outcome relies on treating the associated malignancy.