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Multiomic molecular characterization of the response to combination immunotherapy in MSS/pMMR metastatic colorectal cancer

February, 02, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles

Background

Immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) combinations represent an emerging treatment strategies in cancer. However, their efficacy in microsatellite stable (MSS) or mismatch repair-proficient (pMMR) colorectal cancer (CRC) is variable. Here, a multiomic characterization was performed to identify predictive biomarkers associated with patient response to ICI combinations in MSS/pMMR CRC for the further development of ICI combinations.

Methods

Whole-exome sequencing, RNA sequencing, and multiplex fluorescence immunohistochemistry of tumors from patients with MSS/pMMR CRC, who received regorafenib plus nivolumab (REGONIVO) or TAS-116 plus nivolumab (TASNIVO) in clinical trials were conducted. Twenty-two and 23 patients without prior ICI from the REGONIVO and TASNIVO trials were included in this study. A biomarker analysis was performed using samples from each of these studies.

Results

The epithelial-mesenchymal transition pathway and genes related to cancer-associated fibroblasts were upregulated in the REGONIVO responder group, and the G2M checkpoint pathway was upregulated in the TASNIVO responder group. The MYC pathway was upregulated in the REGONIVO non-responder group. Consensus molecular subtype 4 was significantly associated with response (p=0.035) and longer progression-free survival (p=0.006) in the REGONIVO trial. CD8+ T cells, regulatory T cells, and M2 macrophages density was significantly higher in the REGONIVO trial responders than in non-responders. Mutations in the POLE gene and patient response were significantly associated in the TASNIVO trial; however, the frequencies of other mutations or tumor mutational burden were not significantly different between responders and non-responders in either trial.

Conclusions

We identified molecular features associated with the response to the REGONIVO and TASNIVO, particularly those related to tumor microenvironmental factors. These findings are likely to contribute to the development of biomarkers to predict treatment efficacy for MSS/pMMR CRC and future immunotherapy combinations for treatment.

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