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Research Summary

1. Preclinical Studies Using Newly Established Cell Lines from Common Cancers in Asia

Genome-wide genetic information in about 1,000 cancer cell lines is available on COSMIC DB (Sanger Center, UK), and on recent NGS analyses (Klijin C et al., Nat Biotechnol 2015); however, among them, only 28 cell lines are derived from GC. Since driver gene mutation frequency in a certain cancer is often less than 5%, the establishment of cell lines from each patient to be analyzed is desired for functional selection of driver gene mutations. Furthermore, almost all of the 28 GC cell lines were established many years ago, thereby, the clinical and pathological information is insufficient. The wait is on for the establishment of new GC cell lines, especially from metastatic sites after therapy. Peritoneal metastasis is most frequent in GCs, especially diffuse-type GCs. In 2018, we successfully established 13 diffuse-type GC cell lines from the cancer ascites of 12 patients. In collaboration with the Division of Genetics, we have totally established 110 diffuse-type GC cell lines (National Cancer Center Stomach Cancer (NSC) series) from 60 patients, and also established 54 pancreatic and 9 ovarian cancer cell lines, and more. We are conducting omics analyses for gene expression and copy number variation, and hot spot- and genome wide-gene alteration in these cell lines. Moreover, for in vivo preclinical study, their tumorigenicity and histopathological characteristics in the xenograft, such as fibroblast rich-, hypovascular-, and dormant-state, were evaluated. Through collaboration with five pharmaceutical industries, in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies were conducted to derivate clinical trials in the EPOC.

The list of cell lines established from patients’ ascites (updated on 15 January 2019)

  • Diffuse-type gastric cancer / 110 cell lines (60 patients)
  • Gastroesophageal junction cancer / 1 cell lines (1 patient)
  • Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma / 3 cell lines (1 patient)
  • Pancreatic cancer / 54 cell lines (41 patients)
  • Ovarian cancer / 9 cell lines (8 patients)
  • Liposarcoma / 2 cell lines (1 patient)
  • Gallbladder cancer / 1 cell lines
  • Mesotelioma / 1 cell lines
  • Breast cancer / 1 cell lines

2. Basic Research and Development of Personalized Diagnosis and Treatment for GC and ESCC

Gastric Cancer (GC)

The study for GC: GC is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Histopathologically, GCs can be divided into two major categories: intestinal-type and diffuse-type. Unlike the decreasing incidence of intestinal-type, the prevalence of the diffuse-type is reportedly increasing worldwide. Although therapeutic results for GC have recently improved, the prognosis of patients with advanced diffuse-type GC still remains poor. Peritoneal dissemination is a frequent form of metastasis of diffuse-type GC. The survival rates of patients with peritoneal metastasis (P1) at 3 and 5 years are only 9.8% and 0%, respectively. Peritoneal lavage cytology (CY) provides important prognostic information for GC after surgery. CY positive (CY1) is well known as a poor prognostic factor in advanced GC patients. However, the optical therapeutic strategy for patients with CY1 has not yet been established. The 2-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates of GC patients with no peritoneal metastasis (P0) but with CY1 are 25.3, 13.8, and 7.8%, respectively. Development of a new therapeutic modality for peritoneal metastasis of GC is very important for improving the outcome of patients with P1/CY1 or P0/CY1. In 2016, we identified DDR2 as a potential regulator of peritoneal dissemination by collaborative integrated molecular profiling. For personalized medicine, we have developed mini DNA chips containing six markers and three control genes for predicting GC recurrence from peritoneal washings. The CY offers important prognostic information for GC after surgery, but has only a limited sensitivity and the task requires great skill. Our collaborating company continues to prepare a lot of supporting data for developing an in vitro diagnostic (IVD).

Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC)

The study for ESCC: Definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is a less invasive therapy for ESCC; however, the five-year survival rate of locally advanced ESCC patients was only 37%. Therefore, the prediction of the CRT-responder is awaited. We have successfully identified 5 intrinsic subtypes (1a/M1, 2a/I, 3b, 5/M2, and 7/E) of ESCCs by gene expression profile-based unsupervised clustering of 274 biopsy samples obtained before treatment. For cases treated with CRT, the 5-year survival rate was 24% in subtype M2, whereas it was 74% in subtype E. Furthermore, we found transcriptional pathways activated characteristically in each subtype; the subtype E showed a differentiation phenotype, while the non-E subtypes including M1 and M2 showed an epithelial-mesenchymal transition phenotype. In 2016, we reported that SIX1 maintains tumor basal cells via TGF-β pathway and associates with poor prognosis in the non-E subtypes, and are preparing the investigator-initiated clinical trial of the immune checkpoint inhibitor for subtype I that shows tumor-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activation signatures by CRT. To develop an IVD for predicting subtype E, we are collaborating with a pharmaceutical company and ten institutes for clinical investigation of 225 ESCC patients with the support of the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.

3. Support of Microarray Analysis and provision of our originally-established cancer cell lines with omics information in the FIOC

We also provide or share omics information of originally-established cancer cell lines for facilitating basic and translational research on Asian cancers in Japan, and also support microarray analysis and gene selection for inside and outside researchers as a work of the core facility in the Fundamental Innovative Oncology Core Center (FIOC). In 2017-2018, we supported gene expression analyses for inside and outside researchers with a total of 329 microarrays, and provided originally established cancer cell lines to three inside and two outside researchers and some industries under Material Transfer Agreement.

It is noted that, during a recent 5-year period, we conducted more than 30 collaborations, and filed 14 patent applications.