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Nicholas Mitsiades and Salma Kaochar

Based on pioneering work by Huggins, Hodges and others, hormonal therapies have been established as an effective approach for advanced prostate cancer (PC) for the past eight decades. However, it quickly became evident that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) via surgical or medical castration accomplishes inadequate inhibition of the androgen receptor (AR) axis, with clinical resistance inevitably emerging due to adrenal and intratumoral sources of androgens and other mechanisms. Early efforts to augment ADT by adding adrenal-targeting agents (aminoglutethimide, ketoconazole) or AR antagonists (flutamide, bicalutamide, nilutamide, cyproterone) failed to achieve overall survival (OS) benefits, although they did exhibit some evidence of limited clinical activity. More recently, four new androgen receptor signaling inhibitors (ARSIs) successfully entered clinical practice. Specifically, the CYP17 inhibitor abiraterone acetate and the second generation AR antagonists (enzalutamide, apalutamide and darolutamide) achieved OS benefits for PC patients, confirmed the importance of reactivated AR signaling in castration-resistant PC and validated important concepts that had been proposed in the field several decades ago but had remained so far unproven, including adrenal-targeted therapy and combined androgen blockade. The past decade has seen steady advances toward more comprehensive AR axis targeting. Now the question is raised whether we have accomplished the maximum AR axis inhibition possible or there is still room for improvement. This review, marking the 80-year anniversary of ADT and 10-year anniversary of successful ARSIs, examines their current clinical use and discusses future directions, in particular combination regimens, to maximize their efficacy, delay emergence of resistance and improve patient outcomes.

Free access

Vassiliki Kotoula, Elias Sozopoulos, Helen Litsiou, Galinos Fanourakis, Triantafyllia Koletsa, Gerassimos Voutsinas, Sophia Tseleni-Balafouta, Constantine S Mitsiades, Axel Wellmann, and Nicholas Mitsiades

The serine/threonine kinase B-Raf plays a key role in the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway that relays extracellular signals for cell proliferation and survival. Several types of human malignancies harbor activating BRAF mutations, most frequently a V600E substitution. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a transmembrane tyrosine kinase (TK) receptor that mediates proliferation and survival signaling, is expressed in a wide variety of normal and neoplastic tissues. EGFR inhibitors have produced objective responses in patients with non-small cell lung carcinomas harboring activating EGFR TK domain somatic mutations. We evaluated the presence of mutations in BRAF (exons 11 and 15), KRAS (exons 1 and 2), NRAS (exons 1 and 2), and EGFR (exons 18–21) in adrenal carcinomas (35 tumor specimens and two cell lines) by DNA sequencing. BRAF mutations were found in two carcinomas (5.7%). Four carcinomas (11.4%) carried EGFR TK domain mutations. One specimen carried a KRAS mutation, and another carried two NRAS mutations. No mutations were found in the two adrenocortical cell lines. BRAF- and EGFR-mutant tumor specimens exhibited stronger immunostaining for the phosphorylated forms of the MEK and ERK kinases than their wild-type counterparts. EGFR-mutant carcinomas exhibited increased phosphorylation of EGFR (Tyr 992) compared with wild-type carcinomas. We conclude that BRAF, RAS, and EGFR mutations occur in a subset of human adrenocortical carcinomas. Inhibitors of the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and EGFR pathways represent candidate targeted therapies for future clinical trials in carefully selected patients with adrenocortical carcinomas harboring respective activating mutations.

Free access

Catherine J Williams, Nicholas Mitsiades, Elias Sozopoulos, Alex Hsi, Alicja Wolk, Artemissia-Phoebe Nifli, Sofia Tseleni-Balafouta, and Christos S Mantzoros

Circulating adiponectin is inversely associated with colorectal carcinoma. However, adiponectin receptor expression has not been examined in normal gastrointestinal tissue, colorectal malignancies, or gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). We collected 40 colorectal carcinomas and 12 non-tumor colorectal tissue specimens from patients with colorectal cancer, as well as 45 tumor and 13 non-tumor specimens from patients with GIST. Expression and localization of adiponectin receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2) were assessed using immunohistochemistry. We also confirmed expression of adiponectin receptors using rtPCR in matched normal and colorectal cancer specimens obtained from five patients. Finally, we detected adiponectin receptors and assessed adiponectin signaling in three colon cancer cell lines. Adiponectin receptor expression, assessed by either rtPCR or immunohistochemistry, was present in normal tissue and was significantly lower than in colorectal carcinomas. Among carcinomas, 95% displayed positive or strongly positive expression of AdipoR1 and 88% of AdipoR2, versus 8% and 0%, respectively, for non-tumor specimens (P<0.0001). AdipoR1 expression assessed by rtPCR was 1.6-fold higher in tumor than in non-tumor tissue (P<0.05). In addition, we found that adiponectin at physiological concentrations can activate in vitro intracellular signaling pathways in three colon cancer cell lines, expressing both adiponectin receptors 1 and 2. No significant differences in expression of adiponectin receptors in tumor versus non-tumor GI specimens were detected among patients with GIST. Colon cancer cell lines express adiponectin receptors, through which adiponectin activates in vitro intracellular signaling pathways. Adiponectin receptors are also detected in normal GI tissue and their expression is elevated in colorectal carcinomas, but not in GIST.

Open access

Salma Kaochar, Aleksandra Rusin, Christopher Foley, Kimal Rajapakshe, Matthew Robertson, Darlene Skapura, Cammy Mason, Karen BermandeRuiz, Alexey Mikhailovich Tyryshkin, Jenny Deng, Jin Na Shin, Warren Fiskus, Jianrong Dong, Shixia Huang, Nora M. Navone, Christel M Davis, Erik A Ehli, Cristian Coarfa, and Nicholas Mitsiades

Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) remains highly lethal and in need of novel, actionable therapeutic targets. The pioneer factor GATA2 is a significant prostate cancer (PC) driver and linked to poor prognosis. GATA2 directly promotes androgen receptor (AR) gene expression (both full-length and splice-variant) and facilitates AR binding to chromatin, recruitment of coregulators, and target gene transcription. Unfortunately, there is no clinically applicable GATA2 inhibitor available at the moment. Using a bioinformatics algorithm, we screened in silico 2,650 clinically relevant drugs for a potential GATA2 inhibitor. Validation studies used cytotoxicity assays (MTT), global gene expression analysis, reporter assay, reverse phase protein array analysis (RPPA), and immunoblotting. We examined target engagement via cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), ChIP-qPCR, and GATA2 DNA-binding assay. We identified the vasodilator dilazep as a potential GATA2 inhibitor and confirmed on-target activity via CETSA. Dilazep exerted anticancer activity across a broad panel of GATA2-dependent PC cell lines in vitro and in a PDX model in vivo. Dilazep inhibited GATA2 recruitment to chromatin and suppressed the cell cycle program, transcriptional programs driven by GATA2, AR, and c-MYC, and the expression of several oncogenic drivers, including AR, c-MYC, FOXM1, CENPF, EZH2, UBE2C, and RRM2, as well as of several mediators of metastasis, DNA damage repair and stemness. In conclusion, we provide, via an extensive compendium of methodologies, proof-of-principle that a small molecule can inhibit GATA2 function and suppress its downstream AR, c-MYC, and other PC-driving effectors. We propose GATA2 as a therapeutic target in CRPC.