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Oklahoma City, OK, United States

Li D.,Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | Pant S.,Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center | Ryan D.P.,Massachussetts General Hospital | Laheru D.,Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center | And 10 more authors.
Pancreatology | Year: 2014

Background Nucleotide transporters such as human equilibrative nucleoside transporter-1 (hENT1) play a major role in transporting gemcitabine into cells. CO-1.01 (gemcitabine-5′-elaidate) is a novel cytotoxic agent consisting of a fatty acid derivative of gemcitabine, which is transported intracellularly independent of hENT1. CO-1.01 was postulated to have efficacy as a second-line treatment in gemcitabine-refractory pancreatic adenocarcinoma in patients with negative tumor hENT1 expression.Methods Eligibility criteria included patients with either a newly procured or archival biopsy tumor confirming the absence of hENT1 and either gemcitabine-refractory metastatic pancreas adenocarcinoma or with progression of disease following resection during or within 3 months of adjuvant gemcitabine therapy. Patients were treated with intravenous infusion of CO-1.01 dosed at 1250 mg/m2 on Days 1, 8, and 15 of a 4-week cycle. The primary end point was disease control rate (DCR).Results Nineteen patients were enrolled of which 18 patients were evaluable for efficacy assessment. Thirteen patients (68%) had liver metastases, 6 (32%) had lymph node metastases, and 10 (53%) had lung metastases. Two of 18 patients (11%) achieved disease control. The median survival time was 4.3 (95% CI 2.1-8.1) months. All patients experienced at least one treatment-related adverse event with the majority of events being mild or moderate.Conclusion This study did not meet its primary endpoint and no efficacy signal was identified for CO-1.01 in treating progressive metastatic pancreas adenocarcinoma. © 2014, IAP and EPC. Published by Elsevier India, a division of Reed Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved.

Weygant N.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Qu D.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Berry W.L.,Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center | Berry W.L.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | And 11 more authors.
Molecular Cancer | Year: 2014

Background: Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) is emerging as a tumor specific stem cell marker in colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Previous in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of inhibiting DCLK1 with small interfering RNA (siRNA) as well as genetically targeting the DCLK1+ cell for deletion. However, the effects of inhibiting DCLK1 kinase activity have not been studied directly. Therefore, we assessed the effects of inhibiting DCLK1 kinase activity using the novel small molecule kinase inhibitor, LRRK2-IN-1, which demonstrates significant affinity for DCLK1.Results: Here we report that LRRK2-IN-1 demonstrates potent anti-cancer activity including inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion as well as induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. Additionally we found that it regulates stemness, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and oncogenic targets on the molecular level. Moreover, we show that LRRK2-IN-1 suppresses DCLK1 kinase activity and downstream DCLK1 effector c-MYC, and demonstrate that DCLK1 kinase activity is a significant factor in resistance to LRRK2-IN-1.Conclusions: Given DCLK1's tumor stem cell marker status, a strong understanding of its biological role and interactions in gastrointestinal tumors may lead to discoveries that improve patient outcomes. The results of this study suggest that small molecule inhibitors of DCLK1 kinase should be further investigated as they may hold promise as anti-tumor stem cell drugs. © 2014 Weygant et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Qu D.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | May R.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Sureban S.M.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Sureban S.M.,Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center | And 7 more authors.
American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology | Year: 2014

We have previously reported that doublecortin-like kinase 1 (Dclk1) is a putative intestinal stem cell (ISC) marker. In this report, we evaluated the use of Dclk1 as a marker of surviving ISCs in response to treatment with high-dose total body irradiation (TBI). Both apoptotic and mitotic Dclk1+ cells were observed 24 h post-TBI associated with a corresponding loss of intestinal crypts observed at 84 h post-TBI. Although the Notch signaling pathway plays an important role in regulating proliferation and lineage commitment within the intestine, its role in ISC function in response to severe genotoxic injury is not yet fully understood. We employed the microcolony assay to functionally assess the effects of Notch inhibition with difluorophenacetyl-L-alanyl-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT) on intestinal crypt stem cell survival following severe (>8 Gy) radiation injury. Following treatment with DAPT, we observed a nearly 50% reduction in the number of surviving Dclk1+ crypt epithelial cells at 24 h after TBI and similar reduction in the number of surviving small intestinal crypts at 84 h. These data indicate that inhibition of Notch signaling decreases ISC survival following radiation injury, suggesting that the Notch signaling pathway plays an important role in ISC-mediated crypt regeneration. These results also suggest that crypt epithelial cell Dclk1 expression can be used as one potential marker to evaluate the early survival of ISCs following severe radiation injury.

Qu D.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Qu D.,Affairs Medical Center | Qu D.,Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center | Johnson J.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | And 27 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) is a putative pancreatic stem cell marker and is upregulated in pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and many other solid tumors. It marks tumor stem cells in mouse models of intestinal neoplasia. Here we sought to determine whether DCLK1 protein can be detected in the bloodstream and if its levels in archived serum samples could be quantitatively assessed in pancreatic cancer patients. DCLK1 specific ELISA, western blotting, and immunohistochemical analyses were used to determine expression levels in the serum and staining intensity in archived tumor tissues of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients and in pancreatic cancer mouse models. DCLK1 levels in the serum were elevated in early stages of PDAC (stages I and II) compared to healthy volunteers (normal controls). No differences were observed between stages III/IV and normal controls. In resected surgical tissues, DCLK1 expression intensity in the stromal cells was significantly higher than that observed in tumor epithelial cells. Circulating tumor cells were isolated from KPCY mice and approximately 52% of these cells were positive for Dclk1 staining. Dclk1 levels in the serum of KPC mice were also elevated. We have previously demonstrated that DCLK1 plays a potential role in regulating epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Given the increasingly recognized role of EMT derived stem cells in cancer progression and metastasis, we hypothesize that DCLK1 may contribute to the metastatic process. Taken together, our results suggest that DCLK1 serum levels and DCLK1 positive circulating tumor cells should be further assessed for their potential diagnostic and prognostic significance. © 2015 Qu et al.

Weygant N.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Qu D.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | Qu D.,Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center | May R.,The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | And 15 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2015

Renal clear cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer and the 8th most common cancer overall in the US. RCC survival rates drop precipitously with regional and distant spread and recent studies have demonstrated that RCC presents an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype linked to increased recurrence and decreased survival. EMT is a key characteristic of tumor stem cells (TSCs) along with chemo-resistance and radio-resistance, which are also phenotypic of RCC. Targeting these factors is key to increasing the survival of RCC patients. Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) marks TSCs in pancreatic and colorectal cancer and regulates EMT and stemness. Analysis of the Cancer Genome Atlas' RCC dataset revealed that DCLK1 is overexpressed and dysregulated on the mRNA and epigenetic level in more than 93% of RCC tumors relative to adjacent normal tissue. Immunohistochemistry using α-DCLK1 antibody confirmed overexpression and demonstrated a major increase in immunoreactivity in stage II-III tumors compared to normal kidney and stage I tumors. Small-interfering RNA (siRNA) mediated knockdown of DCLK1 resulted in decreased expression of EMT and pluripotency factors and significantly reduced invasion, migration, focal adhesion, drug-resistance, and clonogenic capacity. These findings suggest that DCLK1 is a novel, overexpressed factor in RCC progression that may be targeted to suppress EMT, metastasis, and stemness in early-stage and advanced RCC to increase patient survival. Moreover, the possibility that DCLK1 may mark a population of tumor stem-like cells in RCC should be further investigated in light of these findings.

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