Salzburg Cancer Research Institute

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Cancer Research Institute

Salzburg, Austria

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Wolff F.,University of Salzburg | Leisch M.,Paracelsus Medical University | Greil R.,Paracelsus Medical University | Greil R.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 3 more authors.
Cell Communication and Signaling | Year: 2017

Hypomethylating agents (HMAs) have been widely used over the last decade, approved for use in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The proposed central mechanism of action of HMAs, is the reversal of aberrant methylation in tumor cells, thus reactivating CpG-island promoters and leading to (re)expression of tumor suppressor genes. Recent investigations into the mode of action of azacitidine (AZA) and decitabine (DAC) have revealed new molecular mechanisms that impinge on tumor immunity via induction of an interferon response, through activation of endogenous retroviral elements (ERVs) that are normally epigenetically silenced. Although the global demethylation of DNA by HMAs can induce anti-tumor effects, it can also upregulate the expression of inhibitory immune checkpoint receptors and their ligands, resulting in secondary resistance to HMAs. Recent studies have, however, suggested that this could be exploited to prime or (re)sensitize tumors to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies. In recent years, immune checkpoints have been targeted by novel therapies, with the aim of (re)activating the host immune system to specifically eliminate malignant cells. Antibodies blocking checkpoint receptors have been FDA-approved for some solid tumors and a plethora of clinical trials testing these and other checkpoint inhibitors are under way. This review will discuss AZA and DAC novel mechanisms of action resulting from the re-expression of pathologically hypermethylated promoters of gene sets that are related to interferon signaling, antigen presentation and inflammation. We also review new insights into the molecular mechanisms of action of transient, low-dose HMAs on various tumor types and discuss the potential of new treatment options and combinations. © 2017 The Author(s).


Gnant M.,Medical University of Vienna | Pfeiler G.,Medical University of Vienna | Dubsky P.C.,Medical University of Vienna | Hubalek M.,Innsbruck Medical University | And 24 more authors.
The Lancet | Year: 2015

Background Adjuvant endocrine therapy compromises bone health in patients with breast cancer, causing osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures. Antiresorptive treatments such as bisphosphonates prevent and counteract these side-effects. In this trial, we aimed to investigate the effects of the anti-RANK ligand antibody denosumab in postmenopausal, aromatase inhibitor-treated patients with early-stage hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Methods In this prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, postmenopausal patients with early hormone receptor-positive breast cancer receiving treatment with aromatase inhibitors were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either denosumab 60 mg or placebo administered subcutaneously every 6 months in 58 trial centres in Austria and Sweden. Patients were assigned by an interactive voice response system. The randomisation schedule used a randomly permuted block design with block sizes 2 and 4, stratified by type of hospital regarding Hologic device for DXA scans, previous aromatase inhibitor use, and baseline bone mineral density. Patients, treating physicians, investigators, data managers, and all study personnel were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was time from randomisation to first clinical fracture, analysed by intention to treat. As an additional sensitivity analysis, we also analysed the primary endpoint on the per-protocol population. Patients were treated until the prespecified number of 247 first clinical fractures was reached. This trial is ongoing (patients are in follow-up) and is registered with the European Clinical Trials Database, number 2005-005275-15, and with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00556374. Findings Between Dec 18, 2006, and July 22, 2013, 3425 eligible patients were enrolled into the trial, of whom 3420 were randomly assigned to receive denosumab 60 mg (n=1711) or placebo (n=1709) subcutaneously every 6 months. Compared with the placebo group, patients in the denosumab group had a significantly delayed time to first clinical fracture (hazard ratio [HR] 0·50 [95% CI 0·39-0·65], p<0·0001). The overall lower number of fractures in the denosumab group (92) than in the placebo group (176) was similar in all patient subgroups, including in patients with a bone mineral density T-score of -1 or higher at baseline (n=1872, HR 0·44 [95% CI 0·31-0·64], p<0·0001) and in those with a bone mineral density T-score of less than -1 already at baseline (n=1548, HR 0·57 [95% CI 0·40-0·82], p=0·002). The patient incidence of adverse events in the safety analysis set (all patients who received at least one dose of study drug) did not differ between the denosumab group (1366 events, 80%) and the placebo group (1334 events, 79%), nor did the numbers of serious adverse events (521 vs 511 [30% in each group]). The main adverse events were arthralgia and other aromatase-inhibitor related symptoms; no additional toxicity from the study drug was reported. Despite proactive adjudication of every potential osteonecrosis of the jaw by an international expert panel, no cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw were reported. 93 patients (3% of the full analysis set) died during the study, of which one death (in the denosumab group) was thought to be related to the study drug. Interpretation Adjuvant denosumab 60 mg twice per year reduces the risk of clinical fractures in postmenopausal women with breast cancer receiving aromatase inhibitors, and can be administered without added toxicity. Since a main side-effect of adjuvant breast cancer treatment can be substantially reduced by the addition of denosumab, this treatment should be considered for clinical practice. Funding Amgen. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Rebhandl S.,Paracelsus Medical University | Rebhandl S.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Huemer M.,Paracelsus Medical University | Huemer M.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 4 more authors.
Oncoscience | Year: 2015

Mutations are the basis for evolution and the development of genetic diseases. Especially in cancer, somatic mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes alongside the occurrence of passenger mutations have been observed by recent deepsequencing approaches. While mutations have long been considered random events induced by DNA-replication errors or by DNA damaging agents, genome sequencing led to the discovery of non-random mutation signatures in many human cancer. Common non-random mutations comprise DNA strand-biased mutation showers and mutations restricted to certain DNA motifs, which recently have become attributed to the activity of the AID/APOBEC family of DNA deaminases. Hence, APOBEC enzymes, which have evolved as key players in natural and adaptive immunity, have been proposed to contribute to cancer development and clonal evolution of cancer by inducing collateral genomic damage due to their DNA deaminating activity. This review focuses on how mutagenic events through AID/APOBEC deaminases may contribute to cancer development.


Rebhandl S.,Paracelsus Medical University | Rebhandl S.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Geisberger R.,Paracelsus Medical University | Geisberger R.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute
European Journal of Immunology | Year: 2015

The activation induced deaminase (AID) catalyses the two key events underlying humoral adaptive immunity: class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation of antibody genes in B lymphocytes. AID accomplishes this task by directly deaminating cytosines within the genomic immunoglobulin locus, thereby triggering a complex mutagenic process eventually leading to improved effector function of antibodies. However, it has long been noticed that AID can be aberrantly expressed in cancer and that its activity is not absolutely restricted to antibody genes, as substantial genome-wide off-target mutations have been observed, which contribute to tumorigenesis and clonal evolution of AID-expressing malignancies. In this issue of the European Journal of Immunology, Montamat-Sicotte et al. [Eur. J. Immunol. 2015. 45: 2365-2376] investigate the feasibility and efficacy of in vivo inhibition of AID with HSP90 inhibitors in a mouse model of B-cell leukemia and in vitro with a human breast cancer cell line, thereby demonstrating that cancer patients may benefit from preventing noncanonical AID functions. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Gutjahr J.C.,Paracelsus Medical University | Gutjahr J.C.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Greil R.,Paracelsus Medical University | Greil R.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Frontiers in Immunology | Year: 2015

CD44 interactions with hyaluronan (HA) play a key role in various malignancies, supporting tumor cell migration, adhesion, and survival. In contrast to solid tumors, the expression of CD44 standard and variant forms and their functional interplay with hyaluronan is less understood in hematological malignancies. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a highly abundant B cell malignancy with a well coordinated balance between cell cycle-arrest and proliferation of tumor subpopulations. The long-term survival and proliferation of CLL cells requires their dynamic interactions with stromal and immune cells in lymphoid organs. Interactions of HA with CD44 and HA-mediated motility receptor (RHAMM) contribute to CLL cell localization, and hence CLL pathophysiology, by shaping homing, interstitial migration, and adhesion of the tumor cells. CD44 can complex with key prognostic factors of CLL, particularly CD38 and CD49d, bridging the gap between prognosis and cellular function. Here, we review the current evidence for the individual and associated contributions of CD44 to CLL pathophysiology, the dynamic functional regulation of CD44 upon CLL cell activation, and possible therapeutic strategies targeting CD44 in CLL.


Gampenrieder S.P.,Paracelsus Medical University | Gampenrieder S.P.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Rinnerthaler G.,Paracelsus Medical University | Rinnerthaler G.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Memo - Magazine of European Medical Oncology | Year: 2016

Endocrine therapy represents the basis for the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, but several tumors harbor intrinsic resistance and acquired resistance to endocrine therapy is inevitable in metastatic disease. Combination strategies of endocrine therapy with targeted agents are aimed to overcome endocrine resistance. The selective CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib has shown promising results in metastatic luminal breast cancer when used in combination with endocrine therapy both in the first-line setting as in pretreated women. The drug showed a manageable safety profile with uncomplicated neutropenia as the most frequent side effect. Approval was already granted in the US and is also awaited during 2016 for Europe. © 2016, The Author(s).


Gassner F.J.,Paracelsus Medical University | Gassner F.J.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Zaborsky N.,Paracelsus Medical University | Zaborsky N.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 14 more authors.
British Journal of Haematology | Year: 2015

Although chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a B cell malignancy, earlier studies have indicated a role of T cells in tumour growth and disease progression. In particular, the functional silencing of antigen-experienced T cells, called T cell exhaustion, has become implicated in immune evasion in CLL. In this study, we tested whether T cell exhaustion is recapitulated in the TCL1tg mouse model for CLL. We show that T cells express high levels of the inhibitory exhaustion markers programmed cell death 1 (PDCD1, also termed PD-1) and lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG3), whereas CLL cells express high levels of CD274 (also termed PD-ligand 1). In addition, the fraction of exhausted T cells increases with CLL progression. Finally, we demonstrate that exhausted T cells are reinvigorated towards CLL cytotoxicity by inhibition of PDCD1/CD274 interaction in vivo. These results suggest that T cell exhaustion contributes to CLL pathogenesis and that interference with PDCD1/CD274 signalling holds high potential for therapeutic approaches. © 2015 The Authors.


Kern D.,University of Salzburg | Regl G.,University of Salzburg | Hofbauer S.W.,Paracelsus Medical University | Hofbauer S.W.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 11 more authors.
Oncogene | Year: 2015

The initiation and maintenance of a malignant phenotype requires complex and synergistic interactions of multiple oncogenic signals. The Hedgehog (HH)/GLI pathway has been implicated in a variety of cancer entities and targeted pathway inhibition is of therapeutic relevance. Signal cross-talk with other cancer pathways including PI3K/AKT modulates HH/GLI signal strength and its oncogenicity. In this study, we addressed the role of HH/GLI and its putative interaction with the PI3K/AKT cascade in the initiation and maintenance of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Using transgenic mouse models, we show that B-cell-specific constitutive activation of HH/GLI signaling either at the level of the HH effector and drug target Smoothened or at the level of the GLI transcription factors does not suffice to initiate a CLL-like phenotype characterized by the accumulation of CD5 + B cells in the lymphatic system and peripheral blood. Furthermore, Hh/Gli activation in Pten-deficient B cells with activated Pi3K/Akt signaling failed to enhance the expansion of leukemic CD5 + B cells, suggesting that genetic or epigenetic alterations leading to aberrant HH/GLI signaling in B cells do not suffice to elicit a CLL-like phenotype in mice. By contrast, we identify a critical role of GLI and PI3K signaling for the survival of human primary CLL cells. We show that combined targeting of GLI and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling can have a synergistic therapeutic effect in cells from a subgroup of CLL patients, thereby providing a basis for the evaluation of future combination therapies targeting HH/GLI and PI3K signaling in this common hematopoietic malignancy. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Gampenrieder S.P.,Paracelsus Medical University | Gampenrieder S.P.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | Romeder F.,Paracelsus Medical University | Romeder F.,Salzburg Cancer Research Institute | And 14 more authors.
Anticancer Research | Year: 2014

Background: Several phase-III studies have shown improvements in terms of progression-free survival (PFS) with bevacizumab when added to chemotherapy in advanced breast cancer. However, the extent of improvement varied and none of the trials showed benefit in terms of overall survival (OS). Patients and Methods: All patients with metastatic breast cancer treated with bevacizumab at our Institution between 2005 and 2011 were retrospectively analyzed. A control group was matched according to the following variables: receptor status, treatment line, type of chemotherapy, presence of visceral disease and age. Results: All 212 patients were evaluable for toxicity, and 198 for response; 430 controls allowed a complete matching for 85 bevacizumab-treated patients. The addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy significantly prolonged PFS (9.3 vs. 7.6 months, hazard ratio [HR]=0.70, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.51-0.97, p=0.031) and OS (28.9 vs. 22.6 months, HR=0.67, 95% CI=0.45-0.99, p=0.043). Clinical benefit rate (overall response rate + stable disease for at least six months) was significantly better in the bevacizumab group (75% vs. 59%, p=0.002), while ORR did not differ significantly (48% vs. 35%, p=0.21). Patients developing hypertension during treatment had a more favourable outcome (PFS 13.7 vs. 6.6 months, HR=0.34, 95% CI=0.23-0.49 p<0.001; 2-year OS 78% vs. 30%, HR=0.20, 95% CI=0.12-0.35, p<0.001). Conclusion: Bevacizumab in addition to chemotherapy prolonged PFS and OS in a non-selected, partly intensively pre-treated breast cancer population. Hypertension induced by bevacizumab predicted therapy efficacy. © 2014, International Institute of Anticancer Research. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Salzburg Cancer Research Institute and Paracelsus Medical University
Type: Review | Journal: Cell communication and signaling : CCS | Year: 2017

The immune system is capable of distinguishing between danger- and non-danger signals, thus inducing either an appropriate immune response against pathogens and cancer or inducing self-tolerance to avoid autoimmunity and immunopathology. One of the mechanisms that have evolved to prevent destruction by the immune system, is to functionally silence effector T cells, termed T cell exhaustion, which is also exploited by viruses and cancers for immune escape In this review, we discuss some of the phenotypic markers associated with T cell exhaustion and we summarize current strategies to reinvigorate exhausted T cells by blocking these surface marker using monoclonal antibodies.

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