This was a cohort study on genetic alterations in patients with BRAFV600E mutant advanced colorectal cancer treated with inhibitors of the MAPK pathway. We examined tumour tissue for genetic alterations at baseline, during treatment and at progression.
In total, 37 patients were included in this cohort. Genetic alterations in EGFR and in PIK3CA are associated with non-response. A greater fraction of non-responders (75%) versus responders (46%) had at least one genetic alteration in other genes than TP53, APC or BRAF. Secondary resistance mutations (n = 16 patients) were observed most frequently in the PI3K pathway (n = 6) and in receptor tyrosine kinases (n = 4), leading to increased upstream signalling.
Treatment strategies inhibiting BRAF in combination with EGFR have been developed in patients with BRAFV600E mutant metastatic colorectal cancer, but intrinsic and secondary resistance remains a challenge. We aimed to investigate which genetic alterations cause intrinsic non-response and/or acquired resistance in these patients receiving therapies consisting of a backbone of BRAF and EGFR inhibition.
Genetic alterations in the PI3K and upstream receptor tyrosine kinases were mostly associated with intrinsic and acquired resistance. By understanding these alterations, simultaneous or alternating treatments with targeted inhibitors might improve response duration.