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Title: Circulating tumour DNA in localised urological cancers
Author: Patel, Keval Mahendra
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 6587
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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There is a need for informative biomarkers in localised urological cancers. At present, no method can accurately distinguish between indolent and aggressive prostate cancers, and men often require repeated biopsies. Patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer undergo neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) to improve survival. However many do not respond to NAC, delaying definitive treatment. Cell-free mutant DNA (mutDNA) analysis represents an opportunity for non-invasive monitoring of cancer through tumour genome analysis. MutDNA derived from plasma can monitor tumour burden. There is emerging evidence that mutDNA can identify mutations from multiple clones and is abundant in adjacent body fluids. This work explores the utility of plasma and urinary mutDNA in localised prostate and bladder cancers. This thesis describes the optimisation of urinary mutDNA analysis by assessing urinary DNA processing and extraction methods using healthy volunteer and bladder cancer patient urine samples. Primer panels were designed and validated to target frequently mutated regions in prostate and bladder cancers, as well as for analysis of patient-specific mutations. Sequencing-based methods and dPCR were employed to analyse clinical samples including plasma and urine, to detect and quantify mutDNA. Molecular and clinical data were integrated to explore potential areas of application of mutDNA analysis. For bladder cancer, mutDNA was analysed from liquid-biopsy samples including plasma, cell pellets from urine and urine supernatant from multiple time-points of 17 MIBC patients undergoing NAC. I showed that mutDNA was more frequently detected and was present at higher AFs in urine compared to plasma samples. Of potential clinical relevance, I showed that the presence of mutDNA after starting NAC was associated with disease recurrence. This original contribution to knowledge could offer patients an opportunity to expedite surgical resection in a timely manner, if corroborated in large-scale trials. For prostate cancer, a TP53 specific panel was applied to men with metastatic disease, to demonstrate that clones containing TP53 mutations, which are dominant in at the metastatic stage were present in historical prostatectomy samples taken when then patient was believed to have localised disease only. Furthermore, I showed that these TP53 mutations could be detected at the localised stage of disease. To investigate the ability of mutDNA detection private clonal mutations I developed a method for higher sensitivity analysis (MRD-Seq). This was applied to a clinical cohort of 2 men with multi-focal localised prostate cancer to demonstrate the though the overall levels of mutDNA is low, private clonal mutations may be detectable. Taken together, these original contributions to knowledge could allow for less invasive surveillance of men with low risk prostate cancer and warrants further investigation. In this thesis, I used a range of molecular methods were applied to small cohorts of clinical samples from patients with urological malignancies, in an exploratory analysis. The molecular data was analysed in conjunction with clinical information to draw hypotheses on the biology and natural history of these cancer, and to suggest possible utility of mutDNA analysis in their clinical management. Some of the findings suggest areas of potential utility, which merit further validation or investigation in larger cohorts or clinical studies.
Supervisor: Rosenfeld, Nitzan ; Vincent, Gnanapragasam Sponsor: Cambridge Cancer Centre ; Addenbrookes Charitable Trust ; Royal College of Surgeons
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: circulating tumour DNA ; mutDNA ; bladder cancer ; prostate cancer ; cell-free nucleic acids ; urinary cfDNA