Monitoring Daily Dynamics of Early Tumor Response to Targeted Therapy by Detecting Circulating Tumor DNA in Urine

Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Aug 15;23(16):4716-4723. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-0454. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


Purpose: Noninvasive drug biomarkers for the early assessment of tumor response can enable adaptive therapeutic decision-making and proof-of-concept studies for investigational drugs. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is released into the circulation by tumor cell turnover and has been shown to be detectable in urine.Experimental Design: We tested the hypothesis that dynamic changes in EGFR activating (exon 19del and L858R) and resistance (T790M) mutation levels detected in urine could inform tumor response within days of therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving osimertinib, a second-line third-generation anti-EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor.Results: Eight of nine evaluable NSCLC patients had detectable T790M-mutant DNA fragments in pretreatment baseline samples. Daily monitoring of mutations in urine indicated a pattern of intermittent spikes throughout week 1, suggesting apoptosis with an overall decrease in fragment numbers from baselines to day 7 preceding radiographic response assessed at 6 to 12 weeks.Conclusions: These findings suggest drug-induced tumor apoptosis within days of initial dosing. Daily sampling of ctDNA may enable early assessment of patient response and proof-of-concept studies for drug development. The modeling of tumor lysis through the day-to-day kinetics of ctDNA released into the blood and then into the urine is demonstrated in this proof-of-concept study in lung cancer patients receiving anti-EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. This strategy may determine the specific clonal populations of cells which undergo apoptosis within the first week of therapy. This has important implications for developing combinational strategies to address inter- and intralesional heterogeneity and characterizing residual disease after initial drug exposure. Clin Cancer Res; 23(16); 4716-23. ©2017 AACR.

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamides
  • Aged
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / urine
  • Circulating Tumor DNA / genetics
  • Circulating Tumor DNA / urine*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / urine*
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Exons / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Acrylamides
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Circulating Tumor DNA
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Piperazines
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • osimertinib
  • ErbB Receptors