Circulating Tumor DNA Reflects Uveal Melanoma Responses to Protein Kinase C Inhibition

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 6;13(7):1740. doi: 10.3390/cancers13071740.


The prognosis for patients with UM is poor, and recent clinical trials have failed to prolong overall survival (OS) of these patients. Over 95% of UM harbor activating driver mutations, and this allows for the investigation of ctDNA. In this study, we investigated the value of ctDNA for adaptive clinical trial design in metastatic UM. Longitudinal plasma samples were analyzed for ctDNA in 17 metastatic UM patients treated with PKCi-based therapy in a phase 1 clinical trial setting. Plasma ctDNA was assessed using digital droplet PCR (ddPCR) and a custom melanoma gene panel for targeted next generation sequencing (NGS). Baseline ctDNA strongly correlated with baseline lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (p < 0.001) and baseline disease burden (p = 0.002). Early during treatment (EDT) ctDNA accurately predicted patients with clinical benefit to PKCi using receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves (AUC 0.84, [95% confidence interval 0.65-1.0, p = 0.026]). Longitudinal ctDNA assessment was informative for establishing clinical benefit and detecting disease progression with 7/8 (88%) of patients showing a rise in ctDNA and targeted NGS of ctDNA revealed putative resistance mechanisms prior to radiological progression. The inclusion of longitudinal ctDNA monitoring in metastatic UM can advance adaptive clinical trial design.

Keywords: PKC inhibitor; circulating tumor DNA; liquid biopsy; melanoma; next generation sequencing; response; treatment; uveal melanoma.