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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jun 1;26(16):2690-8. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.15.5580.

Predictive biomarkers of chemotherapy efficacy in colorectal cancer: results from the UK MRC FOCUS trial.

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Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.

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  • J Clin Oncol. 2008 Sep 10;26(26):4363.



Candidate predictive biomarkers for irinotecan and oxaliplatin were assessed in 1,628 patients in Fluorouracil, Oxaliplatin, CPT-11: Use and Sequencing (FOCUS), a large randomized trial of fluorouracil alone compared with fluorouracil and irinotecan and compared with fluorouracil and oxaliplatin in advanced colorectal cancer.


The candidate biomarkers were: tumor immunohistochemistry for MLH1/MSH2, p53, topoisomerase-1 (Topo1), excision repair cross-complementing gene 1 (ERCC1), O-6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltranserase (MGMT), and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2); germline DNA polymorphisms in GSTP1, ABCB1, XRCC1, ERCC2, and UGT1A1. These were screened in more than 750 patients for interaction with benefit from irinotecan or oxaliplatin; two markers (Topo1 and MLH1/MSH2) met criteria to be taken forward for analysis in the full population. Primary end points were progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival.


One thousand three hundred thirteen patients (81%) were assessable for Topo1 immunohistochemistry (low, < 10%; moderate, 10% to 50%; or high, > 50% tumor nuclei). In patients with low Topo1, PFS was not improved by the addition of either irinotecan (hazard ratio [HR], 0.98; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.22) or oxaliplatin (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.68 to 1.07); conversely, patients with moderate/high Topo1 benefited from the addition of either drug (HR, 0.48 to 0.70 in all categories; interaction P = .005; overall, P = .001 for irinotecan; P = .05 for oxaliplatin). High Topo1 was associated with a major overall survival benefit with first-line combination chemotherapy (HR, 0.60; median benefit, 5.3 months); patients with moderate or low Topo1 did not benefit (HR, 0.92 and 1.09, respectively; interaction P = .005). MLH1/MSH2 did not show significant interaction with treatment, although the low rate of loss (4.4%) limits the power of the study for this biomarker.


Topo1 immunohistochemistry identified subpopulations that did or did not benefit from irinotecan, and possibly also from oxaliplatin. If verified independently, this information will contribute to the individualization of treatment for colorectal cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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