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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e38033. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038033. Epub 2012 May 31.

KRASness and PIK3CAness in patients with advanced colorectal cancer: outcome after treatment with early-phase trials with targeted pathway inhibitors.

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Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics (Phase I Clinical Trials Program), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, United States of America.



To evaluate clinicopathologic and molecular features of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and their outcomes in early-phase trials using pathway-targeting agents.


We analyzed characteristics of 238 patients with mCRC referred to the phase 1 trials unit at MD Anderson Cancer Center. KRAS, PIK3CA and BRAF status were tested using PCR-based DNA sequencing.


Fifty-one percent of patients harbored KRAS mutations; 15% had PIK3CA mutations. In the multivariate regression model for clinical characteristics KRAS mutations were associated with an increased incidence of lung and bone metastases and decreased incidence of adrenal metastases; PIK3CA mutations were marginally correlated with mucinous tumors (p = 0.05). In the univariate analysis, KRAS and PIK3CA mutations were strongly associated. Advanced Duke's stage (p<0.0001) and KRAS mutations (p = 0.01) were the only significant independent predictors of poor survival (Cox proportional hazards model). Patients with PIK3CA mutations had a trend toward shorter progression-free survival when treated with anti-EGFR therapies (p = 0.07). Eighteen of 78 assessable patients (23%) treated with PI3K/Akt/mTOR axis inhibitors achieved stable disease [SD] ≥6 months or complete response/partial response (CR/PR), only one of whom were in the subgroup (N = 15) with PIK3CA mutations, perhaps because 10 of these 15 patients (67%) had coexisting KRAS mutations. No SD ≥6 months/CR/PR was observed in the 10 patients treated with mitogen-activating protein kinase (MAPK) pathway targeting drugs.


KRAS and PIK3CA mutations frequently coexist in patients with colorectal cancer, and are associated with clinical characteristics and outcome. Overcoming resistance may require targeting both pathways.

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