Progress Report: David Nanus, MD

Investigator: David Nanus, MD–Professor of Medicine, Professor of Urology, Mark W. Pasmantier Professor of Hematology and Oncology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College

Circulating Tumor Cell Biomarker Discovery of Taxotere Response

Docetaxel (Taxotere) chemotherapy is the standard first line treatment for patients with castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Data from Dr. Nanus’s laboratory shows that Taxotere works in part by freezing cell movement which promotes cell death, and by inhibiting the androgen receptor, which is considered the most important therapeutic target of prostate cancer. However, some patients do not respond to Taxotere treatment. The challenge is to identify these patients before Taxotere treatment. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), renegade cells that have broken off of the primary tumor and entered the blood stream, provide researchers with easy access to a patients’ tumor cells. However, in comparison to the number of blood cells in blood these CTCs represent a very small fraction making it difficult to isolate such rare cells. The goal of this award proposal was to develop novel CTC capture technology that can efficiently capture viable CTCs to enable molecular interrogation.

Dr. Nanus and colleagues have successfully designed a CTC capture device capable of isolating ~85% of the total CTCs found in blood. Moreover, the team has also extracted data from these captured CTCs that may inform clinicians about whether a particular patient will be sensitive or insensitive to Taxotere treatment. Dr. Nanus and colleagues are currently testing this device and their CTC analysis protocol for Taxotere sensitivity in a prospective clinical trial at multiple sites including Weill Cornell.

Terms to know from this article:

Docetaxel (TAXOTERE)

Docetaxel is the first FDA-approved chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer. This medicine is in a class of medications called taxanes. It works by blocking cell division which results in cancer cell death.

androgen

A type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

Tumor

A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).