Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology - Research Publications

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    Long term, continuous exposure to panobinostat induces terminal differentiation and long term survival in the TH-MYCN neuroblastoma mouse model
    Waldeck, K ; Cullinane, C ; Ardley, K ; Shortt, J ; Martin, B ; Tothill, RW ; Li, J ; Johnstone, RW ; McArthur, GA ; Hicks, RJ ; Wood, PJ (WILEY, 2016-07-01)
    Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial malignancy in childhood and accounts for ∼15% of childhood cancer deaths. Amplification of MYCN in neuroblastoma is associated with aggressive disease and predicts for poor prognosis. Novel therapeutic approaches are therefore essential to improving patient outcomes in this setting. The histone deacetylases are known to interact with N-Myc and regulate numerous cellular processes via epigenetic modulation, including differentiation. In this study, we used the TH-MYCN mouse model of neuroblastoma to investigate the antitumor activity of the pan-HDAC inhibitor, panobinostat. In particular we sought to explore the impact of long term, continuous panobinostat exposure on the epigenetically driven differentiation process. Continuous treatment of tumor bearing TH-MYCN transgenic mice with panobinostat for nine weeks led to a significant improvement in survival as compared with mice treated with panobinostat for a three-week period. Panobinostat induced rapid tumor regression with no regrowth observed following a nine-week treatment period. Initial tumor response was associated with apoptosis mediated via upregulation of BMF and BIM. The process of terminal differentiation of neuroblastoma into benign ganglioneuroma, with a characteristic increase in S100 expression and reduction of N-Myc expression, occurred following prolonged exposure to the drug. RNA-sequencing analysis of tumors from treated animals confirmed significant upregulation of gene pathways associated with apoptosis and differentiation. Together our data demonstrate the potential of panobinostat as a novel therapeutic strategy for high-risk neuroblastoma patients.
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    A Bivalent Inhibitor of Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Radiolabeled with Copper-64 with High Tumor Uptake and Retention
    Zia, NA ; Cullinane, C ; Van Zuylekom, JK ; Waldeck, K ; McInnes, LE ; Buncic, G ; Haskali, MB ; Roselt, PD ; Hicks, RJ ; Donnelly, PS (WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2019-09-05)
    Molecules containing lysine-ureido-glutamate functional groups bind to the active site of prostate specific membrane antigen, which is overexpressed in prostate cancer. To prepare copper radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis and therapy of prostate cancer, macrobicyclic sarcophagine ligands tethered to either one or two lysine-ureido-glutamate functional groups through an appropriate linker have been prepared. Sarcophagine ligands can be readily radiolabeled with positron-emitting copper-64 at room temperature. The bivalent agent, in which two targeting groups are tethered to a single copper complex, dramatically outperforms the monomeric agent with respect to tumor uptake and retention. The high tumor uptake, low background, and prolonged tumor retention, even at 24 hours post injection, suggest the bivalent agent is a promising diagnostic for prostate cancer and could be used for prospective dosimetry for therapy with a copper-67 variant.
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    A Bivalent Inhibitor of Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Radiolabeled with Copper‐64 with High Tumor Uptake and Retention
    Zia, NA ; Cullinane, C ; Van Zuylekom, JK ; Waldeck, K ; McInnes, LE ; Buncic, G ; Haskali, MB ; Roselt, PD ; Hicks, RJ ; Donnelly, PS (Wiley, 2019-10-14)
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    Palbociclib synergizes with BRAF and MEK inhibitors in treatment naive melanoma but not after the development of BRAF inhibitor resistance
    Martin, CA ; Cullinane, C ; Kirby, L ; Abuhammad, S ; Lelliott, EJ ; Waldeck, K ; Young, RJ ; Brajanovski, N ; Cameron, DP ; Walker, R ; Sanij, E ; Poortinga, G ; Hannan, RD ; Pearson, RB ; Hicks, RJ ; McArthur, GA ; Sheppard, KE (WILEY, 2018-05-15)
    Increased CDK4 activity occurs in the majority of melanomas and CDK4/6 inhibitors in combination with BRAF and MEK inhibitors are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of melanoma. We hypothesize that the timing of the addition of CDK4/6 inhibitors to the current BRAF and MEK inhibitor regime will impact on the efficacy of this triplet drug combination. The efficacy of BRAF, MEK and CDK4/6 inhibitors as single agents and in combination was assessed in human BRAF mutant cell lines that were treatment naïve, BRAF inhibitor tolerant or had acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors. Xenograft studies were then performed to test the in vivo efficacy of the BRAF and CDK4/6 inhibitor combination. Melanoma cells that had developed early reversible tolerance or acquired resistance to BRAF inhibition remained sensitive to palbociclib. In drug-tolerant cells, the efficacy of the combination of palbociclib with BRAF and/or MEK inhibitors was equivalent to single agent palbociclib. Similarly, acquired BRAF inhibitor resistance cells lost efficacy to the palbociclib and BRAF combination. In contrast, upfront treatment of melanoma cells with palbociclib in combination with BRAF and/or MEK inhibitors induced either cell death or senescence and was superior to a BRAF plus MEK inhibitor combination. In vivo palbociclib plus BRAF inhibitor induced rapid and sustained tumor regression without the development of therapy resistance. In summary, upfront dual targeting of CDK4/6 and mutant BRAF signaling enables tumor cells to evade resistance to monotherapy and is required for robust and sustained tumor regression. Melanoma patients whose tumors have acquired resistance to BRAF inhibition are less likely to have favorable responses to subsequent treatment with the triplet combination of BRAF, MEK and CDK4/6 inhibitors.
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    Enhancing PET Signal at Target Tissue in Vivo: Dendritic and Multimeric Tris(hydroxypyridinone) Conjugates for Molecular Imaging of alpha(v)beta(3) Integrin Expression with Gallium-68
    Imberti, C ; Terry, SYA ; Cullinane, C ; Clarke, F ; Cornish, GH ; Ramakrishnan, NK ; Roselt, P ; Cope, AP ; Hicks, RJ ; Blower, PJ ; Ma, MT (AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2017-02-01)
    Tris(hydroxypyridinone) chelators conjugated to peptides can rapidly complex the positron-emitting isotope gallium-68 (68Ga) under mild conditions, and the resulting radiotracers can delineate peptide receptor expression at sites of diseased tissue in vivo. We have synthesized a dendritic bifunctional chelator containing nine 1,6-dimethyl-3-hydroxypyridin-4-one groups (SCN-HP9) that can coordinate up to three Ga3+ ions. This derivative has been conjugated to a trimeric peptide (RGD3) containing three peptide groups that target the αvβ3 integrin receptor. The resulting dendritic compound, HP9-RGD3, can be radiolabeled in 97% radiochemical yield at a 3-fold higher specific activity than its homologues HP3-RGD and HP3-RGD3 that contain only a single metal binding site. PET scanning and biodistribution studies show that [68Ga(HP9-RGD3)] demonstrates higher receptor-mediated tumor uptake in animals bearing U87MG tumors that overexpress αvβ3 integrin than [68Ga(HP3-RGD)] and [68Ga(HP3-RGD3)]. However, concomitant nontarget organ retention of [68Ga(HP9-RGD3)] results in low tumor to nontarget organ contrast in PET images. On the other hand, the trimeric peptide homologue containing a single tris(hydroxypyridinone) chelator, [68Ga(HP3-RGD3)], clears nontarget organs and exhibits receptor-mediated uptake in mice bearing tumors and in mice with induced rheumatoid arthritis. PET imaging with [68Ga(HP3-RGD3)] enables clear delineation of αvβ3 integrin receptor expression in vivo.
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    New Tris(hydroxypyridinone) Bifunctional Chelators Containing Isothiocyanate Groups Provide a Versatile Platform for Rapid One Step Labeling and PET Imaging with Ga-68(3+)
    Ma, MT ; Cullinane, C ; Imberti, C ; Baguna Torres, J ; Terry, SYA ; Roselt, P ; Hicks, RJ ; Blower, PJ (AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2016-02-01)
    Two new bifunctional tris(hydroxypyridinone) (THP) chelators designed specifically for rapid labeling with (68)Ga have been synthesized, each with pendant isothiocyanate groups and three 1,6-dimethyl-3-hydroxypyridin-4-one groups. Both compounds have been conjugated with the primary amine group of a cyclic integrin targeting peptide, RGD. Each conjugate can be radiolabeled and formulated by treatment with generator-produced (68)Ga(3+) in over 95% radiochemical yield under ambient conditions in less than 5 min, with specific activities of 60-80 MBq nmol(-1). Competitive binding assays and in vivo biodistribution in mice bearing U87MG tumors demonstrate that the new (68)Ga(3+)-labeled THP peptide conjugates retain affinity for the αvβ3 integrin receptor, clear within 1-2 h from circulation, and undergo receptor-mediated tumor uptake in vivo. We conclude that bifunctional THP chelators can be used for simple, efficient labeling of (68)Ga biomolecules under mild conditions suitable for peptides and proteins.
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    Rapid kit-based Ga-68-labelling and PET imaging with THP-Tyr(3)-octreotate: a preliminary comparison with DOTA-Tyr(3)-octreotate
    Ma, MT ; Cullinane, C ; Waldeck, K ; Roselt, P ; Hicks, RJ ; Blower, PJ (SPRINGEROPEN, 2015-10-09)
    BACKGROUND: Ge/(68)Ga generators provide an inexpensive source of a PET isotope to hospitals without cyclotron facilities. The development of new (68)Ga-based molecular imaging agents and subsequent clinical translation would be greatly facilitated by simplification of radiochemical syntheses. We report the properties of a tris(hydroxypyridinone) conjugate of the SSTR2-targeted peptide, Tyr(3)-octreotate (TATE), and compare the (68)Ga-labelling and biodistribution of [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] with the clinical radiopharmaceutical [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)]. METHODS: A tris(hydroxypyridinone) with a pendant isothiocyanate group was conjugated to the primary amine terminus of H2N-PEG2-Lys(iv-Dde)(5)-TATE, and the resulting conjugate was deprotected to provide THP-TATE. THP-TATE was radiolabelled with (68)Ga(3+) from a (68)Ge/(68)Ga generator. In vitro uptake was assessed in SSTR2-positive 427-7 cells and SSTR2-negative 427 (parental) cells. Biodistribution of [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] was compared with that of [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)] in Balb/c nude mice bearing SSTR2-positive AR42J tumours. PET scans were obtained 1 h post-injection, after which animals were euthanised and tissues/organs harvested and counted. RESULTS: [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] was radiolabelled and formulated rapidly in <2 min, in ≥95 % radiochemical yield at pH 5-6.5 and specific activities of 60-80 MBq nmol(-1) at ambient temperature. [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] was rapidly internalised into SSTR2-positive cells, but not SSTR2-negative cells, and receptor binding and internalisation were specific. Animals administered [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] demonstrated comparable SSTR2-positive tumour activity (11.5 ± 0.6 %ID g(-1)) compared to animals administered [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)] (14.4 ± 0.8 %ID g(-1)). Co-administration of unconjugated Tyr(3)-octreotate effectively blocked tumour accumulation of [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] (2.7 ± 0.6 %ID g(-1)). Blood clearance of [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] was rapid and excretion was predominantly renal, although compared to [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)], [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] exhibited comparatively longer kidney retention. CONCLUSIONS: Radiochemical synthesis of [(68)Ga(THP-TATE)] is significantly faster, proceeds under milder conditions, and requires less manipulation than that of [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)]. A (68)Ga-labelled tris(hydroxypyridinone) conjugate of Tyr(3)-octreotate demonstrates specificity and targeting affinity for SSTR2 receptors, with comparable in vivo targeting affinity to the clinical PET tracer, [(68)Ga(DOTATATE)]. Thus, peptide conjugates based on tris(hydroxypyridinones) are conducive to translation to kit-based preparation of PET tracers, enabling the expansion and adoption of (68)Ga PET in hospitals and imaging centres without the need for costly automated synthesis modules.
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    Applying advanced imaging techniques to a murine model of orthotopic osteosarcoma
    Broadhead, ML ; Lokmic, Z ; Tan, ML ; Stevenson, A ; Binns, DS ; Cullinane, C ; Hicks, RJ ; Choong, PFM ; Myers, DE (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2015-01-01)
    INTRODUCTION: Reliable animal models are required to evaluate novel treatments for osteosarcoma. In this study, the aim was to implement advanced imaging techniques in a murine model of orthotopic osteosarcoma to improve disease modeling and the assessment of primary and metastatic disease. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Intra-tibial injection of luciferase-tagged OPGR80 murine osteosarcoma cells was performed in Balb/c nude mice. Treatment agent [pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF)] was delivered to the peritoneal cavity. Primary tumors and metastases were evaluated by in vivo bioluminescent assays, micro-computed tomography, [(18)F]-Fluoride-PET and [(18)F]-FDG-PET. RESULTS: [(18)F]-Fluoride-PET was more sensitive than [(18)F]-FDG-PET for detecting early disease. Both [(18)F]-Fluoride-PET and [(18)F]-FDG-PET showed progressive disease in the model, with fourfold and twofold increases in standardized uptake value (p < 0.05) by the study endpoint, respectively. In vivo bioluminescent assay showed that systemically delivered PEDF inhibited growth of primary osteosarcoma. DISCUSSION: Application of [(18)F]-Fluoride-PET and [(18)F]-FDG-PET to an established murine model of orthotopic osteosarcoma has improved the assessment of disease. The use of targeted imaging should prove beneficial for the evaluation of new approaches to osteosarcoma therapy.
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    Enhancing the anti-tumour activity of 177Lu-DOTA-octreotate radionuclide therapy in somatostatin receptor-2 expressing tumour models by targeting PARP
    Cullinane, C ; Waldeck, K ; Kirby, L ; Rogers, BE ; Eu, P ; Tothill, RW ; Hicks, RJ (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-06-23)
    Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is an important treatment option for patients with somatostatin receptor-2 (SSTR2)-expressing neuroendocrine tumour (NET) though tumour regression occurs in only a minority of patients. Therefore, novel PRRT regimens with improved therapeutic activity are needed. Radiation induced DNA damage repair is an attractive therapeutic target to increase PRRT efficacy and consequently, we have characterised a panel of preclinical models for their SSTR2 expression, in vivo growth properties and response to 177Lu-DOTA-octreotate (LuTate) PRRT to identify models with features suitable for evaluating novel therapeutic combinations. In vitro studies using the SSTR2 expressing AR42J model demonstrate that the combination of LuTate and the small molecule Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP) inhibitor, talazoparib led to increased DNA double strand breaks, as assessed by γ-H2AX foci formation, as compared to LuTate alone. Furthermore, using the AR42J tumour model in vivo we demonstrate that the combination of LuTate and talazoparib significantly improved the anti-tumour efficacy of LuTate alone. These findings support the clinical evaluation of the combination of LuTate and PARP inhibition in SSTR2-expressing NET.
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    An activating Pik3ca mutation coupled with Pten loss is sufficient to initiate ovarian tumorigenesis in mice
    Kinross, KM ; Montgomery, KG ; Kleinschmidt, M ; Waring, P ; Ivetac, I ; Tikoo, A ; Saad, M ; Hare, L ; Roh, V ; Mantamadiotis, T ; Sheppard, KE ; Ryland, GL ; Campbell, IG ; Gorringe, KL ; Christensen, JG ; Cullinane, C ; Hicks, RJ ; Pearson, RB ; Johnstone, RW ; McArthur, GA ; Phillips, WA (AMER SOC CLINICAL INVESTIGATION INC, 2012-02-01)
    Mutations in the gene encoding the p110α subunit of PI3K (PIK3CA) that result in enhanced PI3K activity are frequently observed in human cancers. To better understand the role of mutant PIK3CA in the initiation or progression of tumorigenesis, we generated mice in which a PIK3CA mutation commonly detected in human cancers (the H1047R mutation) could be conditionally knocked into the endogenous Pik3ca locus. Activation of this mutation in the mouse ovary revealed that alone, Pik3caH1047R induced premalignant hyperplasia of the ovarian surface epithelium but no tumors. Concomitantly, we analyzed several human ovarian cancers and found PIK3CA mutations coexistent with KRAS and/or PTEN mutations, raising the possibility that a secondary defect in a co-regulator of PI3K activity may be required for mutant PIK3CA to promote transformation. Consistent with this notion, we found that Pik3caH1047R mutation plus Pten deletion in the mouse ovary led to the development of ovarian serous adenocarcinomas and granulosa cell tumors. Both mutational events were required for early, robust Akt activation. Pharmacological inhibition of PI3K/mTOR in these mice delayed tumor growth and prolonged survival. These results demonstrate that the Pik3caH1047R mutation with loss of Pten is enough to promote ovarian cell transformation and that we have developed a model system for studying possible therapies.