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  • Author: Chongkai Wang x
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Jaideep Sandhu, Chongkai Wang and Marwan Fakih

HER2 amplification has been identified in 2% to 3% of all colorectal cancers (CRCs). Although the prognostic role of HER2 amplification in metastatic CRC (mCRC) is unclear, studies have highlighted it as a therapeutic target. In addition, several studies have shown that HER2 amplification is implicated in the resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies. Other studies have provided scientific evidence to support the use of HER2-directed therapies in HER2-amplified CRC; however, thus far this benefit has been limited to the RAS wild-type population. There is an ongoing clinical need to identify novel means of targeting HER2 amplifications in the rare settings of HER2-amplified, RAS-mutated CRC. This case report presents a 58-year-old man with HER2-amplified mCRC and a KRAS G12D mutation whose disease progressed on all standard cytotoxic therapies as well as dual HER2 targeting using trastuzumab and pertuzumab. He subsequently derived a clinical benefit with metastatic lung disease regression on trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1). He eventually experienced disease progression in the liver after 6 every-3-week cycles. The patient’s response and disease progression were associated with ongoing decline in the HER2 copy number on the circulating tumor DNA assay, suggesting that the mechanism of resistance was related to the loss of HER2 amplification or the emergence of non–HER2-amplified CRC clones. This represents the first report of clinical benefit with T-DM1 in KRAS-mutated HER2-amplified CRC.

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Jun Gong, Chongkai Wang, Peter P. Lee, Peiguo Chu and Marwan Fakih

Recent clinical evidence has demonstrated that microsatellite instability (MSI) or defective mismatch repair (MMR) and high tumor mutational load can predict response to the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) receptor inhibitor pembrolizumab in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Mutations in polymerase ε (POLE), a DNA polymerase involved in DNA replication and repair, contribute to an ultramutated but microsatellite stable (MSS) phenotype in colorectal tumors that is uniquely distinct from MSI tumors. This report presents the first case in the literature describing a clinical response to pembrolizumab in an 81-year-old man with treatment-refractory mCRC characterized by an MSS phenotype and POLE mutation identified on genomic profiling by next-generation sequencing. On tumor immunostaining, a large amount of CD8-positive tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) were present, with >90% of these expressing PD-1. More than 99% of PD-L1 expression was identified on nontumor cells in the tumor microenvironment that were close to the PD-1–positive CD8 TILs. mCRC tumors harboring POLE mutations represent a hypermutated phenotype that may predict response to anti–PD-1 therapy.