Haugen MH, Lingjærde OC, Hedenfalk I, Garred Ø, Borgen E, Loman N, Hatschek T, Børresen-Dale AL, Naume B, Mills GB, Mælandsmo GM, Engebraaten O.
JCO Precision Oncology
January 28, 2021
Purpose: Antiangiogenic therapy using bevacizumab has proven effective for a number of cancers; however, in breast cancer (BC), there is an unmet need to identify patients who benefit from such treatment. Patients and Methods: In the NeoAva phase II clinical trial, patients (N = 132) with large (≥ 25 mm) human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative primary tumors were randomly assigned 1:1 to treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (CTx) alone or in combination with bevacizumab (Bev plus CTx). The ratio of the tumor size after relative to before treatment was calculated into a continuous response scale. Tumor biopsies taken prior to neoadjuvant treatment were analyzed by reverse-phase protein arrays (RPPA) for expression levels of 210 BC-relevant (phospho-) proteins. Lasso regression was used to derive a predictor of tumor shrinkage from the expression of selected proteins prior to treatment. Results: We identified a nine-protein signature score named vascular endothelial growth factor inhibition response predictor (ViRP) for use in the Bev plus CTx treatment arm able to predict with accuracy pathologic complete response (pCR) (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.74 to 0.97) and low residual cancer burden (RCB 0/I) (AUC = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.68 to 0.93). The ViRP score was significantly lower in patients with pCR (P < .001) and in patients with low RCB (P < .001). The ViRP score was internally validated on mRNA data and the resultant surrogate mRNA ViRP score significantly separated the pCR patients (P = .016). Similarly, the mRNA ViRP score was validated (P < .001) in an independent phase II clinical trial (PROMIX). Conclusion: Our ViRP score, integrating the expression of nine proteins and validated on mRNA data both internally and in an independent clinical trial, may be used to increase the likelihood of benefit from treatment with bevacizumab combined with chemotherapy in patients with HER2-negative BC.