Research Papers:

High-throughput testing in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma identifies agents with preferential activity in human papillomavirus-positive or negative cell lines

Farhad Ghasemi, Morgan Black, Ren X. Sun, Frederick Vizeacoumar, Nicole Pinto, Kara M. Ruicci, John Yoo, Kevin Fung, Danielle MacNeil, David A. Palma, Eric Winquist, Joe S. Mymryk, Laurie A. Ailles, Alessandro Datti, John W. Barrett, Paul C. Boutros and Anthony C. Nichols _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:26064-26071. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25436

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Farhad Ghasemi1,*, Morgan Black1,2,*, Ren X. Sun3,4, Frederick Vizeacoumar5, Nicole Pinto1,2, Kara M. Ruicci1,2, John Yoo1,2, Kevin Fung1,2, Danielle MacNeil1,2, David A. Palma2, Eric Winquist2, Joe S. Mymryk1,2,6, Laurie A. Ailles7, Alessandro Datti8,9, John W. Barrett1,2,**, Paul C. Boutros3,4,7,** and Anthony C. Nichols1,2,**

1Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada

2Department of Oncology, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada

3Ontario Institute of Cancer Research, MaRS Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

5Cancer Research Cluster, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

6Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

7Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

8Network Biology Collaborative Centre, Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

9Department of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy

*These authors have contributed equally to this paper

**These authors have contributed equally to this paper

Correspondence to:

Anthony C. Nichols, email: Anthony.Nichols@lhsc.on.ca

Keywords: head and neck cancer; human papillomavirus; high throughput drug testing; cell lines; chemotherapy

Abbreviations: HNSCC: Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma; HPV: Human papillomavirus; IC50: half-maximal inhibitory concentration

Received: February 08, 2018     Accepted: April 28, 2018     Published: May 25, 2018


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a common cancer diagnosis worldwide. Despite advances in treatment, HNSCC has very poor survival outcomes, emphasizing an ongoing need for development of improved therapeutic options. The distinct tumor characteristics of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive vs. HPV-negative disease necessitate development of treatment strategies tailored to tumor HPV-status. High-throughput robotic screening of 1,433 biologically and pharmacologically relevant compounds at a single dose (4 μM) was carried out against 6 HPV-positive and 20 HPV-negative HNSCC cell lines for preliminary identification of therapeutically relevant compounds. Statistical analysis was further carried out to differentiate compounds with preferential activity against cell lines stratified by the HPV-status. These analyses yielded 57 compounds with higher activity in HPV-negative cell lines, and 34 with higher-activity in HPV-positive ones. Multi-point dose-response curves were generated for six of these compounds (Ryuvidine, MK-1775, SNS-032, Flavopiridol, AZD-7762 and ARP-101), confirming Ryuvidine to have preferential potency against HPV-negative cell lines, and MK-1775 to have preferential potency against HPV-positive cell lines. These data comprise a valuable resource for further investigation of compounds with therapeutic potential in the HNSCC.

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