Purpose: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may be novel biomarkers to predict cancer prognosis and monitor therapeutic efficacy. In the current study, we investigated the use of the time-dependent enumeration and targeted DNA sequensing of single CTCs as liquid biopsy based biomarkers of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients for diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic choice and outcome monitoring.

Experimental Design: In a prospective study, we tested the AccuCyte® system (RareCyte®, Inc. Seattle, WA) for CTC enumeration in NSCLC using FDA criteria (CK/EpCAM+/CD45- with a nucleus). Whole blood (7.5 ml) from healthy donors was spiked with human lung adenocarcinoma (A549 cell line) cells at specific numbers (N=0, 100, 200, 1000). CTC detection and single-CTC picking was performed. NSCLC subjects' (N=20) and chronic smokers without cancer on screening low-dose CT subjects' (N=10) blood were collected (amount, method, biotechnology). For all blood samples, CTC detection and single CTC picking was performed. DNA was isolated from CTCs (N=3) and white blood cells (N=2) per sample. DNA libraries were prepared for targeted oncogene characterization using the CleanPlex® OncoZoom® panel. Somatic variant analysis and comparisons were performed.

Results: AccuCyte enumeration of A549 cells spiked at four levels in healthy subjects' whole blood showed (Spiked #, Detected #): (0, 0); (100, 76); (200, 208); (1000, 1223). NSCLC subjects' (N=20; age: 64.85±6.64; BMI: 28.00±8.15sex ratio: 0.42) blood had a mean CTC count of 13.4 (SD=52, median=0, range [0, 237]). Ten screening controls without cancer (64.2±5.81, 1, 28.50±6.13, 0.66) had a mean CTC count of 0.20 (0.42, 0, [0, 1]). Significant association was noted regarding a higher number of CTCs found in NSCLC compared to screening subjects without cancer according to the (p= 0.020, Wilcoxon signed rank). CTC numbers increased with NSCLC AJCC stage. Somatic variant analysis on patient-matched single CTCs and WBCs is ongoing.

Conclusions: The molecular investigation of patient matched single CTCs and white blood cells will fundamentally advance understanding on the NSCCL carcinogenic signature of these blood born cells and their potential value as cancer detection and therapy management liquid biopsy-based biomarkers.

Citation Format: Mouadh Barbirou, Yariswamy Manjunath, Amanda Miller, Arturo Ramirez, Nolan Ericson, Kevin F. Kevin F. Staveley-O'Carroll, Wes Warren, Guangfu Li, Peter J. Tonellato, Jussuf T. Kaifi. Single circulating tumor cell enumeration and targeted sequencing in non-small cell lung cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 596.