Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) followed by radical cystectomy (CX), is gold standard treatment in localized muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC). About 45% of patients with MIBC develop metastatic relapse within 2 years after CX. The response rate to chemotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) is relatively low, and biomarker tests for monitoring response are needed. Furthermore, biomarkers for early detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) after CX is needed to enable earlier treatment initiation. Tumor-informed detection of mutations in cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from peripheral blood has shown promising results in its ability to monitor MRD. However, the low tumor fraction after surgery and limited input material obtained from a typical plasma sample limits the probability of detecting low metastatic burden scenarios. Here we implemented and applied locally a whole-genome sequencing (WGS) approach to circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) monitoring for improving ctDNA detection.

Methods: A total of 140 MIBC patients undergoing NAC and CX were enrolled, including a test cohort (n=19) and a validation cohort (n=120). cfDNA was extracted from ~1mL plasma (n=1100) and procured from longitudinal plasma sampling during NAC (response measure), pre-cystectomy (response measure), post-surgery (relapse monitoring) and during immunotherapy (ICI treatment). WGS was applied to tumor/germline pairs (coverage >30x/20x) and plasma cfDNA (>20x) facilitating detection of genome wide genomic alterations and quantification of ctDNA using the MRDetect method.

Results: We developed a personalized tumor-informed WGS model by integrating genome-wide mutation and copy number variation data coupled with advanced signal processing and AI-based error suppression. Patient-specific somatic variant patterns were then used for detecting and measuring the ctDNA levels in low-input blood samples by WGS. The assay sensitivity allowed for detection of tumor fractions down to 8*10-5. Furthermore, in our test cohort of 19 patients, we detected ctDNA after CX in 7 of 8 patients with clinical relapse (88% sensitivity) and detected no ctDNA in 11 of 11 patients with no clinical relapse (100% specificity). We observed a positive lead-time for MRD-based recurrence detection compared to CT-based reccurence detection (9 months on average). The full dataset is currently being processed and will be presented at the AACR 2022 meeting.

Conclusions: For precision oncology, we need to develop quantitative and non-invasive methodologies to help tailor the treatments to individual patients and monitor them for further clinical decision-making. The results indicate the clinical potential of personalized genome-wide mutation integration as an ultra-sensitive, non-invasive method for MRD detection and treatment response monitoring which could aid in clinical management of patients with bladder cancer.

Citation Format: Iver Nordentoft, Karin Birkenkamp-Demtröder, Emil Christensen, Sunil Deochand, Dillon Maloney, Danielle Afterman, Tomer Lauterman, Noah Friedman, Imane Bourzgui, Nidhi Ramaraj, Zohar Donenhirsh, Ronel Veksler, Sia Viborg, Mads Agerbæk, Jørgen Bjerggaard Jensen, Jonathan Rosenfeld, Ravi Kandasamy, Iman Tavassoly, Boris Oklander, Asaf Zviran, Lars Dyrskjøt. Genome-wide circulating tumor DNA for monitoring treatment response and metastatic relapse in bladder cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2022; 2022 Apr 8-13. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2022;82(12_Suppl):Abstract nr 540.