A Strategy for Early Detection of Response to Chemotherapy Drugs Based on Treatment-related Changes in the Metabolome

Shahil Amin, Jodi Rattner, Mohammad Reza Keramati, Farshad Farshidfar, Mairead Mcnamara, Jennifer J. Knox, Karen Kopciuk, Hans J. Vogel, Oliver F. Bathe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a biomarker-based approach to delivering chemotherapy that entails monitoring treatment changes in the circulating metabolome that reflect efficacy. In-vitro, multiple tumor cell lines were exposed to numerous chemotherapeutics. Supernatants were collected at baseline and 72 hours post treatment. MTT assays were used to quantify growth inhibition. Clinical samples were derived from a phase II clinical trial of second-line axitinib in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Sera were collected at baseline and 2 – 4 weeks after treatment initiation. Response to therapy was estimated by CT scan at 8 weeks. Samples were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify metabolomic changes associated with response. In vitro, we found drug-specific and generalizable patterns of change in the extracellular metabolome accompany growth inhibition. A cell death signature was also identified. This approach was also applied to clinical samples. While the in vitro signatures were detectable in vivo, a more robust signal was identified clinically that appeared within 4 weeks of administering drug that distinguished individuals with a treatment response. These changes were extinguished as tumor growth resumed. Serial monitoring of the metabolome during chemotherapy is a means to follow treatment efficacy and emergence of resistance, informing the oncologist whether to modify treatment. 
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Early online date2 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cancer
  • Adaptive Biomarker
  • Chemotherapy
  • Response Biomarker
  • Metabolomics

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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