A Pilot Study to Non-Invasively Track PIK3CA Mutation in Head and Neck Cancer

Henri Schmidt, Arutha Kulasinghe, Richard J. N. Allcock, Lit Yeen Tan, Elisa Mokany, Liz Kenny, Chamindie Punyadeera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: PIK3CA pathways are the most frequently mutated oncogenic pathway in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), including virally driven HNCs. PIK3CA is involved in the PI3K-PTEN-mTOR signalling pathway. PIK3CA has been implicated in HNSCC progression and PIK3CA mutations may serve as predictive biomarkers for therapy selection. Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) derived from necrotic and apoptotic tumour cells are thought to harbour tumour-specific genetic alterations. As such, the detection of PIK3CA alterations detected by ctDNA holds promise as a potential biomarker in HNSCC. Methods: Blood samples from treatment naive HNSCC patients (n = 29) were interrogated for a commonly mutated PIK3CA hotspot mutation using low cost allele-specific Plex-PCRTM technology. Results: In this pilot, cross sectional study, PIK3CA E545K mutation was detected in the plasma samples of 9/29 HNSCC patients using the Plex-PCRTM technology. Conclusion: The results of this pilot study support the notion of using allele-specific technologies for cost-effective testing of ctDNA, and further assert the potential utility of ctDNA in HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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