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Anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies (anti-EGFR-Ab) are effective in a subgroup of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). We applied genomic and transcriptomic analyses to biopsies from 35 RAS wild-type CRCs treated with the anti-EGFR-Ab cetuximab in a prospective trial to interrogate the molecular resistance landscape. This validated transcriptomic CRC-subtypes as predictors of cetuximab benefit; identified novel associations of NF1-inactivation and non-canonical RAS/RAF-aberrations with primary progression; and of FGF10- and non-canonical BRAF-aberrations with AR. No genetic resistance drivers were detected in 64% of AR biopsies. The majority of these had switched from the cetuximab-sensitive CMS2-subtype pre-treatment to the fibroblast- and growth factor-rich CMS4-subtype at progression. Fibroblast supernatant conferred cetuximab resistance in vitro, together supporting subtype-switching as a novel mechanism of AR. Cytotoxic immune infiltrates and immune-checkpoint expression increased following cetuximab responses, potentially providing opportunities to treat CRCs with molecularly heterogeneous AR with immunotherapy.

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