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1.  Systemic Treatments for Mesothelioma: Standard and Novel 
Opinion statement
Systemic therapy is the only treatment option for the majority of mesothelioma patients, for whom age, co-morbid medical illnesses, non-epithelial histology, and locally advanced disease often preclude surgery. For many years, chemotherapy had a minimal impact on the natural history of this cancer, engendering considerable nihilism. Countless drugs were evaluated, most of which achieved response rates below 20% and median survival of <1 year. Several factors have hampered the evaluation of systemic regimens in patients with mesothelioma. The disease is uncommon, affecting only about 2500 Americans annually. Thus, most clinical trials are small, and randomized studies are challenging to accrue. There is significant heterogeneity within the patient populations of these small trials, for several reasons. Since all of the staging systems for mesothelioma are surgically based, it is almost impossible to accurately determine the stage of a patient who has not been resected. Patients with very early stage disease may be lumped together with far more advanced patients in the same study. The disease itself is heterogenous, with many different prognostic factors, most notably three pathologic subtypes—epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic—that have different natural histories, and varying responses to treatment. Finally, response assessment is problematic, since pleural-based lesions are difficult to measure accurately and reproducibly. Assessment criteria often vary between trials, making some cross-trial comparisons difficult to interpret. Despite these limitations, in recent years, there has been a surge of optimism regarding systemic treatment of this disease. Several cytotoxic agents have been shown to generate reproducible responses, improve quality of life, or prolong survival in mesothelioma. Drugs with single-agent activity include pemetrexed, raltitrexed, vinorelbine, and vinflunine. The addition of pemetrexed or raltitrexed to cisplatin prolongs survival. The addition of cisplatin to pemetrexed, raltitrexed, gemcitabine, irinotecan, or vinorelbine improves response rate. The combination of pemetrexed plus cisplatin is considered the benchmark front-line regimen for this disease, based on a phase III trial in 456 patients that yielded a response rate of 41% and a median survival of 12.1 months. Vitamin supplementation with folic acid is essential to decrease toxicity, though recent data suggests that there may be an optimum dose of folic acid that should be administered; higher doses may diminish the effectiveness of pemetrexed. There are also several unresolved questions about the duration and timing of treatment with pemetrexed that are the subject of planned clinical trials. It is essential to recognize that the improvements observed with the pemetrexed/cisplatin combination, though real, are still modest. Other active drugs or drug combinations may be more appropriate for specific individuals, and further research is still needed to improve upon these results. Since the majority of mesotheliomas in the United States occur in the elderly, non-cisplatin-containing pemetrexed combinations may be more appropriate for some patients. Now that effective agents have been developed for initial treatment, several classical cytotoxic drugs and many novel agents are being evaluated in the second-line setting. These include drugs targeted against the epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, src kinase, histone deacetylase, the proteasome, and mesothelin. Given the progress made in recent years, there is reason to believe that more effective treatments will continue to be developed.
PMCID: PMC2782121  PMID: 18770046
2.  Phase II trial of neoadjuvant pemetrexed plus cisplatin followed by surgery and radiation in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:22.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive tumor that has a poor prognosis and is resistant to unimodal approaches. Multimodal treatment has provided encouraging results.
Phase II, open-label study of the combination of chemotherapy (pemetrexed 500 mg/m2+cisplatin 75 mg/m2 IV every 21 days × 3 cycles), followed by surgery (en-bloc extrapleural pneumonectomy, 3–8 weeks after chemotherapy) and hemithoracic radiation (total radiation beam 54 Gy, received 4–8 weeks post-surgery). The primary endpoint was event-free survival, defined as the time from enrollment to time of first observation of disease progression, death due to any cause, or early treatment discontinuation.
Fifty-four treatment-naïve patients with T1-3 N0-2 malignant pleural mesothelioma were enrolled, 52 (96.3%) completed chemotherapy, 45 (83.3%) underwent surgery, 22 (40.7%) completed the whole treatment including 90-day post-radiation follow-up. The median event-free survival was 6.9 months (95%CI: 5.0-10.5), median overall survival was 15.5 months (95%CI 11.0-NA) while median time-to-tumor response was 4.8 months (95%CI: 2.5-8.0). Eighteen (33.3%) and 13 (24.1%) patients were still event-free after 1 and 2 years, respectively. The most common treatment-emergent adverse events were nausea (63.0%), anemia (51.9%) and hypertension (42.6%).
Following two cardiopulmonary radiation-related deaths the protocol was amended (21 [38.9%] patients were already enrolled in the study): the total radiation beam was reduced from 54 Gy to 50.4 Gy and a more accurate selection of patients was recommended.
The combination of pemetrexed plus cisplatin followed by surgery and hemithoracic radiation is feasible and has a manageable toxicity profile in carefully selected patients. It may be worthy of further investigation.
Trial registration registrationID #NCT00087698.
PMCID: PMC3722081  PMID: 23324131
Pemetrexed; Pleural mesothelioma; Chemotherapy; Surgery; Radiation
3.  Characterization and drug sensitivity profiling of primary malignant mesothelioma cells from pleural effusions 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):709.
Patients with malignant mesothelioma have a poor prognosis and only 40% respond to first line treatment; a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin. We used primary malignant mesothelioma cells and an ex vivo chemosensitivity assay with future purpose to predict best choice of treatment. The clinical outcome of these patients might be predicted by measuring drug sensitivity.
Pleural effusions containing primary malignant mesothelioma cells were received from the diagnostic routine. We characterized and tested the chemosensitivity of 18 malignant samples and four benign samples from 16 different patients with pleural effusions. Cells were seeded in a 384-well plate for a robotized ex vivo testing of drug sensitivity to 32 different drugs. The primary cells were further characterized by immunocytochemistry to evaluate the proportion of malignant cells and to study the RRM1 and ERCC1 reactivity, two proteins associated with drug resistance.
We observed great individual variability in the drug sensitivity. Primary cell isolates were affected by between one and ten drugs, and resistant to the remaining tested drugs. Actinomycin D and daunorubicin were the two drugs effective in most cases. Adjusting efficiency of individual drugs for varying proportion of tumor cells and to the average effect on benign cells correlated with effect of pemetrexed, cisplatin and survival time. General drug sensitivity, proportion of malignant cells and reactivity to RRM1 correlated to each other and to survival time of the patients.
The proportion of malignant cells and RRM1 reactivity in the pleural effusions correlate to drug sensitivity and survival time. The variability in response to the commonly used chemotherapies emphasizes the need for tests that indicate best individual choice of cytotoxic drugs. The efficiency of the obtained results should preferably be corrected for admixture of benign cells and effects of given drugs on benign cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-709) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4190467  PMID: 25253633
Malignant mesothelioma; Pleural effusions; Primary cells; Chemotherapy; Ex vivo chemosensitivity; Cytotoxic drugs; RRM1; ERCC1 and Individualized treatment
4.  Multicenter Phase II Trial of Neoadjuvant Pemetrexed Plus Cisplatin Followed by Extrapleural Pneumonectomy and Radiation for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(18):3007-3013.
Neoadjuvant pemetrexed plus cisplatin was administered, followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and hemithoracic radiation (RT), to assess the feasibility and efficacy of trimodality therapy in stage I to III malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Patients and Methods
Requirements included stage T1-3 N0-2 disease, no prior surgical resection, adequate organ function (including predicted postoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 second ≥ 35%), and performance status 0 to 1. Patients received pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 plus cisplatin 75 mg/m2 for four cycles. Patients without disease progression underwent EPP followed by RT (54 Gy). The primary end point was pathologic complete response (pCR) rate.
Seventy-seven patients received chemotherapy. All four cycles were administered to 83% of patients. The radiologic response rate was 32.5% (95% CI, 22.2 to 44.1). Fifty-seven patients proceeded to EPP, which was completed in 54 patients. Three pCRs were observed (5% of EPP). Forty of 44 patients completed irradiation. Median survival in the overall population was 16.8 months (95% CI, 13.6 to 23.2 months; censorship, 33.8%). Patients completing all therapy had a median survival of 29.1 months and a 2-year survival rate of 61.2%. Radiologic response of complete or partial response was associated with a median survival of 26.0 months compared with 13.9 months for patients with stable disease or progressive disease (P = .05).
This multicenter trial showed that trimodality therapy with neoadjuvant pemetrexed plus cisplatin is feasible with a reasonable long-term survival rate, particularly for patients who completed all therapy. Radiologic response to chemotherapy, but not sex, histology, disease stage, or nodal status, was associated with improved survival.
PMCID: PMC3646305  PMID: 19364962
5.  CBDCA + Pemetrexed + Bevacizumab and Its Maintenance Chemotherapy in a Case of Solitary Breast Metastasis from a Lung Adenocarcinoma Resistant to Gefitinib 
Case Reports in Oncology  2012;5(3):546-553.
Based on the AVAPERL trial (36th ESMO 2011), CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy with pemetrexed + bevacizumab is a new promising regimen for the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung adenocarcinoma. Herein, we report the rare case of a patient with solitary breast metastasis from a lung adenocarcinoma, which was effectively treated using CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy. A 57-year-old female was admitted to the hospital due to pleural effusion and cardiac tamponade caused by a lung adenocarcinoma possessing a mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene (deletion of exon 19). The patient was treated by first-line chemotherapy (gefitinib 250 mg/body/day) which resulted in complete response. After 12 months, carcinoembryonic antigen was gradually increasing and she complained of a right breast mass. With a core-needle biopsy, the breast tumor was pathologically diagnosed as recurrence and solitary metastasis of a lung adenocarcinoma. Further study of the second mutation of EGFR revealed a T790M mutation. The patient was treated by second-line chemotherapy [CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab (AUC 6 + 500 mg/m2 + 15 mg/kg)] and its maintenance chemotherapy (pemetrexed + bevacizumab). The cases of patients with breast metastasis from other organs are very rare. Immunohistopathological analysis is very useful to diagnose whether the malignancy is primary or not. In the case of a breast tumor with present or previous malignancy, a metastatic breast tumor should be considered. Furthermore, the biopsy of the breast metastasis also revealed the second mutation of resistance to gefitinib, T790M. Of note, according to our case, CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy is feasible and well tolerated for breast metastasis from a lung adenocarcinoma which is resistant to gefitinib and possesses the T790M mutation in the EGFR gene.
PMCID: PMC3492973  PMID: 23139670
Solitary breast metastasis; Non-small-cell lung carcinoma; T790M; CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab; Maintenance therapy; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance
6.  Current therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma 
Mesothelioma is a highly lethal tumor derived from mesothelial cells, and its global incidence is increasing because of widespread exposure of numerous individuals to asbestos in the last 50 years. Mesothelioma is largely untreatable with any of the therapeutic modalities. Recently, a novel multitargeted antifolate pemetrexed has shown promising activity against malignant pleural mesothelioma, producing response rates of up to 40% when used in combination with cisplatin. In a large phase III study, use of a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin was associated with significantly improved survival time and with greater antitumor activity compared with cisplatin alone. This combination also gave a significant response rate of approximately 50% in patients with epithelioid malignant pleural mesothelioma. These clinical benefits of pemetrexed–cisplatin doublet have changed the perception of mesothelioma chemotherapy. Other combinations, including gemcitabine in combination with cisplatin, have also shown encouraging response rates. Prognosis depends on gender, clinical stage of the tumor, histological subtype, platelet count, leukocyte counts, and performance status. Radiotherapy can palliate mesothelioma patients with chest pain, and has been indicated to be of benefit for the prevention of malignant seeding along the tract of a chest tube or needle biopsy. Trimodality treatment using extrapleural pneumonectomy, radiation and chemotherapy has shown promising therapeutic value. The development of chemotherapeutic regimens and the favorable outcomes of trimodality have led to new combined modality trials. In Japan, multicenter national trials against mesothelioma will begin in the near future.
PMCID: PMC2698270  PMID: 19568885
Asbestos; Extrapleural pneumonectomy; Mesothelioma; Pemetrexed
7.  Folylpoly-Glutamate Synthetase Expression is associated with Tumor Response and Outcome from Pemetrexed-based Chemotherapy in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma 
Pemetrexed-based chemotherapy represents the standard of care in firstline-treatment of advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). However, there are no established predictors of clinical benefit. Pemetrexed inhibits multiple enzymes involved in pyrimidine and purine synthesis, but the main target is thymidylate synthase (TS). Following cellular uptake pemetrexed is converted into more effective polyglutamated forms by folylpoly-γ-glutamate synthetase (FPGS). We hypothesized that FPGS and TS protein expression is associated with clinical outcome following pemetrexed-based chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods
Pretreatment tumor samples from 84 patients with histologically confirmed MPM, who received pemetrexed combined with platinum (79/84) or single-agent pemetrexed (5/84) as firstline treatment, were retrospectively analyzed. FPGS and TS protein expression was semiquantitatively assessed by using the H-Scoring system (range: 0–300). H-scores were correlated with radiological response according to modified RECIST, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).
Median H-score of the entire cohort was 230 for FPGS (range: 100–300), and 210 for TS (range: 100–300). High FPGS protein expression was significantly associated with longer PFS (PCOX=0.0337), better objective tumor response (PR vs. SD + PD; PKW=0.003), and improved disease control rate (PR + SD vs. PD; PKW=0.0208), but not with OS. In addition, high TS protein expression was associated with PD under pemetrexed-based therapy (P=0.0383), and shorter OS (PCOX=0.0071), but no association with PFS was observed.
FPGS and TS expression were associated with clinical response and outcome to pemetrexed-based firstline chemotherapy in MPM. Prospective evaluation of FGPS and TS expression and their prognostic/predictive power in MPM patients is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3645940  PMID: 22895141
Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma; Biomarker; FPGS; TS; Pemetrexed
8.  Clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes in 132 patients with malignant mesothelioma 
Our objective is to scrutinize clinical, laboratory, radiological characteristics, treatment regimens, and treatment outcomes of malignant mesothelioma (MM) cases in our hospital.
Materials and Methods:
We investigated, retrospectively, the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of all 132 MM patients at Dicle University Hospital between January 2006 and April 2010.
A total of 82 (62.1%) patients were male, and 50 (37.9%) female. Median age was 56.0 years. Mean survival time was 9.6±6.9 months. Mean survival time of patients who had received best supportive care was 7.5 months, chemotherapy 10.4 months, and multimodality treatment regimen 12.6 months. Patients in the multimodality treatment group survived longer than did those in the other two groups (P=0.042). A total of 76 patients received chemotherapy, of whom 17 (22.3%) were administered Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Gemcitabine, 58 (76.4%) Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Pemetrexed, and one (1.3%) Cisplatin + Docetaxel. Complete and partial response to treatment in patients receiving Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Gemcitabine was found 47.1% and Cisplatin/Carboplatin and Pemetrexed was found 50.0% (P>0.05).
MM related to asbestos exposure is seen frequently in Turkey. Patients present with the typical clinical features of dyspnea, weight loss, and chest pain. Survival analysis shows that patients receiving multimodality treatment may be better.
PMCID: PMC3213713  PMID: 22084540
Asbestos; chemotherapy; lung cancer; mesothelioma
9.  Variation in Drug Sensitivity of Malignant Mesothelioma Cell Lines with Substantial Effects of Selenite and Bortezomib, Highlights Need for Individualized Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65903.
Malignant mesothelioma cells have an epithelioid or sarcomatoid morphology, both of which may be present in the same tumor. The sarcomatoid phenotype is associated with worse prognosis and heterogeneity of mesothelioma cells may contribute to therapy resistance, which is often seen in mesothelioma. This study aimed to investigate differences in sensitivity between mesothelioma cell lines to anti-cancer drugs. We studied two novel drugs, selenite and bortezomib and compared their effect to four conventional drugs. We also investigated the immunoreactivity of potential predictive markers for drug sensitivity; Pgp, MRP-1, ERCC1, RRM1, TS, xCT and proteasome 20S subunit.
Materials and methods
We treated six mesothelioma cell lines with selenite, bortezomib, carboplatin, pemetrexed, doxorubicin or gemcitabine as single agents and in combinations. Viability was measured after 24 and 48 hours. Immunocytochemistry was used to detect predictive markers.
As a single agent, selenite was effective on four out of six cell lines, and in combination with bortezomib yielded the greatest response in the studied mesothelioma cell lines. Cells with an epithelioid phenotype were generally more sensitive to the different drugs than the sarcomatoid cells. Extensive S-phase arrest was seen in pemetrexed-sensitive cell lines. MRP-1 predicted sensitivity of cell lines to treatment with carboplatin and xCT predicted pemetrexed effect.
The observed heterogeneity in sensitivity of mesothelioma cell lines with different morphology highlights the need for more individualized therapy, requiring development of methods to predict drug sensitivity of individual tumors. Selenite and bortezomib showed a superior effect compared to conventional drugs, motivating clinical testing of these agents as future treatment regime components for patients with malignant mesothelioma.
PMCID: PMC3688685  PMID: 23840376
10.  Molecular Resistance Fingerprint of Pemetrexed and Platinum in a Long-Term Survivor of Mesothelioma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40521.
Pemetrexed, a multi-folate inhibitor combined with a platinum compound is the first-line treatment of malignant mesothelioma, but median survival is still one year. Intrinsic and acquired resistance to pemetrexed is common, but its biological basis is obscure. Here we report for the first time a genome-wide profile of acquired resistance in the tumour from an exceptional case with advanced pleural mesothelioma and almost six years survival after 39 cycles of second-line pemetrexed/carboplatin treatment.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Genome-wide analysis with Illumina BeadChip Kit of 25,000 genes was performed on mRNA from pre-treatment and post-resistance biopsies from this individual as well on case and control samples from our previously published study (in total 17 samples). Cell specific expression of proteins encoded by selected genes were analysed by immunohistochemistry. Serial serum levels of CA125, CYFRA21-1 and SMRP levels were examined. TS protein, the main target of pemetrexed was overexpressed. Proteins and genes related to DNA damage response, elongation and telomere extension and repair related directly and indirectly to platinum resistance were overexpressed, as the CHK1 protein and the genes CHEK2, LIG3, POLD1, POLA2, FANCD2, PRPF19, RECQ5 respectively, the last two not previously described in mesothelioma. We observed a down-regulation of leukocyte transendothelial migration and cell adhesion molecules pathways. Silencing of NT5C in two mesothelioma cell lines did not sensitize the cells to Pemetrexed. Proposed resistance markers are TS, KRT7/ CK7, TYMP/ thymidine phosphorylase and down-regulated SPARCL1 and CDKN1B. Moreover, comparison of the primary expression of the sensitive versus a primary resistant case showed multi-fold overexpressed DNA repair, cell cycle, cytokinesis, and spindle formation in the latter. Serum CA125 and SMRP reflected the clinical and radiological course and tumour burden.
Genome-wide microarray of mesothelioma pre- and post-resistance biopsies indicated a novel resistance signature to pemetrexed/carboplatin that deserve validation in a larger cohort.
PMCID: PMC3414492  PMID: 22905093
11.  The role of folate receptor alpha (FRα) in the response of malignant pleural mesothelioma to pemetrexed-containing chemotherapy 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;102(3):553-560.
The standard treatment of choice for malignant pleural mesothelioma is chemotherapy with pemetrexed and platinum, but the clinical outcome is poor. This study investigates the response to pemetrexed in a panel of eight mesothelioma cell lines and the clinical outcome for patients treated with pemetrexed in relation to folate receptor alpha (FRα).
Cell lines were treated with pemetrexed to determine the concentration that reduced growth to 50% (GI50). FRα expression was determined by western blotting and that of FRα, reduced folate carrier (RFC) and proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) by real-time quantitative RT–PCR. Immunohistochemistry for FRα was carried out on 62 paraffin-embedded samples of mesothelioma from patients who were subsequently treated with pemetrexed.
A wide range of GI50 values was obtained for the cell lines, H2452 cells being the most sensitive (GI50 22 nM) and RS5 cells having a GI50 value greater than 10 μM. No FRα protein was detected in any cell line, and there was no relationship between sensitivity and expression of folate transporters. FRα was detected in 39% of tumour samples, generally in a small percentage of cells. There was no correlation between the presence of FRα and the outcome of pemetrexed treatment, and no significant difference between histological subtypes.
Response to treatment with pemetrexed does not depend on the presence of FRα.
PMCID: PMC2822938  PMID: 20051956
Folate receptor α; mesothelioma; pemetrexed; cell lines; immunohistochemistry
12.  Rechallenge with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy improves the survival of patients with advanced non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2014;2(6):953-959.
Rechallenge chemotherapy with pemetrexed was shown to be efficient in malignant pleural mesothelioma; however, its role in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has not been investigated. In this study, we retrospectively enrolled 31 patients with non-squamous NSCLC who had achieved disease control with initial pemetrexed treatment, followed by rechallenge with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy (PBC) upon disease progression. After the rechallenge, 5 patients (16.1%) achieved partial remission (PR), 17 (54.8%) achieved stable disease (SD) and 9 (29.1%) experienced progressive disease. The treatment was generally well tolerated, with a low rate of toxicity. The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 3.8 months with the rechallenge. Patients with a PFS of ≥10 months with initial PBC exhibited longer PFS and overall survival (OS) with the rechallenge compared to those with a PFS of <10 months with initial PBC (PFS: 6.2±0.33 vs. 3.1±0.26 months, respectively; P=0.011; and OS, 19.8±3.2 vs. 9.2±1.1 months, respectively; P=0.005). The time from the termination of initial PBC to disease progression was also associated with survival after the rechallenge. However, the response to initial PBC (PR vs. SD) did not affect PFS after the rechallenge. No significant differences were observed in thymidylate synthase expression, echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene fusion, or epithelial growth factor receptor mutation status between pemetrexed-sensitive and pemetrexed-resistant patients. Our results demonstrated that rechallenge with PBC was well tolerated and survival after the rechallenge was associated with survival during initial PBC. Therefore, patients with a PFS of ≥10 months or time-to-disease progression ≥3 months may be considered as candidates for pemetrexed rechallenge.
PMCID: PMC4179803  PMID: 25279180
pemetrexed; rechallenge; non-small-cell lung cancer; overall survival; adverse effects
13.  Adaptation of a chemosensitivity assay to accurately assess pemetrexed in ex vivo cultures of lung cancer 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(1):39-44.
Purpose: Pemetrexed is the only FDA approved treatment for mesothelioma and is a second line agent for treatment of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Pemetrexed is inhibited by folate and its analogs, which are components of many culture media, making it challenging to study pemetrexed in vitro. In order to accurately evaluate pemetrexed’s effects in vitro, the protocol for a standard chemosensitivity assay, the ChemoFx drug response marker, had to be modified.
Experimental Design: Novel rinse and media change steps were assessed and then added to the assay protocol in order to observe pemetrexed activity. The intraday and interday stability of pemetrexed were also established under the adapted protocol. Then, the modified protocol was used to examine pemetrexed in 65 ex vivo lung cancer specimens.
Results: Substituting 5% RPMI + EGF for BEGM allowed pemetrexed to exert its anticancer activity in the ChemoFx DRM. ChemoFx classified 6.2% of the lung specimens as responsive, 9.2% as intermediate responsive and 84.6% as non-responsive to pemetrexed.
Conclusions: Adapting the ChemoFx protocol allowed for the accurate evaluation of pemetrexed anticancer activity in ex vivo lung specimens. ChemoFx evaluation may provide an indication of a patient’s clinical response to the drug prior to pemetrexed treatment. Having this information when treatment options are being considered could avoid wasted time, unnecessary costs and needless side effects that are the result of an inappropriate chemotherapy regimen.
PMCID: PMC3566050  PMID: 23114649
pemetrexed; ChemoFx; chemosensitivity; NSCLC; mesothelioma; individualized therapeutic response; chemotherapy
14.  Sunitinib combined with pemetrexed and carboplatin in patients with advanced solid malignancies—results of a phase I dose-escalation study 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;31(6):1487-1498.
Objectives The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and overall safety of sunitinib plus pemetrexed and carboplatin was determined in patients with advanced solid malignancies. Methods In this phase I dose-escalation study, patients received oral sunitinib on a continuous daily dosing (CDD) schedule (37.5 mg/day) or Schedule 2/1 (2 weeks on treatment, 1 week off treatment; 37.5 or 50 mg/day). Pemetrexed (400–500 mg/m2 IV) and carboplatin (AUC = 5 mg·min/ml IV) were administered q3w. At the MTD for the chosen schedule, a cohort of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or mesothelioma was further evaluated. Results Twenty-one patients were enrolled on Schedule 2/1 (expansion cohort included) and 3 patients on the CDD schedule. The MTD on Schedule 2/1 was sunitinib 37.5 mg/day with pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 and carboplatin AUC = 5 mg·min/ml; MTD on the CDD schedule was not established. Dose-limiting toxicities included grade 3/4 neutropenia, grade 3 thrombocytopenia, and grade 3 hand–foot syndrome. The most common grade 3/4 drug-related non-hematologic adverse events at Schedule 2/1 MTD were fatigue/asthenia and diarrhea (both n = 4). Grade 3/4 hematologic abnormalities included neutropenia (83 %) and leukopenia (83 %). Pharmacokinetic data revealed no clinically significant drug–drug interactions. Best response at the Schedule 2/1 MTD was stable disease ≥8 weeks in 3/5 evaluable patients (60 %). Conclusions With this combination, in patients with advanced solid malignancies, sunitinib MTD on Schedule 2/1 was 37.5 mg/day. Sunitinib plus pemetrexed and carboplatin were tolerable at the MTD, although sunitinib dose delays and reductions were often required due to myelosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3825543  PMID: 23963796
Solid tumors; Non-small cell lung cancer; Sunitinib; Pemetrexed; Carboplatin
15.  AB 96. Chemotherapy for lung cancer 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2012;4(Suppl 1):AB96.
In the Institute for Pulmonary Diseases of Vojvodina application of chemotherapy is implemented according to the latest recommendations of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the recommendations of the national Ministry of Health Guidelines Republic of Serbia.
According to these recommendations as adjuvant chemotherapy for Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) cisplatin doublets are used (etoposide/vinorelbine, gemcitabine) or paclitaxel/carboplatin.
For the first-line treatment in advanced and metastatic NSCLC standard regimen is cisplatin or carboplatin in combination with the gemcitabine/etoposide/vinorelbine or paclitaxel. In EGFR mutated patients gefitinib or erlotinib are the first options.
In some clinical studies bevacizumab is used in the first line as well as erlotinib single.
For the second-line treatment docetaxel/cisplatin is in standard use and erlotinib single in patients who had haematological side effects in the first line chemotherapy.
Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin is standard treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
In SCLC patients cisplatin/etoposide is first line treatment. Depends on disease-free survival as the second-line chemotherapy cisplatin/etoposide or topotecan are protocols could be applied.
Prophylactic cranial irradiation is recommended for patients with the limited and extensive stage SCLC with any response rate to therapy.
We participate, as the other institutions, in some clinical studies to the appropriate procedures for implementation.
PMCID: PMC3537394
16.  Preclinical emergence of vandetanib as a potent antitumour agent in mesothelioma: molecular mechanisms underlying its synergistic interaction with pemetrexed and carboplatin 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;105(10):1542-1553.
Although pemetrexed, a potent thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor, enhances the cytoytoxic effect of platinum compounds against malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), novel combinations with effective targeted therapies are warranted. To this end, the current study evaluates new targeted agents and their pharmacological interaction with carboplatin–pemetrexed in human MPM cell lines.
We treated H2052, H2452, H28 and MSTO-211H cells with carboplatin, pemetrexed and targeted compounds (gefitinib, erlotinib, sorafenib, vandetanib, enzastaurin and ZM447439) and evaluated the modulation of pivotal pathways in drug activity and cancer cell proliferation.
Vandetanib emerged as the compound with the most potent cytotoxic activity, which interacted synergistically with carboplatin and pemetrexed. Drug combinations blocked Akt phosphorylation and increased apoptosis. Vandetanib significantly downregulated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/Erk/Akt phosphorylation as well as E2F-1 mRNA and TS mRNA/protein levels. Moreover, pemetrexed decreased Akt phosphorylation and expression of DNA repair genes. Finally, most MPM samples displayed detectable levels of EGFR and TS, the variability of which could be used for patients' stratification in future trials with vandetanib–pemetrexed–carboplatin combination.
Vandetanib markedly enhances pemetrexed–carboplatin activity against human MPM cells. Induction of apoptosis, modulation of EGFR/Akt/Erk phosphorylation and expression of key determinants for pemetrexed and carboplatin activity contribute to this synergistic interaction, and, together with the expression of these determinants in MPM samples, warrant further clinical investigation.
PMCID: PMC3242521  PMID: 21970874
mesothelioma; targeted agents; EGFR pathway; thymidylate synthase; apoptosis; DNA repair genes
17.  Comparison of pemetrexed plus cisplatin with gemcitabine plus docetaxel in refractory/metastatic osteosarcoma: Clinical outcomes from a retrospective database monitored in a single institute 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(5):2243-2248.
The prognosis for patients with relapsed/metastatic osteosarcoma is poor and the optimal treatment strategy remains to be refined. Whilst gemcitabine plus docetaxel combination treatment has already been demonstrated to have certain promising results in the treatment of osteosarcoma, the use of pemetrexed, a multi-targeted antifolate, remains controversial. In the present study, a retrospective investigation was conducted to evaluate the toxicity and efficacy of the pemetrexed plus cisplatin combination in relapsed/metastatic osteosarcoma. Comparison of this treatment with that of the gemcitabine plus docetaxel combination was also conducted. Clinical data from 39 patients suffering from refractory/metastatic osteosarcoma between January 2005 and May 2011 were reviewed retrospectively. Of these patients, 21 were administered the gemcitabine plus docetaxel combination, and 18 were provided the pemetrexed plus cisplatin combination. Treatment was continued until the occurrence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. In the gemcitabine plus docetaxel group, the overall response rate and disease control rate were found to be 9.5 and 28.5% respectively, compared with 5.5 and 33.3% respectively in the pemetrexed plus cisplatin group. The median progression-free survival (PFS) time was found to be 1.8 months for both the gemcitabine plus docetaxel and pemetrexed plus cisplatin groups. The median overall survival (OS) time was 6 months in the gemcitabine plus docetaxel group and 7 months in the pemetrexed plus cisplatin group. No statistically significant differences were recognized between the overall response rates, disease control rates, PFS times and OS times in the two groups. The two combinations appeared to be well tolerated. However, the incidence of grade 3/4 thrombocytopenia and leucopenia was higher in the gemcitabine plus docetaxel group than in the pemetrexed plus cisplatin group. The present study clearly demonstrated that both chemo-combinations were well-tolerated and exerted antitumor activity in patients with refractory/metastatic osteosarcoma. However, with regard to grade 3/4 toxicity, the pemetrexed plus cisplatin chemotherapy appears to be better tolerated.
PMCID: PMC4186569  PMID: 25289103
osteosarcoma; metastatic; gemcitabine; docetaxel; pemetrexed; cisplatin
18.  Phase II study of pemetrexed and carboplatin plus bevacizumab as first-line therapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(3):552-558.
The aim of this open label phase II study (NCT00407459) was to assess the activity of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor bevacizumab combined with pemetrexed and carboplatin in patients with previously untreated, unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).
Eligible patients received pemetrexed 500 mg m−2, carboplatin area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC) 5 mg ml−1 per minute and bevacizumab 15 mg kg−1, administered intravenously every 21 days for six cycles, followed by maintenance bevacizumab. The primary end point of the study was progression-free survival (PFS). A 50% improvement in median PFS in comparison with standard pemetrexed/platinum combinations (from 6 to 9 months) was postulated.
Seventy-six patients were evaluable for analysis. A partial response was achieved in 26 cases (34.2%, 95% CI 23.7–46.0%). Forty-four (57.9%, 95% CI 46.0–69.1%) had stable disease. Median PFS and overall survival were 6.9 and 15.3 months, respectively. Haematological and non-haematological toxicities were generally mild; however, some severe adverse events were reported, including grade 3–4 fatigue in 8% and bowel perforation in 4% of patients. Three toxic deaths occurred.
The primary end point of the trial was not reached. However, due to the limitation of a non-randomised phase II design, further data are needed before drawing any definite conclusion on the role of bevacizumab in MPM.
PMCID: PMC3738125  PMID: 23860535
mesothelioma; bevacizumab; chemotherapy
19.  Acute cerebral arterial embolism following pemetrexed and carboplatin treatment in non-small-cell lung cancer: A case report 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2013;1(5):851-852.
Thromboembolism is a known vascular toxicity associated with tumor chemotherapy. The combination of pemetrexed and carboplatin has exhibited significant antitumor activity, with mild manageable toxicity in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), whereas cerebral arterial embolism has not been recognized as a side effect associated with this regimen. This is the case report of an unusual case of NSCLC, in which the patient suffered a left middle cerebral arterial embolism following chemotherapy. A 62-year-old non-smoking woman, diagnosed with stage IV lung adenocarcinoma, was administered pemetrexed and carboplatin as second-line therapy. On the day of the completion of the first regime cycle, the patient was readmitted to the emergency department with complaints of sudden-onset right hemiplegia and agitation. Brain magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography revealed an occlusion of the left middle cerebral artery (MCA) and no further chemotherapy was administered due to the deterioration in the performance status of the patient associated with right hemiplegia. Pemetrexed plus carboplatin is routinely used for the treatment of advanced NSCLC. The present case highlights the potential risk for development of embolism following pemetrexed-based chemotherapy. Further investigations are required to elucidate the mechanism through which these drugs may eventually cause neurovascular adverse events. Clinicians should be aware of the potential risk for development of cerebral arterial embolism following pemetrexed-based chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3915685  PMID: 24649259
cerebral arterial embolism; chemotherapy; non-small-cell lung cancer
20.  The Evolution of Multimodality Therapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma 
Opinion Statement
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare neoplasm of the pleural surfaces that has been associated with asbestos exposure. MPM generally spreads locally along the ipsilateral pleura, especially at presentation, with distant metastatic disease typically seen only in the later stages of the disease course. As such, surgical resection and other local therapies have long been pursued as a primary form of treatment. Surgical options include debulking of the pleura by pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), or a more aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) which also involves removal of the lung, diaphragm, and involved pericardium. Even after major resection, MPM almost always recurs locally and has a poor prognosis. As such, many groups have pursued multimodality therapy, treating resectable patients with extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), along with hemithoracic radiation to decrease the risk of local recurrence, and chemotherapy to decrease the risk of distant metastatic disease. However, EPP is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and many patients are not candidates for EPP due to underlying comorbid medical conditions. Additionally, many patients are unable to tolerate complete courses of adjuvant therapy after EPP. A large, multi-center retrospective analysis comparing EPP to pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) demonstrated better outcomes among those who underwent P/D. One challenge associated with P/D has been the delivery or radiation to the removed pleura with an intact lung. Yet, advances in radiation technique have allowed the exploration of high-dose radiation therapy after P/D. The ideal timing of chemotherapy relative to surgery, and the role of intracavitary chemotherapy continue to be controversial issues. Clearly, MPM requires a multi-disciplinary approach and, due to the myriad of open questions, much effort continues to focus on identifying the optimal combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
PMCID: PMC3321839  PMID: 21404104
21.  Gemcitabine combined with oxaliplatin in pretreated patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: an observational study 
The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of oxaliplatin ± gemcitabine in patients with diffuse malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) pretreated with pemetrexed.
The study enrolled consecutive patients with relapsed MPM, all of them pretreated with a platin-pemetrexed-based chemotherapy. Oxaliplatin 80 mg/m2 was administered as monotherapy or in combination with gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 given on day 1 and 8. Cycles were repeated every 21 days. The primary endpoints were response rate and disease control rate. Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), time to tumour progression (TTP), progression-free survival (PFS), time to treatment failure (TTF), and toxicity.
Between February 2005 and September 2007 29 patients (median age: 65.0 years, World Health Organisation (WHO) performance status: 0–3) were enrolled. The follow-up period encompassed 5.4 to 97.4 weeks (median: 24.3 weeks). Out of these 29 patients, 15 were treated in second, 10 in third, 3 in fourth and 1 in fifth line, respectively. The majority of the patients received the combination oxaliplatin and gemcitabine (n = 25 vs. 4; 86.2 vs. 13.8%).
The median overall survival (OS) was 71.7 weeks (30.6–243.3 weeks), whereas survival from the start of oxaliplatin/gemcitabine-treatment was 24.3 weeks (5.4–97.3 weeks). Median time to tumour progression (TTP) was 9.3 weeks (3.0–67.6 weeks).
Partial response (PR) was observed in 2 patients (6.9%), stable disease (SD) for at least three courses of treatment in 11 patients (37.9%). Thus, disease control rate was 44.8%, whereas 16 of 29 patients exhibited progressive disease (55.2%).
The toxicity profile was favourable, with no WHO grade 4-toxicities, only few dose-reductions were performed due to non-symptomatic haematotoxicities (neutropenia, thrombopenia). Mild WHO grade 2 neurotoxicity was seen in 6 patients.
Pemetrexed-pretreated patients with progressive MPM may benefit from a consecutive chemotherapy with oxaliplatin and gemcitabine without significant toxicity.
PMCID: PMC2621228  PMID: 19091133
22.  Approval Summary: Pemetrexed Maintenance Therapy of Advanced/Metastatic Nonsquamous, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) 
The Oncologist  2010;15(12):1352-1358.
The study that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of pemetrexed injection for maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not progressed after four cycles of platinum-based doublet induction chemotherapy is reviewed.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Consider tumor histology when making treatment decisions for patients with NSCLC.Identify patients with NSCLC who may be appropriate candidates for maintenance therapy with pemetrexed.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at
On July 2, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved pemetrexed injection (Alimta® Injection; Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN) for maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not progressed after four cycles of platinum-based doublet induction chemotherapy.
A double-blind study of pemetrexed plus best supportive care versus placebo plus best supportive care was conducted. Pemetrexed, 500 mg/m2 i.v., was administered every 21 days until disease progression. Folic acid, vitamin B12, and a corticosteroid were given to all study patients.
There were 663 randomized patients (pemetrexed, 441; placebo, 222). Treatments were well balanced with respect to baseline disease characteristics and stratification factors.
The median overall survival (OS) time for intent-to-treat (ITT) patients was 13.4 months for patients receiving pemetrexed and 10.6 months for those receiving placebo (hazard ratio [HR] 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65–0.95; p = .012). Median OS times were 15.5 months versus 10.3 months for patients with nonsquamous histologies receiving pemetrexed and placebo, respectively (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.56–0.88). The median OS time in patients with squamous histology receiving pemetrexed was 9.9 months, versus 10.8 months for those receiving placebo (HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.77–1.50). A significantly longer progression-free survival interval for both the ITT and nonsquamous patient populations receiving pemetrexed maintenance therapy was also observed.
The most common (>5%) adverse reactions in patients receiving pemetrexed were hematologic toxicity, an increase in hepatic enzymes, fatigue, gastrointestinal toxicity, sensory neuropathy, and skin rash.
PMCID: PMC3227931  PMID: 21148615
Pemetrexed; Non-small cell lung cancer; Maintenance treatment
23.  Malignant intraperitoneal mesothelioma-Başkent University experience 
To evaluate diagnostic and treatment results of malignant intraperitoneal mesothelioma in one setting.
Materials and Method: 12 patients treated for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma from January 2007 to June 2009 in Başkent University Ankara Hospital, Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics were evaluated. In a retrospective observational study design tumour stage, grade, differentiation, time from first symptoms, pleural involvement, peritoneal cancer index, surgical cytoreduction, chemotherapeutic regimen, number of cycles, disease free survival and overall survival were evaluated. Disease free survival, overall survival, time until first symptoms were researched.
The main presenting symptom was abdominal distension. Primary cytoreductive surgery followed by chemotherapy was performed in 9 patients. In 6 patients completeness of cytoreductive score below 2 was achieved. As a first line chemotherapy the most often used was cisplatin in combination with pemetrexed. Themean time from first symptoms until the diagnosis was 1.9 months. Disease free survival of 4.4±1.0 months after completing particular treatment and overall 1-year survival of 85.7 % was observed. No correlations between first symptoms (0.27, p=0.52), time until the diagnosis (−0.29, p=0.44) and overall survival were observed. Similarly, correlations between peritoneal cancer index (0.25, p=0.67), prior surgical score (−.45, p=0.37), completeness of cytoreduction score (0.61, p=0.27) and overall survival were not observed.
Because of the low number of patients and different treatment approaches data from a particular patient setting are inconclusive, but from the literature there is evidence that patients with malignant intraperitoneal mesothelioma should undergo optimal cytoreduction and receive a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed as a first line chemotherapy for intravenous or cisplatin in different chemotherapy regimens using the intraperitoneal administration route, if accessible, with even higher overall survival rates.
PMCID: PMC3939100  PMID: 24591971
Mesothelioma; intraperitoneal
24.  Review of pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma 
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a resistant form of lung cancer, and its incidence continues to rise in Europe and Australia. Until recently, chemotherapy had not been shown to be effective in the treatment of this slowly progressive disease. In 2004, the combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin was shown to induce high response rates in MPM. This article reviews the published literature describing the development and testing of this therapeutic combination in mesothelioma, and examines in detail the key phase III clinical trial that led to the approval of pemetrexed by the US FDA. Ongoing research will further define the role of pemetrexed plus cisplatin in the treatment of MPM.
PMCID: PMC2503655  PMID: 18728709
malignant pleural mesothelioma; mesothelioma; pemetrexed; cisplatin
25.  Retreatment with pemetrexed chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patient 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(6):856-860.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and safety of retreatment the pemetrexed after the failure prior pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from our institute.
Patients and methods
Patients with advanced NSCLC who were admitted to Zhejiang Cancer Hospital from Dec 2009 to Dec 2012 were retrospectively analyzed. All of the patients were given pemetrexed chemotherapy after the prior pemetrexed-based treatment. Survival analysis was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier method.
Twenty-five patients were included in current study. Initial pemetrexed-based therapy was given as first-line treatment in all patients. Nine patients retreated with pemetrexed as the fourth-line treatment, and sixteen as further-line. One patient (4%) achieved partial response (PR), 9 (36%) with stable disease (SD), and 15 (60%) had progressive disease (PD). The disease control rate (DCR) was 40% and the median progression-free survival (PFS) was 1.5 months (95% CI: 0.8-2.4 months). Patients with an initial PFS >6 months had a median PFS after retreatment of 2.2 months, while patients with an initial pemetrexed PFS ≤6 months had a median PFS after retreatment of 1.1 months (P=0.036). The toxicities associated with the 2nd pemetrexed were generally acceptable.
Retreatment of pemetrexed seems to be a potential therapeutic option for treatment of selected advanced NSCLC patients after failure of initial pemetrexed therapy, especially for the patients with a PFS more than 6 months in the initial pemetrexed treatment.
PMCID: PMC4073411  PMID: 24977013
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); pemetrexed; retreatment; efficacy

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