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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
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.  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
8.  Treatment Failure after Extrapleural Pneumonectomy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2009;1(1):23-28.
Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) has been used as a treatment option for selected patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The primary end-point of this study was disease-free survival (DFS). Prognostic indicators for local and overall DFS were statistically analyzed.
Between October 1994 to April 2008, 59 patients who had complete macroscopic cytoreduction after EPP formed the basis of this report. In recent years, selected patients received adjuvant radiotherapy and pemetrexed combined with cisplatin or carboplatin. The clinicopathologic data of all patients were prospectively collected in a computerized database. Statistical analysis was performed by using Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Cox-regression model was used for multivariate analysis.
The mean age at the time of EPP was 59 (S.D. = 8) years. Nineteen patients (32%) experienced perioperative complications. The median survival was 21 months (range 2 to 104). The local disease recurrence rate was 51%. The median local DFS was 22 months (0 to 73). The overall disease recurrence rate was 64%. The median overall DFS was 18 months (range 0 to 73). In multivariate analysis, epithelial subtype (p = 0.026) and adjuvant radiotherapy (p = 0.023) were independently associated with an improved local DFS. Adjuvant radiotherapy (p = 0.011) was also independently associated with an improved overall DFS.
This study demonstrated that that local disease failure was still a considerable clinical problem following complete EPP. The data also showed that patients with epithelial histology and receiving adjuvant radiotherapy were associated with an improved disease control.
PMCID: PMC3256490  PMID: 22262998
pleural mesothelioma; extrapleural pneumonectomy; radiotherapy
9.  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
10.  Dramatic tumour response to pemetrexed single-agent in an elderly patient with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a case report 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:289.
To date, there is no standard treatment for unresectable malignant peritoneal mesothelioma; either best supportive care or systemic chemotherapy with palliative intent are accepted options.
Case presentation
Here, we report the case of a 79-year old patient with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma who was treated with pemetrexed single-agent and obtained an impressive long-lasting response.
Single-agent pemetrexed is a treatment option for malignant peritoneal mesothelioma in selected elderly patients or in patients with unpaired performance status.
PMCID: PMC1764904  PMID: 17176466
11.  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
12.  Management of malignant pleural mesothelioma—The European experience 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(Suppl 2):S238-S252.
Management of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) remains a clinical challenge and the incidence of the disease will continue to increase worldwide. Several aspects of mesothelioma treatment are discussed controversially, in particular, regarding extent and best type of surgery, radiotherapy, and the role of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment. However, best survival data is reported from groups using multimodality treatment including macroscopic complete resection (MCR) achieved by either extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or (extended) pleurectomy/decortication for patients qualifying from the tumor biology, stage, and patient’s performance status and comorbidities. Several aspects have to be considered during surgery but morbidity and mortality have been reduced at experienced centres. The final analysis of extended selection algorithms is pending.
PMCID: PMC4032963  PMID: 24868442
Mesothelioma; multimodal treatment; pneumonectomy
13.  Late cutaneous metastases to the face from malignant pleural mesothelioma: A case report and review of the literature 
Malignant Mesothelioma is a rare primary neoplasm affecting the serosal membranes. During its relative short course, this malignant neoplasm can give local and, rarely, distant haematogenous metastases in different organs. The reported metastatic sites include liver, lung, heart, brain, thyroid, adrenals, kidneys, pancreas, bone, soft tissue, skin and lymph nodes.
Case Presentation
We report a sixty one year-old man with a history of malignant pleural epithelioid mesothelioma treated with six cycles of Pemetrexed and Carboplatin completed 03/11/04 followed by radiotherapy to the drain site 250 Kv/TD20Gy/5F completed 13/12/2004. Then he developed multiple facial skin lesions 4 years later. These lesions were proved to be metastatic malignant sarcomatoid mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma metastases should be suspected in any known Mesothelioma patient with newly developed skin lesion.
PMCID: PMC2777157  PMID: 19900274
14.  Pemetrexed plus carboplatin in elderly patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: combined analysis of two phase II trials 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;99(1):51-56.
The incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in elderly patients is increasing. In this study, pooled data from two phase II trials of pemetrexed and carboplatin (PC) as first-line therapy were retrospectively analysed for comparisons between age groups. Patients received pemetrexed 500 mg m−2 and carboplatin AUC 5 mg ml−1 min−1 intravenously every 21 days with standard vitamin supplementation. Elderly patients were defined as those ⩾70 years old. A total of 178 patients with an ECOG performance status of ⩽2 were included. Median age was 65 years (range 38–79), with 48 patients ⩾70 years (27%). Grade 3–4 haematological toxicity was slightly worse in ⩾70 vs <70-year-old patients, with neutropenia observed in 25.0 vs 13.8% (P=0.11), anaemia in 20.8 vs 6.9% (P=0.01) and thrombocytopenia in 14.6 vs 8.5% (P=0.26). Non-haematological toxicity was mild and similar in the two groups. No significant difference was observed in terms of overall disease control (60.4 vs 66.9%, P=0.47), time to progression (7.2 vs 7.5 months, P=0.42) and survival (10.7 vs 13.9 months, P=0.12). Apart from slightly worse haematological toxicity, there was no significant difference in outcome or toxicity between age groups. The PC regimen is effective and well tolerated in selected elderly patients with MPM.
PMCID: PMC2453025  PMID: 18542071
malignant pleural mesothelioma; elderly patients; chemotherapy; carboplatin; pemetrexed
15.  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
16.  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
17.  Improved survival after introduction of chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma in Slovenia: Population-based survey of 444 patients 
Radiology and Oncology  2012;46(2):136-144.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare tumour with increasing frequency throughout the world. Due to long latency after exposure to asbestos, restrictions in the production and use of asbestos have not yet alleviated the burden of mesothelioma. During the last decade, several trials confirmed the benefit of systemic treatment with drugs such as doublets with cisplatina and gemcitabine or pemetrexed for carefully selected patients in good performance status. The purpose of this survey was to assess the impact of systemic treatment for the whole national population of patients with mesothelioma.
Patients and methods.
A retrospective study included all patients in Slovenia with histologically confirmed diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma in the period from 1974 till 2008. Data from the Cancer Registry of Slovenia were supplemented by review of clinical records of the Institute of Oncology in Ljubljana where virtually all non-surgical treatment for mesothelioma was performed. We analysed the incidence, treatment, and survival of patients treated in the era of infrequent chemotherapy (1974–2003, the first period) and after it (2004–2008, the second period).
The survey included 444 patients, of whom 325 and 119 were diagnosed in the first and second period, respectively. Joinpoint regression analysis showed that after 1995 the trend in crude incidence rates increased more rapidly; the annual change was 0.03 per 100,000 per year before 1995 and 0.06 per 100,000 per year after. There was clear male predominance (70%) throughout the period covered by the survey. The proportion of patients above 65 years of age increased from 41.8% to 54.6% for the first and second period, respectively (p = 0.02). With a total of 52 (11.7%) operated patients, surgical treatment was rare and used only for selected patients with early disease and without comorbidity, leading to their relatively long median survival of 13.6 months. Chemotherapy was applied to 56 (17.2%) and to 96 (80.7%) patients during the first and second period, respectively. While a variety of older drugs were used in the first period, the most common regimen in the second period (applied to 91 patients) was doublet of low-dose gemcitabine in prolonged infusion and cisplatin. For the whole population of patients regardless the mode of treatment, median survival was 7.4 and 12.6 months (p-value = 0.037) for the first and second period, respectively.
Increasing incidence, male predominance and increased proportion of older patients confirm that the burden of mesothelioma persists in spite of a 15-years old ban in the production of asbestos. Modern chemotherapy, and in particular treatment with low-dose gemcitabine in prolonged infusion and cisplatin significantly prolonged median survival of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma in Slovenia.
PMCID: PMC3472938  PMID: 23077450
malignant pleural mesothelioma; incidence; survival; chemotherapy; gemcitabine in prolonged infusion
18.  Sunitinib combined with pemetrexed and carboplatin in patients with advanced solid malignancies—results of a phase I dose-escalation study 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;31:1487-1498.
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
19.  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
20.  Polymorphisms in folate pathway and pemetrexed treatment outcome in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma 
Radiology and Oncology  2014;48(2):163-172.
A combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin has been shown to improve the outcome in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), however, there is a great heterogeneity in treatment response among patients. The aim of our study was to evaluate the influence of polymorphisms in folate pathway and transporter genes on pemetrexed treatment outcome in Slovenian patients with MPM.
MPM patients treated with pemetrexed in the course of a prospective randomized clinical trial were genotyped for nineteen polymorphisms in five genes of folate pathway and six transporter genes. Logistic regression was used to assess the influence of polymorphisms on treatment efficacy and toxicity, while Cox regression was used to determine their influence on progression-free and overall survival.
Patients with at least one polymorphic MTHFD1 rs2236225 allele had a significantly lower response rate (p = 0.005; odds ratio [OR] = 0.12; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.03−0.54) and shorter progression-free survival (p = 0.032; hazard ratio [HR] = 3.10; 95% CI = 1.10−8.74) than non-carriers. Polymorphisms in transporter genes did not influence survival; however, several were associated with toxicity. Liver toxicity was significantly lower in carriers of polymorphic ABCC2 rs2273697 (p = 0.028; OR = 0.23; 95% CI = 0.06−0.85), SLCO1B1 rs4149056 (p = 0.028; OR = 0.23; 95% CI = 0.06−0.85) and rs11045879 (p = 0.014; OR = 0.18; 95% CI = 0.05−0.71) alleles compared to non-carriers, as well as in patients with SLCO1B1 GCAC haplotype (p = 0.048; OR = 0.17; 95% CI = 0.03−0.98). Gastrointestinal toxicity was much more common in patients with polymorphic ABCC2 rs717620 allele (p = 0.004; OR = 10.67; 95% CI = 2.15−52.85) and ABCC2 CAG haplotype (p = 0.006; OR = 5.67; 95% CI = 1.64−19.66).
MTHFD1 polymorphism affected treatment response and survival, while polymorphisms in ABCC2 and SLCO1B1 transporter genes influenced the risk for toxicity. These polymorphisms could serve as potential markers of pemetrexed treatment outcome in patients with MPM.
PMCID: PMC4078035  PMID: 24991206
mesothelioma; pemetrexed; polymorphism; folate pathway; toxicity
21.  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
22.  Re-challenge with pemetrexed in advanced mesothelioma: a multi-institutional experience 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:482.
Although first-line therapy for patients affected by advanced mesothelioma is well established, there is a lack of data regarding the impact of second-line treatment.
We retrospectively collected data of patients affected by advanced mesothelioma, already treated with first-line therapy based on pemetrexed and platin, with a response (partial response or stable disease) lasting at least 6 months, and re-treated with a pemetrexed-based therapy at progression. The primary objective was to describe time to progression and overall survival after re-treatment.
Overall across several Italian oncological Institutions we found 30 patients affected by advanced mesothelioma, in progression after a 6-month lasting clinical benefit following a first-line treatment with cisplatin and pemetrexed, and re-challenged with a pemetrexed-based therapy. In these patients we found a disease control rate of 66%, with reduction of pain in 43% of patients. Overall time to progression and survival were promising for a second-line setting of patients with advanced mesothelioma, being 5.1 and 13.6 months, respectively.
In our opinion, when a patient has a long-lasting benefit from previous treatment with pemetrexed combined with a platin compound, the same treatment should be offered at progression.
PMCID: PMC3502102  PMID: 22943698
23.  Revisiting cutaneous adverse reactions to pemetrexed 
Oncology Letters  2011;2(5):769-772.
Pemetrexed (Alimta®) is a multitargeted antifolate drug approved as a single agent or in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of a small number of malignancies including advanced and metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and malignant pleural mesothelioma. This review reports the recent peer-reviewed publications and original findings regarding cutaneous adverse reactions (CARs) to pemetrexed. Pemetrexed-related CARs are frequently reported under the unspecific term ‘skin rash’. However, more specific diseases were tentatively identified as alopecias, urticarial vasculitis, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, radiation recall dermatitis and pityriasis lichenoides. Most of the skin reactions occur shortly after pemetrexed administration. As with methotrexate-related CARs, the cell cycle arrest in the S phase may be regarded as a direct and major cause of the cytotoxic pathobiology. An adverse immune reaction is unlikely. In conclusion, pemetrexed is responsible for CARs exhibiting a variety of clinical presentations. Their origin is likely attributed to direct cytotoxicity following the cell cycle arrest in the S phase and cell necrosis.
PMCID: PMC3408105  PMID: 22866124
24.  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
25.  Malignant pleural mesothelioma with long-term tumor disappearance of a local relapse after surgery: a case report 
There have been few reports of spontaneous regression of malignant pleural mesothelioma, but the mechanism for this is unknown. We present a case report on a patient with malignant pleural mesothelioma showing apparent tumor disappearance in a local relapse after surgery.
Case presentation
A 73-year-old man presented with malignant pleural mesothelioma in the right thoracic cavity. A pleurectomy was performed, and as expected, the tumor locally relapsed with increasing chest pain. However, the symptoms suddenly improved while the tumor was apparently reduced, and spontaneous tumor regression was initially considered. The patient confessed that he had self-administered a mushroom extract with alternative parasympathetic nerve stimulation therapy thereafter. The complete disappearance of the tumor was clinically achieved during a 29-month follow-up with continuing self-treatment.
This is the first report describing a malignant pleural mesothelioma patient in Japan showing long-term complete disappearance of a local relapse after surgery. This event was a tumor regression possibly due to an immunological effect of combined complementary and alternative therapy.
PMCID: PMC2726485  PMID: 19830126

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