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1.  Phase I study of MLN8237—investigational Aurora A kinase inhibitor—in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;32(3):489-499.
Purpose Amplification or over-expression of the mitotic Aurora A kinase (AAK) has been reported in several heme-lymphatic malignancies. MLN8237 (alisertib) is a novel inhibitor of AAK that is being developed for the treatment of advanced malignancies. The objectives of this phase I study were to establish the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetic profiles of escalating doses of MLN8237 in patients with relapsed or refractory heme-lymphatic malignancies. Methods Sequential cohorts of patients received MLN8237 orally as either a powder-in-capsule (PIC) or enteric-coated tablet (ECT) formulation. Patients received MLN8237 PIC 25–90 mg for 14 or 21 consecutive days plus 14 or 7 days’ rest, respectively, or MLN8237 ECT, at a starting dose of 40 mg/day once-daily (QD) for 14 days plus 14 days’ rest, all in 28-day cycles. Subsequent cohorts received MLN8237 ECT 30–50 mg twice-daily (BID) for 7 days plus 14 days’ rest in 21-day cycles. Results Fifty-eight patients were enrolled (PIC n = 28, ECT n = 30). The most frequent grade ≥3 drug-related toxicities were neutropenia (45 %), thrombocytopenia (28 %), anemia (19 %), and leukopenia (19 %). The maximum tolerated dose on the ECT 7-day schedule was 50 mg BID. The terminal half-life of MLN8237 was approximately 19 h. Six (13 %) patients achieved partial responses and 13 (28 %) stable disease. Conclusion The recommended phase II dose of MLN8237 ECT is 50 mg BID for 7 days in 21-day cycles, which is currently being evaluated as a single agent in phase II/III trials in patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10637-013-0050-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4045308  PMID: 24352795
Phase I-III Leukemia and lymphomas; Novel antitumor agent; Cell cycle mechanisms of anticancer drug action; Aurora A kinase inhibitor; MLN8237
2.  Aurora A is a negative prognostic factor and a new therapeutic target in human neuroblastoma 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(8):2461-2469.
We studied expression of the Aurora A gene and its clinical significance in a cohort of neuroblastoma patients. In addition, we investigated the antitumor activity of MLN8054, a novel small-molecule inhibitor of Aurora A kinase, on cultured NB cell lines in vitro. Aurora A mRNA expression was assessed by quantitative real-time PCR in tumor tissue specimens from 67 patients at diagnosis and in 9 human neuroblastoma cell lines. Western blot assays for Aurora A protein were done on tumor tissue of 53 patients. The results were correlated with various prognostic factors of neuroblastoma. Aurora A mRNA and protein expression were identified in 9 of 9 neuroblastoma cell lines. Overexpression of Aurora A mRNA in neuroblastoma tumor tissue is associated with high risk (P = 0.019), high-stage (International Neuroblastoma Staging System III and IV) tumors (P = 0.007), unfavorable histology (P = 0.007), MYCN amplification (P = 0.017), disease relapse (P = 0.019), and decreased progression-free survival (P < 0.0001) but not correlated with the age at diagnosis (P = 0.877). Similarly, Aurora A protein expression also significantly correlated with high risk (P = 0.011), high stage (P = 0.0028), unfavorable histology (P = 0.0006), MYCN amplification (P = 0.0029), and disease relapse (P = 0.044). Small interfering RNA–mediated knockdown of the endogenous Aurora A gene causes a proliferation defect and enhances chemosensitivity in human neuroblastoma cell lines. In support of these observations, the Aurora A kinase inhibitor, MLN8054, markedly inhibited growth of cultured neuroblastoma cell lines through an apoptosis-dependent pathway. Overexpression of Aurora A is associated with disease progression in neuroblastoma. Inhibition of this kinase is a promising modality for neuroblastoma treatment.
PMCID: PMC3966113  PMID: 19671766
3.  Aurora Kinase A inhibition leads to p73-dependent apoptosis in p53-deficient cancer cells 
Cancer research  2008;68(21):8998-9004.
We investigated the role of Aurora kinase A (AURKA) in regulating p73-dependent apoptosis utilizing p53-deficient cancer cell lines; H1299, TE7, and HCT116p53−/−. Overexpression of AURKA led to down-regulation of the TAp73-induced activation of the p53/p73-dependent luciferase reporter plasmid (pG13-luc). The reduction in the TAp73 transcription activity was confirmed by measuring the activity of luciferase reporters for p21/WAF1, and Puma. The siRNA knockdown of endogenous AURKA reversed these effects and Western blot analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the protein level of TAp73 and its downstream transcription targets; Puma, Noxa, and p21/WAF1. The co-expression of AURKA together with TAp73 inhibited the activation of the pG13-luc, Puma-luc, and p21/WAF1-luc reporter plasmids with reduction in the protein levels of TAp73 transcription targets. Treatment with AURKA-selective small molecule inhibitor, MLN8054 (Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA) led to a significant increase in the activities of pG13-luc, Puma-luc, and p21/WAF1-luc reporter plasmids. This effect was accompanied by a significant increase in the mRNA and protein levels of several TAp73 transcription targets; p21/WAF1, PUMA, and NOXA. Flow cytometry cell cycle analysis, following MLN8054 treatment showed more than a two-fold increase in cell death. The apoptotic outcome was corroborated by showing an increase in cleaved caspase-3 protein levels by Western blot. Using TUNEL assay, we demonstrated that the expression of dominant-negative mutant TAp73 expression plasmid (p73DD) counteracted the MLN8054-induced cell death. Taken together, our results indicate that AURKA regulates TAp73-dependent apoptosis and highlight the potential of the AURKA inhibitor MLN8054 in treating cancers that are defective in p53 signaling.
PMCID: PMC2587495  PMID: 18974145
AURKA; MLN8054; p73; apoptosis; cancer
4.  A phase I and pharmacokinetic study of oral 3-aminopyridine-2-carboxaldehyde thiosemicarbazone (3-AP, NSC #663249) in the treatment of advanced stage solid cancers – A California Cancer Consortium Study 
3-aminopyridine-2-carboxaldehyde thiosemicarbazone (3-AP) is a novel small molecule ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor. This study was designed to estimate the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) and oral bioavailability of 3-AP in patients with advanced stage solid tumors.
Twenty patients received one dose of intravenous and subsequent cycles of oral 3-AP following a 3+3 patient dose-escalation. Intravenous 3-AP was administered to every patient at a fixed dose of 100 mg over a 2-hour infusion 1 week prior to the first oral cycle. Oral 3-AP was administered every 12 hours for 5 consecutive doses on days 1–3, days 8–10, and days 15–17 of every 28-day cycle. 3-AP was started at 50 mg with a planned dose escalation to 100, 150, and 200 mg. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) and bioavailability were evaluated.
Twenty patients were enrolled. For dose level 1 (50mg), the second of three treated patients had a DLT of grade 3 hypertension. In the dose level 1 expansion cohort, three patients had no DLTs. No further DLTs were encountered during escalation until the 200 mg dose was reached. At the 200 mg 3-AP dose level, two treated patients had DLTs of grade 3 hypoxia. One additional DLT of grade 4 febrile neutropenia was subsequently observed at the de-escalated 150 mg dose. One DLT in 6 evaluable patients established the MTD as 150 mg per dose on this dosing schedule. Responses in the form of stable disease occurred in 5 (25%) of 20 patients. The oral bioavailability of 3-AP was 67 ± 29%, and was consistent with the finding that the MTD by the oral route was 33% higher than by the intravenous route.
Oral 3-AP is well-tolerated and has an MTD similar to its intravenous form after accounting for the oral bioavailability. Oral 3-AP is associated with a modest clinical benefit rate of 25% in our treated patient population with advanced solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3288125  PMID: 22105720
3-AP; phase I trial; oral Triapine; ribonucleotide reductase
5.  MLN8054, a Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Aurora A, Causes Spindle Pole and Chromosome Congression Defects Leading to Aneuploidy▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(12):4513-4525.
Aurora A kinase plays an essential role in the proper assembly and function of the mitotic spindle, as its perturbation causes defects in centrosome separation, spindle pole organization, and chromosome congression. Moreover, Aurora A disruption leads to cell death via a mechanism that involves aneuploidy generation. However, the link between the immediate functional consequences of Aurora A inhibition and the development of aneuploidy is not clearly defined. In this study, we delineate the sequence of events that lead to aneuploidy following Aurora A inhibition using MLN8054, a selective Aurora A small-molecule inhibitor. Human tumor cells treated with MLN8054 show a high incidence of abnormal mitotic spindles, often with unseparated centrosomes. Although these spindle defects result in mitotic delays, cells ultimately divide at a frequency near that of untreated cells. We show that many of the spindles in the dividing cells are bipolar, although they lack centrosomes at one or more spindle poles. MLN8054-treated cells frequently show alignment defects during metaphase, lagging chromosomes in anaphase, and chromatin bridges during telophase. Consistent with the chromosome segregation defects, cells treated with MLN8054 develop aneuploidy over time. Taken together, these results suggest that Aurora A inhibition kills tumor cells through the development of deleterious aneuploidy.
PMCID: PMC1900054  PMID: 17438137
6.  Aurora Inhibitor MLN8237 in Combination with Docetaxel Enhances Apoptosis and Antitumor Activity in Mantle Cell Lymphoma 
Biochemical pharmacology  2011;81(7):881-890.
Auroras (A and B) are oncogenic serine/threonine kinases that play key roles in the mitotic phase of the eukaryotic cell cycle. Analysis of the Leukemia Lymphoma Molecular Profiling Project (LLMPP) database indicates Aurora over-expression correlates with poor prognosis. A tissue microarray (TMA) composed of 20 paired mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) patients demonstrated >75% of patients had high levels Aurora expression. Aurora A and B were also found elevated in 13 aggressive B-NHL cell lines. MLN8237, an Aurora inhibitor induced G2/M arrest with polyploidy and abrogated Aurora A and histone-H3 phosphorylation. MLN8237 inhibited aggressive B-NHL cell proliferation at an IC50 of 10-50 nM and induced apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Low dose combinations of MLN8237 + docetaxel enhanced apoptosis by ∼3-4-fold in cell culture compared to single agents respectively. A mouse xenograft model of MCL demonstrated that MLN8237 (10 or 30 mg/kg) or docetaxel (10 mg/kg) alone had modest anti-tumor activity. However, MLN8237 plus docetaxel demonstrated a statistically significant tumor growth inhibition and enhanced survival compared to single agent therapy. Together, our results suggest that MLN8237 plus docetaxel may represent a novel therapeutic strategy that could be evaluated in early phase trials in relapsed/refractory aggressive B-cell NHL.
PMCID: PMC3792566  PMID: 21291867
non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL); Aurora A and B; Aurora Inhibitor; MLN8237; Docetaxel
7.  A phase I trial of MK-0731, a Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP) inhibitor, in patients with solid tumors 
Investigational New Drugs  2011;30(3):1088-1095.
The kinesin spindle protein (KSP) is essential for separation of spindle poles during mitosis. Its inhibition results in mitotic arrest. This phase I trial examined safety, tolerability, dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), maximum tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetic parameters, and anti-tumor activity of MK-0731, a potent inhibitor of KSP.
Experimental design
In part 1, patients with advanced solid tumors received MK-0731 intravenously over 24 h every 21 days starting at 6 mg/m2, escalating until MTD was reached. In part 2, patients with taxane-resistant tumors received the MTD. Plasma samples were collected to analyze the pharmacokinetics of MK-0731. Tumor response was evaluated using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) v1.0.
In part 1, 21 patients (median age 63 years) were treated with MK-0731 at doses ranging from 6 to 48 mg/m2/24 h for median four cycles. The dose-limiting toxicity was neutropenia and the MTD was 17 mg/m2/24 h. At the MTD, AUC (±SD) was 10.5 (±7.3) μM × hour, clearance (±SD) was 153 mL/min (±84), and t1/2 was 5.9 h. In part 2, 22 patients received the MTD and there were no DLTs. Although there were no objective tumor responses, four patients (with cervical, non-small cell lung, and ovarian cancers) had prolonged stable disease.
MK-0731 at the MTD of 17 mg/m2/day every 21 days in patients with solid tumors had few grade 3 and 4 toxicities with the major DLTs at higher doses being myelosuppression. Anti-tumor efficacy was suggested by the length of stable disease in selected patients with taxane-resistant tumors.
PMCID: PMC3394096  PMID: 21424701
Kinesin spindle protein; Oncology; Neutropenia
8.  Alisertib, an Aurora kinase A inhibitor, induces apoptosis and autophagy but inhibits epithelial to mesenchymal transition in human epithelial ovarian cancer cells 
Ovarian cancer is a leading killer of women, and no cure for advanced ovarian cancer is available. Alisertib (ALS), a selective Aurora kinase A (AURKA) inhibitor, has shown potent anticancer effects, and is under clinical investigation for the treatment of advanced solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. However, the role of ALS in the treatment of ovarian cancer remains unclear. This study investigated the effects of ALS on cell growth, apoptosis, autophagy, and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), and the underlying mechanisms in human epithelial ovarian cancer SKOV3 and OVCAR4 cells. Our docking study showed that ALS, MLN8054, and VX-680 preferentially bound to AURKA over AURKB via hydrogen bond formation, charge interaction, and π-π stacking. ALS had potent growth-inhibitory, proapoptotic, proautophagic, and EMT-inhibitory effects on SKOV3 and OVCAR4 cells. ALS arrested SKOV3 and OVCAR4 cells in G2/M phase and induced mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and autophagy in both SKOV3 and OVCAR4 cell lines in a concentration-dependent manner. ALS suppressed phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways but activated 5′-AMP-dependent kinase, as indicated by their altered phosphorylation, contributing to the proautophagic activity of ALS. Modulation of autophagy altered basal and ALS-induced apoptosis in SKOV3 and OVCAR4 cells. Further, ALS suppressed the EMT-like phenotype in both cell lines by restoring the balance between E-cadherin and N-cadherin. ALS downregulated sirtuin 1 and pre-B cell colony enhancing factor (PBEF/visfatin) expression levels and inhibited phosphorylation of AURKA in both cell lines. These findings indicate that ALS blocks the cell cycle by G2/M phase arrest and promotes cellular apoptosis and autophagy, but inhibits EMT via phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/mTOR-mediated and sirtuin 1-mediated pathways in human epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Further studies are warranted to validate the efficacy and safety of ALS in the treatment of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4296919  PMID: 25624750
alisertib; Aurora kinase A; epithelial ovarian cancer; cell cycle; apoptosis; autophagy; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; sirtuin 1
9.  A phase I safety, pharmacological, and biological study of the farnesyl protein transferase inhibitor, lonafarnib (SCH 663366), in combination with cisplatin and gemcitabine in patients with advanced solid tumors 
This phase I study was conducted to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacological properties and biological activity of the combination of the lonafarnib, a farnesylproteintransferase (FTPase) inhibitor, with gemcitabine and cisplatin in patients with advanced solid malignancies.
Experimental design
This was a single institution study to determine the maximal tolerated dose (MTD) of escalating lonafarnib (75–125 mg po BID) with gemcitabine (750–1,000 mg/m2 on days 1, 8, 15) and fixed cisplatin (75 mg/m2 day 1) every 28 days. Due to dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) of neutropenia and thrombocytopenia in initial patients, these patients were considered “heavily pretreated” and the protocol was amended to limit prior therapy and re-escalate lonafarnib in “less heavily pre-treated patients” on 28-day and 21-day schedules. Cycle 1 and 2 pharmacokinetics (PK), and farnesylation of the HDJ2 chaperone protein and FPTase activity were analyzed.
Twenty-two patients received 53 courses of therapy. Nausea, vomiting, and fatigue were frequent in all patients. Severe toxicities were observed in 91% of patients: neutropenia (41%), nausea (36%), thrombocytopenia (32%), anemia (23%) and vomiting (23%). Nine patients withdrew from the study due to toxicity. DLTs of neutropenia, febrile neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and fatigue limited dose-escalation on the 28-day schedule. The MTD was established as lonafarnib 75 mg BID, gemcitabine 750 mg/m2 days 1, 8, 15, and cisplatin 75 mg/m2 in heavily pre-treated patients. The MTD in the less heavily pre-treated patients could not be established on the 28-day schedule as DLTs were observed at the lowest dose level, and dose escalation was not completed on the 21-day schedule due to early study termination by the Sponsor. No PK interactions were observed. FTPase inhibition was not observed at the MTD, however HDJ-2 gel shift was observed in one patient at the 100 mg BID lonafarnib dose. Anti-cancer activity was observed: four patients had stable disease lasting >2 cycles, one subject had a complete response, and another had a partial response, both with metastatic breast cancer.
Lonafarnib 75 mg BID, gemcitabine 750 mg/m2 days 1, 8, 15, and cisplatin 75 mg/m2 day 1 on a 28-day schedule was established as the MTD. Lonafarnib did not demonstrate FTPase inhibition at these doses. Despite the observed efficacy, substantial toxicity and questionable contribution of anti-tumor activity of lonafarnib to gemcitabine and cisplatin limits further exploration of this combination.
PMCID: PMC2813768  PMID: 18058098
Lonafarnib; SCH66336; Cisplatin; Gemcitabine; Farnesyltransferase; Phase I; Pharmacokinetics
10.  Tripolin A, a Novel Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Aurora A Kinase, Reveals New Regulation of HURP's Distribution on Microtubules 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58485.
Mitotic regulators exhibiting gain of function in tumor cells are considered useful cancer therapeutic targets for the development of small-molecule inhibitors. The human Aurora kinases are a family of such targets. In this study, from a panel of 105 potential small-molecule inhibitors, two compounds Tripolin A and Tripolin B, inhibited Aurora A kinase activity in vitro. In human cells however, only Tripolin A acted as an Aurora A inhibitor. We combined in vitro, in vivo single cell and in silico studies to demonstrate the biological action of Tripolin A, a non-ATP competitive inhibitor. Tripolin A reduced the localization of pAurora A on spindle microtubules (MTs), affected centrosome integrity, spindle formation and length, as well as MT dynamics in interphase, consistent with Aurora A inhibition by RNAi or other specific inhibitors, such as MLN8054 or MLN8237. Interestingly, Tripolin A affected the gradient distribution towards the chromosomes, but not the MT binding of HURP (Hepatoma Up-Regulated Protein), a MT-associated protein (MAP) and substrate of the Aurora A kinase. Therefore Tripolin A reveals a new way of regulating mitotic MT stabilizers through Aurora A phosphorylation. Tripolin A is predicted to bind Aurora A similarly but not identical to MLN8054, therefore it could be used to dissect pathways orchestrated by Aurora kinases as well as a scaffold for further inhibitor development.
PMCID: PMC3596387  PMID: 23516487
11.  Pediatric Phase I Trial and Pharmacokinetic Study of MLN8237, an Investigational Oral Selective Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Aurora Kinase A: A Children's Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Study 
MLN8237, a selective small-molecule inhibitor of Aurora kinase A, has activity in a broad range of preclinical pediatric cancer models. We conducted a phase I trial in children with refractory/recurrent solid tumors to define the maximum-tolerated dose, toxicities, and pharmacokinetic properties of MLN8237.
Experimental Design
MLN8237 was administered orally either once daily or divided twice daily for seven days, every 21 days. Using a rolling-six design, four dose levels (45, 60, 80, and 100 mg/m2/day) were evaluated on the once-daily schedule, and two dose levels (60 and 80 mg/m2/d) on the twice-daily schedule. Pharmacokinetic studies were conducted with the initial dose and trough drug concentrations also measured at the steady state.
Thirty-seven patients were enrolled. On the once-daily dosing schedule, myelosuppression was dose limiting in three of four patients at 100 mg/m2, and one of six patients had dose-limiting mood alteration at 80 mg/m2. At 45 mg/m2, one of six patients experienced dose-limiting mucositis. Mucositis and myelosuppression were dose limiting at 80 mg/m2 on the twice-daily schedule, and one of five patients at 60 mg/m2 on the twice-daily schedule experienced a dose-limiting alkaline phosphatase. Five of 11 patients experienced hand–foot–skin syndrome with twice-daily dosing versus one of 21 after once-daily dosing. There was one partial response and six with prolonged stable disease among 33 evaluable subjects.
The twice-daily dose regimen is well tolerated in adults; however, children experienced a greater frequency of myelosuppression and hand–foot–skin syndrome on this schedule. Children tolerated a higher dose and the recommended pediatric phase II dose is 80 mg/m2/d once daily for seven days.
PMCID: PMC4008248  PMID: 22988055
12.  The investigational Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 induces defects in cell viability and cell cycle progression in malignant bladder cancer cells in vitro and in vivo 
Despite over 70,000 new cases of bladder cancer in the United States annually, patients with advanced disease have a poor prognosis due to limited treatment modalities. We evaluated Aurora kinase A, identified as an upregulated candidate molecule in bladder cancer, as a potential therapeutic target.
Gene expression in human bladder cancer samples was evaluated using RNA microarray and quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR. Effects of the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 (Millennium) on cell dynamics in malignant T24 and UM-UC-3 and papilloma-derived RT4 bladder cells were evaluated in vitro and in vivo in a mouse xenograft model.
A set of 13 genes involved in the mitotic spindle checkpoint, including Aurora kinases A and B, were upregulated in human urothelial carcinoma compared to normal urothelium. The Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 induced cell cycle arrest, aneuploidy, mitotic spindle failure, and apoptosis in the human bladder cancer cell lines T24 and UM-UC-3. MLN8237 also arrested tumor growth when administered orally over 4 weeks in a mouse bladder cancer xenograft model. Finally, in vitro sequential administration of MLN8237 with either paclitaxel or gemcitabine resulted in synergistic cytotoxic effects in T24 cells.
Mitotic spindle checkpoint dysfunction is a common characteristic of human urothelial carcinoma, and can be exploited with pharmacologic Aurora A inhibition. Given our demonstration of the ability of the Aurora A inhibitor MLN8237 to inhibit growth of bladder cancer in vitro and in vivo, we conclude that Aurora kinase inhibitors warrant further therapeutic investigation in bladder cancer.
PMCID: PMC3626291  PMID: 23403633
13.  Phase I Study to Assess the Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics of AZD4877 in Japanese Patients with Solid Tumors 
Archives of Drug Information  2011;4(2):23-31.
AZD4877 is a potent Eg5 inhibitor that has been shown to have an acceptable tolerability profile in a Phase I study of Western patients with solid tumors. This study was conducted to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetic (PK) profile, maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and efficacy of AZD4877 in a Japanese population with solid tumors.
In this Phase I, open-label, dose-escalation study, AZD4877 (10, 15, 20 or 25 mg) was administered as a 1-hour intravenous infusion on days 1, 8 and 15 of repeated 28-day cycles to Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors. Adverse events (AEs) were evaluated according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 3.0. PK variables were assessed pre- and post dosing. The MTD of AZD4877 was determined by evaluating dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs). Efficacy was evaluated by assessing best response according to Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors version 1.0.
Of the 21 patients enrolled, 18 received at least one dose of AZD4877 (N = 3 in both the 10 and 15 mg cohorts, N = 6 in both the 20 and 25 mg cohorts). The most commonly reported AEs were fatigue and nausea (39% of patients each). One patient in each of the 20 and 25 mg cohorts experienced a DLT (neutropenia and febrile neutropenia). Dose escalation was halted at 25 mg and the MTD was not defined in this population. CTCAE grade ≥3 abnormal laboratory findings/vital signs were reported in 12 patients, with neutropenia (56%) and leukopenia (44%) being the most commonly reported. Exposure to AZD4877 was not fully dose proportional and AZD4877 clearance and elimination half-life appeared independent of dose. The best response to AZD4877 was stable disease in five of 16 evaluable patients.
AZD4877 up to doses of 25 mg was well tolerated in Japanese patients. There was little evidence of clinical efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3130141  PMID: 21765863
AZD4877; Eg5 Inhibitor; Solid Tumors; Japanese
14.  A phase I study of obatoclax mesylate, a Bcl-2 antagonist, plus topotecan in solid tumor malignancies 
Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology  2010;66(6):1079-1085.
To establish the safety, maximum tolerated dose (MTD), recommended phase II dose, and preliminary anti-tumor activity of obatoclax mesylate (GX15-070MS), a Bcl-2 antagonist, in combination with topotecan in patients with solid tumor malignancies.
Patients and methods
Patients with solid tumor malignancies for whom topotecan was an appropriate treatment were administered obatoclax mesylate and topotecan on a 3-week cycle in a pre-defined, standard 3 + 3 dose escalation scheme. The starting dose for obatoclax mesylate was 14 mg/m2 by 3-h intravenous (IV) infusion. Topotecan 1.25 mg/m2 was given concurrently as an IV infusion on days 1–5 of each cycle.
Fourteen patients received 40 cycles of obatoclax mesylate at the following doses: 14 mg/m2 on day 1, 14 mg/m2 on days 1 and 3, and 20 mg/m2 on day 1. The most common toxicities related to obatoclax were neurologic, including ataxia, mood alterations, somnolence, and cognitive dysfunction. The majority of these were grades 1 and 2 (88%). Two of five patients experienced dose-limiting grade 3 neurologic toxicity at a dose of 20 mg/m2; no patients experienced grade 4 neurologic toxicities, and no other patients experienced grade 3 neurologic toxicity. Of the patients who experienced grade 3 neurologic events, one later developed febrile neutropenia, which was also a dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). After an additional three patients were treated without DLT at the previously tolerated dose of 14 mg/m2 on day 1, the level was escalated to 14 mg/m2 on days 1 and 3. Three patients were treated at this dose and, with none experiencing a DLT, 14 mg/m2 on days 1 and 3 was defined as the recommended phase II dose. Two patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) achieved partial responses and four patients had stable disease. Median time to progression (TTP) was 12 weeks.
Obatoclax mesylate administered at 14 mg/m2 IV on days 1 and 3 is safe and well tolerated when given in combination with topotecan 1.25 mg/m2 IV on days 1–5 of an every 3-week cycle. A phase II trial to assess the efficacy of this combination for patients with relapsed SCLC is currently accruing patients.
PMCID: PMC2945625  PMID: 20165849
Small-cell lung cancer; Obatoclax mesylate; Topotecan; Apoptosis
15.  Phase I study assessing the safety and tolerability of barasertib (AZD1152) with low-dose cytosine arabinoside in elderly patients with AML 
Barasertib is the pro-drug of barasertib-hQPA, a selective Aurora B kinase inhibitor that has demonstrated preliminary anti-acute myeloid leukemia (AML) activity in the clinical setting.
This Phase I dose-escalation study evaluated the safety and tolerability of barasertib, combined with low-dose cytosine arabinoside (LDAC), in patients aged ≥60 years with de novo or secondary AML. Barasertib (7-day continuous intravenous infusion) plus LDAC 20 mg (subcutaneous injection twice daily for 10 days) was administered in 28-day cycles. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was defined as the highest dose at which ≤1 patient within a cohort of six experienced a dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) (clinically significant adverse event [AE] or laboratory abnormality considered related to barasertib). The MTD cohort was expanded to 12 patients.
Twenty-two patients (median age, 71 years) received ≥1 treatment cycle (n=6, 800 mg; n=13, 1000 mg; n=3, 1200 mg). DLTs were reported in two patients (both, CTCAE grade 3 stomatitis/mucositis; 1200 mg cohort). The most common AEs were infection (73%), febrile neutropenia (59%), nausea (50%), and diarrhea (46%). Barasertib plus LDAC resulted in an overall response rate (International Working Group criteria) of 45% (n=10/22; by investigator opinion).
The MTD of 1000 mg barasertib in combination with LDAC in older patients with AML was associated with acceptable tolerability and preliminary anti-AML activity., number NCT00926731.
PMCID: PMC3775947  PMID: 23763917
Acute myeloid leukemia; barasertib-hQPA; dose-escalation study
16.  Efficacy and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic evaluation of the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 against preclinical models of pediatric cancer 
Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology  2011;68(5):1291-1304.
To gain a greater understanding of the potential of the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 in the treatment of pediatric malignancies.
The activity of MLN8237 was evaluated against 28 neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma cell lines, and its in vivo efficacy was studied over a range of doses against 12 pediatric tumor xenograft models. Pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and genomic studies were undertaken.
In vitro neuroblastoma cell lines were generally more sensitive to MLN8237 than Ewing sarcoma lines. MLN8237 demonstrated significant activity in vivo against solid tumor models at the maximum tolerated dose (MTD); however, only 2 of 6 neuroblastoma models had objective responses at 0.25MTD. In contrast, MLN8237 induced objective responses at its MTD and at 0.5MTD in three ALL models and in two out of three at 0.25MTD. Pharmacokinetic studies at 0.5MTD demonstrated a Tmax of 0.5 h, Cmax of 24.8 μM, AUC(0–24) of 60.3 μM h, and 12 h trough level of 1.2 μM. Mitotic indices increased 6–12 h after MLN8237 administration. AURKA copy number variation was frequent in xenografts, and expression was highly correlated with copy number.
Objective responses were more frequent in tumors with decreased AURKA copy number (5/8) compared to those with increased gene copy number (2/14). This report confirms the significant activity against both solid tumor and ALL xenografts at the MTD, with a steep dose response. These data support clinical development of MLN8237 in childhood cancer. Because of the steep dose–response relationship, such studies should target achieving trough levels of 1 μM or higher for sustained periods of treatment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00280-011-1618-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3215888  PMID: 21448591
Preclinical testing; Developmental therapeutics; MLN8237; Pediatric cancer
17.  A Phase I, open-label, dose escalation study of afatinib, in a 3-week-on/1-week-off schedule in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Investigational New Drugs  2012;31(2):399-408.
Background A Phase I study to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and pharmacokinetics of afatinib (BIBW 2992), a novel irreversible ErbB Family Blocker, administered orally once daily in a 3-week-on/1-week-off dosing schedule. Methods Patients with advanced solid tumors received single-agent afatinib at 10, 20, 40, 55 or 65 mg/day. Safety, antitumor activity, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic modulation of biomarkers were assessed. Results: Forty-three patients were enrolled. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) occurred in five patients in the dose escalation phase (1/8 at 40 mg/day; 1/6 at 55 mg/day; 3/6 at 65 mg/day). The MTD was established at 55 mg/day. In the expansion cohort at the MTD, 6 patients experienced a DLT in the first 28-day treatment period. The most frequent DLT was diarrhea. The most common adverse events were diarrhea, rash, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Overall, the afatinib safety profile in a 3-week-on/1-week-off dose schedule was similar to that of our daily-continuous schedule. Afatinib displayed dose-dependent pharmacokinetics at doses up to and including 55 mg/day, with a terminal half-life suitable for once-daily dosing. Signs of clinical antitumor activity were observed. In biopsies taken from clinically normal forearm skin, afatinib caused a reduced proliferation rate, with a concomitant increase in differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes. Conclusion Afatinib in a 3-week-on/1-week-off schedule showed a good safety profile. The MTD was 55 mg/day, although excess DLTs in the expansion cohort indicated that the 40 mg/day dose would have an acceptable safety profile for future studies. Dose cohorts between 40 and 55 mg/day were not examined in this study.
PMCID: PMC3589659  PMID: 23161335
Afatinib; Pharmacokinetics; EGFR; HER2
18.  First-in-human, Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Phase I Study of Resminostat, an Oral Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor, in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors 
This first-in-human dose-escalating trial investigated the safety, tolerability, maximum tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the novel histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor resminostat in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Experimental Design
Resminostat was administered orally once-daily on days 1-5 every 14 days at 5 dose levels between 100 mg and 800 mg. Safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics including histone acetylation and HDAC enzyme activity, and antitumor efficacy were assessed.
Nineteen patients (median age 58 years, range 39-70) were treated. At 800 mg, 1 patient experienced grade 3 nausea and vomiting, grade 2 liver enzyme elevation, and grade 1 hypokalemia and thrombocytopenia; these were declared as a combined DLT. No other DLT was observed. Although an MTD was not reached and patients were safely dosed up to 800 mg, 3 of 7 patients treated with 800 mg underwent dose reductions after the DLT-defining period due to cumulative gastrointestinal toxicities and fatigue. All toxicities resolved following drug cessation. No grade 4 treatment-related adverse event was observed. The pharmacokinetic profile was dose-proportional with low inter-patient variability. Pharmacodynamic inhibition of HDAC enzyme was dose-dependent and reached 100% at doses ≥400 mg. Eleven heavily pre-treated patients had stable disease and 1 patient with metastatic thymoma had a 27% reduction in target lesion dimensions.
Resminostat was safely administered with a dose-proportional pharmacokinetic profile, optimal on-target pharmacodynamic activity at dose levels ≥400 mg and signs of antitumor efficacy. The recommended phase II dose is 600 mg once-daily on days 1-5 every 14 days.
PMCID: PMC3790647  PMID: 24065624
resminostat; histone deacetylase inhibitor; Phase I trial
19.  Targeting aurora kinases limits tumour growth through DNA damage-mediated senescence and blockade of NF-κB impairs this drug-induced senescence 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2012;5(1):149-166.
Oncogene-induced senescence can provide a protective mechanism against tumour progression. However, production of cytokines and growth factors by senescent cells may contribute to tumour development. Thus, it is unclear whether induction of senescence represents a viable therapeutic approach. Here, using a mouse model with orthotopic implantation of metastatic melanoma tumours taken from 19 patients, we observed that targeting aurora kinases with MLN8054/MLN8237 impaired mitosis, induced senescence and markedly blocked proliferation in patient tumour implants. Importantly, when a subset of tumour-bearing mice were monitored for tumour progression after pausing MLN8054 treatment, 50% of the tumours did not progress over a 12-month period. Mechanistic analyses revealed that inhibition of aurora kinases induced polyploidy and the ATM/Chk2 DNA damage response, which mediated senescence and a NF-κB-related, senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Blockade of IKKβ/NF-κB led to reversal of MLN8237-induced senescence and SASP. Results demonstrate that removal of senescent tumour cells by infiltrating myeloid cells is crucial for inhibition of tumour re-growth. Altogether, these data demonstrate that induction of senescence, coupled with immune surveillance, can limit melanoma growth.
PMCID: PMC3569660  PMID: 23180582
aurora kinase; DNA damage; melanoma; NF-κB; senescence
20.  Dose-escalation study of fixed-dose rate gemcitabine combined with capecitabine in advanced solid malignancies 
To define dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) and the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of capecitabine with fixed-dose rate (FDR) gemcitabine.
Eligible adults (advanced solid tumor; performance status ≤ 2) received capecitabine 500mg/m2 PO BID days 1-14 and FDR gemcitabine (400-1000mg/m2 escalated by 200mg/m2 increments) at 10 mg/m2/min days 1 and 8 on a 21-day cycle. A traditional 3+3 cohort design was used to determine the MTD.
Thirty patients (median age 59 years) were enrolled. The predominant grade ≥ 3 toxicity was myelosuppression, particularly neutropenia. At dose level 4 (1000 mg/m2 gemcitabine), two out of five evaluable patients had a DLT (grade 4 neutropenia ≥ 7 days). At dose level 3 (800 mg/m2 gemcitabine), one patient had a DLT (grade 3 neutropenia ≥ 7 days) among six evaluable patients. Therefore, the MTD and recommended phase II dose was designated as capecitabine 500 mg/m2 PO BID days 1-14 with 800 mg/m2 FDR gemcitabine days 1 and 8 infused at 10 mg/m2/min on a 21-day cycle. Partial responses occurred in pretreated patients with esophageal, renal cell and bladder carcinomas.
This regimen was well tolerated and may deserve evaluation in advanced gastrointestinal and genitourinary carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC2676212  PMID: 18841362
capecitabine; gemcitabine; phase I; fixed-dose rate
21.  Phase I study of sorafenib in combination with everolimus (RAD001) in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors 
Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology  2013;71(5):1241-1246.
Sorafenib and everolimus are both active against neuroendocrine tumors (NET). Because of potential synergy between VEGF pathway and mTOR inhibitors, we performed a phase I study to evaluate the safety and feasibility of combining sorafenib and everolimus in patients with advanced NET.
Patients were treated with everolimus 10 mg daily in combination with sorafenib (dose level 1: 200 mg twice daily; dose level 2: 200 mg per morning, 400 mg per evening) using standard phase I dose escalation design. Dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) was defined within the first cycle (28 days) of therapy. Treatment was continued until tumor progression, unacceptable toxicity, or withdrawal of consent. Twelve additional patients were treated at the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) level to further characterize safety and a preliminary assessment of activity.
One patient in Cohort 1 experienced DLT (grade 3 skin rash); the cohort was expanded to 6 patients with no further DLTs. All 3 patients in Cohort 2 experienced DLT, consisting of thrombocytopenia, hand–foot skin reaction, and rash/allergic reaction. Sorafenib 200 mg twice daily in combination with everolimus 10 mg daily was established as the MTD. Independently reviewed best objective responses revealed that 62 % of patients had some degree of tumor shrinkage. By RECIST, we observed partial response in 1 patient, stable disease in 13 patients, and progressive disease in 3 patients.
Sorafenib 200 mg twice daily with everolimus 10 mg daily represents the MTD of this combination in patients with advanced NET. While the combination is active, toxicity concerns may preclude more widespread use.
PMCID: PMC4029418  PMID: 23475104
Neuroendocrine; Phase I; Sorafenib; Everolimus
22.  A phase I study of sunitinib combined with modified FOLFOX6 in patients with advanced solid tumors 
This phase I study assessed the safety, tolerability, maximum tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetics, and preliminary antitumor effects of sunitinib combined with modified FOLFOX6 (mFOLFOX6).
Patients with advanced solid malignancies received mFOLFOX6 in 2-week cycles with escalating sunitinib doses (25, 37.5, and 50 mg/day) on three schedules: 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off (2/2); 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off (4/2); or continuous daily dosing (CDD). Patients received up to 8 treatment cycles (Schedule 2/2 and CDD schedule) or 6 cycles (Schedule 4/2). An expansion cohort enrolled patients with metastatic colorectal cancer at the Schedule 2/2 MTD.
Overall, 53 patients were enrolled, with 43 evaluable for dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). On Schedule 2/2 (n = 18), DLTs occurred in three patients at 50 mg/day (grade 4 neutropenia [n = 1]; grades 3 and 4 thrombocytopenia [n = 2]) and two patients achieved partial responses (PRs). On Schedule 4/2 (n = 13), 37.5 mg/day exceeded the MTD with two DLTs (febrile neutropenia and grade 4 hypokalemia, respectively). On the CDD schedule (n = 12), the MTD was 25 mg/day; one DLT (grade 3 stomatitis) was reported and two patients achieved PRs. The most common adverse events were neutropenia, fatigue, and thrombocytopenia. No clinically significant drug–drug interactions were apparent between sunitinib, its metabolite SU12662, and mFOLFOX6.
Sunitinib combined with mFOLFOX6 had acceptable tolerability. The MTDs were sunitinib 50 mg/day on Schedule 2/2 and 25 mg/day on the CDD schedule. A MTD for Schedule 4/2 was not established.
PMCID: PMC4162394  PMID: 22623210
Sunitinib; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; FOLFOX; Solid tumors; Pharmacokinetics; Phase I
23.  Phase I study of 17-allylamino-17 demethoxygeldanamycin, gemcitabine and/or cisplatin in patients with refractory solid tumors 
Investigational new drugs  2010;29(3):473-480.
To determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and characterize the dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) of 17-AAG, gemcitabine and/or cisplatin. Levels of the proteins Hsp90, Hsp70 and ILK were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PMBC) lysates to assess the effects of 17-AAG.
Experimental design
Phase I dose-escalating trial using a “3+3” design performed in patients with advanced solid tumors. Once the MTD of gemcitabine + 17-AAG + cisplatin was determined, dose escalation of 17-AAG with constant doses of gemcitabine and cisplatin was attempted. After significant hematologic toxicity occurred, the protocol was amended to evaluate three cohorts: gemcitabine and 17-AAG; 17-AAG and cisplatin; and gemcitabine, 17-AAG and cisplatin with modified dosing.
The 39 patients enrolled were evaluable for toxicity and response. The MTD for cohort A was 154 mg/m2 of 17-AAG, 750 mg/m2 of gemcitabine, and 40 mg/m2 of cisplatin. In cohort A, DLTs were observed at the higher dose level and included neutropenia, hyperbilirubinemia, dehydration, GGT elevation, hyponatremia, nausea, vomiting, and thrombocytopenia. The MTD for cohort C was 154 mg/m2 of 17-AAG and 750 mg/m2 of gemcitabine, with one DLT observed (alkaline phosphatase elevation) observed. In cohort C, DLTs of thrombocytopenia, fever and dyspnea were seen at the higher dose level. The remaining cohorts were closed to accrual due to toxicity. Six patients experienced partial responses. Mean Hsp90 levels were decreased and levels of Hsp70 were increased compared to baseline.
17-AAG in combination with gemcitabine and cisplatin demonstrated antitumor activity, but significant hematologic toxicities were encountered. 17-AAG combined with gemcitabine is tolerable and has demonstrated evidence of activity at the MTD. The recommended phase II dose is defined as 154 mg/m2 of 17-AAG and 750 mg/m2 of gemcitabine, and is currently being investigated in phase II studies in ovarian and pancreatic cancers. There is no recommended phase II dose for the cisplatin-containing combinations.
PMCID: PMC2908718  PMID: 20082116
17-allyaminogeldanamycin; Phase I; Heat shock protein 90; Cisplatin; Gemcitabine; Heat shock protein 70; ILK
24.  Phase I Trial of Oxaliplatin, Infusional 5-Fluorouracil, and Leucovorin (FOLFOX4) With Erlotinib and Bevacizumab in Colorectal Cancer 
Clinical colorectal cancer  2010;9(5):297-304.
This phase I study was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of erlotinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin/oxaliplatin (FOLFOX4) in patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC). Bevacizumab was later included as standard of care at the MTD.
Patients and Methods
Patients received FOLFOX4 with escalating doses of erlotinib: dose level (DL) 1, 50 mg; DL 2, 100 mg; and DL 3, 150 mg once daily continuously. Bevacizumab 5 mg/kg days 1 and 15 was added at the MTD upon Food and Drug Administration approval. Correlative studies included pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics was assessed in paired skin biopsies, and fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scans.
Fifteen patients received 60 cycles (120 FOLFOX treatments). Two dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were seen at DL 3: intolerable grade 2 rash (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 2) lasting > 1 week, and grade 4 neutropenia. Dose level 2 was expanded to 6 more patients, this time adding bevacizumab, and 1 DLT of grade 3 mucositis occurred. As expected, the primary toxicities were cytopenias, diarrhea, rash, and fatigue. There were 2 occurrences of pneumatosis. One patient experienced an unrelated grade 4 myocardial infarction before starting chemotherapy. No pharmacokinetic drug interactions were observed. The Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors response rate was 11 of 14 (78%), median progression-free survival was 9.5 months, and median overall survival was 30 months. Three patients are currently alive > 3 years, with 1 having no evidence of disease.
The MTD of erlotinib with FOLFOX4 with or without bevacizumab is 100 mg daily. The regimen appeared to increase toxicity but showed activity in patients with CRC.
PMCID: PMC3033228  PMID: 21208844
Epidermal growth factor receptor; Pharmacokinetics; Tyrosine kinase
25.  Phase I dose escalation study of MK-0457, a novel Aurora kinase inhibitor, in adult patients with advanced solid tumors 
To assess the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), safety, and tolerability of the 24-hour continuous intravenous (CIV) infusion of MK-0457, a novel pan-Aurora kinase inhibitor, in patients with advanced solid tumors and to determine the bioavailability of an oral dose of 100 mg MK-0457.
Study Design
MK-0457 was administered as a 24-hour CIV infusion every 21 days. Dose escalation proceeded per toxicity criteria. A 100 mg oral dose was administered to 7 patients 48 hours prior to the CIV infusion dose of 64 mg/m2/hr.
Twenty-seven patients received a total of 86 infusions of MK-0457. Dose limiting toxicity at 96 mg/m2/hr included grade 4 neutropenia and grade 3 herpes zoster. The MTD was identified as 64 mg/m2/hr. The most common adverse events were nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. Pharmacokinetic analyses revealed that CIV infusion MK-0457 had an estimated mean terminal half-life of approximately 6.6-10.2 hours and that end of infusion concentrations and mean AUCs were approximately dose proportional. The estimated mean oral bioavailability of MK-0457 was 7.9%. One patient with advanced ovarian cancer attained prolonged stable disease for 11 months.
MK-0457 was well tolerated in this schedule. Almost half the patients attained stable disease. Further development of this class of agents will likely occur in combination with other anti-cancer treatments.
PMCID: PMC3050703  PMID: 20386909
Phase I; Aurora kinase; serine/threonine protein kinases; BCR-ABL mutations

Results 1-25 (947590)