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1.  Phase II Study of Fenretinide (NSC 374551) in Adults With Recurrent Malignant Gliomas: A North American Brain Tumor Consortium Study 
Fenretinide induces apoptosis in malignant gliomas in vitro. This two-stage phase II trial was conducted to determine the efficacy of fenretinide in adults with recurrent malignant gliomas.
Patients and Methods
Twenty-two patients with anaplastic gliomas (AG) and 23 patients with glioblastoma (GBM) whose tumors had recurred after radiotherapy and no more than two chemotherapy regimens were enrolled. Fenretinide was given orally on days 1 to 7 and 22 to 28 in 6-week cycles in doses of 600 or 900 mg/m2 bid.
Six of 21 (29%) patients in the AG arm and two of 23 (9%) patients in the GBM arm had stable disease at 6 months. One patient with AG treated at 900 mg/m2 bid dosage had a partial radiologic response. Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 6 weeks for the AG arm and 6 weeks for the GBM arm. PFS at 6 months was 10% for the AG arm and 0% for the GBM arm. Grade 1 or 2 fatigue, dryness of skin, anemia, and hypoalbuminemia were the most frequent toxicities reported. The trial was closed after the first stage because of the inadequate activity at the fenretinide doses used. The first-administration mean plasma Cmax for fenretinide was 832 ± 360 ng/mL at the 600 mg/m2 bid dosage and 1,213 ± 261 ng/mL at the 900 mg/m2 bid dosage.
Fenretinide was inactive against recurrent malignant gliomas at the dosage used in this trial. However, additional studies using higher doses of the agent are warranted based on the tolerability of the agent and the potential for activity of a higher fenretinide dosage, as suggested in this trial.
PMCID: PMC3820102  PMID: 15514370
2.  Phase II Study of Irinotecan and Temozolomide in Children With Relapsed or Refractory Neuroblastoma: A Children's Oncology Group Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;29(2):208-213.
This phase II study was conducted to determine the response rate associated with use of irinotecan and temozolomide for children with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Patients with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma measurable by cross-sectional imaging (stratum 1) or assessable by bone marrow aspirate/biopsy or metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scan (stratum 2) received irinotecan (10 mg/m2/dose 5 days a week for 2 weeks) and temozolomide (100 mg/m2/dose for 5 days) every 3 weeks. Response was assessed after three and six courses using International Neuroblastoma Response Criteria. Of the first 25 evaluable patients on a given stratum, five or more patients with complete or partial responses were required to conclude that further study would be merited.
Fifty-five eligible patients were enrolled. The objective response rate was 15%. Fourteen patients (50%) on stratum 1 and 15 patients (56%) on stratum 2 had stable disease. Objective responses were observed in three of the first 25 evaluable patients on stratum 1 and five of the first 25 evaluable patients on stratum 2. Less than 6% of patients experienced ≥ grade 3 diarrhea. Although neutropenia was observed, less than 10% of patients developed evidence of infection while neutropenic.
The combination of irinotecan and temozolomide was well tolerated. The objective response rate of 19% in stratum 2 suggests that this combination may be effective for patients with neuroblastoma detectable by MIBG or marrow analysis. Although fewer objective responses were observed in patients with disease measurable by computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging, patients in both strata seem to have derived clinical benefit from this therapy.
PMCID: PMC3058276  PMID: 21115869
3.  Antitumor Activity of Hu14.18-IL2 in Patients With Relapsed/Refractory Neuroblastoma: A Children's Oncology Group (COG) Phase II Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(33):4969-4975.
The hu14.18-IL2 fusion protein consists of interleukin-2 molecularly linked to a humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes the GD2 disialoganglioside expressed on neuroblastoma cells. This phase II study assessed the antitumor activity of hu14.18-IL2 in two strata of patients with recurrent or refractory neuroblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Hu14.18-IL2 was given intravenously (12 mg/m2/daily) for 3 days every 4 weeks for patients with disease measurable by standard radiographic criteria (stratum 1) and for patients with disease evaluable only by [123I]metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy and/or bone marrow (BM) histology (stratum 2). Response was established by independent radiology review as well as BM histology and immunocytology, and durability was assessed by repeat evaluation after more than 3 weeks.
Thirty-nine patients were enrolled (36 evaluable). No responses were seen in stratum 1 (n = 13). Of 23 evaluable patients in stratum 2, five patients (21.7%) responded; all had a complete response (CR) of 9, 13, 20, 30, and 35+ months duration. Grade 3 and 4 nonhematologic toxicities included capillary leak, hypoxia, pain, rash, allergic reaction, elevated transaminases, and hyperbilirubinemia. Two patients required dopamine for hypotension, and one patient required ventilatory support for hypoxia. Most toxicities were reversible within a few days of completing a treatment course and were expected based on phase I results.
Patients with disease evaluable only by MIBG and/or BM histology had a 21.7% CR rate to hu14.8-IL2, whereas patients with bulky disease did not respond. Hu14.18-IL2 warrants further testing in children with nonbulky high-risk neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3020698  PMID: 20921469
4.  Response, Survival and Toxicity after 131I-MIBG Therapy for Neuroblastoma in Pre-Adolescents, Adolescents and Adults 
Cancer  2011;117(18):4286-4293.
Adolescent and adult patients with neuroblastoma appear to have a more indolent disease course but a lower survival than their younger counterparts. The majority of neuroblastoma tumors specifically accumulate the radiolabeled norepinephrine analogue 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG). 131I-MIBG has therefore become increasingly used as targeted radiotherapy for relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. The aim of this study was to characterize the toxicity and activity of this therapy in older patients.
We performed a retrospective analysis of 39 consecutive patients ages 10 years and older with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma who were treated with 131I-MIBG monotherapy at UCSF under Phase I, Phase II, and compassionate access protocols.
Sixteen patients were ≥18 years old at MIBG treatment initiation, whereas twenty-three were 10–17 years old. The median cumulative administered dose of 131I-MIBG was 17.8 mCi/kg. The majority of treatments led to grade 3 or 4 hematologic toxicities which were similar in frequency among age strata. Three patients subsequently developed hematologic malignancy or myelodysplasia. The overall rate of complete plus partial response was 46%. Patients ≥18 years old at time of first MIBG treatment had a significantly higher response rate compared to patients 10–17 years old (56% vs 39%, p=0.023). Median overall survival was 23 months with a trend toward longer overall survival for the ≥18 year old subgroup (p = 0.12).
Our findings suggest that 131I-MIBG is a highly effective salvage agent for adolescents and adults with neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3125487  PMID: 21387264
neuroblastoma; adult; adolescent; MIBG; radiopharmaceutical
5.  Radiolabeled Metaiodobenzylguanidine for the Treatment of Neuroblastoma 
Nuclear medicine and biology  2008;35(Suppl 1):S35-S48.
Neuroblastoma is the most common pediatric extracranial solid cancer. This tumor is characterized by metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) avidity in 90% of cases, prompting the use of radiolabeled MIBG for targeted radiotherapy in these tumors.
The available English language literature was reviewed for original research investigating in vitro, in vivo, and clinical applications of radiolabeled MIBG for neuroblastoma.
MIBG is actively transported into neuroblastoma cells by the norepinephrine transporter. Preclinical studies demonstrate substantial activity of radiolabeled MIBG in neuroblastoma models, with 131I-MIBG showing enhanced activity in larger tumors compared to 125I-MIBG. Clinical studies of 131I-MIBG in patients with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma have identified myelosuppression as the main dose-limiting toxicity, necessitating stem cell reinfusion at higher doses. Most studies report a response rate of 30–40% with 131I-MIBG in this population. More recent studies have focused on the use of 131I-MIBG in combination with chemotherapy or myeloablative regimens.
131I-MIBG is an active agent for the treatment of patients with neuroblastoma. Future studies will need to define the optimal role of this targeted radiopharmaceutical in the therapy of this disease.
PMCID: PMC2633223  PMID: 18707633
Metaiodobenzylguanidine; neuroblastoma; pediatric; radionuclide
6.  Unresectable localized neuroblastoma: improved survival after primary chemotherapy including carboplatin-etoposide. Neuroblastoma Study Group of the Société Française d'Oncologie Pédiatrique (SFOP). 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;77(12):2310-2317.
Neuroblastomas (NBs) were assessed according to INSS recommendations including MIBG scan and extensive bone marrow staging to eliminate metastatic spread. Patients with unresectable tumour received primary chemotherapy including two courses of carboplatin-etoposide (CE) and two of vincristine-cyclophosphamide-doxorubicin (CAdO). Post-operative treatment was to be given only in children over 1 year of age at diagnosis who had residual disease or lymph node (LN) involvement. Between 1990 and 1994, 130 consecutive children were registered. In comparison with resectable primaries, these tumours were more commonly abdominal, larger and associated with N-myc amplification (NMA). Complete, very good and partial response (CR, VGPR, PR) to CE were, respectively, 1%, 7% and 44%, overall response rate (RR) to two courses of CE and two courses of CAdO was 71%, and the tumour could be removed in all but four of the children. The toxicity was manageable. The 5-year overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were, respectively, 88% and 78% with a median follow-up of 38 months. In multivariate analysis, only NMA and LN involvement adversely influenced the outcome, particularly NMA. Children with unresectable NBs and no NMA fared as well as children with resectable ones as OS were, respectively, 95% and 99% and EFS 89% and 91%. Our data show encouraging results in localized but unresectable NBs as 90% of children may be considered as definitely cured, especially those without NMA.
PMCID: PMC2150389  PMID: 9649151
7.  Fenretinide-induced caspase-8 activation and apoptosis in an established model of metastatic neuroblastoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:97.
Resistance of high-risk metastatic neuroblastoma (HR-NB) to high dose chemotherapy (HD-CT) raises a major therapeutic challenge in pediatric oncology. Patients are treated by maintenance CT. For some patients, an adjuvant retinoid therapy is proposed, such as the synthetic retinoid fenretinide (4-HPR), an apoptotic inducer. Recent studies demonstrated that NB metastasis process is enhanced by the loss of caspase-8 involved in the Integrin-Mediated Death (IMD) process. As the role of caspase-8 appears to be critical in preventing metastasis, we aimed at studying the effect of 4-HPR on caspase-8 expression in metastatic neuroblasts.
We used the human IGR-N-91 MYCN-amplified NB experimental model, able to disseminate in vivo from the primary nude mouse tumor xenograft (PTX) into myocardium (Myoc) and bone marrow (BM) of the animal. NB cell lines, i.e., IGR-N-91 and SH-EP, were treated with various doses of Fenretinide (4-HPR), then cytotoxicity was analyzed by MTS proliferation assay, apoptosis by the propidium staining method, gene or protein expressions by RT-PCR and immunoblotting and caspases activity by colorimetric protease assays.
The IGR-N-91 parental cells do not express detectable caspase-8. However the PTX cells established from the primary tumor in the mouse, are caspase-8 positive. In contrast, metastatic BM and Myoc cells show a clear down-regulation of the caspase-8 expression. In parallel, the caspases -3, -9, -10, Bcl-2, or Bax expressions were unchanged. Our data show that in BM, compared to PTX cells, 4-HPR up-regulates caspase-8 expression that parallels a higher sensitivity to apoptotic cell death. Stable caspase-8-silenced SH-EP cells appear more resistant to 4-HPR-induced cell death compared to control SH-EP cells. Moreover, 4-HPR synergizes with drugs since apoptosis is restored in VP16- or TRAIL-resistant-BM cells. These results demonstrate that 4-HPR in up-regulating caspase-8 expression, restores and induces apoptotic cell death in metastatic neuroblasts through caspase-8 activation.
This study provides basic clues for using fenretinide in clinical treatment of HR-NB patients. Moreover, since 4-HPR induces cell death in caspase-8 negative NB, it also challenges the concept of including 4-HPR in the induction of CT of these patients.
PMCID: PMC2670318  PMID: 19331667
8.  Treatment of advanced neuroblastoma: feasibility and therapeutic potential of a novel approach combining 131-I-MIBG and multiple drug chemotherapy 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;84(4):460-464.
Biological and clinical observations suggest that initial marked reduction of resistant clones may be critical in any attempt to improve long-term results in advanced neuroblastoma (NB). The aim of this pilot study is to determine short-term toxicity and efficacy of a new therapeutic model based on the simultaneous use of multiple drug chemotherapy and specific irradiation using 131-I-MIBG. The study population consisted of 21 patients, from 1 to 8 years of age with good 131-I-MIBG uptake. 16 extensively pre-treated patients with refractory or relapsed disease were divided into 2 groups. In Group 1 (9 patients) the basic chemotherapy regimen consisted in cisplatin at the dose of 20 mg/m2i.v. per day infused over 2 h, for 4 consecutive days; on day 4 Cy 2 g/m2i.v. was administered over 2 h followed by Mesna. Group 2 (7 patients) was treated with basic chemotherapeutic regimen plus VP16 and Vincristine. VP16 at the dose of 50 mg/m2i.v. per day was administered as a 24 h infusion on days 1–3; Vincristine 1.5 mg/m2i.v. was administered on days 1 and 6. On day 10 a single dose of 131-I-MIBG (200 mCi) with a high specific activity (>1.1 GBq/mg) was administered to both Groups by i.v. infusion over 4–6 hours. A further 5 patients were treated at diagnosis: 2 with the same regimen as Group 1 and 3 with the same as Group 2. The severity of toxicity was graded according to World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Assessment of tumour response was monitored 4–6 weeks after the beginning of combined therapy (CO-TH). Response was defined according to INSS (International Neuroblastoma Staging System) criteria. No extra-medullary toxicity was observed in any patient. Haematological toxicity was the only toxicity observed and seemed mainly related to chemotherapy. Myelosuppression was mild in the 5 patients treated at diagnosis. No serious infections or significant bleeding problems were observed. In the 16 resistant patients, 12 PR, 1 mixed response and 3 SD were obtained. In the 5 patients treated at diagnosis 2 PR, 1 CR and 2 VGPR were observed. No alteration in 131-I-MIBG uptake was observed after the chemotherapy preceding radio-metabolic treatment. The therapeutic results of this pilot regimen of CO-TH resulted in a high percentage of major response after only a single course in both resistant patients and patients treated at diagnosis. Because of the minimal toxicity observed in patients studied at diagnosis so far, there is room for gradual intensification of the treatment. It is to be hoped that this suggested novel approach may represent an important route of investigation to improve final outcome in patients with advanced NB. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2363758  PMID: 11207038
neuroblastoma; combined therapy; 131-I-metaiodobenzylguanidine
9.  Comparison of Iodine-123 Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) Scan and [18F]Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography to Evaluate Response After Iodine-131 MIBG Therapy for Relapsed Neuroblastoma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(32):5343-5349.
Children with relapsed neuroblastoma have poor survival. It is crucial to have a reliable method for evaluating functional response to new therapies. In this study, we compared two functional imaging modalities for neuroblastoma: metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scan for uptake by the norepinephrine transporter and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) uptake for glucose metabolic activity.
Patients and Methods
Patients enrolled onto a phase I study of sequential infusion of iodine-131 (131I) MIBG (NANT-2000-01) were eligible for inclusion if they had concomitant FDG-PET and MIBG scans. 131I-MIBG therapy was administered on days 0 and 14. For each patient, we compared all lesions identified on concomitant FDG-PET and MIBG scans and gave scans a semiquantitative score.
The overall concordance of positive lesions on concomitant MIBG and FDG-PET scans was 39.6% when examining the 139 unique anatomic lesions. MIBG imaging was significantly more sensitive than FDG-PET overall and for the detection of bone lesions (P < .001). There was a trend for increased sensitivity of FDG-PET for detection of soft tissue lesions. Both modalities showed similar improvement in number of lesions identified from day 0 to day 56 scan and in semiquantitative scores that correlated with overall response. FDG-PET scans became completely negative more often than MIBG scans after treatment.
MIBG scan is significantly more sensitive for individual lesion detection in relapsed neuroblastoma than FDG-PET, though FDG-PET can sometimes play a complementary role, particularly in soft tissue lesions. Complete response by FDG-PET metabolic evaluation did not always correlate with complete response by MIBG uptake.
PMCID: PMC2773221  PMID: 19805691
10.  Phase I Study of Decitabine with Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide in Children with Neuroblastoma and Other Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Study 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(4):629-638.
Demethylating agents may alter the expression of genes involved in chemotherapy resistance. We conducted a phase I trial to determine the toxicity and molecular effects of the demethylating agent, decitabine, followed by doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide in children with refractory solid tumors.
Stratum A included children with any solid tumor; Stratum B included neuroblastoma patients only. Patients received a 1-hour decitabine infusion for 7 days, followed by doxorubicin (45mg/m2) and cyclophosphamide (1g/m2) on day 7. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed after the first dose of decitabine. Biological studies included methylation and gene expression analyses of caspase-8, MAGE-1 and fetal hemoglobin (HbF), and expression profiling of pre- and post-treatment peripheral blood and bone marrow cells.
The maximum-tolerated dose of decitabine was 5 mg/m2/d for 7 days. Dose-limiting toxicities at 10 mg/m2/d were neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Decitabine exhibited rapid clearance from plasma. Three of 9 patients in Stratum A and 4/12 patients in Stratum B had stable disease for ≥4 months. Sustained MAGE-1 demethylation and increased HbF expression were observed in the majority of patients post-treatment (12/20 and 14/16 respectively). Caspase-8 promoter demethylation and gene expression were seen in 2/7 bone marrow samples. Differentially expressed genes were identified by microarray analysis.
Low-dose decitabine when combined with doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide has tolerable toxicity in children. However, doses of decitabine capable of producing clinically relevant biologic effects were not well tolerated with this combination. Alternative strategies of combining demethylating agents with non-cytotoxic, biologically targeted agents such as histone deactelyase inhibitors should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3025700  PMID: 20589651
demethylation; decitabine; pediatric solid tumor; neuroblastoma
11.  Phase I Trial of Lapatinib in Children With Refractory CNS Malignancies: A Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(27):4221-4227.
To estimate the maximum-tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), and pharmacokinetic properties of lapatinib, a selective epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ERBB2 inhibitor, in children with refractory or recurrent CNS malignancies.
Patients and Methods
Lapatinib was administered orally twice daily at escalating doses starting at 300 mg/m2 to patients who were not (stratum I) or were (stratum II) receiving steroids. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed during the first two courses. Expression of the four ERBB receptors and downstream signaling elements in tumor tissue was evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
Fifty-nine patients were enrolled (stratum I, n = 32; stratum II, n = 27). Of 29 patients evaluable for toxicity in stratum I, one experienced a DLT (diarrhea) at 520 mg/m2 twice daily, and all three receiving 1,150 mg/m2 twice daily experienced DLTs (one each of rash, diarrhea, and fatigue). Two of 21 patients evaluable for toxicity in stratum II experienced DLTs of rash at 900 mg/m2 twice daily. Lapatinib dosage was related linearly to area under the [concentration-time] curve from start time to 12 hours later (AUC0-12) and dose-normalized maximum serum concentration and AUC values for patients in stratum II were both significantly higher (P = .001) than those for patients in stratum I. Frequent, high-level expression of activated (phosphorylated) EGFR and ERBB2 receptors and downstream signal intermediates were observed in tumors, particularly in ependymomas that displayed prolonged stable disease on lapatinib therapy.
Lapatinib is well tolerated in children with recurrent CNS malignancies, with rash, diarrhea, and fatigue identified as DLTs. The recommended phase II dose, regardless of steroid use, is 900 mg/m2 twice daily.
PMCID: PMC2953974  PMID: 20713864
12.  Repeated Radionuclide therapy in metastatic paraganglioma leading to the highest reported cumulative activity of 131I-MIBG 
131I-MIBG therapy for neuroendocrine tumours may be dose limited. The common range of applied cumulative activities is 10-40 GBq. We report the uneventful cumulative administration of 111 GBq (= 3 Ci) 131I-MIBG in a patient with metastatic paraganglioma. Ten courses of 131I-MIBG therapy were given within six years, accomplishing symptomatic, hormonal and tumour responses with no serious adverse effects. Chemotherapy with cisplatin/vinblastine/dacarbazine was the final treatment modality with temporary control of disease, but eventually the patient died of progression. The observed cumulative activity of 131I-MIBG represents the highest value reported to our knowledge, and even though 12.6 GBq of 90Y-DOTATOC were added intermediately, no associated relevant bone marrow, hepatic or other toxicity were observed. In an individual attempt to palliate metastatic disease high cumulative activity alone should not preclude the patient from repeat treatment.
PMCID: PMC3277473  PMID: 22277577
Cumulative activity; I-131-MIBG; Neuroendocrine tumors; Radionuclide therapy; Metastatic paraganglioma
13.  131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) therapy for residual neuroblastoma: a mono-institutional experience with 43 patients 
British Journal of Cancer  1999;81(8):1378-1384.
Incomplete response to therapy may compromise the outcome of children with advanced neuroblastoma. In an attempt to improve tumour response we incorporated 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) in the treatment regimens of selected stage 3 and stage 4 patients. Between 1986 and 1997, 43 neuroblastoma patients older than 1 year at diagnosis, 13 with stage 3 (group A) and 30 with stage 4 disease (group B) who had completed the first-line protocol without achieving complete response entered in this study. 131I-MIBG dose/course ranged from 2.5 to 5.5 Gbq (median, 3.7). The number of courses ranged from 1 to 5 (median 3) depending on the tumour response and toxicity. The most common acute side-effect was thrombocytopenia. Later side-effects included severe interstitial pneumonia in one patient, acute myeloid leukaemia in two, reduced thyroid reserve in 21. Complete response was documented in one stage 4 patient, partial response in 12 (two stage 3, 10 stage 4), mixed or no response in 25 (ten stage 3, 15 stage 4) and disease progression in five (one stage 3, four stage 4) Twenty-four patients (12/13 stage 3, 12/30 stage 4) are alive at 22–153 months (median, 59) from diagnosis. 131I-MIBG therapy may increase the cure rate of stage 3 and improve the response of stage 4 neuroblastoma patients with residual disease after first-line therapy. A larger number of patients should be treated to confirm these results but logistic problems hamper prospective and coordinated studies. Long-term toxicity can be severe. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2362971  PMID: 10604736
neuroblastoma; radiometabolic therapy; 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine
14.  Role of positron emission tomography-computed tomography in staging and early chemotherapy response evaluation in children with neuroblastoma 
To evaluate the role of positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) in staging and determining early treatment response to chemotherapy in children with neuroblastoma (NB) and its correlation with the final outcome.
Patients and Methods:
Seventeen patients of NB with mean age of 51.5 months (age range 2-132 months; 14 males, 3 females) underwent serial 18F-flourodeoxygl ucose (FDG) PET-CT imaging. All 17 patients were for staging before any treatment. Twelve of 17 patients underwent I-131 meta-iodobezylguanidine (MIBG) scan and bone scan. MIBG uptake was seen in the primary lesion in 11/12 patients. MIBG uptake in bones was seen in 3/12 patients. All bone lesions were concordant on MIBG and bone scan. Early response to chemotherapy was evaluated after two cycles using PET-CT. A 30% reduction in longest diameter was taken as cut-off value for response on CT based on the response evaluation criteria in solid tumors criteria. Response on PET-CT was assessed using percentage improvement in lesion to background SUV ratio, taking a value of 50% as cut-off. Final outcome based on follow-up ranging from 6 to 43 months (mean 18.8 months) served as reference.
All 17 patients showed increased FDG uptake at the primary site. Seven of the 17 patients (41.2%) showed metastasis. Lymph nodes were the most common site of metastatic disease followed by bone, bone marrow, lung and meninges. For response evaluation, change in the size of the primary tumor was noted in 11/17 (64.7%) patients on CT. Treatment response was noted in 12/17 patients (70.6%) on PET-CT. Eleven out of 17 (65%) patients showed response in both CT and PET-CT. Five out of 17 patients showed no response in both. Discordant findings on CT and PET were noted in one (5.9%) patient where PET showed response but no response was seen on CT. Two patients with initial response but with distant metastases expired during follow-up.
PET-CT has potential in the initial staging of NB. PET-CT also appears to be a good modality for response assessment in patients with moderate and high FDG uptake on the baseline scan. However, no significant beneficial effect was seen in patients with low baseline FDG uptake.
PMCID: PMC3109821  PMID: 21713223
Neuroblastoma; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; PET-CT; staging; treatment response evaluation
15.  Evaluation of Norepinephrine Transporter Expression and Metaiodobenzylguanidine Avidity in Neuroblastoma: A Report from the Children's Oncology Group 
Purpose. 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) is used for the diagnostic evaluation of neuroblastoma. We evaluated the relationship between norepinephrine transporter (NET) expression and clinical MIBG uptake. Methods. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (N = 82) and immunohistochemistry (IHC; N = 61) were performed for neuroblastoma NET mRNA and protein expression and correlated with MIBG avidity on diagnostic scans. The correlation of NET expression with clinical features was also performed. Results. Median NET mRNA expression level for the 19 MIBG avid patients was 12.9% (range 1.6–73.7%) versus 5.9% (range 0.6–110.0%) for the 8 nonavid patients (P = 0.31). Median percent NET protein expression was 50% (range 0–100%) in MIBG avid patients compared to 10% (range 0–80%) in nonavid patients (P = 0.027). MYCN amplified tumors had lower NET protein expression compared to nonamplified tumors (10% versus 50%; P = 0.0002). Conclusions. NET protein expression in neuroblastoma correlates with MIBG avidity. MYCN amplified tumors have lower NET protein expression.
PMCID: PMC3463166  PMID: 23050139
16.  Iodine-131—Metaiodobenzylguanidine Double Infusion With Autologous Stem-Cell Rescue for Neuroblastoma: A New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy Phase I Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(7):1020-1025.
Iodine-131—metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) provides targeted radiotherapy with more than 30% response rate in refractory neuroblastoma, but activity infused is limited by radiation safety and hematologic toxicity. The goal was to determine the maximum-tolerated dose of 131I-MIBG in two consecutive infusions at a 2-week interval, supported by autologous stem-cell rescue (ASCR) 2 weeks after the second dose.
Patients and Methods
The 131I-MIBG dose was escalated using a 3 + 3 phase I trial design, with levels calculated by cumulative red marrow radiation index (RMI) from both infusions. Using dosimetry, the second infusion was adjusted to achieve the target RMI, except at level 4, where the second infusion was capped at 21 mCi/kg.
Twenty-one patients were enrolled onto the study at levels 1 to 4, with 18 patients assessable for toxicity and 20 patients assessable for response. Cumulative 131I-MIBG given to achieve the target RMI ranged from 22 to 50 mCi/kg, with cumulative RMI of 3.2 to 8.92 Gy. No patient had a dose-limiting toxicity. Reversible grade 3 nonhematologic toxicity occurred in six patients at level 4, establishing the recommended cumulative dose as 36 mCi/kg. The median time to absolute neutrophil count more than 500/μL after ASCR was 13 days (4 to 27 days) and to platelet independence was 17 days (6 to 47 days). Responses included two partial responses, eight mixed responses, three stable disease, and seven progressive disease. Responses by semiquantitative MIBG score occurred in eight patients, soft tissue responses occurred in five of 11 patients, but bone marrow responses occurred in only two of 13 patients.
The lack of toxicity with this approach allowed dramatic dose intensification of 131I-MIBG, with minimal toxicity and promising activity.
PMCID: PMC2738616  PMID: 19171714
17.  Promising therapeutic targets in neuroblastoma 
Clinical Cancer Research  2012;18(10):2740-2753.
Neuroblastoma, the most common extra- cranial solid tumor in children, is derived from neural crest cells. Nearly half of patients present with metastatic disease, and have 5-year EFS of less than 50%. New approaches with targeted therapy may improve efficacy without increased toxicity. The current review will evaluate three promising targeted therapies, including 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG), a radiopharmaceutical taken up by the human norepinephrine transporter expressed in 90% of neuroblastomas, immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies targeting the GD2 ganglioside, expressed on 98% of neuroblastoma cells, and inhibitors of ALK, a tyrosine kinase which is mutated or amplified in approximately 10% of neuroblastoma and expressed on the surface of most neuroblastoma cells. Early phase trials have confirmed the activity of 131I-MIBG in relapsed neuroblastoma, with response rates of about 30%, but the technical aspects of administration of large amounts of radioactivity in young children and the limited access have hindered incorporation into treatment of newly diagnosed patients. Anti-GD2 antibodies have also demonstrated activity in relapsed disease, and a recent phase III randomized trial showed a significant improvement in event-free survival for patients receiving chimeric anti-GD2 (ch14.18) combined with cytokines and isotretinoin after myeloablative consolidation therapy. A recently approved small molecule inhibitor of ALK has promising pre-clinical activity for neuroblastoma, and is currently in phase I and II trials. This is the first agent directed to a specific mutation in neuroblastoma, and marks a new step toward personalized therapy for neuroblastoma. Further clinical development of targeted treatments offers new hope for children with neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3382042  PMID: 22589483
18.  Evaluation of a mucoadhesive fenretinide patch for local intraoral delivery: a strategy to reintroduce fenretinide for oral cancer chemoprevention 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(5):1098-1105.
Systemic delivery of fenretinide in oral cancer chemoprevention trials has been largely unsuccessful due to dose-limiting toxicities and subtherapeutic intraoral drug levels. Local drug delivery, however, provides site-specific therapeutically relevant levels while minimizing systemic exposure. These studies evaluated the pharmacokinetic and growth-modulatory parameters of fenretinide mucoadhesive patch application on rabbit buccal mucosa. Fenretinide and blank-control patches were placed on right/left buccal mucosa, respectively, in eight rabbits (30 min, q.d., 10 days). No clinical or histological deleterious effects occurred. LC-MS/MS analyses of post-treatment samples revealed a delivery gradient with highest fenretinide levels achieved at the patch-mucosal interface (no metabolites), pharmacologically active levels in fenretinide-treated oral mucosa (mean: 5.65 μM; trace amounts of 4-oxo-4-HPR) and undetectable sera levels. Epithelial markers for cell proliferation (Ki-67), terminal differentiation (transglutaminase 1—TGase1) and glucuronidation (UDP-glucuronosyltransferase1A1—UGT1A1) exhibited fenretinide concentration-specific relationships (elevated TGase1 and UGT1A1 levels <5 μM, reduced Ki-67 indices >5μM) relative to blank-treated epithelium. All fenretinide-treated tissues showed significantly increased intraepithelial apoptosis (TUNEL) positivity, implying activation of intersecting apoptotic and differentiation pathways. Human oral mucosal correlative studies showed substantial interdonor variations in levels of the enzyme (cytochrome P450 3A4—CYP3A4) responsible for conversion of fenretinide to its highly active metabolite, 4-oxo-4-HPR. Complementary in vitro assays in human oral keratinocytes revealed fenretinide and 4-oxo-4-HPR’s preferential suppression of DNA synthesis in dysplastic as opposed to normal oral keratinocytes. Collectively, these data showed that mucoadhesive patch-mediated fenretinide delivery is a viable strategy to reintroduce a compound known to induce keratinocyte differentiation to human oral cancer chemoprevention trials.
PMCID: PMC3334520  PMID: 22427354
19.  I-131-Metaiodobenzylguanidine therapy with allogeneic cord blood stem cell transplantation for recurrent neuroblastoma 
Iodine-131-metaiodiobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) therapy combined with allogeneic cord blood stem cell transplantation (SCT) was used to treat a 4-year-old girl with recurrent neuroblastoma. The patient experienced relapse 2 years after receiving first-line therapies, which included chemotherapy, surgical resection, irradiation, and autologous peripheral SCT. Although 131I-MIBG treatment did not achieve complete remission, the size of the tumor was reduced after treatment. Based on our findings, we suggest that 131I-MIBG treatment with myeloablative allogeneic SCT should be considered as first-line therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma patients when possible.
PMCID: PMC3502273  PMID: 23067429
MIBG; Neuroblastoma; Allogeneic cord blood stem cell transplantation
20.  Sensitivity of Surveillance Studies for Detecting Asymptomatic and Unsuspected Relapse of High-Risk Neuroblastoma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(7):1041-1046.
Relapse-free survival (RFS) is a powerful measure of treatment efficacy. We describe the sensitivity of standard surveillance studies for detecting relapse of neuroblastoma (NB).
Patients and Methods
The patients were in complete/very good partial remission of high-risk NB; routine monitoring revealed asymptomatic and, therefore, unsuspected relapses in 113 patients, whereas 41 patients had symptoms prompting urgent evaluations. Assessments every 2 to 4 months included computed tomography, iodine-131–metaiodobenzylguanidine 131I-MIBG; through November 1999) or iodine-123–metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I-MIBG) scan, urine catecholamines, and bone marrow (BM) histology. Bone scan was routine through 2002.
123I-MIBG scan was the most reliable study for revealing unsuspected relapse; it had an 82% detection rate, which was superior to the rates with 131I-MIBG scan (64%; P = .1), bone scan (36%; P < .001), and BM histology (34%; P < .001). Among asymptomatic patients, 123I-MIBG scan was the sole positive study indicating relapse in 25 (27%) of 91 patients compared with one (4.5%) of 22 patients for 131I-MIBG scan (P = .04) and 0% to 6% of patients for each of the other studies (P < .001). Patients whose monitoring included 123I-MIBG scan were significantly less likely than patients monitored by 131I-MIBG scan to have an extensive osteomedullary relapse and had a significantly longer survival from relapse (P < .001) and from diagnosis (P = .002). They also had significantly longer survival than patients with symptomatic relapses (P = .002).
123I-MIBG scan is essential for valid estimation of the duration of RFS of patients with high-risk NB. Without monitoring that includes 123I-MIBG scan, caution should be used when comparing RFS between institutions and protocols.
PMCID: PMC2667809  PMID: 19171710
21.  Toxicity of upfront 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) therapy in newly diagnosed neuroblastoma patients: a retrospective analysis 
In the treatment of patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, different doses of 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) are administered at different time points during treatment. Toxicity, mainly haematological (thrombocytopenia), from 131I-MIBG therapy is known to occur in extensively chemotherapy pretreated neuroblastoma patients. Up to now, acute toxicity from 131I-MIBG as initial treatment has never been studied in a large cohort. The aim of this retrospective study was to document acute toxicity related to upfront 131I-MIBG.
All neuroblastoma patients (stages 1–4 and 4S) treated upfront with 131I-MIBG at the Emma Children’s Hospital, Academic Medical Centre (1992 – 2008) were included in this retrospective analysis. The acute toxicity (during therapy) and short-term toxicity (1st month following therapy) of the first two 131I-MIBG therapies were studied.
Of 66 patients (34 boys, 32 girls; median age 2.2 years, range 0.1 – 9.4 years), 49 had stage 4 disease, 5 stage 4S, 6 stage 3, 1 stage 2 and 5 stage 1. The median first dose was 441 MBq/kg (range 157 – 804 MBq/kg). The median second dose was 328 MBq/kg (range 113 – 727 MBq/kg). The most frequently observed symptoms were nausea and vomiting (21 %, maximum grade II). The main toxicity was grade IV haematological, occurring only in stage 4 patients, after the first and second 131I-MIBG therapies: anaemia (5 % and 4 %, respectively), leucocytopenia (3 % and 4 %) and thrombocytopenia (2 % and 4 %). No stem cell rescue was needed.
The main acute toxicity observed was haematological followed by nausea and vomiting. One patient developed posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome during 131I-MIBG therapy, possibly related to 131I-MIBG. We consider 131I-MIBG therapy to be a safe treatment modality.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00259-013-2510-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3788185  PMID: 23921531
Neuroblastoma; 131I-MIBG therapy; Acute toxicity
22.  Thyroid and Hepatic Function After High Dose 131I-Metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) Therapy for Neuroblastoma 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;56(2):191-201.
131I-Metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) provides targeted radiotherapy for children with neuroblastoma, a malignancy of the sympathetic nervous system. Dissociated radioactive iodide may concentrate in the thyroid, and MIBG is concentrated in the liver after MIBG therapy. The aim of our study was to analyze the effects of 131I-MIBG therapy on thyroid and liver function.
Pre and post therapy thyroid and liver functions were reviewed in a total of 194 neuroblastoma patients treated with 131I-MIBG therapy. The cumulative incidence over time was estimated for both thyroid and liver toxicities. The relationship to cumulative dose/kg, number of treatments, time from treatment to follow-up, sex, and patient age was examined.
In patients who presented with Grade 0 or Grade 1 thyroid toxicity at baseline, 12±4% experienced onset or worsening to Grade 2 hypothyroidism and one patient developed Grade 2 hyperthyroidism by two years after 131I-MIBG therapy. At two years post 131I-MIBG therapy, 76±4% patients experienced onset or worsening of hepatic toxicity to any grade, and 23±5% experienced onset of or worsening to Grade 3 or 4 liver toxicity. Liver toxicity usually was transient asymptomatic transaminase elevation, frequently confounded by disease progression and other therapies.
The prophylactic regimen of potassium iodide and potassium perchlorate with 131I-MIBG therapy resulted in a low rate of significant hypothyroidism. Liver abnormalities following 131I-MIBG therapy were primarily reversible and did not result in late toxicity. 131I-MIBG therapy is a promising treatment for children with relapsed neuroblastoma with a relatively low rate of symptomatic thyroid or hepatic dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3006009  PMID: 20830775
Neuroblastoma; 131I-MIBG; Hypothyroidism
23.  The effect of transdermal estradiol or oral conjugated oestrogen and fenretinide versus placebo on haemostasis and cardiovascular risk biomarkers in a randomized breast cancer chemoprevention trial 
We have previously reported the favourable effect of transdermal estradiol (E2), relative to oral conjugated equine oestrogen (CEE), on ultrasensitive C-reactive protein after 12 months of treatment in a retinoid-placebo controlled two-by-two randomized breast cancer prevention trial (Decensi A et al (2002) Circulation 106 10 1224–8). Here, we investigate the changes in lipids and clotting profile in patients of the same trial.
Methods and results:
Recent post-menopausal women were randomised to either oral CEE 0.625 mg/day and placebo (n = 55), CEE and fenretinide 200 mg/day (n = 56), transdermal E2 50 mg/day and placebo (n = 59) or E2 and fenretinide 200 mg/day (n = 56). Sequential medroxyprogesterone acetate 10 mg/day was given in each group. After 12 months, there was a statistically significant effect of the route of administration of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on fibrinogen levels; the median percentage change being −5.7% with CEE and −1.1% with E2 (p = 0.012). Total cholesterol decreased in all arms (p < 0.0001). HDL-C decreased significantly with transdermal E2 (p = 0.006) compared to oral CEE and with fenretinide relative to placebo (p<0.001). Triglycerides exhibited an opposite modulation in the HRT route, with a 21.4% median increase with oral CEE and an 8.6% reduction with transdermal E2 (p < 0.0001). Antithrombin-III showed a 4% borderline significant reduction in the fenretinide arm relative to placebo, irrespective of the HRT administration route (p = 0.055).
Our data indicate that transdermal E2 may be preferable to oral CEE based on its safer cardiovascular risk profile. Fenretinide modified some cardiovascular risk biomarkers and confirmed a safer profile compared to other retinoids.
PMCID: PMC3234057  PMID: 22275964
24.  Phase I Trial of Oral Irinotecan and Temozolomide for Children With Relapsed High-Risk Neuroblastoma: A New Approach to Neuroblastoma Therapy Consortium Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(8):1290-1296.
Irinotecan and temozolomide have single-agent activity and schedule-dependent synergy against neuroblastoma. Because protracted administration of intravenous irinotecan is costly and inconvenient, we sought to determine the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) of oral irinotecan combined with temozolomide in children with recurrent/resistant high-risk neuroblastoma.
Patients and Methods
Patients received oral temozolomide on days 1 through 5 combined with oral irinotecan on days 1 through 5 and 8 through 12 in 3-week courses. Daily oral cefixime was used to reduce irinotecan-associated diarrhea.
Fourteen assessable patients received 75 courses. Because neutropenia and thrombocytopenia were initially dose-limiting, temozolomide was reduced from 100 to 75 mg/m2/d for subsequent patients. Irinotecan was then escalated from 30 to 60 mg/m2/d. First-course grade 3 diarrhea was dose-limiting in one of six patients treated at the irinotecan MTD of 60 mg/m2/d. Other toxicities were mild and reversible. The median SN-38 lactone area under the plasma concentration versus time curve at this dose was 72 ng · hr/mL. One patient with bulky soft tissue disease had a complete response through six courses. Six additional patients received a median of seven courses (range, three to 22 courses) before progression.
This all-oral regimen was feasible and well tolerated in heavily pretreated children with resistant neuroblastoma, and seven (50%) of 14 assessable patients had response or disease stabilization for three or more courses in this phase I trial. SN-38 lactone exposures were similar to those reported with protracted intravenous irinotecan. The dosages recommended for further study in this patient population are temozolomide 75 mg/m2/d plus irinotecan 60 mg/m2/d when given with cefixime.
PMCID: PMC2667827  PMID: 19171709
25.  A Single-Arm Pilot Phase II Study of Gefitinib and Irinotecan in Children with Newly Diagnosed High-Risk Neuroblastoma 
Investigational New Drugs  2011;30(4):1660-1670.
Gefitinib potently inhibits neuroblastoma proliferation in vitro, and the gefitinib/irinotecan combination shows greater than additive activity against neuroblastoma xenografts. This Phase II pilot study estimated the rate of response to two courses of intravenous irinotecan plus oral gefitinib in children with untreated high-risk neuroblastoma.
Two courses of irinotecan [15 mg/m2/day (daily×5)×2] were combined with 12 daily doses of gefitinib (112.5 mg/m2/day). Response was assessed after six weeks. A response rate >55% was sought.
Of the 23 children enrolled, 19 were evaluable for response. Median age at diagnosis was 3.1 years (range, 18 days – 12.7 years). Most patients were older than 24 months (n=20; 87%), male (n=18; 78%), white (n=16; 70%), had INSS 4 disease (n=19; 83%), and had adrenal primary tumors (n=18; 78%); nine patients (39%) had amplified tumor MYCN. The toxicity of gefitinib/irinotecan was mild and reversible (nausea, 5/20; diarrhea, 8/20; vomiting, 7/20). Five patients had partial responses; 9 others had a 23%–60% decrease in primary tumor volume and/or improved MIBG scans or decreased bone or bone marrow tumor burden. Median (range) systemic irinotecan exposure (AUC) was 283 ng/ml*hr (range, 163–890 ng/ml*hr) and 28 ng/ml*hr (3.6–297 ng/ml*hr) for the active metabolite, SN-38. No relation was observed between response and tumor expression of EGFR, MRP2-4, ABCG2, and Pgp.
Although the gefitinib/irinotecan combination was very tolerable and induced responses, it was not sufficiently active to warrant further investigation. Initial investigational studies of this type can preclude the necessity for larger, longer, and costlier trials.
PMCID: PMC3232294  PMID: 21796439
Neuroblastoma; irinotecan; gefitinib; clinical trial; Phase II; ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters

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