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1.  Microarray analysis reveals genetic pathways modulated by tipifarnib in acute myeloid leukemia 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:56.
Farnesyl protein transferase inhibitors (FTIs) were originally developed to inhibit oncogenic ras, however it is now clear that there are several other potential targets for this drug class. The FTI tipifarnib (ZARNESTRA™, R115777) has recently demonstrated clinical responses in adults with refractory and relapsed acute leukemias. This study was conducted to identify genetic markers and pathways that are regulated by tipifarnib in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Tipifarnib-mediated gene expression changes in 3 AML cell lines and bone marrow samples from two patients with AML were analyzed on a cDNA microarray containing approximately 7000 human genes. Pathways associated with these expression changes were identified using the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis tool.
The expression analysis identified a common set of genes that were regulated by tipifarnib in three leukemic cell lines and in leukemic blast cells isolated from two patients who had been treated with tipifarnib. Association of modulated genes with biological functional groups identified several pathways affected by tipifarnib including cell signaling, cytoskeletal organization, immunity, and apoptosis. Gene expression changes were verified in a subset of genes using real time RT-PCR. Additionally, regulation of apoptotic genes was found to correlate with increased Annexin V staining in the THP-1 cell line but not in the HL-60 cell line.
The genetic networks derived from these studies illuminate some of the biological pathways affected by FTI treatment while providing a proof of principle for identifying candidate genes that might be used as surrogate biomarkers of drug activity.
PMCID: PMC516036  PMID: 15329151
2.  Tipifarnib in the treatment of newly diagnosed acute myelogenous leukemia 
Biologics : Targets & Therapy  2008;2(3):491-500.
Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) represent a new class of signal transduction inhibitors that block the processing of cellular polypeptides that have cysteine terminal residues and, by so doing, interdict multiple pathways involved in proliferation and survival of diverse malignant cell types. Tipifarnib is an orally bioavailable, nonpeptidomimetic methylquinolone FTI that has exhibited clinical activity in patients with myeloid malignancies including elderly adults with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) who are not candidates for traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy, patients with high-risk myelodysplasia, myeloproliferative disorders, and imatinib-resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia. Because of its relatively low toxicity profile, tipifarnib provides an important alternative to traditional cytotoxic approaches for elderly patients who are not likely to tolerate or even benefit from aggressive chemotherapy. In this review, we will focus on the clinical development of tipifarnib for treatment of newly diagnosed AML, both as induction therapy for elderly adults with poor-risk AML and as maintenance therapy following achievement of first complete remission following induction and consolidation therapies for poor-risk AML. As with all other malignancies, the optimal approach is likely to lie in rational combinations of tipifarnib with cytotoxic, biologic and/or immunomodulatory agents with non-cross-resistant mechanisms of action. Gene expression profiling has identified networks of differentially expressed genes and gene combinations capable of predicting response to single agent tipifarnib. The clinical and correlative laboratory trials in progress and under development will provide the critical foundations for defining the optimal roles of tipifarnib and in patients with AMl and other hematologic malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2721391  PMID: 19707379
farnesylation; farnesyltransferase inhibitor; acute myelogenous leukemia (AML); signal transduction; gene expression; tipifarnib
3.  Tipifarnib in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia 
Biologics : Targets & Therapy  2007;1(4):415-424.
Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) are a new class of biologically active anticancer drugs. The exact anti-tumorigenic mechanism is currently unknown. FTIs inhibit farnesylation of a wide range of target proteins. In preclinical models, tipifarnib (R115777, Zarnestra®), a non-peptidomimetic competitive FTI, showed great potency against leukemic cells. Although it has recently demonstrated clinical responses in adults with refractory and relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and in older adults with newly diagnosed poor-risk AML, its activity was far less than anticipated. However, it appears that tipifarnib as a single agent may be important in selected groups of patients. Much remains to be learned to optimize such therapy in patients with AML. To this end, trials that combine tipifarnib with cytotoxics are ongoing.
PMCID: PMC2721284  PMID: 19707311
tipifarnib; farnesyltransferase inhibitor; acute myeloid leukemia; prognosis; targeted therapy
4.  Zosuquidar restores drug sensitivity in P-glycoprotein expressing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:51.
Chemotherapeutic drug efflux via the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) transporter encoded by the MDR1/ABCB1 gene is a significant cause of drug resistance in numerous malignancies, including acute leukemias, especially in older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Therefore, the P-gp modulators that block P-gp-mediated drug efflux have been developed, and used in combination with standard chemotherapy. In this paper, the capacity of zosuquidar, a specific P-gp modulator, to reverse chemoresistance was examined in both leukemia cell lines and primary AML blasts.
The transporter protein expressions were analyzed by flow cytometry using their specific antibodies. The protein functionalities were assessed by the uptake of their fluorescence substrates in presence or absence their specific modulators. The drug cytotoxicity was evaluated by MTT test.
Zosuquidar completely or partially restored drug sensitivity in all P-gp-expressing leukemia cell lines tested and enhanced the cytotoxicity of anthracyclines (daunorubicin, idarubicin, mitoxantrone) and gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg) in primary AML blasts with active P-gp. In addition, P-gp inhibition by zosuquidar was found to be more potent than cyclosporine A in cells with highly active P-gp.
These in vitro studies suggest that zosuquidar may be an effective adjunct to cytotoxic chemotherapy for AML patients whose blasts express P-gp, especially for older patients.
PMCID: PMC2258302  PMID: 18271955
5.  AKT Signaling as a Novel Factor Associated with In Vitro Resistance of Human AML to Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53518.
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO), an immunoconjugate between an anti-CD33 antibody and a calicheamicin-γ1 derivative, induces remissions and improves survival in a subset of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). As the mechanisms underlying GO and calicheamicin-γ1 resistance are incompletely understood, we herein used flow cytometry-based single cell network profiling (SCNP) assays to study cellular responses of primary human AML cells to GO. Our data indicate that the extent of DNA damage is quantitatively impacted by CD33 expression and drug efflux activity. However, although DNA damage is required for GO-induced cytotoxicity, it is not sufficient for effective cell kill, suggesting that downstream anti-apoptotic pathways may function as relevant resistance mechanisms. Supporting this notion, we found activated PI3K/AKT signaling to be associated with GO resistance in vitro in primary AML cells. Consistently, the investigational AKT inhibitor MK-2206 significantly sensitized various human AML cells to GO or free calicheamicin-γ1 with particularly pronounced effects in otherwise GO or free calicheamicin-γ1 -resistant cells. Likewise, MK-2206 also sensitized primary AML cells to calicheamicin-γ1. Together, our findings illustrate the capacity of SCNP assays to discover chemotherapy-related biological pathways and signaling networks relevant to GO-induced genotoxic stress. The identification of AKT signaling as being associated with GO resistance in vitro may provide a novel approach to improve the in vivo efficacy of GO/calicheamicin-γ1 and, by extrapolation, other DNA damage-based therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3539972  PMID: 23320091
6.  Novel agents and regimens for acute myeloid leukemia: 2009 ASH annual meeting highlights 
Prognostic markers, such as NPM1, Flt3-ITD, and cytogenetic abnormalities have made it possible to formulate aggressive treatment plans for unfavorable acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, the long-term survival of AML with unfavorable factors remains unsatisfactory. The latest data indicate that the standard dose of daunorubicin (DNR) at 45 mg/m2 is inferior to high dose 90 mg/m2 for induction therapy. The rates of complete remission and overall survival are significantly better in the high dose induction regimen. New regimens exploring the new liposomal encapsulation of Ara-C and DNR as well as addition of gemtuzumab ozogamicin monoclonal antibody have been studied. New agents, including the nucleoside analogues (clofarabine, sapacitabine, elacytarabine), FLT3 inhibitor (sorafenib), farnesyl-transferase inhibitor (tipifarnib), histone deacetylase inhibitor (vorinostat), lenalidomide, as well as DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (decitabine, azacitidine), were recently reported for AML treatment in the 2009 ASH annual meeting. This review also summarizes the updates of the clinical trials on novel agents including voreloxin, AS1413, behenoylara-C, ARRY520, ribavirin, AZD1152, AZD6244, and terameprocol (EM-1421) from the 2009 ASH annual meeting.
PMCID: PMC2880983  PMID: 20416083
7.  A Phase 1-2 Study of a Farnesyltransferase Inhibitor, Tipifarnib, Combined With Idarubicin and Cytarabine for Patients With Newly Diagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia and High-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndrome 
Cancer  2010;117(6):1236-1244.
The authors conducted a phase 1/2 study of tipifarnib in combination with idarubicin and cytarabine (IA) in 95 patients with previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome.
Induction consisted of idarubicin 12 mg/m2 a day on days 1-3, cytarabine 1.5 g/m2 intravenously continuously daily on days 1-4 (days 1-3 if age ≥60 years), and tipifarnib, with the first cohort (n = 6) receiving 200 mg orally twice a day and all others receiving 300 mg twice a day for 21 days every 28 days. Consolidation consisted of 5 courses of idarubicin 8 mg/m2 a day on days 1-2, cytarabine 0.75 g/m2 a day on days 1-3, and tipifarnib 300 mg twice a day for 14 days every 4-6 weeks. Maintenance with tipifarnib 300 mg twice a day for 21 days every 4-6 weeks was continued for 6 months.
With a median follow-up of 33 months, 61 patients achieved complete remission (CR) (64%), and 9 achieved complete remission with incomplete platelet recovery (CRp) (9%). The median duration of CR was not reached. Median overall survival was 17 months. The most common grade 3 adverse events were gastrointestinal toxicities, liver dysfunction, and skin rash. Compared with historical IA, IA and tipifarnib showed a better CR duration (P = .04) and a trend toward a higher CR rate in patients with chromosome 5/7 abnormalities.
The combination of IA and tipifarnib is safe and active. Further studies exploring different dosages and schedules are warranted, particularly in patients with poor-risk AML.
PMCID: PMC4061136  PMID: 20960519
acute myeloid leukemia; tipifarnib; combination; myelodysplastic syndrome; farnesyl transferase inhibitor
8.  Minimal Residual Disease-Directed Therapy for Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Results of the AML02 Multicenter Trial 
The lancet oncology  2010;11(6):543-552.
We sought to improve outcome of childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by applying risk-directed therapy based on the genetic abnormalities of the leukemic cells and measurements of minimal residual disease (MRD) as determined by flow cytometry during treatment.
From October 13, 2002 to June 19, 2008, 232 patients with de novo AML (n=206), therapy- or myelodysplasia-related AML (n=12), or mixed-lineage leukemia (n=14) were enrolled at eight centers. Block, nonblinded randomization, stratified by cytogenetic or morphologic subtype, assigned patients to high-dose (18 g/m2, n=113) or low-dose (2 g/m2, n=117) cytarabine (A), given together with daunorubicin (D) and etoposide (E) (Induction I); achievement of MRD negative status was the primary endpoint. Induction II consisted of ADE with or without gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO); consolidation therapy included three additional courses of chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Levels of MRD were used to allocate GO and determine the timing of Induction II; both MRD and genetic abnormalities at diagnosis were used to determine final risk classification. Low-risk patients (n=68) received 5 courses of chemotherapy, whereas high-risk patients (n=79), as well as standard-risk patients (n=69) with matched sibling donors, were eligible for HSCT (performed in 48 high and 8 standard-risk patients). All randomized patients (n=230) were analyzed for the primary endpoint. The other analyses were limited to the 216 patients with AML, excluding mixed-lineage leukemia. This trial, closed to accrual, is registered with, number NCT00136084.
The complete remission rates were 80% (173 of the 216) after Induction I and 94% (203 of 216) after Induction II. Induction failures included two toxic deaths and 10 cases of resistant leukemia. The introduction of high-dose cytarabine did not significantly lower the rate of MRD positivity after Induction I therapy (34% vs. 42%, P=0.17). The cumulative incidences of grade 3 or greater infection were 79.3% ± 4.0% and 75.5% ± 4.2% for patients treated on the high-dose or low-dose arms. The 3-year estimates (± SE) of event-free and overall survival were 63.0% ± 4.1% and 71.1% ± 3.8%, respectively. Achievement of MRD < 0.1% after Induction II identified a large group of patients (80%) with a cumulative incidence of relapse of only 17% ± 3%. Post-Induction I MRD ≥ 1% was the only independent adverse prognostic factor that was statistically significant (P < 0.05) for both event-free (HR, 2.41; CI 1.36–4.26; P=0.003) and overall survival (HR, 2.11; CI 1.09–4.11; P=0.028).
Our findings suggest that the use of targeted chemotherapy and HSCT, in the context of a comprehensive risk-stratification strategy based on genetic features and MRD findings, can improve the outcome of childhood AML.
PMCID: PMC3171799  PMID: 20451454
9.  A triple combination of atorvastatin, celecoxib and tipifarnib strongly inhibits pancreatic cancer cells and xenograft pancreatic tumors 
International Journal of Oncology  2014;44(6):2139-2145.
Because K-Ras mutation and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) overexpression are hallmarks of majority of pancreatic cancer patients, an approach to inhibit the progression and growth of pancreatic cancer using the simultaneous administration of agents that inhibit the function of both targets, should be considered. In the present study, we assessed the effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor), celecoxib (Celebrex) and tipifarnib (Zarnestra) on the growth of human pancreatic cancer. In the in vitro studies, we found that treatment of human pancreatic tumor cells with a combination of atorvastatin, celecoxib and tipifarnib had a stronger inhibitory effect on growth and a stronger stimulatory effect on apoptosis than each drug alone or for any combination of two drugs. We also found that treatment of Panc-1 cells with a combination of all three drugs strongly decreased the levels of phosphorylated Erk1/2 and Akt. In an animal model of xenograft tumors in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, we found that daily i.p. injections of a combination of atorvastatin, celecoxib and tipifarnib had a stronger inhibitory effect on the growth of the tumors in mice than each drug alone or for any combination of two drugs. The results of our study indicate that a combination of atorvastatin, celecoxib and tipifarnib may be an effective strategy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC4063540  PMID: 24647860
statin; cyclooxygenase-2; farnesyl transferase; Ras; pancreatic cancer
10.  Phase II Trial of Tipifarnib as Maintenance Therapy in First Complete Remission in Adults with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and Poor-Risk Features 
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) does not have a high cure rate, particularly in patients with poor-risk features. Such patients might benefit from additional therapy in complete remission (CR). Tipifarnib is an oral farnesyltransferase inhibitor with activity in AML. We conducted a phase II trial of maintenance tipifarnib monotherapy for 48 adults with poor-risk AML in first CR.
Experimental Design
Tipifarnib 400 mg twice daily for 14 of 21 days was initiated after recovery from consolidation chemotherapy, for a maximum of 16 cycles (48 weeks).
Twenty (42%) patients completed 16 cycles, 24 (50%) were removed from study for relapse, and 4 (8%) discontinued drug prematurely for intolerance. Nonhematologic toxicities were rare, but tipifarnib dose was reduced in 58% for myelosuppression. Median disease-free survival (DFS) was 13.5 months (range, 3.5–59+ months), with 30% having DFS >2 years. Comparison of CR durations for 25 patients who received two-cycle timed sequential therapy followed by tipifarnib maintenance with 23 historically similar patients who did not receive tipifarnib showed that tipifarnib was associated with DFS prolongation for patients with secondary AML and adverse cytogenetics.
This study suggests that some patients with poor-risk AML, including patients with secondary AML and adverse cytogenetics, may benefit from tipifarnib maintenance therapy. Future studies are warranted to examine alternative tipifarnib dosing and continuation beyond 16 cycles.
PMCID: PMC3074480  PMID: 18483374
11.  Distribution and levels of cell surface expression of CD33 and CD123 in acute myeloid leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e218-.
Owing to the more recent positive results with the anti-CD33 immunotoxin gemtuzumab ozogamicin, therapy against acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) targeting CD33 holds many promises. Here, CD33 and CD123 expression on AML blasts was studied by flow cytometry in a cohort of 319 patients with detailed information on French–American–British/World Health Organization (FAB/WHO) classification, cytogenetics and molecular aberrations. AMLs of 87.8% express CD33 and would therefore be targetable with anti-CD33 therapies. Additionally, 9.4% of AMLs express CD123 without concomitant CD33 expression. Thus, nearly all AMLs could be either targeted via CD33 or CD123. Simultaneous presence of both antigens was observed in 69.5% of patients. Most importantly, even AMLs with adverse cytogenetics express CD33 and CD123 levels comparable to those with favorable and intermediate subtypes. Some patient groups with unfavorable alterations, such as FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutations, high FLT3-ITD mutant/wild-type ratios and monosomy 5 are even characterized by high expression of CD33 and CD123. In addition, blasts of patients with mutant nucleophosmin (NPM1) revealed significantly higher CD33 and CD123 expression pointing toward the possibility of minimal residual disease-guided interventions in mutated NPM1-positive AMLs. These results stimulate the development of novel concepts to redirect immune effector cells toward CD33- and CD123-expressing blasts using bi-specific antibodies or engineered T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors.
PMCID: PMC4080210  PMID: 24927407
12.  CHK1 plays a critical role in the anti-leukemic activity of the wee1 inhibitor MK-1775 in acute myeloid leukemia cells 
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a difficult disease to treat and requires new therapies to improve treatment outcome. Wee1 inhibitors have been used to prevent activation of the G2 cell cycle checkpoint, thus enhancing the antitumor activity of DNA damaging agents. In this study, we investigated MK-1775 in AML cell lines and diagnostic blast samples to identify sensitive subtypes as well as possible mechanisms of resistance.
In vitro MK-1775 cytotoxicities of AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts were measured using MTT assays. The effects of MK-1775 on cell cycle progression and related proteins were determined by propidium iodide (PI) staining and flow cytometry analysis and Western blotting. Drug-induced apoptosis was determined using annexin V/PI staining and flow cytometry analysis.
We found that newly diagnosed and relapsed patient samples were equally sensitive to MK-1775. In addition, patient samples harboring t(15;17) translocation were significantly more sensitive to MK-1775 than non-t(15;17) samples. MK-1775 induced apoptosis in both AML cell lines and diagnostic blast samples, accompanied by decreased phosphorylation of CDK1 and CDK2 on Tyr-15 and increased DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Time-course experiments, using AML cell lines, revealed a time-dependent increase in DNA DSBs, activation of CHK1 and subsequent apoptosis following MK-1775 treatment, which could be attenuated by a CDK1/2 inhibitor, Roscovitine. Simultaneous inhibition of CHK1 and Wee1 resulted in synergistic anti-leukemic activity in both AML cell lines and primary patient samples ex vivo.
Our study provides compelling evidence that CHK1 plays a critical role in the anti-leukemic activity of MK-1775 and highlights a possible mechanism of resistance to MK-1775. In addition, our study strongly supports the use of MK-1775 to treat both newly diagnosed and relapsed AML, especially cases with t(15;17) translocation, and supports the development of combination therapies with CHK1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4237862  PMID: 25084614
Wee1; MK-1775; CHK1; Acute myeloid leukemia
13.  Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in elderly Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Treatment outcome in elderly Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is still very disappointing. Although complete remission rate is around 50–60% the 2 years survival is only in the magnitude of 10–20%. This is mainly due to an overrepresentation of adverse prognostic factors present in elderly AML. As relapses emerge from residual disease present after chemotherapy, intensification of treatment could emerge as a rational strategy. Intensification of chemotherapy by increasing the dose of anthracyclines or addition of gemtuzumab ozogamycin (Mylotarg) to standard chemotherapy indeed has proved to be of advantage in elderly AML. In younger AML autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (AuPBSCT) as post remission treatment in comparison to intensive consolidation chemotherapy has been investigated in a few randomized studies. AuPBSCT showed reduced relapse rates with low non-relapse mortality rates. In elderly AML intensification by AuPBSCT also have been performed although randomized studies are lacking. Nevertheless, in the previous years various reports have suggested the potential utility of AuHSCT in AML of the elderly with encouraging results, albeit mostly in highly selected patients. Acceptable toxicity and a relatively low rate of transplant-related mortality has been notified. However relapses occurred which, irrespective of age, still remains the major cause of treatment failure of AuHSCT in AML. In this review we summarize the experience of AuPBSCT in elderly AML.
PMCID: PMC3591258  PMID: 23505606
14.  Antibody-based therapy of acute myeloid leukemia with gemtuzumab ozogamicin 
Antibodies have created high expectations for effective yet tolerated therapeutics in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Hitherto the most exploited target is CD33, a myeloid differentiation antigen found on AML blasts in most patients and, perhaps, leukemic stem cells in some. Treatment efforts have focused on conjugated antibodies, particularly gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO), an anti-CD33 antibody carrying a toxic calicheamicin-γ1 derivative that, after intracellular hydrolytic release, induces DNA strand breaks, apoptosis, and cell death. Serving as paradigm for this strategy, GO was the first anti-cancer immunoconjugate to obtain regulatory approval in the U.S. While efficacious as monotherapy in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), GO alone induces remissions in less than 25–35% of non-APL AML patients. However, emerging data from well controlled trials now indicate that GO improves survival for many non-APL AML patients, supporting the conclusion that CD33 is a clinically relevant target for some disease subsets. It is thus unfortunate that GO has become unavailable in many parts of the world, and the drug’s usefulness should be reconsidered and selected patients granted access to this immunoconjugate.
PMCID: PMC3683663  PMID: 23747885
AML; Antibody; Calicheamicin; CD33; Gemtuzumab ozogamicin; Immunoconjugate; Review
15.  The Addition of Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin to Induction Chemotherapy in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia : An IndividualPatient Data Meta-analysis of Randomised Trials in Adults 
The Lancet. Oncology  2014;15(9):986-996.
Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin (GO) was the first example of antibody directed chemotherapy in cancer and developed for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Its role has been unclear. Five randomised trials where it was combined with standard induction chemotherapy in adults have produced different results. In an effort to clarify the level of benefit, if any, and in which patients outcomes might be improved, an individual patient data meta-analysis of these 5 trials has been undertaken.
All randomised trials of GO in adults (age >15), given in conjunction with the first course of intensive induction chemotherapy for AML (excluding APL) were identified. In a collaboration between the groups involved, source data concerning demographics, treatment was requested in May 2013 and collected in 3325 randomised patients (median age 58). All trials were centrally randomised and open-label, with survival as primary endpoint. Analyses are presented by standard techniques, and within standardised risk groups
Remission rates were not increased, but by significantly reducing the risk of relapse overall survival at 5 years was improved irrespective of patient age (30.7% vs 34.6%; HR 0.90 (95% CI 0.82-0.98), p=0.01). The survival benefit was particularly clear in those with favourable cytogenetics (55.2% vs 76.3%; HR0.47 (0.31-0.73), p=0.0005), but also observed in intermediate risk patients (34.1% vs 39.4%; HR 0.84 (0.75-0.95), p=0.007) Patients with adverse karyotype did not benefit overall or within any trial. Dose levels of 3mg/m2 were associated with less toxicity and equal efficacy.
GO can be safely added to conventional induction therapy. For patients who do not have adverse cytogenetics there is a significant survival benefit. These data suggest that the use of GO should be re-evaluated and the license status of GO may need to be reviewed.
Role of funding source
There was no funder for this meta-analysis.
PMCID: PMC4137593  PMID: 25008258
16.  Emerging immunotherapies in older adults with acute myeloid leukemia 
Current opinion in hematology  2013;20(2):107-114.
Purpose of review
We summarize recent advances for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in older patients, with a focus on immunotherapeutics. Although the recently updated US SEER data still show that the majority of older AML patients do not receive any therapy, this reality is slowly changing. Advances in our understanding of the biology of AML and in the field of immunology are facilitating the development of alternative therapeutic options for patients, affording more and novel opportunities for potentially curative treatment.
Recent findings
Data from multiple cooperative groups show that older patients benefit from the incorporation of gemtuzumab ozogamicin, an anti-CD33 mAb toxin, into induction regimens. The first prospective study for Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in older AML patients was reported at ASH 2012; the approach was feasible and improved Disease-Free Survival over conventional chemotherapy. Proof-of-concept trials targeting specific antigens such as WT1 or novel unique leukemia-associated antigens are currently underway, as well as other trials using chimeric antigen receptor T cells or (Natural Killer NK/effector cells in nontransplantation settings.
Wider application of immunotherapies such as allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with RIC have altered the landscape and offer potential for cure of an increasing number of older AML patients.
PMCID: PMC4083702  PMID: 23334192
immunotherapy; natural killer cells; older acute myeloid leukemia patients
17.  Mylotarg has potent anti-leukaemic effect: a systematic review and meta-analysis of anti-CD33 antibody treatment in acute myeloid leukaemia 
Annals of Hematology  2014;94:361-373.
Conventional chemotherapy is ineffective in the majority of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and monoclonal antibodies recognising CD33 expressed on myeloid progenitors (e.g. gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO)) have been reported to improve outcome in patients with AML. Reports of excess toxicity have resulted in GO’s licence being withdrawn. As a result, the role of these agents remains unclear. A systematic review and meta-analysis included studies of patients with AML who had entered a randomised control trial (RCT), where one arm included anti-CD33 antibody therapy. Fixed effect meta-analysis was used, involving calculation of observed minus expected number of events, and variance for each endpoint in each trial, with the overall treatment effect expressed as Peto’s odds ratio with 95 % confidence interval. Meta-analysis of 11 RCTs with 13 randomisations involving GO was undertaken. Although GO increased induction deaths (p = 0.02), it led to a reduction in resistant disease (p = 0.0009); hence, there was no improvement in complete remission. Whilst GO improved relapse-free survival (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.90, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 0.84–0.98, p = 0.01), there was no overall benefit of GO in overall survival (OS) (HR = 0.96, 95 % CI = 0.90–1.02, p = 0.2). GO improved OS in patients with favourable cytogenetics, with no evidence of benefit in patients with intermediate or adverse cytogenetics (test for heterogeneity between subtotals p = 0.01). GO has a potent clinically detectable anti-leukaemic effect. Further trials to investigate its optimum delivery and identification of patient populations who may benefit are needed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00277-014-2218-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4317519  PMID: 25284166
Acute myeloid leukaemia; CD33 antigen; Systematic review; Meta-analysis; Randomised clinical trials; Gemtuzumab; Mylotarg; Humanised monoclonal antibodies
18.  Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin Can Reduce Minimal Residual Disease in Patients With Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cancer  2013;119(22):4036-4043.
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (GO) is an active agent for the treatment of CD33-postive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and may improve the outcome of specific patient subgroups when combined with conventional chemotherapy. However, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, the effects of GO on levels of minimal residual disease (MRD) are unknown.
Pediatric patients with AML who received GO, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy on the AML02 multicenter trial, were analyzed to determine the effects of GO on MRD and outcome.
Among 17 patients who received GO alone because of persistent leukemia, 14 had a reduction in their MRD level and 13 became MRD negative. Of the 29 who received chemotherapy in combination with GO after responding poorly to chemotherapy, 28 demonstrated reduced MRD and 13 became MRD negative. Treatment with GO effectively reduced MRD before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and was not found to be associated with increased treatment-related mortality after transplantation.
GO is effective in reducing MRD levels in pediatric patients with AML and may improve the outcome of those patients at high risk of disease recurrence.
PMCID: PMC4271731  PMID: 24006085
acute myeloid leukemia; minimal residual disease; gemtuzumab ozogamicin; treatment-related mortality
19.  Isoform-Specific Potentiation of Stem and Progenitor Cell Engraftment by AML1/RUNX1  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e172.
AML1/RUNX1 is the most frequently mutated gene in leukaemia and is central to the normal biology of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. However, the role of different AML1 isoforms within these primitive compartments is unclear. Here we investigate whether altering relative expression of AML1 isoforms impacts the balance between cell self-renewal and differentiation in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Findings
The human AML1a isoform encodes a truncated molecule with DNA-binding but no transactivation capacity. We used a retrovirus-based approach to transduce AML1a into primitive haematopoietic cells isolated from the mouse. We observed that enforced AML1a expression increased the competitive engraftment potential of murine long-term reconstituting stem cells with the proportion of AML1a-expressing cells increasing over time in both primary and secondary recipients. Furthermore, AML1a expression dramatically increased primitive and committed progenitor activity in engrafted animals as assessed by long-term culture, cobblestone formation, and colony assays. In contrast, expression of the full-length isoform AML1b abrogated engraftment potential. In vitro, AML1b promoted differentiation while AML1a promoted proliferation of progenitors capable of short-term lymphomyeloid engraftment. Consistent with these findings, the relative abundance of AML1a was highest in the primitive stem/progenitor compartment of human cord blood, and forced expression of AML1a in these cells enhanced maintenance of primitive potential both in vitro and in vivo.
These data demonstrate that the “a” isoform of AML1 has the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation. This activity is consistent with its expression pattern in both normal and leukaemic cells. Manipulating the balance of AML1 isoform expression may offer novel therapeutic strategies, exploitable in the contexts of leukaemia and also in cord blood transplantation in adults, in whom stem and progenitor cell numbers are often limiting.
The truncated "a" isoform of AML1 is shown to have the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation.
Editors' Summary
Blood contains red blood cells (which carry oxygen round the body), platelets (which help the blood to clot), and white blood cells (which fight off infections). All these cells, which are regularly replaced, are derived from hematopoietic stem cells, blood-forming cells present in the bone marrow. Like all stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells self-renew (reproduce themselves) and produce committed progenitor cells, which develop into mature blood cells in a process called hematopoiesis. Many proteins control hematopoiesis, some of which are called transcription factors; these factors bind to DNA through their DNA-binding domain and then control the expression of genes (that is, how DNA is turned into proteins) through particular parts of the protein (their transcription regulatory domains). An important hematopoietic transcription factor is AML1—a protein first identified because of its involvement in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, a form of blood cancer). Mutations (changes) in the AML1 gene are now known to be present in other types of leukemia, which are often characterized by overproliferation of immature blood cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of AML1′s crucial role in hematopoiesis, knowing more about which genes it regulates and how its activity is regulated could provide clues to treating leukemia and to improving hematopoietic cell transplantation. Many cancer treatments destroy hematopoietic stem cells, leaving patients vulnerable to infection. Transplants of bone marrow or cord blood (the cord that links mother and baby during pregnancy contains peripheral blood stem cells) can replace the missing cells, but cord blood in particular often contains insufficient stem cells for successful transplantation. It would be useful, therefore, to expand the stem cell content of these tissues before transplantation. In this study, the researchers investigated the effect of AML1 on self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the laboratory (in vitro) and in animals (in vivo). In particular, they have asked how two isoforms (closely related versions) of AML1 affect the ability of these cells to grow and differentiate (engraft) in mice after transplantation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers artificially expressed AML1a and AML1b (both isoforms contain a DNA binding domain, but only AML1b has transcription regulatory domains) in mouse hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and then tested the cells' ability to engraft in mice. AML1a-expressing cells engrafted better than unaltered cells and outgrew unaltered cells when transplanted as a mixture. AML1b-expressing cells, however, did not engraft. In vitro, AML1a-expressing cells grew more than AML1b-expressing cells, whereas differentiation was promoted in AML1b-expressing cells. To investigate whether the isoforms have the same effects in human cells, the researchers measured the amount of AML1a and AML1b mRNA (the template for protein production) made by progenitor cells in human cord blood. Although AML1b (together with AML1c, an isoform with similar characteristics) mRNA predominated in all the progenitor cell types, the relative abundance of AML1a was greatest in the stem and progenitor cells. Furthermore, forced expression of AML1a in these cells improved their ability to divide in vitro and to engraft in mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that AML1a expression increases the self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and consequently improves their ability to engraft in mice, whereas AML1b expression encourages the differentiation of these cell types. These activities are consistent with the expression patterns of the two isoforms in normal hematopoietic cells and in leukemic cells—the mutated AML made by many leukemic cells resembles AML1a. Because the AML1 isoforms were expressed at higher than normal levels in these experiments, the physiological relevance of these findings needs to be confirmed by showing that normal levels of AML1a and AML1b produce similar results. Nevertheless, these results suggest that manipulating the balance of AML1 isoforms made by hematopoietic cells might be useful clinically. In leukemia, a shift toward AML1b expression might slow the proliferation of leukemic cells and encourage their differentiation. Conversely, in cord blood transplantation, a shift toward AML1a expression might improve patient outcomes by expanding the stem and progenitor cell populations.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (in English and Spanish) and information for patients and professionals on leukemia (in English)
The American Society of Hematology provides patient information about blood diseases, including information on bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
PMCID: PMC1868041  PMID: 17503961
20.  Siglecs as targets for therapy in immune cell mediated disease 
The sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectins (siglecs) comprise a family of receptors that are differentially expressed on leukocytes and other immune cells. The restricted expression of several siglecs to one or a few cell types makes them attractive targets for cell-directed therapies. The anti-CD33 (Siglec-3) antibody Gemtuzumab (Mylotarg™) is approved for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and antibodies targeting CD22 (Siglec-2) are currently in clinical trials for treatment of B cell non-Hodgkins lymphomas and autoimmune diseases. Because siglecs are endocytic receptors, they are well suited for a ‘Trojan horse’ strategy, whereby therapeutic agents conjugated to an antibody, or multimeric glycan ligand, bind to the siglec and are efficiently carried into the cell. Although the rapid internalization of unmodified siglec antibodies reduces their utility for induction of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) or complement-mediated cytotoxicity (CDC), antibody binding of Siglec-8, Siglec-9, and CD22 have been demonstrated to induce apoptosis of eosinophils, neutrophils, and depletion of B cells, respectively. Here we review the properties of siglecs that make them attractive for cell-targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC2830709  PMID: 19359050
21.  A Phase 1 Trial Dose Escalation Study of Tipifarnib on a Week-On, Week-Off Schedule in Relapsed, Refractory or High-Risk Myeloid Leukemia 
Inhibition of farnesyltransferase (FT) activity has been associated with in vitro and in vivo anti-leukemia activity. We report the results of a phase 1 dose escalation study of tipifarnib, an oral FT inhibitor, in patients with relapsed, refractory, or newly diagnosed (if over age 70) acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), on a week-on, week-off schedule. Forty-four patients were enrolled, 2 patients were newly diagnosed, the rest were relapsed or refractory to previous treatment, with a median age of 61 (range 33–79). The maximum tolerated dose was determined to be 1200 mg given orally twice-daily (bid) on this schedule. Cycle one dose-limiting toxicities were hepatic and renal. There were 3 complete remissions seen, 2 at the 1200 mg bid dose and one at the 1000 mg bid dose, with minor responses seen at the 1400 mg bid dose level. Pharmacokinetic studies performed at doses of 1400 mg bid showed linear behavior with minimal accumulation between days 1–5. Tipifarnib administered on a week-on week-off schedule shows activity at higher doses, and represents an option for future clinical trials in AML.
PMCID: PMC3165084  PMID: 21625235
farnesyltransferase; tipifarnib; Zarnestra®; AML; acute myelogenous leukemia; phase 1 trial
22.  Ara-C, Idarubicine and Gentuzumab Ozogamicin (AIM) as Salvage Treatment in Advanced Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients 
Long-term survival of relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a major problem, particularly in patients not eligible for transplantation.
We hereby evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of adding Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin to salvage chemotherapy (Ara-C, Idarubicine, Peg-Filgrastim) in relapsed/refractory AML. The main endpoints were: the rate of complete remissions (CR) and the proportion of patients capable of undergoing a stem cell transplant.
Fourty-two patients were enrolled. The overall CR rate was 76% and no induction deaths were reported. In 56% of patients, a transplant procedure could be performed. The treatment schedule proved feasible and well tolerated, providing a high CR rate and a useful bridge to transplant.
PMCID: PMC3507532  PMID: 23205260
23.  Combination of farnesyltransferase and Akt inhibitors is synergistic in breast cancer cells and causes significant breast tumor regression in ErbB2 transgenic mice 
The Akt activation inhibitor triciribine and the farnesyltransferase inhibitor tipifarnib have modest to little activity in clinical trials when used as single agents. In this manuscript pre-clinical data demonstrate that the combination is more effective than single agents both in cultured cells and in vivo. Combination index data analysis demonstrates that this combination is highly synergistic at inhibiting anchorage-dependent growth of breast cancer cells. This synergistic interaction is also observed with structurally unrelated inhibitors of Akt (MK-2206) and farnesyltransferase (FTI-2153). The triciribine/tipifarnib synergistic effects are seen with several cancer cell lines including those from breast, leukemia, multiple myeloma and lung tumors with different genetic alterations such as K-Ras, B-Raf, PI3K, p53 and pRb mutations, PTEN, pRB and Ink4a deletions and ErbB receptor overexpression. Furthermore, the combination is synergistic at inhibiting anchorage-independent growth and at inducing apoptosis in breast cancer cells. The combination is also more effective at inhibiting the Akt/mTOR/S6 kinase pathway. In an ErbB2-driven breast tumor transgenic mouse model the combination, but not single agent, treatment with triciribine and tipifarnib induces significant breast tumor regression. Our findings warrant further investigation of the combination of farnesyltransferase and Akt inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3156694  PMID: 21536547
24.  P-glycoprotein and breast cancer resistance protein in acute myeloid leukaemia cells treated with the Aurora-B Kinase Inhibitor barasertib-hQPA 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:254.
Aurora kinases play an essential role in orchestrating chromosome alignment, segregation and cytokinesis during mitotic progression, with both aurora-A and B frequently over-expressed in a variety of human malignancies. Over-expression of the ABC drug transporter proteins P-glycoprotein (Pgp) and Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) is a major obstacle for chemotherapy in many tumour types with Pgp conferring particularly poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Barasertib-hQPA is a highly selective inhibitor of aurora-B kinase that has shown tumouricidal activity against a range tumour cell lines including those of leukaemic AML origin.
Effect of barasertib-hQPA on the pHH3 biomarker and cell viability was measured in a panel of leukaemic cell lines and 37 primary AML samples by flow cytometry. Pgp status was determined by flow cytometry and BCRP status by flow cytometry and real-time PCR.
In this study we report the creation of the cell line OCI-AML3DNR, which over-expresses Pgp but not BCRP or multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP), through prolonged treatment of OCI-AML3 cells with daunorubicin. We demonstrate that Pgp (OCI-AML3DNR and KG-1a) and BCRP (OCI-AML6.2) expressing AML cell lines are less sensitive to barasertib-hQPA induced pHH3 inhibition and subsequent loss of viability compared to transporter negative cell lines. We also show that barasertib-hQPA resistance in these cell lines can be reversed using known Pgp and BCRP inhibitors. We report that barasertib-hQPA is not an inhibitor of Pgp or BCRP, but by using 14[C]-barasertib-hQPA that it is effluxed by these transporters. Using phosphoHistone H3 (pHH3) as a biomarker of barasertib-hQPA responsiveness in primary AML blasts we determined that Pgp and BCRP positive primary samples were less sensitive to barasertib-hQPA induced pHH3 inhibition (p = <0.001) than samples without these transporters. However, we demonstrate that IC50 inhibition of pHH3 by barasertib-hQPA was achieved in 94.6% of these samples after 1 hour drug treatment, in contrast to the resistance of the cell lines.
We conclude that Pgp and BCRP status and pHH3 down-regulation in patients treated with barasertib should be monitored in order to establish whether transporter-mediated efflux is sufficient to adversely impact on the efficacy of the agent.
PMCID: PMC3146447  PMID: 21679421
To determine the possibility of synergistic anti-leukemic activity and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with cytarabine combined with valproic acid (VPA) [a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACI) and an FDA-licensed drug for treating both children and adults with epilepsy] in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Experimental Design
The type and extent of anti-leukemic interactions between cytarabine and VPA in clinically relevant pediatric AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts from children with AML were determined by MTT assays and standard isobologram analyses. The effects of cytarabine and VPA on apoptosis and cell cycle distributions were determined by flow cytometry analysis and caspase enzymatic assays. The effects of the two agents on DNA damage and Bcl-2 family proteins were determined by Western blotting.
We demonstrated synergistic antileukemic activities between cytarabine and VPA in 4 pediatric AML cell lines and 9 diagnostic AML blast samples. t(8;21) AML blasts were significantly more sensitive to VPA and showed far greater sensitivities to combined cytarabine and VPA than non-t(8;21) AML cases. Cytarabine and VPA cooperatively induced DNA double strand breaks, reflected in induction of γH2AX and apoptosis, accompanied by activation of caspases 9 and 3. Further, VPA induced Bim expression and shRNA knockdown of Bim resulted in significantly decreased apoptosis induced by cytarabine, and by cytarabine plus VPA.
Our results establish global synergistic antileukemic activity of combined VPA and cytarabine in pediatric AML and provide compelling evidence to support the use of VPA in the treatment of children with this deadly disease.
PMCID: PMC3018695  PMID: 20889917

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