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2.  A study of the decision outcomes and financial costs of multidisciplinary team meetings (MDMs) in oncology 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(9):2295-2300.
The benefits of multidisciplinary working in oncology are now accepted as the norm and widely accepted as being pivotal to the delivery of optimal cancer care. Central to this are the multidisciplinary meetings (MDMs) and we have evaluated decision outcomes and financial costs of these.
We reviewed the electronic patient records of 551 newly referred patients, discussed at 14 tumour site-specific MDMs for adult solid tumours and lymphoma (paediatric oncology and acute leukaemia were excluded) over a 1-month period, a total of 52 MDMs were studied. In addition, the records of a further 81 patients from 10 different MDMs were reviewed where the treating consultant had clearly recorded their opinion of how the patient should be managed and this was compared with the final MDM's consensus view. We also costed the MDMs utilising two different methodologies.
The mean age of the 551 patients in the study was 62 years. In all, 536 (97.3%) patients were treatment naive before MDM discussion and 15 (2.7%) had prior treatment. Median time to treatment after the MDM was 16 days. In 535 (97.1%) cases, the MDM discussions were clearly documented, 16 (2.9%) were not clearly documented. In total, 319 (57.9%) patients were discussed once, and 232 (42.1%) were re-discussed (one to six occasions). In 62 (12.7%) patients, there were delays in MDM discussion, 30 (48.4%) were related to radiology, 26 (41.9%) to histopathology and 6 (9.7%) a combination of both. Adherence to the MDM management plan decision occurred 503 times (91.3%) with 48 (8.7%) deviations. In the smaller cohort of 81 patients, the consultant management plan and MDM consensus was compatible 71 (87.6%) times. On four occasions, there were major alterations in management while six were minor. The cost per month of our MDMs ranged from £2192 to £10 050 (median £5136) with total cost of £80 850 per month and the cost per new patient discussed was £415.
Adherence to MDM decisions by health-care professionals occurs in the majority of patients. MDMs are costly, which may have relevance in the currently challenged health-care financial environment. There is a need to improve MDM efficiency without losing the considerable benefits associated with regular MDMs.
PMCID: PMC3817328  PMID: 24084764
multidisciplinary; meetings; cost; decisions; oncology
3.  Changes in tumour vessel density upon treatment with anti-angiogenic agents: relationship with response and resistance to therapy 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(5):1230-1242.
We examine how changes in a surrogate marker of tumour vessel density correlate with response and resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy.
In metastatic renal cancer patients treated with anti-angiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitors, arterial phase contrast-enhanced computed tomography was used to simultaneously measure changes in: (a) tumour size, and (b) tumour enhancement (a surrogate marker of tumour vessel density) within individual lesions.
No correlation between baseline tumour enhancement and lesion shrinkage was observed, but a reduction in tumour enhancement on treatment was strongly correlated with reduction in lesion size (r=0.654, P<0.0001). However, close examination of individual metastases revealed different types of response: (1) good vascular response with significant tumour shrinkage, (2) good vascular response with stabilisation of disease, (3) poor vascular response with stabilisation of disease and (4) poor vascular response with progression. Moreover, contrasting responses between different lesions within the same patient were observed. We also assessed rebound vascularisation in tumours that acquired resistance to treatment. The amplitude of rebound vascularisation was greater in lesions that had a better initial response to therapy (P=0.008).
Changes in a surrogate marker of tumour vessel density correlate with response and resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy. The data provide insight into the mechanisms that underlie response and resistance to this class of agent.
PMCID: PMC3778288  PMID: 23922108
angiogenesis; metastasis; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; resistance; renal cell carcinoma
4.  Prognostic factors for survival in 1059 patients treated with sunitinib for metastatic renal cell carcinoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;108(12):2470-2477.
Prognostic factors for progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and long-term OS (⩾30 months) were investigated in sunitinib-treated patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
Data were pooled from 1059 patients in six trials. Baseline variables, including ethnicity, were analysed for prognostic significance by Cox proportional-hazards model.
Median PFS and OS were 9.7 and 23.4 months, respectively. Multivariate analysis of PFS and OS identified independent predictors, including ethnic origin, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, time from diagnosis to treatment, prior cytokine use, haemoglobin, lactate dehydrogenase, corrected calcium, neutrophils, platelets, and bone metastases (OS only). Characteristics of long-term survivors (n=215, 20%) differed from those of non-long-term survivors; independent predictors of long-term OS included ethnic origin, bone metastases, and corrected calcium. There were no differences in PFS (10.5 vs 7.2 months; P=0.1006) or OS (23.8 vs 21.4 months; P=0.2135) in white vs Asian patients; however, there were significant differences in PFS (10.5 vs 5.7 months; P<0.001) and OS (23.8 vs 17.4 months; P=0.0319) in white vs non-white, non-Asian patients.
These analyses identified risk factors to survival with sunitinib, including potential ethnic-based differences, and validated risk factors previously reported in advanced RCC.
PMCID: PMC3694236  PMID: 23695024
sunitinib; prognostic factors; renal cell carcinoma; metastatic; survival
5.  Whole-genome sequencing reveals complex mechanisms of intrinsic resistance to BRAF inhibition 
Annals of Oncology  2014;25(5):959-967.
We used a combination of whole-genome sequencing and in vitro validation to show that mutations that activated at least two pro-growth/survival pathways mediated intrinsic resistance to BRAF inhibition in a melanoma patient. These data demonstrate how in-depth analysis can reveal intrinsic resistance to standard of care, providing an opportunity for alternative therapeutic strategies for patients who are likely to fail first-line treat-575 ment.
BRAF is mutated in ∼42% of human melanomas (COSMIC. and pharmacological BRAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib and dabrafenib achieve dramatic responses in patients whose tumours harbour BRAFV600 mutations. Objective responses occur in ∼50% of patients and disease stabilisation in a further ∼30%, but ∼20% of patients present primary or innate resistance and do not respond. Here, we investigated the underlying cause of treatment failure in a patient with BRAF mutant melanoma who presented primary resistance.
We carried out whole-genome sequencing and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array analysis of five metastatic tumours from the patient. We validated mechanisms of resistance in a cell line derived from the patient's tumour.
We observed that the majority of the single-nucleotide variants identified were shared across all tumour sites, but also saw site-specific copy-number alterations in discrete cell populations at different sites. We found that two ubiquitous mutations mediated resistance to BRAF inhibition in these tumours. A mutation in GNAQ sustained mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling, whereas a mutation in PTEN activated the PI3 K/AKT pathway. Inhibition of both pathways synergised to block the growth of the cells.
Our analyses show that the five metastases arose from a common progenitor and acquired additional alterations after disease dissemination. We demonstrate that a distinct combination of mutations mediated primary resistance to BRAF inhibition in this patient. These mutations were present in all five tumours and in a tumour sample taken before BRAF inhibitor treatment was administered. Inhibition of both pathways was required to block tumour cell growth, suggesting that combined targeting of these pathways could have been a valid therapeutic approach for this patient.
PMCID: PMC3999800  PMID: 24504448
BRAF; melanoma; mechanisms of resistance; intra-tumour heterogeneity; tumour evolution
6.  Targeted anti-vascular therapies for ovarian cancer: current evidence 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;108(2):250-258.
Ovarian cancer presents at advanced stage in around 75% of women, and despite improvements in treatments such as chemotherapy, the 5-year survival from the disease in women diagnosed between 1996 and 1999 in England and Wales was only 36%. Over 80% of patients with advanced ovarian cancer will relapse and despite a good chance of remission from further chemotherapy, they will usually die from their disease. Sequential treatment strategies are employed to maximise quality and length of life but patients eventually become resistant to cytotoxic agents. The expansion in understanding of the molecular biology that characterises cancer cells has led to the rapid development of new agents to target important pathways but the heterogeneity of ovarian cancer biology means that there is no predominant defect. This review attempts to discuss progress to date in tackling a more general target applicable to ovary cancer—angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3566823  PMID: 23385789
ovary cancer; VEGF inhibitors; anti-angiogenesis; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; vascular disruptive agents; metronomic chemotherapy
7.  A randomised, phase II study of intetumumab, an anti-αv-integrin mAb, alone and with dacarbazine in stage IV melanoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;105(3):346-352.
αv integrins are involved in angiogenesis and melanoma tumourigenesis. Intetumumab (CNTO 95) is a fully human anti-αv-integrin monoclonal antibody.
In a multicentre, randomised, phase II study, stage IV melanoma patients were randomised 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 to 1000 mg m−2 dacarbazine+placebo (n=32), 1000 mg m−2 dacarbazine+10 mg kg−1 intetumumab (n=32), 10 mg kg−1 intetumumab (n=33), or 5 mg kg−1 intetumumab (n=32) q3w. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), objective response rate (ORR), adverse events, and pharmacokinetics.
No statistically significant differences in efficacy were observed between groups. In the dacarbazine+placebo, dacarbazine+intetumumab, 10 mg kg−1 intetumumab, and 5 mg kg−1 intetumumab groups, median PFS was 1.8, 2.5, 1.4, and 1.4 months; median OS was 8, 11, 15, and 9.8 months; and ORR of complete+partial response was 10, 3, 6, and 0%. Nonlinear intetumumab pharmacokinetics and potential intetumumab–dacarbazine interactions were observed. Transient, asymptomatic, nonrecurring, grade 1–2, uveitic reactions that resolved spontaneously or with topical steroids were seen in 22–30% of intetumumab-treated patients. Low-grade infusion-reaction symptoms (headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills) were observed, as expected, in 16–73% of dacarbazine-treated patients. No intetumumab-related myelosuppression, laboratory/electrocardiogram abnormalities, or deaths occurred.
With its favourable safety profile and a nonsignificant trend towards improved OS, intetumumab merits further investigation in advanced melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3172894  PMID: 21750555
intetumumab; melanoma; αv integrins; dacarbazine; CNTO 95
8.  Sorafenib and dacarbazine as first-line therapy for advanced melanoma: phase I and open-label phase II studies 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;105(3):353-359.
The safety of oral sorafenib up to a maximum protocol-specified dose combined with dacarbazine in patients with metastatic, histologically confirmed melanoma was investigated in a phase I dose-escalation study and the activity of the combination was explored in an open-label phase II study.
In the phase I study, three patients were treated with sorafenib 200 mg twice daily (b.i.d.) plus 1000 mg m−2 dacarbazine on day 1 of a 21-day cycle and 15 patients had the sorafenib dose escalated to 400 mg b.i.d. without reaching the maximum tolerated dose of the combination. In the phase II study (n=83), the overall response rate was 12% (95% CI: 6, 21): one complete and nine partial, with median response duration of 46.7 weeks. Stable disease was the best response in 37% median duration was 13.3 weeks. Median overall survival (OS) was 37.0 weeks (95% CI: 33.9, 46.0).
Oral sorafenib combined with dacarbazine had acceptable toxicity and some antineoplastic activity against metastatic melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3172912  PMID: 21750549
melanoma; sorafenib; dacarbazine; combination therapy; biomarker
9.  A phase I study of the safety and tolerability of olaparib (AZD2281, KU0059436) and dacarbazine in patients with advanced solid tumours 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;104(5):750-755.
Poly adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-ribose polymerase (PARP) is essential in cellular processing of DNA damage via the base excision repair pathway (BER). The PARP inhibition can be directly cytotoxic to tumour cells and augments the anti-tumour effects of DNA-damaging agents. This study evaluated the optimally tolerated dose of olaparib (4-(3--4-fluorophenyl) methyl-1(2H)-one; AZD2281, KU0059436), a potent PARP inhibitor, with dacarbazine and assessed safety, toxicity, clinical pharmacokinetics and efficacy of combination treatment.
Patients and methods:
Patients with advanced cancer received olaparib (20–200 mg PO) on days 1–7 with dacarbazine (600–800 mg m−2 IV) on day 1 (cycle 2, day 2) of a 21-day cycle. An expansion cohort of chemonaive melanoma patients was treated at an optimally tolerated dose. The BER enzyme, methylpurine-DNA glycosylase and its substrate 7-methylguanine were quantified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
The optimal combination to proceed to phase II was defined as 100 mg bd olaparib with 600 mg m−2 dacarbazine. Dose-limiting toxicities were neutropaenia and thrombocytopaenia. There were two partial responses, both in patients with melanoma.
This study defined a tolerable dose of olaparib in combination with dacarbazine, but there were no responses in chemonaive melanoma patients, demonstrating no clinical advantage over single-agent dacarbazine at these doses.
PMCID: PMC3048218  PMID: 21326243
chemotherapy; dacarbazine; melanoma; PARP; resistance
10.  Challenges and opportunities for converting renal cell carcinoma into a chronic disease with targeted therapies 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;104(3):399-406.
Optimum efficacy is the primary goal for any cancer therapy, and entails controlling tumour growth and prolonging survival as far as possible. The prognosis for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) has greatly improved with the introduction of targeted therapies. This review examines the development and efficacy of targeted agents for the management of mRCC, the challenges offered by their rapid emergence, and discusses how mRCC treatment may evolve in the future. Improvements in progression-free survival and overall survival rates, observed with targeted agents, indicate that it may now be possible to change mRCC from a rapidly fatal and largely untreatable condition into a chronic disease. The major challenges to further advances in targeted therapy for mRCC include overcoming drug resistance, identifying the most effective sequence or combination of targeted agents, optimising clinical trial design and managing the cost of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3049574  PMID: 21285971
chronic disease; combinatorial therapy; renal cell carcinoma; sequential therapy; sunitinib malate; targeted agents
11.  A phase I/II trial of sorafenib and infliximab in advanced renal cell carcinoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;103(8):1149-1153.
There is clinical evidence to suggest that tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) may be a therapeutic target in renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Multi-targeted kinase inhibitors, such as sorafenib and sunitinib, have become standard of care in advanced RCC. The anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody infliximab and sorafenib have differing cellular mechanisms of action. We conducted a phase I/II trial to determine the safety and efficacy of infliximab in combination with sorafenib in patients with advanced RCC.
Eligible patients were systemic treatment-naive or had received previous cytokine therapy only. Sorafenib and infliximab were administered according to standard schedules. The study had two phases: in phase I, the safety and toxicity of the combination of full-dose sorafenib and two dose levels of infliximab were evaluated in three and three patients, respectively, and in phase II, further safety, toxicity and efficacy data were collected in an expanded patient population.
Acceptable safety was reported for the first three patients (infliximab 5 mg kg−1) in phase 1. Sorafenib 400 mg twice daily and infliximab 10 mg kg−1 were administered to a total of 13 patients (three in phase 1 and 10 in phase 2). Adverse events included grade 3 hand–foot syndrome (31%), rash (25%), fatigue (19%) and infection (19%). Although manageable, toxicity resulted in 75% of the patients requiring at least one dose reduction and 81% requiring at least one dose delay of sorafenib. Four patients were progression-free at 6 months (PFS6 31%); median PFS and overall survival were 6 and 14 months, respectively.
Sorafenib and infliximab can be administered in combination, but a significant increase in the numbers of adverse events requiring dose adjustments of sorafenib was observed. There was no evidence of increased efficacy compared with sorafenib alone in advanced RCC. The combination of sorafenib and infliximab does not warrant further evaluation in patients with advanced RCC.
PMCID: PMC2967062  PMID: 20842130
renal cell carcinoma; sorafenib; infliximab
13.  Costs of managing adverse events in the treatment of first-line metastatic renal cell carcinoma: bevacizumab in combination with interferon-α2a compared with sunitinib 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;102(1):80-86.
Bevacizumab plus interferon-α2a (IFN) prolongs progression-free survival to >10 months, which is comparable with sunitinib as first-line treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The two regimens have different tolerability profiles; therefore, costs for managing adverse events may be an important factor in selecting therapy.
Costs of managing adverse events affecting patients with metastatic RCC eligible for treatment with bevacizumab plus IFN or sunitinib were evaluated using a linear decision analytical model. Management costs were calculated from the published incidence of adverse events and health-care costs for treating adverse events in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.
Adverse event management costs were higher for sunitinib than for bevacizumab plus IFN. The average cost per patient for the management of grade 3–4 adverse events was markedly lower with bevacizumab plus IFN compared with sunitinib in the United Kingdom (€1475 vs €804), Germany (€1785 vs €1367), France (€2590 vs €1618) and Italy (€891 vs €402). The main cost drivers were lymphopaenia, neutropaenia, thrombocytopaenia, leucopaenia and fatigue/asthaenia for sunitinib; and proteinuria, fatigue/asthaenia, bleeding, anaemia and gastrointestinal perforation for bevacizumab plus IFN.
The costs of managing adverse events are lower for bevacizumab plus IFN than for sunitinib. The potential for cost savings should be considered when selecting treatments for RCC.
PMCID: PMC2813739  PMID: 19920817
adverse events; bevacizumab; cost; management; sunitinib
15.  Impact of enteral nutrition on nitrogen balance in patients of trauma 
A prospective study of 50 patients of trauma was carried out at a tertiary level trauma center in Mumbai. The aim was to study the hypermetabolic response to trauma and the effect of early enteral feeding and nutritional supplementation in blunting this response in these patients.
Early enteral feeding was started within 72 h in most patients. The caloric requirement was calculated as per the body weight and a 150: 1 ratio of nonprotein calories to protein was maintained. A 24-h urinary nitrogen loss was estimated and nitrogen balance was calculated on days 1, 3 and 7.
The correlation between the injury severity and the severity of catabolism was also analysed. Urinary nitrogen loss and nitrogen balance were used as parameters to evaluate the hypermetabolic response.
Early (within 72 h) enteral nutritional support blunts this hypermetabolic response to some extent in these trauma patients.
PMCID: PMC2884438  PMID: 20606784
Enteral nutrition; nitrogen; nutrition assessment
16.  A phase Ib trial of docetaxel, carboplatin and erlotinib in ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(11):1774-1780.
The safety and maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of erlotinib with docetaxel/carboplatin were assessed in patients with ovarian cancer. Chemonaive patients received intravenous docetaxel (75 mg m−2) and carboplatin (area under the curve 5) on day 1 of a 3-week cycle, and oral erlotinib at 50 (cohort 1), 100 (cohort 2a) or 75 mg day−1 (cohort 2b) for up to six cycles. Dose-limiting toxicities were determined in cycle 1. Forty-five patients (median age 59 years) received treatment. Dose-limiting toxicities occurred in 1/5/5 patients (cohorts 1/2a/2b). The MTD of erlotinib in this regimen was determined to be 75 mg day−1 (cohort 2b; the erlotinib dose was escalated to 100 mg day−1 in 11 out of 19 patients from cycle 2 onwards). Neutropaenia was the predominant grade 3/4 haematological toxicity (85/100/95% respectively). Common non-haematological toxicities were diarrhoea, fatigue, nausea and rash. There were five complete and seven partial responses in 23 evaluable patients (52% response rate). Docetaxel/carboplatin had no measurable effect on erlotinib pharmacokinetics. In subsequent single-agent maintenance, erlotinib was given at 100–150 mg day−1, with manageable toxicity, until tumour progression. Further investigation of erlotinib in epithelial ovarian carcinoma may be warranted, particularly as maintenance therapy.
PMCID: PMC2410113  PMID: 18506181
docetaxel; carboplatin; erlotinib; HER1/EGFR; gynaecological; cancer
17.  A Phase II study of trabectedin single agent in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer previously treated with platinum-based regimens 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;97(12):1618-1624.
The objective of this study was to determine the objective response rate in patients with platinum-sensitive and platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer to treatment with trabectedin (Yondelis®) administered as a 3-h infusion weekly for 3 weeks of a 4-week cycle. We carried out a multicentre Phase II trial of trabectedin in patients with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer. Trabectedin (0.58 mg m−2) was administered via a central line, after premedication with dexamethasone, to 147 patients as a 3-h infusion weekly for 3 weeks followed by 1-week rest. Major eligibility criteria included measurable relapsed advanced ovarian cancer and not more than two prior platinum-containing regimens. Patients were stratified according to the treatment-free interval (TFI) between having either platinum-sensitive (⩾6 months TFI) or platinum-resistant disease (<6 months TFI)/platinum-refractory disease (progression during first line therapy). In the platinum-sensitive cohort, 62 evaluable patients with measurable disease had an overall response rate (ORR) of 29.0% (95% CI: 18.2–41.9%) and median progression-free survival (PFS) was 5.1 months (95% CI: 2.8–6.2). Four patients with measurable disease per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST) criteria had no follow-up scans at the end of treatment. In the platinum-resistant/refractory cohort, 79 patients were evaluable with an ORR of 6.3% (95% CI: 2.1–14.2%). Median PFS was 2.0 months (95% CI: 1.7–3.5 months). Two patients with measurable disease per RECIST criteria had no follow-up scans at the end of treatment. The most frequent (⩾2% of patients) drug-related treatment-emergent grade 3/4 adverse events were reversible liver alanine transferase elevation (10%), neutropaenia (8%), nausea, vomiting, and fatigue (5% each). Trabectedin is an active treatment, with documented responses in patients with platinum sensitive advanced relapsed ovarian cancer, and has a manageable toxicity profile.
PMCID: PMC2360276  PMID: 18000504
trabectedin; ovarian cancer; overall response rate; platinum-sensitive; platinum-resistant; progression-free survival
18.  A Phase I/II study of lomustine and temozolomide in patients with cerebral metastases from malignant melanoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;96(1):44-48.
Temozolomide is an alkylating agent with activity in the treatment of melanoma metastatic to the brain. Lomustine is a nitrosurea that crosses the blood brain barrier and there is evidence to suggest that temozolomide may reverse resistance to lomustine. A multicentre phase I/II study was conducted to assess the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), safety and efficacy of the combination of temozolomide and lomustine in melanoma metastatic to the brain. Increasing doses of temozolomide and lomustine were administered in phase I of the study to determine the MTD. Patients were treated at the MTD in phase II of the study to six cycles, disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Twenty-six patients were enrolled in the study. In phase I of the study, the MTD was defined as temozolomide 150 mg m−2 days 1–5 every 28 days and lomustine 60 mg m–2 on day 5 every 56 days. Dose-limiting neutropaenia and thrombocytopaenia were observed at higher doses. Twenty patients were treated at this dose in phase II of the study. No responses to therapy were observed. Median survival from starting chemotherapy was 2 months. The combination of temozolomide and lomustine in patients with brain metastases from melanoma does not demonstrate activity. The further evaluation of this combination therefore is not warranted.
PMCID: PMC2360201  PMID: 17146474
cerebral metastases; melanoma; chemotherapy; lomustine; temozolomide
19.  The multikinase inhibitor midostaurin (PKC412A) lacks activity in metastatic melanoma: a phase IIA clinical and biologic study 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(7):829-834.
Midostaurin (PKC412A), N-benzoyl-staurosporine, potently inhibits protein kinase C alpha (PKCα), VEGFR2, KIT, PDGFR and FLT3 tyrosine kinases. In mice, midostaurin slows growth and delays lung metastasis of melanoma cell lines. We aimed to test midostaurin's safety, efficacy and biologic activity in a Phase IIA clinical trial in patients with metastatic melanoma. Seventeen patients with advanced metastatic melanoma received midostaurin 75 mg p.o. t.i.d., unless toxicity or disease progression supervened. Patient safety was assessed weekly, and tumour response was assessed clinically or by CT. Tumour biopsies and plasma samples obtained at entry and after 4 weeks were analysed for midostaurin concentration, PKC activity and multidrug resistance. No tumour responses were seen. Two (12%) patients had stable disease for 50 and 85 days, with minor response in one. The median overall survival was 43 days. Seven (41%) discontinued treatment with potential toxicity, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or fatigue. One patient had >50% reduction in PKC activity. Tumour biopsies showed two PKC isoforms relatively insensitive to midostaurin, out of three patients tested. No modulation of multidrug resistance was demonstrated. At this dose schedule, midostaurin did not show clinical or biologic activity against metastatic melanoma. This negative trial reinforces the importance of correlating biologic and clinical responses in early clinical trials of targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC2360547  PMID: 16969355
protein kinase C; melanoma; midostaurin
20.  Sorafenib in advanced melanoma: a Phase II randomised discontinuation trial analysis 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(5):581-586.
The effects of sorafenib – an oral multikinase inhibitor targeting the tumour and tumour vasculature – were evaluated in patients with advanced melanoma enrolled in a large multidisease Phase II randomised discontinuation trial (RDT). Enrolled patients received a 12-week run-in of sorafenib 400 mg twice daily (b.i.d.). Patients with changes in bi-dimensional tumour measurements <25% from baseline were then randomised to sorafenib or placebo for a further 12 weeks (ie to week 24). Patients with ⩾25% tumour shrinkage after the run-in continued on open-label sorafenib, whereas those with ⩾25% tumour growth discontinued treatment. This analysis focussed on secondary RDT end points: changes in bi-dimensional tumour measurements from baseline after 12 weeks and overall tumour responses (WHO criteria) at week 24, progression-free survival (PFS), safety and biomarkers (BRAF, KRAS and NRAS mutational status). Of 37 melanoma patients treated during the run-in phase, 34 were evaluable for response: one had ⩾25% tumour shrinkage and remained on open-label sorafenib; six (16%) had <25% tumour growth and were randomised (placebo, n=3; sorafenib, n=3); and 27 had ⩾25% tumour growth and discontinued. All three randomised sorafenib patients progressed by week 24; one remained on sorafenib for symptomatic relief. All three placebo patients progressed by week-24 and were re-started on sorafenib; one experienced disease re-stabilisation. Overall, the confirmed best responses for each of the 37 melanoma patients who received sorafenib were 19% stable disease (SD) (ie n=1 open-label; n=6 randomised), 62% (n=23) progressive disease (PD) and 19% (n=7) unevaluable. The overall median PFS was 11 weeks. The six randomised patients with SD had overall PFS values ranging from 16 to 34 weeks. The most common drug-related adverse events were dermatological (eg rash/desquamation, 51%; hand-foot skin reaction, 35%). There was no relationship between V600E BRAF status and disease stability. DNA was extracted from the biopsies of 17/22 patients. Six had V600E-positive tumours (n=4 had PD; n=1 had SD; n=1 unevaluable for response), and 11 had tumours containing wild-type BRAF (n=9 PD; n=1 SD; n=1 unevaluable for response). In conclusion, sorafenib is well tolerated but has little or no antitumour activity in advanced melanoma patients as a single agent at the dose evaluated (400 mg b.i.d.). Ongoing trials in advanced melanoma are evaluating sorafenib combination therapies.
PMCID: PMC2360687  PMID: 16880785
Sorafenib; multikinase inhibitor; advanced melanoma; V600E BRAF; randomised discontinuation trial
21.  The place of VEGF inhibition in the current management of renal cell carcinoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;94(9):1217-1220.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is overexpressed in around 80% of patients with clear cell carcinoma of the kidney owing to the inactivation of von Hippel Lindau gene activity. VEGF stimulates angiogenesis and acts as an autocrine growth factor. A number of different agents are now available which target VEGF and its signalling pathways. A significant body of evidence has accumulated demonstrating that antagonism of VEGF and its downstream pathways is clinically useful in a significant proportion of patients with metastatic clear cell carcinoma of the kidney. Enough data is now available to recommend that patients with metastatic clear cell carcinoma of the kidney should at some point during the course of their disease be offered entry into a clinical trial enabling exposure to a targeted inhibitor of VEGF or its signalling pathways. Assuming early clinical trial data is substantiated by ongoing registration studies, efforts should be made to minimise the time taken between licensing and general availability of these active agents.
PMCID: PMC2361396  PMID: 16508632
renal cell carcinoma; VEGF; vascular endothelial growth factor; sorafenib; sunitinib
22.  Combination chemotherapy with carboplatin, capecitabine and epirubicin (ECarboX) as second- or third-line treatment in patients with relapsed ovarian cancer: a phase I/II trial 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;94(1):74-78.
Platinum-based combination chemotherapy has been proven to be superior to single-agent platinum in the treatment of relapsed ovarian cancer after a treatment-free interval of more than 6 months. A response rate of 41% was previously reported by our group using a combination of epirubicin, cisplatin and 5-FU in patients who relapsed within 12 months, we therefore assessed a similar, but more convenient combination of epirubicin, carboplatin and capecitabine in this phase-I/II trial. In total, 18 patients with recurrent epithelial ovarian carcinoma, who had not received more than two lines of chemotherapy and the treatment-free interval exceeded 6 months were treated with carboplatin AUC5, epirubicin 50 mg m−2 and capecitabine at several dose levels on continuous 21 day cycles and 14 of 21 day cycles. Patients were assessed for toxicity and by CT and CA-125 for response. The overall response rate was 61.1%, with three complete and eight partial responses. Grade 3/4 haematological toxicity was seen in 10 out of 18 patients and caused dose reductions and treatment delays. The combination of epirubicin, carboplatin and capecitabine showed good activity but caused excessive toxicity. A phase-II trial using carboplatin and capecitabine is underway.
PMCID: PMC2361084  PMID: 16306873
capecitabine; carboplatin; epirubicin; ovarian cancer; relapse
23.  A phase I pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic study of BGC9331 and carboplatin in relapsed gynaecological malignancies 
British Journal of Cancer  2005;93(8):868-875.
BGC9331 is a rationally designed, specific nonpolyglutamatable thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor that is active in gynaecological malignancies. In the light of the sensitivity of human ovarian tumour cell lines to BGC9331 and non-cross resistance to platinum drugs, we studied the combination BGC9331/carboplatin (BCA) in a phase I (PI) pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) study in platinum pretreated gynaecological malignancies. Patients were ⩾18 years or over, with a histologically confirmed gynaecological malignancy, radiological evidence of relapse, and a platinum treatment free interval of at least 6 months. Up to three prior lines of chemotherapy were permitted. Carboplatin (AUC5) and BGC9331 were administered on day 1, and BGC9331 was also given on day 8 of a 21-day cycle. In total, 14 patients were enrolled, and treated with BGC9331 at four dose levels, 40, 65, 85 and 100 mg m−2. The principal grade 3 and 4 haematological toxicity was neutropaenia. The principal nonhaematological toxicities were lethargy and nausea. Dose-limiting toxicities were seen in two patients at 100 mg m−2 BGC9331 (grade 4 neutropaenia >7 days, and grade 4 fatigue >7 days). Plasma BGC9331 was measured by an ELISA that was adapted for use in humans. Carboplatin was assayed by flameless atomic absorption spectrometry. There was no PK interaction between the two drugs. Plasma deoxyuridine was elevated indicating TS inhibition to at least day 12. Antitumour activity was observed in four out of 14 (28%) of patients. In conclusion, the combination of BGC9331 and carboplatin is well tolerated with no significant PK interaction between the two drugs. There is evidence of TS inhibition with the combination. We have demonstrated antitumour activity in platinum pretreated gynaecological malignancy. Further exploration of this combination in this disease is warranted.
PMCID: PMC2361661  PMID: 16222320
24.  Phase II clinical trial of capecitabine and gemcitabine chemotherapy in patients with metastatic renal carcinoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2004;91(10):1763-1768.
PMCID: PMC2410054  PMID: 15505625
renal cell carcinoma; capecitabine; gemcitabine; chemotherapy
25.  A prognostic index that predicts outcome following palliative whole brain radiotherapy for patients with metastatic malignant melanoma 
British Journal of Cancer  2004;91(5):829-833.
PMCID: PMC2409881  PMID: 15305201
melanoma; palliative radiotherapy; brain metastases; prognosis; prognostic index

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