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1.  TNF-inhibition with etanercept for graft versus host disease prevention in high risk HCT: Lower TNFR1 levels correlate with better outcomes 
Purpose
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) causes most non-relapse mortality (NRM) following alternative donor (unrelated and mismatched related) hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT). We previously showed that increases in day +7 TNF-receptor-1 (TNFR1) ratios (post-transplant day +7/pre-transplant baseline) after myeloablative HCT correlate with outcomes including GVHD, NRM and survival. Therefore, we conducted a phase II trial at two centers testing whether the addition of the TNF-inhibitor etanercept (25 mg twice weekly from start of conditioning to day +56) to standard GVHD prophylaxis would lower TNFR1 levels, reduce GVHD rates, and improve NRM and survival.
Patients and Methods
Patients underwent myeloablative HCT from a matched unrelated donor (N=71), one-antigen mismatched unrelated donor (N=26) or one-antigen mismatched related donor (N=3) using either total body irradiation (TBI)-based conditioning (N=29) or non-TBI-based conditioning (N=71).
Results
Compared to historical controls, the increase in post-transplant day +7 TNFR1 ratios was not altered in patients who received TBI-based conditioning, but was 40% lower in patients receiving non-TBI-based conditioning. The latter group experienced relatively low rates of severe grade 3-4 GVHD (14%), one-year NRM (16%), and high one-year survival (69%).
Conclusions
These findings suggest that (1) the effectiveness of TNF-inhibition with etanercept may depend on the conditioning regimen, and (2) attenuating the expected rise in TNFR1 levels early post-transplant correlates with good outcomes.
doi:10.1016/j.bbmt.2012.03.013
PMCID: PMC3443302  PMID: 22469883
GVHD; hematopoietic cell transplantation; TNFα; TNFR1
2.  Phase II study of oral capsular 4-hydroxyphenylretinamide (4-HPR/fenretinide) in pediatric patients with refractory or recurrent neuroblastoma: A report from the Children’s Oncology Group NSC #374551; IND# 40294 
Purpose
To determine the response rate to oral capsular fenretinide in children with recurrent or biopsy proven refractory high-risk neuroblastoma.
Experimental Design
Patients received 7 days of fenretinide: 2475 mg/m2/day divided TID (<18 years) or 1800 mg/m2/day divided BID (≥18 years) every 21 days for a maximum of 30 courses. Patients with stable or responding disease after course 30 could request additional compassionate courses. Best response by course 8 was evaluated in Stratum 1 (measurable disease on CT/MRI +/− bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites) and Stratum 2 (bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites only).
Results
Sixty-two eligible patients, median age 5 years (range 0.6–19.9), were treated in Stratum 1 (n=38) and Stratum 2 (n=24). One partial response (PR) was seen in Stratum 2 (n=24 evaluable). No responses were seen in Stratum 1 (n=35 evaluable). Prolonged stable disease (SD) was seen in 7 patients in Stratum 1 and 6 patients in Stratum 2 for 4–45+ (median 15) courses. Median time to progression was 40 days (range 17–506) for Stratum 1 and 48 days (range 17–892) for Stratum 2. Mean 4-HPR steady state trough plasma concentrations were 7.25 µM (coefficient of variation 40–56%) at day 7 course 1. Toxicities were mild and reversible.
Conclusions
Although neither stratum met protocol criteria for efficacy, 1 PR + 13 prolonged SD occurred in 14/59 (24%) of evaluable patients. Low bioavailability may have limited fenretinide activity. Novel fenretinide formulations with improved bioavailability are currently in pediatric Phase I studies.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0995
PMCID: PMC3207022  PMID: 21908574
fenretinide; neuroblastoma; Phase II; ANBL0321
3.  Thyroid and Hepatic Function After High Dose 131I-Metaiodobenzylguanidine (131I-MIBG) Therapy for Neuroblastoma 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;56(2):191-201.
Background
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.
Procedure
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22767
PMCID: PMC3006009  PMID: 20830775
Neuroblastoma; 131I-MIBG; Hypothyroidism
4.  Advancement of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Research in North America: Priorities of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium 
Advances in pediatric blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) are slowed by the small number of patients with a given disease transplanted, a lack of sufficient infrastructure to run early phase oncology protocols and studies of rare non-malignant disorders, and challenges associated with funding multi-institutional trials. Leadership of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC), a large pediatric BMT clinical trials network representing 77 active and 45 affiliated centers worldwide, met in April 2009 to develop strategic plans to address these issues. Key barriers including infrastructure development and funding, along with scientific initiatives in malignant and non-malignant disorders, cellular therapeutics, graft versus host disease, and supportive care were discussed. The PBMTC agenda for approaching these issues will result in infrastructure and trials specific to pediatrics that will run through the PBMTC or its partners, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network and the Children’s Oncology Group.
doi:10.1016/j.bbmt.2009.12.536
PMCID: PMC2891395  PMID: 20079865
5.  Elafin is a biomarker of graft versus host disease of the skin 
Science translational medicine  2010;2(13):13ra2.
Graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), the major complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), affects the skin, liver and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There are no plasma biomarkers specific for any acute GVHD target organ. We used a large scale, quantitative proteomic discovery procedure to identify biomarker candidates of skin GVHD and validated the lead candidate, elafin, by ELISA in samples from 492 patients. Elafin was overexpressed in GVHD skin biopsies. Plasma levels of elafin were significantly higher at the onset of skin GVHD, correlated with the eventual maximum grade of GVHD, and were associated with a greater risk of death relative to other known risk factors (hazard ratio of 1.78). We conclude that elafin has significant diagnostic and prognostic value as a biomarker of skin GVHD.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3000406
PMCID: PMC2895410  PMID: 20371463
6.  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.
Purpose
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
The lack of toxicity with this approach allowed dramatic dose intensification of 131I-MIBG, with minimal toxicity and promising activity.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2007.15.7628
PMCID: PMC2738616  PMID: 19171714
7.  Plasma Elevations of Tumor Necrosis Factor-Receptor-1 at Day 7 Post Allogeneic Transplant Correlate with Graft Versus Host Disease Severity and Overall Survival in Pediatric Patients 
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is known to play a role in the pathogenesis of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD), a cause of significant morbidity and treatment-related mortality (TRM) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). We measured the concentration of TNF-Receptor-1 (TNFR1) in the plasma of HCT recipients as a surrogate marker for TNF-α both prior to transplant and at day 7 in 82 children who underwent a myeloablative allogeneic HCT at the University of Michigan between 2000 and 2005. GVHD grade II-IV developed in 49% of patients at a median of 20 days after HCT. Increases in TNFR1 level at day 7 post HCT, expressed as ratios compared to pre-transplant baseline, correlated with severity of GVHD (p=0.02). In addition, day 7 TNFR1 ratios > 2.5 baseline were associated with inferior 1 year overall survival (51% vs 74%, p=0.04). As an individual biomarker, TNFR1 lacks sufficient precision to be used as a predictor for the development of GVHD. However, increases in the concentration of TNFR1, which are detectable up to two weeks in advance of clinical manifestations of GVHD, correlate with survival in pediatric HCT patients.
doi:10.1016/j.bbmt.2008.04.002
PMCID: PMC2577819  PMID: 18541194
GVHD; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; TNF; pediatrics

Results 1-7 (7)