ALK fusion genes occur in a subset of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). We assessed the tolerability and activity of crizotinib in patients with NSCLC who were prospectively identified to have an ALK fusion within the first-in-man phase 1 crizotinib study.
In this phase 1 study, patients with ALK-positive stage III or IV NSCLC received oral crizotinib 250 mg twice daily in 28-day cycles. Endpoints included tumour responses, duration of response, time to tumour response, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival at 6 and 12 months, and determination of the safety and tolerability and characterisation of the plasma pharmacokinetic profile of crizotinib after oral administration. Responses were analysed in evaluable patients and PFS and safety were analysed in all patients. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00585195.
Between Aug 27, 2008, and June 1, 2011, 149 ALK-positive patients were enrolled, 143 of whom were included in the response-evaluable population. 87 of 143 patients had an objective response (60·8%, 95% CI 52·3–68·9), including three complete responses and 84 partial responses. Median time to first documented objective response was 7·9 weeks (range 2·1–39·6) and median duration of response was 49·1 weeks (95% CI 39·3–75·4). The response rate seemed to be largely independent of age, sex, performance status, or line of treatment. Median PFS was 9·7 months (95% CI 7·7–12·8). Median overall survival data are not yet mature, but estimated overall survival at 6 and 12 months was 87·9% (95% CI 81·3–92·3) and 74·8% (66·4–81·5), respectively. 39 patients continued to receive crizotinib for more than 2 weeks after progression because of perceived ongoing clinical benefit from the drug (12 for at least 6 months from the time of their initial investigator-defined disease progression). Overall, 144 (97%) of 149 patients experienced treatment-related adverse events, which were mostly grade 1 or 2. The most common adverse events were visual effects, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, and peripheral oedema. The most common treatment-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events were neutropenia (n=9), raised alanine aminotransferase (n=6), hypophosphataemia (n=6), and lymphopenia (n=6).
Crizotinib is well tolerated with rapid, durable responses in patients with ALK-positive NSCLC. There seems to be potential for ongoing benefit after initial disease progression in this population, but a more formal definition of ongoing benefit in this context is needed.
In series dominated by adenocarcinoma histology, approximately 5% of non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harbor an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangement. Crizotinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor with significant activity against ALK, has demonstrated high response rates and prolonged progression-free survival in ALK-positive patients enrolled in phase 1/2 clinical trials. In 2011, crizotinib received accelerated approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of proven ALK-positive NSCLC using an FDA-approved diagnostic test. Currently, only break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization testing is FDA approved as a companion diagnostic for crizotinib; however, many other assays are available or in development. In the current review, the authors summarize the diagnostic tests available, or likely to become available, that could be used to identify patients with ALK-positive NSCLC, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
crizotinib; non-small cell lung cancer; anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements; fluorescence in situ hybridization
OSI-930 is a novel, potent, oral small-molecule receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, predominantly against VEGF receptors (VEGFR), c-Kit, and platelet-derived growth factor receptors. A phase I trial was undertaken to determine safety, maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and antitumor activity of OSI-930 in patients with advanced solid tumors.
OSI-930 was administered once or twice a day using a modified accelerated titration design. Pharmacokinetics and plasma soluble VEGFR2 (sVEGFR2) studies were undertaken. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) and 2[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) MTD expansion cohorts were conducted.
Fifty-eight patients received OSI-930 in 2 schedules; once a day schedule: 12 patients at doses up to 1,600 mg without reaching MTD; twice a day schedule: 46 patients at 400 mg (n = 7), 500 mg (n = 31), and 600 mg (n =8). Dose-limiting toxicities were observed at 600 mg twice a day (n =3): G3 rash (n =2) and G4 γ-glutamyltransferase, establishing the MTD at 500 mg twice a day. Common G1–2 toxicities included fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and rash. Antitumor responses were seen in 2 patients with advanced ovarian cancer [Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) partial response (PR) (n = 1); GCIG CA125 response (n = 1)]. Eleven of 19 heavily pretreated imatinib-resistant patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors achieved RECIST stable disease (median duration: 126 days), with FDG-PET scans showing PRs in 4 of 9 patients. OSI-930 exposure increased with dose; substantial decreases in sVEGFR levels were observed with OSI-930 twice a day doses ≥400 mg, while DCE-MRI responses were shown in 4 of 6 patients.
OSI-930 is safe and well tolerated, with pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic data supporting proof-of-mechanism with clinically relevant antitumor activity.
The targeting of oncogenic ‘driver’ kinases with small molecule inhibitors has proven to be a highly effective therapeutic strategy in selected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. However, acquired resistance to targeted therapies invariably arises and is a major limitation to patient care. ROS1 fusion proteins are a recently described class of oncogenic driver, and NSCLC patients that express these fusions generally respond well to ROS1-targeted therapy. In this study, we sought to determine mechanisms of acquired resistance to ROS1 inhibition. To accomplish this, we analyzed tumor samples from a patient who initially responded to the ROS1 inhibitor crizotinib but eventually developed acquired resistance. In addition, we generated a ROS1 inhibition-resistant derivative of the initially sensitive NSCLC cell line HCC78. Previously described mechanisms of acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors including target kinase-domain mutation, target copy number gain, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and conversion to small cell lung cancer histology were found to not underlie resistance in the patient sample or resistant cell line. However, we did observe a switch in the control of growth and survival signaling pathways from ROS1 to EGFR in the resistant cell line. As a result of this switch, ROS1 inhibition-resistant HCC78 cells became sensitive to EGFR inhibition, an effect that was enhanced by co-treatment with a ROS1 inhibitor. Our results suggest that co-inhibition of ROS1 and EGFR may be an effective strategy to combat resistance to targeted therapy in some ROS1 fusion-positive NSCLC patients.
We sought to determine the frequency and clinical characteristics of patients with lung cancer harboring NRAS mutations. We used preclinical models to identify targeted therapies likely to be of benefit against NRAS mutant lung cancer cells.
Patients and Methods
We reviewed clinical data from patients whose lung cancers were identified at 6 institutions or reported in the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) to harbor NRAS mutations. 6 NRAS mutant cell lines were screened for sensitivity against inhibitors of multiple kinases (i.e. EGFR, ALK, MET, IGF-1R, BRAF, PI3K and MEK).
Among 4562 patients with lung cancers tested, NRAS mutations were present in 30 (0.7%; 95% confidence interval, 0.45% to 0.94%); 28 of these had no other driver mutations. 83% had adenocarcinoma histology with no significant differences in gender. While 95% of patients were former or current smokers, smoking-related G:C>T:A transversions were significantly less frequent in NRAS mutated lung tumors compared to KRAS-mutant NSCLCs (NRAS: 13% (4/30), KRAS: 66% (1772/2733), p<0.00000001). 5 of 6 NRAS mutant cell lines were sensitive to the MEK inhibitors, selumetinib and trametinib, but not to other inhibitors tested.
NRAS mutations define a distinct subset of lung cancers (~1%) with potential sensitivity to MEK inhibitors. While NRAS mutations are more common in current/former smokers, the types of mutations are not those classically associated with smoking.
NRAS mutation; EGFR mutation; KRAS mutation; lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer; driver mutation; MEK inhibitor; erlotinib; gefitinib; crizotinib
FISH, using break-apart red (3’) and green (5’) ALK probes, consistently shows rearrangements in < 100% of tumor cells in ALK+ NSCLC. Increased copy numbers of fused and rearranged signals also occur. Here we explore correlations between the percentage of ALK positive cells and signal copy number and their association with response to ALK inhibition.
Ninety ALK + NSCLC cases were evaluated. The percentage of positive cells, pattern of positivity (split, single red, or both) and copy number of fused, isolated red and green signals were recorded. Thirty patients had received crizotinib.
Increased isolated red signal copy number (contributing to both single red and split patterns of positivity) correlated with a higher percentage of ALK+ cells (r = 0.743, p = <0.0001). Mean fused copy number was negatively associated with isolated red signal copy number (r = −0.409, p = <0.0001). Neither percentage cells positive (r = 0.192, p = 0.3), nor copy number of isolated red (r = 0.274, p = 0.195) correlated with maximal tumor shrinkage with crizotinib.
The strong association between increased copy number of of key ALK signals and percentage positive cells suggests that the <100% rate of cellular positivity in ALK+ tumors is due to technical factors not biology. In ALK+ tumors, neither percentage cells positive, nor signal copy number appear to be informative variables for predicting benefit from ALK inhibition. The inverse relationship between fused and isolated red copy number suggests ALK+ may be a distinct ‘near diploid’ subtype of NSCLC developing before significant chromosomal aneusomy occurs.
ALK; FISH; copy number; crizotinib
The discovery of distinct subsets of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) characterized by activation of driver oncogenes has greatly impacted personalized therapy. We hypothesized that the dominant oncogene in NSCLC would be associated with distinct patterns of metastatic spread in NSCLC at the time of diagnosis.
209 consecutive patients with stage IV non-squamous NSCLC with an EGFR mutation (N=39), KRAS mutation (N=49), ALK gene rearrangement (N=41), or wild-type for all three (triple negative, N=80) were included. The percentage of patients with metastatic disease at a given site was compared between each molecular cohort (EGFR, KRAS, or ALK) and the triple negative cohort.
ALK gene rearrangement was significantly associated with pericardial disease (OR=4.61, 95% CI 1.30, 16.37, p=0.02) and pleural disease (OR=4.80, 95% CI 2.10, 10.97, p<0.001). Patients with ALK gene rearrangements (OR=5.50, 95% CI 1.76, 17.18, p= 0.003) and patients with EGFR mutations (OR=5.17, 95% CI 1.63, 16.43, p= 0.006) were predisposed to liver metastasis compared to the triple negative cohort. No molecular cohort had a predisposition to pulmonary nodules, adrenal, bone, or brain metastasis compared to the triple negative cohort. The mean number of metastatic disease sites in patients within the ALK rearranged cohort was significantly greater than the triple negative cohort (mean = 3.6 sites vs. 2.5 sites, p<0.0001).
The results support the hypothesis that the dominant molecular oncogenes in NSCLC are associated with different biological behaviors manifesting as distinct patterns of metastatic spread at the time of diagnosis.
metastasis; Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer; EGFR; ALK tyrosine kinase receptor; KRAS
Objectives The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and overall safety of sunitinib plus pemetrexed and carboplatin was determined in patients with advanced solid malignancies. Methods In this phase I dose-escalation study, patients received oral sunitinib on a continuous daily dosing (CDD) schedule (37.5 mg/day) or Schedule 2/1 (2 weeks on treatment, 1 week off treatment; 37.5 or 50 mg/day). Pemetrexed (400–500 mg/m2 IV) and carboplatin (AUC = 5 mg·min/ml IV) were administered q3w. At the MTD for the chosen schedule, a cohort of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or mesothelioma was further evaluated. Results Twenty-one patients were enrolled on Schedule 2/1 (expansion cohort included) and 3 patients on the CDD schedule. The MTD on Schedule 2/1 was sunitinib 37.5 mg/day with pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 and carboplatin AUC = 5 mg·min/ml; MTD on the CDD schedule was not established. Dose-limiting toxicities included grade 3/4 neutropenia, grade 3 thrombocytopenia, and grade 3 hand–foot syndrome. The most common grade 3/4 drug-related non-hematologic adverse events at Schedule 2/1 MTD were fatigue/asthenia and diarrhea (both n = 4). Grade 3/4 hematologic abnormalities included neutropenia (83 %) and leukopenia (83 %). Pharmacokinetic data revealed no clinically significant drug–drug interactions. Best response at the Schedule 2/1 MTD was stable disease ≥8 weeks in 3/5 evaluable patients (60 %). Conclusions With this combination, in patients with advanced solid malignancies, sunitinib MTD on Schedule 2/1 was 37.5 mg/day. Sunitinib plus pemetrexed and carboplatin were tolerable at the MTD, although sunitinib dose delays and reductions were often required due to myelosuppression.
Solid tumors; Non-small cell lung cancer; Sunitinib; Pemetrexed; Carboplatin
Bcl-2 is a critical regulator of apoptosis that is overexpressed in the majority of small cell lung cancers (SCLC). Nativoclax (ABT-263) is a potent and selective inhibitor of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. The primary objectives of this phase IIa study included safety at the recommended phase II dose and preliminary, exploratory efficacy assessment in patients with recurrent and progressive SCLC after at least one prior therapy.
Thirty-nine patients received navitoclax 325 mg daily, following an initial lead-in of 150 mg daily for 7 days. Study endpoints included safety and toxicity assessment, response rate, progression-free and overall survival (PFS and OS), as well as exploratory pharmacodynamic correlates.
The most common toxicity associated with navitoclax was thrombocytopenia, which reached grade III–IV in 41% of patients. Partial response was observed in one (2.6%) patient and stable disease in 9 (23%) patients. Median PFS was 1.5 months and median OS was 3.2 months. A strong association between plasma pro–gastrin-releasing peptide (pro-GRP) level and tumor Bcl-2 copy number (R = 0.93) was confirmed. Exploratory analyses revealed baseline levels of cytokeratin 19 fragment antigen 21-1, neuron-specific enolase, pro-GRP, and circulating tumor cell number as correlates of clinical benefit.
Bcl-2 targeting by navitoclax shows limited single-agent activity against advanced and recurrent SCLC. Correlative analyses suggest several putative biomarkers of clinical benefit. Preclinical models support that navitoclax may enhance sensitivity of SCLC and other solid tumors to standard cytotoxics. Future studies will focus on combination therapies.
Oncogenic gene fusions involving the 3’ region of ROS1 kinase have been identified in various human cancers. In this study, we sought to characterize ROS1 fusion genes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and establish the fusion proteins as drug targets.
A NSCLC tissue microarray (TMA) panel containing 447 samples was screened for ROS1 rearrangement by fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH). This assay was also used to screen NSCLC patients. In positive samples, the identity of the fusion partner was determined through inverse-PCR and RT-PCR. In addition, the clinical utility of ROS1 inhibition was assessed by treating a ROS1-positive patient with crizotinib. The HCC78 cell line, which expresses the SLC34A2-ROS1 fusion, was treated with kinase inhibitors that have activity against ROS1. The effects of ROS1 inhibition on proliferation, cell-cycle progression, and cell signaling pathways were analyzed by MTS assay, flow cytometry, and western blotting.
In the TMA panel, 5/428 (1.2%) evaluable samples were found to be positive for ROS1 rearrangement. Additionally, 1/48 patients tested positive for rearrangement, and this patient demonstrated tumor shrinkage upon treatment with crizotinib. The patient and one TMA sample displayed expression of the recently identified SDC4-ROS1 fusion, while two TMA samples expressed the CD74-ROS1 fusion and two others expressed the SLC34A2-ROS1 fusion. In HCC78 cells, treatment with ROS1 inhibitors was anti-proliferative and down-regulated signaling pathways that are critical for growth and survival.
ROS1 inhibition may be an effective treatment strategy for the subset of NSCLC patients whose tumors express ROS1 fusion genes.
To explore whether the progression-free survival (PFS) with pemetrexed differs between anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive and other major molecular subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.
In an ALK-enriched population, patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer were screened by ALK fluorescence in situ hybridization and for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and KRAS mutations. Triple-tested, pemetrexed-treated patients (monotherapy or combination therapy) were identified and PFS with pemetrexed captured retrospectively.
Eighty-nine eligible cases were identified (19 ALK fluorescence in situ hybridization positive, 12 EGFR mutant, 21 KRAS mutant, and 37 triple negatives). Eighty-three cases (93%) were adenocarcinomas, two were adenosquamous, one squamous, and three had large cell histology. None of the ALK-positive patients had received crizotinib before pemetrexed. Pemetrexed was first-line therapy in 48% (72% as platinum-based combinations). Median PFS (95% confidence interval) data were EGFR mutant (5.5 months; 1–9), KRAS mutant (7 months; 1.5–10), ALK positive (9 months; 3–12), and triple negative (4 months; 3–5). In a multivariate analysis adjusting for line of therapy, mono- versus platinum and nonplatinum combination therapy, age, sex, histology, and smoking status, the only variable associated with prolonged PFS on pemetrexed was ALK+ (hazard ratio = 0.36 [95% confidence interval: 0.17– 0.73], p = 0.0051).
In this exploratory analysis, ALK-positive patients have a significantly longer PFS on pemetrexed compared with triple-negative patients, whereas EGFR or KRAS mutant patients do not. This information should be considered when sizing randomized studies in ALK-positive patients that involve pemetrexed. Pemetrexed should also be prioritized as a cytotoxic to explore further in patients with known ALK-positive disease.
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase; Non-small cell lung cancer; Epidermal growth factor receptor; KRAS; Pemetrexed
Patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements often manifest dramatic responses to crizotinib, a small molecule ALK inhibitor. Unfortunately, not every patient responds and acquired drug resistance inevitably develops in those that do respond. This study aimed to define molecular mechanisms of resistance to crizotinib in ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
We analyzed tissue obtained from 14 ALK+ NSCLC patients demonstrating evidence of radiologic progression while on crizotinib in order to define mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired resistance to crizotinib.
Eleven patients had material evaluable for molecular analysis. Four patients (36%) developed secondary mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of ALK. A novel mutation in the ALK kinase domain, encoding a G1269A amino acid substitution that confers resistance to crizotinib in vitro, was identified in two of these cases. Two patients, one with a resistance mutation, exhibited new onset ALK copy number gain (CNG). One patient demonstrated outgrowth of EGFR mutant NSCLC without evidence of a persistent ALK gene rearrangement. Two patients exhibited a KRAS mutation, one of which occurred without evidence of a persisting ALK gene rearrangement. One patient demonstrated the emergence of an ALK gene fusion negative tumor compared to the baseline sample, but with no identifiable alternate driver. Two patients retained ALK positivity with no identifiable resistance mechanism.
Crizotinib resistance in ALK+ NSCLC occurs through somatic kinase domain mutations, ALK gene fusion CNG, and emergence of separate oncogenic drivers.
oncogene fusion; anaplastic lymphoma kinase; protein kinase inhibitors; drug resistance; non-small cell lung cancer
The treatment of advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) increasingly involves the use of molecularly targeted therapy with activity against either the tumor directly, or indirectly, through activity against host-derived mechanisms of tumor support such as angiogenesis. The most well studied signaling pathway associated with angiogenesis is the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway, and the only antiangiogenic agent currently approved for the treatment of NSCLC is bevacizumab, an antibody targeted against VEGF. More recently, preclinical data supporting the role of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) signaling in angiogenesis have been reported. The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathways may also stimulate tumor growth directly through activation of downstream mitogenic signaling cascades. In addition, 1 or both of these pathways have been associated with resistance to agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and VEGF. A number of agents that target FGF and/or PDGF signaling are now in development for the treatment of NSCLC. This review will summarize the potential molecular roles of PDGFR and FGFR in tumor growth and angiogenesis, as well as discuss the current clinical status of PDGFR and FGFR inhibitors in clinical development.
angiogenesis; fibroblast growth factor (FGF); fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR); non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF); platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR)
Erlotinib prolongs survival in patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We report the results of a randomized, phase II study of erlotinib alone or intercalated with chemotherapy (CT + erlotinib) in chemotherapy-naïve patients with advanced NSCLC who were positive for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein expression and/or with high EGFR gene copy number.
Patients and Methods
A total of 143 patients were randomly assigned to either erlotinib 150 mg daily orally until disease progression (PD) occurred or to chemotherapy with paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) and carboplatin dosed by creatinine clearance (AUC 6) IV on day 1 intercalated with erlotinib 150 mg orally on days 2 through 15 every 3 weeks for four cycles followed by erlotinib 150 mg orally until PD occurred (CT + erlotinib). The primary end point was 6-month progression-free survival (PFS); secondary end points included response rate, PFS, and survival. EGFR, KRAS mutation, EGFR fluorescent in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, and E-cadherin and vimentin protein levels were also assessed.
Six-month PFS rates were 26% and 31% for the two arms (CT + erlotinib and erlotinib alone, respectively). Both were less than the historical control of 45% (P = .001 and P = .011, respectively). Median PFS times were 4.57 and 2.69 months, respectively. Patients with tumors harboring EGFR activating mutations fared better on erlotinib alone (median PFS, 18.2 months v 4.9 months for CT + erlotinib).
The feasibility of a multicenter biomarker-driven study was demonstrated, but neither treatment arms exceeded historical controls. This study does not support combined chemotherapy and erlotinib in first-line treatment of EGFR-selected advanced NSCLC, and the patients with tumors harboring EGFR mutations had a better outcome on erlotinib alone.
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements, associated with sensitivity to an experimental ALK/MET inhibitor, occur in 3% to 5% of non-small cell lung cancers. Intratumoral fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) heterogeneity has been reported. We explored the heterogeneity basis, the requirements for accurately determining ALK FISH positivity, and the effect of enriching the tested population using clinical and molecular factors.
Lung cancer patients were screened by ALK and MET FISH and for EGFR and KRAS mutations.
Thirteen ALK-positive cases were identified from 73 screened patients. Gene copy number increases occurred together with classic rearrangements. All positive cases were adenocarcinomas, 12 were EGFR/KRAS wild-type, and 1 had a coexistent EGFR exon 20 mutation. No association with MET amplification occurred. ALK positivity was associated with <10-pack-year smoking status (P = 0.0004). Among adenocarcinomas, without KRAS or EGFR mutations, with <10-pack-year history, 44.8% of cases were ALK positive. ALK FISH positivity was heterogeneous, but mean values in tumor areas from ALK-positive patients (54% of cells; range, 22-87%) were significantly higher than in adjacent normal tissue or tumor/ normal areas from ALK-negative patients (mean, 5-7%). Contiguous sliding field analyses showed diffuse heterogeneity without evidence of focal ALK rearrangements. One hundred percent sensitivity and specificity occurred when four or more fields (~60 cells) were counted.
Intratumoral ALK FISH heterogeneity reflects technique, not biology. The clinical activity of ALK/MET inhibitors in ALK-positive patients probably reflects ALK, but not MET, activity. Prescreening by histology, EGFR/KRAS mutations, and smoking status dramatically increases the ALK-positive hit rate compared with unselected series.
PF299804 is a potent, orally available, irreversible inhibitor of tyrosine kinase human epidermal growth factor receptors (HER) 1 (EGFR), HER2, and HER4. This first-in-human study investigated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of PF299804 in patients with advanced solid malignancies.
PF299804 was administered once daily continuously (schedule A), and intermittently (schedule B). Dose escalation proceeded until intolerable toxicities occurred. Skin biopsies were taken pre-dose and after 14 days of treatment, to establish a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship. Tumor response was measured once every 2 cycles. Efficacy was correlated with tumor genotypes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
121 patients were included (111 in schedule A, 10 in schedule B). The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was 45 mg/day. Dose-limiting toxicities included stomatitis and skin toxicities. Most adverse events were mild and comprised skin toxicities, fatigue, and gastrointestinal side-effects including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Pharmacokinetic analyses revealed dose-dependent increases in PF299804 exposure associated with target inhibition in skin biopsy samples. Fifty-seven patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were treated in this study. Four patients, all previously treated with gefitinib or erlotinib (2 with exon 19 deletions, 1 with exon 20 insertion, 1 mutational status unknown), had a partial response to PF299804.
The MTD of PF299804 is 45 mg/day. Both continuous and intermittent treatment schedules were well tolerated, and encouraging signs of antitumor activity were observed in gefitinib/erlotinib treated NSCLC patients.
Phase I clinical trial; Non-small cell lung cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; kinase inhibitor
Oncogenic fusion genes consisting of EML4 and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) are present in a subgroup of non–small-cell lung cancers, representing 2 to 7% of such tumors. We explored the therapeutic efficacy of inhibiting ALK in such tumors in an early-phase clinical trial of crizotinib (PF-02341066), an orally available small-molecule inhibitor of the ALK tyrosine kinase.
After screening tumor samples from approximately 1500 patients with non–small-cell lung cancer for the presence of ALK rearrangements, we identified 82 patients with advanced ALK-positive disease who were eligible for the clinical trial. Most of the patients had received previous treatment. These patients were enrolled in an expanded cohort study instituted after phase 1 dose escalation had established a recommended crizotinib dose of 250 mg twice daily in 28-day cycles. Patients were assessed for adverse events and response to therapy.
Patients with ALK rearrangements tended to be younger than those without the rearrangements, and most of the patients had little or no exposure to tobacco and had adenocarcinomas. At a mean treatment duration of 6.4 months, the overall response rate was 57% (47 of 82 patients, with 46 confirmed partial responses and 1 confirmed complete response); 27 patients (33%) had stable disease. A total of 63 of 82 patients (77%) were continuing to receive crizotinib at the time of data cutoff, and the estimated probability of 6-month progression-free survival was 72%, with no median for the study reached. The drug resulted in grade 1 or 2 (mild) gastrointestinal side effects.
The inhibition of ALK in lung tumors with the ALK rearrangement resulted in tumor shrinkage or stable disease in most patients.
To evaluate the safety, maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), pharmacokinetics (PKs), pharmacodynamics, and preliminary anticancer activity of ramucirumab (IMC-1121B), a fully human immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2.
Patients and Methods
Patients with advanced solid malignancies were treated once weekly with escalating doses of ramucirumab. Blood was sampled for PK studies throughout treatment. The effects of ramucirumab on circulating vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), soluble VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2, tumor perfusion, and vascularity using dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging were assessed.
Thirty-seven patients were treated with 2 to 16 mg/kg of ramucirumab. After one patient each developed dose-limiting hypertension and deep venous thrombosis at 16 mg/kg, the next lower dose (13 mg/kg) was considered the MTD. Nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, and proteinuria were also noted. Four (15%) of 27 patients with measurable disease had a partial response (PR), and 11 (30%) of 37 patients had either a PR or stable disease lasting at least 6 months. PKs were characterized by dose-dependent elimination and nonlinear exposure consistent with saturable clearance. Mean trough concentrations exceeded biologically relevant target levels throughout treatment at all dose levels. Serum VEGF-A increased 1.5 to 3.5 times above pretreatment values and remained in this range throughout treatment at all dose levels. Tumor perfusion and vascularity decreased in 69% of evaluable patients.
Objective antitumor activity and antiangiogenic effects were observed over a wide range of dose levels, suggesting that ramucirumab may have a favorable therapeutic index in treating malignancies amenable to VEGFR-2 inhibition.
Crizotinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor active against ALK, MET and ROS1. We previously reported that crizotinib decreases testosterone in male patients. The detailed etiology of the effect, its symptomatic significance, and the effectiveness of subsequent testosterone replacement have not been previously reported.
Male cancer patients treated with crizotinib had total testosterone levels measured, and results compared to non-crizotinib treated patients. Albumin, sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinizing hormone (LH) were tracked longitudinally. A subset of patients had free testosterone levels measured and a hypogonadal screening questionnaire administered. Patients receiving subsequent testosterone supplementation were assessed for symptomatic improvement.
Mean total testosterone levels were -25% below the lower limit of normal (LLN) in 32 crizotinib treated patients (27/32 patients below LLN, 84%) compared to +29% above LLN in 19 non-crizotinib treated patients (6/19 below LLN, 32%), p=0.0012. Levels of albumin and SHBG (which both bind testosterone) declined rapidly with crizotinib, but so did FSH, LH and free testosterone, suggesting a centrally mediated, true hypogonadal effect. Mean free testosterone levels were -17% below LLN (19/25 patients below LLN, 76%). 84% (16/19) with low free levels and 79% (19/24) with low total levels had symptoms of androgen deficiency. 5/9 (55%) patients with low testosterone given testosterone supplementation had an improvement in symptoms, coincident with increases in testosterone above LLN.
Symptoms of androgen deficiency and free or total/free testosterone levels should be tracked in male patients on crizotinib with consideration of testosterone replacement as appropriate.
Crizotinib; NSCLC; Testosterone; ALK gene rearrangements; hypogonadism
Caspase-9 is involved in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and suggested to play a role as a tumor suppressor. Little is known about the mechanisms governing caspase-9 expression, but post-transcriptional pre-mRNA processing generates 2 splice variants from the caspase-9 gene, pro-apoptotic caspase-9a and anti-apoptotic caspase-9b. Here we demonstrate that the ratio of caspase-9 splice variants is dysregulated in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. Mechanistic analysis revealed that an exonic splicing silencer (ESS) regulated caspase-9 pre-mRNA processing in NSCLC cells. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNP L) interacted with this ESS, and downregulation of hnRNP L expression induced an increase in the caspase-9a/9b ratio. Although expression of hnRNP L lowered the caspase-9a/9b ratio in NSCLC cells, expression of hnRNP L produced the opposite effect in non-transformed cells, suggesting a post-translational modification specific for NSCLC cells. Indeed, Ser52 was identified as a critical modification regulating the caspase-9a/9b ratio. Importantly, in a mouse xenograft model, downregulation of hnRNP L in NSCLC cells induced a complete loss of tumorigenic capacity that was due to the changes in caspase-9 pre-mRNA processing. This study therefore identifies a cancer-specific mechanism of hnRNP L phosphorylation and subsequent lowering of the caspase-9a/9b ratio, which is required for the tumorigenic capacity of NSCLC cells.
Many patients with oncogene driven non-small cell lung cancer treated with TKIs experience limited sites of disease progression. This study investigated retrospectively the benefits of local ablative therapy (LAT) to CNS and/or limited systemic disease progression and continuation of crizotinib or erlotinib in patients with metastatic ALK gene rearrangement (ALK+) or EGFR-mutant (EGFR-MT) NSCLC, respectively.
Materials and Methods
Patients with metastatic ALK+ NSCLC treated with crizotinib (n=38) and EGFR-MT NSCLC treated with erlotinib (n=27) were identified at a single institution. Initial response to the respective kinase inhibitors, median progression free survival (PFS1) and site of first progression were recorded. A subset of patients with either non-leptomeningeal CNS and/or ≤4 sites of extra-CNS progression (oligoprogressive disease) suitable for LAT received either radiation or surgery to these sites and continued on the same TKI. The subsequent median progression free survival from the time of first progression (PFS2) and pattern of progression were recorded.
PFS1 in ALK+ patients on crizotinib was 9.0 months, and 13.8 months for EGFR-MT patients on erlotinib. 25 of 51 (49%) patients who progressed were deemed suitable for local therapy (15 ALK+, 10 EGFR-MT; 24 with radiotherapy, 1 with surgery, and continuation of the same targeted therapy. Post LAT, 19/25 patients progressed again, with median PFS2 of 6.2 months
Oncogene addicted NSCLC with CNS and/or limited systemic disease progression (oligoprogressive disease) on relevant targeted therapies is often suitable for LAT and continuation of the targeted agent, and is associated with >6 months of additional disease control.
This phase I/II study evaluated the safety and anti-tumor effect of the combination of erlotinib with cixutumumab, a recombinant fully humanized anti-insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor IgG1 monoclonal antibody, in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Patients with advanced NSCLC were treated in an initial safety-lead and drop-down cohorts using erlotinib 150 mg/d with cixutumumab 6 or 5 mg/kg on days 1, 8, 15, and 22 in 28-day cycles (cohorts 1 and 2). Emerging pharmacokinetic data led to an additional cohort (3 + 3 design) with cixutumumab at 15 mg/kg on day 1 in 21-day cycles (cohort 3).
Eighteen patients entered the study (6 at 6 mg/kg, 8 at 5 mg/kg, and 4 at 15 mg/kg), with median age of 65 years. Four of six patients at 6 mg/kg experienced dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), whereas at 5 mg/kg, one of eight patients experienced DLT but three of eight patients still required a dose delay during cycle 1. At 15 mg/kg every 21 days, two of four patients experienced DLTs. In all cohorts, DLTs were either G3 rash or fatigue. Five patients had stable disease as best response and 14 patients had progressive disease. The median progression-free survival was 39 days (range 21–432+ days). Biomarkers analyses showed a trend toward better progression-free survival seen with higher free baseline insulin-like growth factor-1 levels as seen with other insulin-like growth factor-1R inhibitors.
The combinations of cixutumumab at 6 mg/kg every 7 days and 15 mg/kg every 21 days and full-dose erlotinib are not tolerable in unselected patients with NSCLC, as measured by DLT. Cixutumumab at 5 mg/kg every 7 days was tolerable per DLT, but dose delays were common. Efficacy in unselected patients with NSCLC seems to be low.
Non-small cell lung cancer; IGF1R monoclonal antibody; EGFR; Metastatic disease