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1.  Growth Rate Analysis and Efficient Experimental Design for Tumor Xenograft Studies 
Cancer Informatics  2014;13(Suppl 4):65-72.
Human tumor xenograft studies are the primary means to evaluate the biological activity of anticancer agents in late-stage preclinical drug discovery. The variability in the growth rate of human tumors established in mice and the small sample sizes make rigorous statistical analysis critical. The most commonly used summary of antitumor activity for these studies is the T/C ratio. However, alternative methods based on growth rate modeling can be used. Here, we describe a summary metric called the rate-based T/C, derived by fitting each animal’s tumor growth to a simple exponential model. The rate-based T/C uses all of the data, in contrast with the traditional T/C, which only uses a single measurement. We compare the rate-based T/C with the traditional T/C and assess their performance through a bootstrap analysis of 219 tumor xenograft studies. We find that the rate-based T/C requires fewer animals to achieve the same power as the traditional T/C. We also compare 14-day studies with 21-day studies and find that 14-day studies are more cost efficient. Finally, we perform a power analysis to determine an appropriate sample size.
PMCID: PMC4264612  PMID: 25574127
xenograft; design; T; C
2.  Antitumor Activity of the Investigational Proteasome Inhibitor MLN9708 in Mouse Models of B-cell and Plasma Cell Malignancies 
The clinical success of the first-in-class proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (VELCADE) has validated the proteasome as a therapeutic target for treating human cancers. MLN9708 is an investigational proteasome inhibitor that, compared with bortezomib, has improved pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and antitumor activity in preclinical studies. Here, we focused on evaluating the in vivo activity of MLN2238 (the biologically active form of MLN9708) in a variety of mouse models of hematologic malignancies, including tumor xenograft models derived from a human lymphoma cell line and primary human lymphoma tissue, and genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of plasma cell malignancies (PCM).
Experimental Design
Both cell line–derived OCI-Ly10 and primary human lymphoma–derived PHTX22L xenograft models of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma were used to evaluate the pharmacodynamics and antitumor effects of MLN2238 and bortezomib. The iMycCα/Bcl-XL GEM model was used to assess their effects on de novo PCM and overall survival. The newly developed DP54-Luc–disseminated model of iMycCα/ Bcl-XL was used to determine antitumor activity and effects on osteolytic bone disease.
MLN2238 has an improved pharmacodynamic profile and antitumor activity compared with bortezomib in both OCI-Ly10 and PHTX22L models. Although both MLN2238 and bortezomib prolonged overall survival, reduced splenomegaly, and attenuated IgG2a levels in the iMycCα/Bcl-XL GEM model, only MLN2238 alleviated osteolytic bone disease in the DP54-Luc model.
Our results clearly showed the antitumor activity of MLN2238 in a variety of mouse models of B-cell lymphoma and PCM, supporting its clinical development. MLN9708 is being evaluated in multiple phase I and I/II trials.
PMCID: PMC3443972  PMID: 21903769
3.  Phase 1 study of MLN8054, a selective inhibitor of Aurora A kinase in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Aurora A kinase is critical in assembly and function of the mitotic spindle. It is overexpressed in various tumor types and implicated in oncogenesis and tumor progression. This trial evaluated the dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) and maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of MLN8054, a selective small-molecule inhibitor of Aurora A kinase.
In this first-in-human, dose-escalation study, MLN8054 was given orally for 7, 14, or 21 days followed by a 14-day treatment-free period. Escalating cohorts of 3–6 patients with advanced solid tumors were treated until DLT was seen in ≥2 patients in a cohort. Serial blood samples were collected for pharmacokinetics and skin biopsies were collected for pharmacodynamics.
Sixty-one patients received 5, 10, 20, 30 or 40 mg once daily for 7 days; 25, 35, 45 or 55 mg/day in four divided doses (QID) for 7 days; or 55, 60, 70 or 80 mg/day plus methylphenidate or modafinil with daytime doses (QID/M) for 7–21 days. DLTs of reversible grade 3 benzodiazepine-like effects defined the estimated MTD of 60 mg QID/M for 14 days. MLN8054 was absorbed rapidly, exposure was dose-proportional, and terminal half-life was 30-40 hours. Three patients had stable disease for >6 cycles.
MLN8054 dosing for up to 14 days of a 28-day cycle was feasible. Reversible somnolence was dose limiting and prevented achievement of plasma concentrations predicted necessary for target modulation. A recommended dose for investigation in phase 2 trials was not established. A second-generation Aurora A kinase inhibitor is in development.
PMCID: PMC3026871  PMID: 20607239
MLN8054; Aurora A kinase; dose-limiting toxicity; pharmacokinetics; pharmacodynamics
4.  Efficacy and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic evaluation of the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 against preclinical models of pediatric cancer 
Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology  2011;68(5):1291-1304.
To gain a greater understanding of the potential of the Aurora kinase A inhibitor MLN8237 in the treatment of pediatric malignancies.
The activity of MLN8237 was evaluated against 28 neuroblastoma and Ewing sarcoma cell lines, and its in vivo efficacy was studied over a range of doses against 12 pediatric tumor xenograft models. Pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and genomic studies were undertaken.
In vitro neuroblastoma cell lines were generally more sensitive to MLN8237 than Ewing sarcoma lines. MLN8237 demonstrated significant activity in vivo against solid tumor models at the maximum tolerated dose (MTD); however, only 2 of 6 neuroblastoma models had objective responses at 0.25MTD. In contrast, MLN8237 induced objective responses at its MTD and at 0.5MTD in three ALL models and in two out of three at 0.25MTD. Pharmacokinetic studies at 0.5MTD demonstrated a Tmax of 0.5 h, Cmax of 24.8 μM, AUC(0–24) of 60.3 μM h, and 12 h trough level of 1.2 μM. Mitotic indices increased 6–12 h after MLN8237 administration. AURKA copy number variation was frequent in xenografts, and expression was highly correlated with copy number.
Objective responses were more frequent in tumors with decreased AURKA copy number (5/8) compared to those with increased gene copy number (2/14). This report confirms the significant activity against both solid tumor and ALL xenografts at the MTD, with a steep dose response. These data support clinical development of MLN8237 in childhood cancer. Because of the steep dose–response relationship, such studies should target achieving trough levels of 1 μM or higher for sustained periods of treatment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00280-011-1618-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3215888  PMID: 21448591
Preclinical testing; Developmental therapeutics; MLN8237; Pediatric cancer
5.  Preclinical evaluation of the antitumor activity of bortezomib in combination with vitamin C or with epigallocatechin gallate, a component of green tea 
Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology  2011;68(5):1145-1154.
To investigate whether clinically relevant levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, a component of green tea) or vitamin C (ascorbic acid) could antagonize bortezomib antitumor activity in CWR22 human prostate xenograft tumors.
The pharmacokinetics (PK) of EGCG and ascorbic acid were determined in immunocompromised mice and compared with concentrations measured in human PK studies of dietary supplements. Antitumor activity of bortezomib in combination with EGCG or ascorbic acid was determined using several dosing regimens to evaluate different target plasma concentrations of EGCG and ascorbic acid.
Bortezomib dosed twice-weekly at 0.8 mg/kg IV demonstrated tumor growth inhibition (TGI) of 53.9–58.9%. However, when combined with EGCG such that the plasma concentrations of EGCG were >200 μM at the time of bortezomib dosing, all antitumor activity was abrogated (TGI = −17.7%). A lower concentration of EGCG (11–16 μM), which is severalfold higher than measured clinically in humans taking EGCG supplements (0.6–3 μM), was not antagonistic to bortezomib (TGI 63.5%). Pharmacodynamic studies of proteasome inhibition reflected these findings. Ascorbic acid (40 and 500 mg/kg PO daily) was evaluated under a similar study design and did not antagonize bortezomib antitumor activity (TGI 57.2 and 72.2%).
No antagonism of bortezomib is seen in preclinical in vivo experiments, where EGCG or ascorbic acid plasma concentrations are commensurate with dietary or supplemental intake. The data suggest that patients receiving bortezomib treatment do not need to avoid normal dietary consumption of green tea, vitamin C-containing foods, or EGCG or vitamin C dietary supplements.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00280-011-1591-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3215871  PMID: 21400028
Bortezomib; Epigallocatechin gallate; Vitamin C; Antagonism; Activity

Results 1-5 (5)