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1.  Dose Escalation Methods in Phase I Cancer Clinical Trials 
Phase I clinical trials are an essential step in the development of anticancer drugs. The main goal of these studies is to establish the recommended dose and/or schedule of new drugs or drug combinations for phase II trials. The guiding principle for dose escalation in phase I trials is to avoid exposing too many patients to subtherapeutic doses while preserving safety and maintaining rapid accrual. Here we review dose escalation methods for phase I trials, including the rule-based and model-based dose escalation methods that have been developed to evaluate new anticancer agents. Toxicity has traditionally been the primary endpoint for phase I trials involving cytotoxic agents. However, with the emergence of molecularly targeted anticancer agents, potential alternative endpoints to delineate optimal biological activity, such as plasma drug concentration and target inhibition in tumor or surrogate tissues, have been proposed along with new trial designs. We also describe specific methods for drug combinations as well as methods that use a time-to-event endpoint or both toxicity and efficacy as endpoints. Finally, we present the advantages and drawbacks of the various dose escalation methods and discuss specific applications of the methods in developmental oncotherapeutics.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djp079
PMCID: PMC2684552  PMID: 19436029
2.  Management of Metabolic Effects Associated With Anticancer Agents Targeting the PI3K-Akt-mTOR Pathway 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(23):2919-2928.
Agents inhibiting the phosphoinositide 3–kinase–Akt–mammalian target of rapamycin (PAM) pathway are currently in various stages of clinical development in oncology, ranging from some in early-phase evaluations to others that have already received regulatory approval for treatment in advanced cancers. The administration of PAM pathway inhibitors has been associated with metabolic toxicities of hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia. The PAM Task Force of the National Cancer Institute Investigational Drug Steering Committee convened an interdisciplinary expert panel to review the pathophysiology of hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia induced by PAM pathway inhibitors, summarize the incidence of these metabolic toxicities induced by such agents in the current literature, advise on clinical trial screening and monitoring criteria, and provide management guidance and therapeutic goals on occurrence of these toxicities. The overarching aim of this consensus report is to raise awareness of these metabolic adverse events to enable their early recognition, regular monitoring, and timely intervention in clinical trials. Hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia are generally not acutely toxic and most often reversible with therapeutic intervention. Dose modifications or discontinuation of PAM pathway inhibitors should only be considered in situations of severe events or if progressive metabolic derangement persists after therapeutic interventions have been attempted for a sufficient duration. Specialty consultation should be sought to aid clinical trial planning and the management of these metabolic adverse events.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2011.39.7356
PMCID: PMC3410405  PMID: 22778315
3.  The Utility of Hedgehog Signaling Pathway Inhibition for Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(8):1090-1099.
This review discusses the relevance of the Hedgehog pathway in cancers and summarizes the clinical experience thus far with Hedgehog inhibitors.
The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway has been implicated in tumor initiation and metastasis across different malignancies. Major mechanisms by which the Hh pathway is aberrantly activated can be attributed to mutations of members of Hh pathway or excessive/inappropriate expression of Hh pathway ligands. The Hh signaling pathway also affects the regulation of cancer stem cells, leading to their capabilities in tumor formation, disease progression, and metastasis. Preliminary results of early phase clinical trials of Hh inhibitors administered as monotherapy demonstrated promising results in patients with basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastoma, but clinically meaningful anticancer efficacy across other tumor types seems to be lacking. Additionally, cases of resistance have been already observed. Mutations of SMO, activation of Hh pathway components downstream to SMO, and upregulation of alternative signaling pathways are possible mechanisms of resistance development. Determination of effective Hh inhibitor-based combination regimens and development of correlative biomarkers relevant to this pathway should remain as clear priorities for future research.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0450
PMCID: PMC3425527  PMID: 22851551
Hedgehog; Cancer stem cells; PTCH; SMO; Arsenic; Cancer
4.  A phase Ib combination study of RO4929097, a gamma-secretase inhibitor, and temsirolimus in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;31:1182-1191.
Summary
Background To determine the recommended phase II dose (RP2D) and assess the safety, pharmacokinetics (PKs) and pharmacodynamics of RO4929097in combination with temsirolimus. Methods Escalating doses of RO4929097 and temsirolimus were administered at three dose levels. Patients received once daily oral RO4929097 on a 3 days on/4 days off schedule every week, and weekly intravenous temsirolimus. Blood samples were collected for PK analysis. Archival tissue specimens were collected for Notch pathway biomarker analysis and genotyping of frequent oncogenic mutations. Results Seventeen patients with refractory advanced solid tumors were enrolled in three dose levels (DLs): DL1 (RO4929097 10 mg; Temsirolimus 25 mg), DL2 (RO4929097 20 mg; Temsirolimus 25 mg), and DL3 (RO4929097 20 mg; Temsirolimus 37.5 mg). The most common toxicities related to the study drug combination included: fatigue (82 %; grade 3 6 %), mucositis, (71 %; grade 3 6 %), neutropenia (59 %; grade 3 12 %), anemia (59 %; grade 3 0 %), and hypertriglyceridemia (59 %; grade 3 0 %). Two dose-limiting toxicities, grade 3 rash and grade 3 mucositis, were observed in the same patient in the first dose level prompting dose expansion. Eleven patients (73 %) had stable disease as their best response. Co-administration of RO4929097 was associated with increased clearance and reduced exposure to temsirolimus, suggestive of drug-drug interaction via CYP3A4 induction. No correlation between the expression of Notch pathway biomarkers or genotype and time to progression was noted. Conclusions RO4929097 can be safely combined with temsirolimus in patients with advanced solid tumors. The RP2D was established at 20 mg of RO4929097 combined with 37.5 mg of temsirolimus.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10637-013-0001-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10637-013-0001-5
PMCID: PMC3771370  PMID: 23860641
RO4929097; Temsirolimus; Clinical trial; Notch; Gamma-secretase inhibitor
5.  Phase I Dose Finding Studies of Obatoclax (GX15-070), a Small Molecule Pan-BCL-2 Family Antagonist, in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors or Lymphoma 
Purpose
Two phase I, single-agent studies were conducted to determine the dose and regimen of obatoclax, an antagonist of all BCL-2 antiapoptotic proteins, for evaluation in phase II trials. The two studies, GX001 and GX005, evaluated the safety and tolerability of weekly 1-hour and 3-hour infusions of obatoclax, respectively.
Experimental Design
Eligible patients in both studies were adults with solid tumor or lymphoma and performance status 0–1 for whom standard therapies were not appropriate. In the GX001 study an accelerated dose titration design was initially used with subsequent cohorts of three to six patients with 40% dose increments between levels. In the GX005 study three to six patients entered at each dose level with 40% dose increments between levels.
Results
Thirty-five patients were enrolled in studies GX001 (n = 8) and GX005 (n = 27). Clinically significant central nervous system (CNS) toxicity was observed using the 1-hour infusion schedule. The obatoclax maximum tolerated dose (MTD) in GX001 was 1.25 mg/m2 due to these infusional CNS events. The 3-hour infusion schedule studied in GX005 had improved tolerability, and the obatoclax MTD was 20 mg/m2. One patient in GX005 with relapsed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma achieved partial response of 2 months’ duration, and one patient with relapsed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had stable disease for 18 months.
Conclusions
The 1-hour infusion schedule of obatoclax was associated with neuropsychiatric dose-limiting toxicities at relatively low doses (MTD, 1.25 mg/m2). The 3-hour i.v. infusion of obatoclax administered once weekly to patients with solid tumors was better tolerated (MTD, 20 mg/m2), and evidence of clinical activity was observed.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-0822
PMCID: PMC3703245  PMID: 20538761
6.  A phase I study of the oral gamma secretase inhibitor R04929097 in combination with gemcitabine in patients with advanced solid tumors (PHL-078/CTEP 8575) 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;32:243-249.
Summary
Purpose To establish the recommended phase II dose of the oral γ-secretase inhibitor RO4929097 (RO) in combination with gemcitabine; secondary objectives include the evaluation of safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, biomarkers of Notch signaling and preliminary anti-tumor activity. Methods Patients with advanced solid tumors were enrolled in cohorts of escalating RO dose levels (DLs). Tested RO DLs were 20 mg, 30 mg, 45 mg and 90 mg. RO was administered orally, once daily on days 1–3, 8–10, 15–17, 22–24. Gemcitabine was administered at 1,000 mg/m2 on d1, 8, and 15 in 28 d cycles. Dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) were assessed by CTCAE v4. Serial plasma was collected for RO (total and unbound) and gemcitabine pharmacokinetic analysis. Biomarkers of Notch signaling were assessed by immunohistochemistry in archival tissue. Antitumor activity was evaluated (RECIST 1.1). Results A total of 18 patients were enrolled to establish the recommended phase II dose. Of these, 3 patients received 20 mg RO, 7 patients received 30 mg RO, 6 patients received 45 mg RO and 2 patients received 90 mg RO. DLTs were grade 3 transaminitis (30 mg RO), grade 3 transaminitis and maculopapular rash (45 mg RO), and grade 3 transaminitis and failure to receive 75 % of planned RO doses secondary to prolonged neutropenia (90 mg); all were reversible. The maximum tolerated dose was exceeded at 90 mg RO. Pharmacokinetic analysis of both total and free RO confirmed the presence of autoinduction at 45 and 90 mg. Median levels of Notch3 staining were higher in individuals who received fewer than 4 cycles (p = 0.029). Circulating angiogenic factor levels did not correlate with time to progression or ≥ grade 3 adverse events. Best response (RECIST 1.1) was partial response (nasopharyngeal cancer) and stable disease > 4 months was observed in 3 patients (pancreas, tracheal, and breast primary cancers). Conclusions RO and gemcitabine can be safely combined. The recommended phase II dose of RO was 30 mg in combination with gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2. Although RO exposure was limited by the presence of autoinduction, RO levels achieved exceeded the area under the concentration-time curve for 0–24 h (AUC0–24) predicted for efficacy in preclinical models using daily dosing. Evidence of clinical antitumor activity and prolonged stable disease were identified.
doi:10.1007/s10637-013-9965-4
PMCID: PMC3869895  PMID: 23645447
Phase I; RO4929097; Notch inhibition; Gemcitabine
7.  Clinical development of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors for cancer treatment 
BMC Medicine  2012;10:161.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is commonly deregulated in cancer. In recent years, the results of the first phase I clinical trials with PI3K inhibitors have become available. In comparison to other targeted agents such v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) inhibitors in melanoma or crizotinib in anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase (ALK) translocated tumors, the number of objective responses to PI3K inhibitors is less dramatic. In this review we propose possible strategies to optimize the clinical development of PI3K inhibitors: by exploring the potential role of PI3K isoform-specific inhibitors in improving the therapeutic index, molecular characterization as a basis for patient selection, and the relevance of performing serial tumor biopsies to understand the associated mechanisms of drug resistance. The main focus of this review will be on PI3K isoform-specific inhibitors by describing the functions of different PI3K isoforms, the preclinical activity of selective PI3K isoform-specific inhibitors and the early clinical data of these compounds.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-161
PMCID: PMC3552942  PMID: 23232172
PI3K; isoform; neoplasm; patient selection; clinical trials; cancer
8.  Phase I Study of MGCD0103 Given As a Three-Times-Per-Week Oral Dose in Patients With Advanced Solid Tumors 
Purpose
MGCD0103 is a novel isotype-selective inhibitor of human histone deaceylases (HDACs) with the potential to regulate aberrant gene expression and restore normal growth control in malignancies.
Patients and Methods
A phase I trial of MGCD0103, given as a three-times-per-week oral dose for 2 of every 3 weeks, was performed in patients with advanced solid tumors. Primary end points were safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamic (PD) assessments of HDAC activity, and histone acetylation status in peripheral WBCs.
Results
Six dose levels ranging from 12.5 to 56 mg/m2/d were evaluated in 38 patients over 99 cycles (median, 2; range, 1 to 11). The recommended phase II dose was 45 mg/m2/d. Dose-limiting toxicities consisting of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and dehydration were observed in three (27%) of 11 and two (67%) of three patients treated at the 45 and 56 mg/m2/d dose levels, respectively. Disease stabilization for four or more cycles was observed in five (16%) of 32 patients assessable for efficacy. PK analyses demonstrated interpatient variability which was improved by coadministration with low pH beverages. Elimination half-life ranged from 6.7 to 12.2 hours, and no accumulation was observed with repeated dosing. PD evaluations confirmed inhibition of HDAC activity and induction of acetylation of H3 histones in peripheral WBCs from patients by MGCD0103.
Conclusion
At doses evaluated, MGCD0103 appears tolerable and exhibits favorable PK and PD profiles with evidence of target inhibition in surrogate tissues.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2007.14.5730
PMCID: PMC3501257  PMID: 18421048
9.  EVALUATION OF THE PHARMACODYNAMIC EFFECTS OF MGCD0103 FROM PRECLINICAL MODELS TO HUMAN, USING A NOVEL HDAC ENZYME ASSAY 
Purpose
The pharmacodynamic properties of MGCD0103, an isotype-selective inhibitor of histone deacetylase (HDAC), were evaluated in preclinical models and patients with a novel whole cell HDAC enzyme assay.
Experimental Design
Boc-Lys(ε-Ac)-AMC, an HDAC substrate with fluorescent read-out, was found to be cell-permeable and was used to monitor MGCD0103-mediated HDAC inhibition in cultured cancer cells in vitro, in peripheral white blood cells ex vivo, in mice in vivo and in human patients.
Results
MGCD0103 inhibited HDAC activity in several human cancer cell lines in vitro and in human peripheral white blood cells ex vivo in a dose-dependent manner. Unlike SAHA, the HDAC inhibitory activity of MGCD0103 was time-dependent and sustained for at least 24 h following drug removal in peripheral white blood cells ex vivo. Inhibitory activity of MGCD0103 was sustained for at least 8 h in vivo in mice, and 48 h in patients with solid tumors. HDAC inhibitory activity of MGCD0103 in peripheral white blood cells correlated with induction of histone acetylation in blood and in implanted tumors in mice. In cancer patients, sustained pharmacodynamic (PD) effect of MGCD0103 was visualized only by dose-dependent enzyme inhibition in peripheral white cells but not by histone acetylation analysis.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates that MGCD0103 has sustained PD effects that can be monitored both in vitro and in vivo with a cell-based HDAC enzyme assay.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4427
PMCID: PMC3444140  PMID: 18519775
Histone deacetylase; MGCD0103; pharmacodynamics; cancer clinical trial
10.  Less Than Ideal: How Oncologists Practice With Limited Drug Access 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2012;8(3):190-195.
Canadian medical oncologists are struggling to provide optimal care for their patients with metastatic colorectal cancer as a result of differential access to preferred therapeutic drugs.
Purpose:
To evaluate Canadian medical oncologists' perspectives on how barriers to accessing new expensive cancer drugs have affected their practice and their opinions on the drug approval and funding processes.
Methods:
Canadian medical oncologists treating colorectal cancer (CRC) were surveyed by means of a self-administered, cross-sectional survey.
Results:
Of the 164 eligible oncologists, there were 68 respondents (41.4% response rate). Only 29.4% of physicians felt they had been using the ideal first-line chemotherapy regimen for patients with metastatic CRC. Although all considered bevacizumab to be a component of the ideal first-line regimen, only 18% could use bevacizumab routinely, and less than half (44.8%) always discussed its role with their patients. In terms of accessing unfunded drugs, most physicians agreed that private payment should be allowed for drugs to be delivered at their own centers (76.1%) or private infusion clinics (52.2%). Ninety-seven percent of physicians reported major concerns about the drug approval and funding processes, and 85% of physicians supported the establishment of a national drug formulary.
Conclusions:
Canadian medical oncologists are struggling to provide optimal cancer care for their patients with metastatic CRC as a result of nonuniform access to preferred therapeutic drugs. In face of these challenges, physicians have had to use clinical trials and private infusion clinics and, at times, may avoid discussing drugs with limited access. Many oncologists are dissatisfied with the existing funding mechanism and approval processes and support private payment for unfunded drugs.
doi:10.1200/JOP.2011.000337
PMCID: PMC3396809  PMID: 22942815
11.  Future Directions in the Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumors: Consensus Report of the National Cancer Institute Neuroendocrine Tumor Clinical Trials Planning Meeting 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(7):934-943.
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) arise from a variety of anatomic sites and share the capacity for production of hormones and vasoactive peptides. Because of their perceived rarity, NETs have not historically been a focus of rigorous clinical research. However, the diagnosed incidence of NETs has been increasing, and the estimated prevalence in the United States exceeds 100,000 individuals. The recent completion of several phase III studies, including those evaluating octreotide, sunitinib, and everolimus, has demonstrated that rigorous evaluation of novel agents in this disease is both feasible and can lead to practice-changing outcomes. The NET Task Force of the National Cancer Institute GI Steering Committee convened a clinical trials planning meeting to identify key unmet needs, develop appropriate study end points, standardize clinical trial inclusion criteria, and formulate priorities for future NET studies for the US cooperative group program. Emphasis was placed on the development of well-designed clinical trials with clearly defined efficacy criteria. Key recommendations include the evaluation of pancreatic NET separately from NETs of other sites and the exclusion of patients with poorly differentiated histologies from trials focused on low-grade histologies. Studies evaluating novel agents for the control of hormonal syndromes should avoid somatostatin analog washout periods when possible and should include quality-of-life end points. Because of the observed long survival after progression of many patients, progression-free survival is recommended as a feasible and relevant primary end point for both phase III studies and phase II studies where a delay in progression is expected in the absence of radiologic responses.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2010.33.2056
PMCID: PMC3068065  PMID: 21263089
12.  Safety and pharmacokinetics of motesanib in combination with gemcitabine and erlotinib for the treatment of solid tumors: a phase 1b study 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:313.
Background
This phase 1b study assessed the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, and pharmacokinetics of motesanib (a small-molecule antagonist of VEGF receptors 1, 2, and 3; platelet-derived growth factor receptor; and Kit) administered once daily (QD) or twice daily (BID) in combination with erlotinib and gemcitabine in patients with solid tumors.
Methods
Patients received weekly intravenous gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2) and erlotinib (100 mg QD) alone (control cohort) or in combination with motesanib (50 mg QD, 75 mg BID, 125 mg QD, or 100 mg QD; cohorts 1-4); or erlotinib (150 mg QD) in combination with motesanib (100 or 125 mg QD; cohorts 5 and 6).
Results
Fifty-six patients were enrolled and received protocol-specified treatment. Dose-limiting toxicities occurred in 11 patients in cohorts 1 (n = 2), 2 (n = 4), 3 (n = 3), and 6 (n = 2). The MTD of motesanib in combination with gemcitabine and erlotinib was 100 mg QD. Motesanib 125 mg QD was tolerable only in combination with erlotinib alone. Frequently occurring motesanib-related adverse events included diarrhea (n = 19), nausea (n = 18), vomiting (n = 13), and fatigue (n = 12), which were mostly of worst grade < 3. The pharmacokinetics of motesanib was not markedly affected by coadministration of gemcitabine and erlotinib, or erlotinib alone. Erlotinib exposure, however, appeared lower after coadministration with gemcitabine and/or motesanib. Of 49 evaluable patients, 1 had a confirmed partial response and 26 had stable disease.
Conclusions
Treatment with motesanib 100 mg QD plus erlotinib and gemcitabine was tolerable. Motesanib 125 mg QD was tolerable only in combination with erlotinib alone.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01235416
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-313
PMCID: PMC3161034  PMID: 21791058
13.  Phase I Combination of Sorafenib and Erlotinib Therapy in Solid Tumors: Safety, Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Evaluation from an Expansion Cohort 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(3):751-760.
The aims of this study were to further define the safety of sorafenib and erlotinib, given at their full approved monotherapy doses, and to correlate pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) markers with clinical outcome. In addition, a novel PD marker based on the real-time measurement of RAF signal transduction capacity (STC) is described. Sorafenib was administered alone for a one-week run-in period, and then both drugs were given together continuously. RAF STC was assessed in peripheral blood monocytes prior to erlotinib initiation. EGFR expression and K-RAS mutations were measured in archival tumor samples. Changes in pERK and CD31 were determined in fresh tumor biopsies obtained pre-treatment, prior to erlotinib dosing and during the administration of both drugs. In addition, PET-CT scans and PK assessments were performed. Eleven patients received a total of 57 cycles (median: 5, range: 1–10). Only 4 patients received full doses of both drugs for the entire study course, with elevation of liver enzymes being the main reason for dose reductions and delays. Among 10 patients evaluable for response, 8 experienced tumor stabilization of 4 or more cycles. PK analysis revealed no significant interaction of erlotinib with sorafenib. Sorafenib-induced decrease in RAF-STC showed statistically significant correlation with time-to-progression in 7 patients. Other PD markers did not correlate with clinical outcome. This drug combination resulted in promising clinical activity in solid tumor patients although significant toxicity warrants close monitoring. RAF-STC deserves further study as a predictive marker for sorafenib.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0868
PMCID: PMC2838726  PMID: 20197396
sorafenib; erlotinib; phase I; pharmacodynamics; pharmacokinetics
14.  Phase I study of decitabine in combination with vorinostat in patients with advanced solid tumors and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas 
Purpose
This phase I study evaluated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and preliminary efficacy of the combination of decitabine with vorinostat.
Patients and methods
Patients with advanced solid tumors or non-Hodgkin's lymphomas were eligible. Sequential and concurrent schedules were studied.
Results
Forty-three patients were studied in 9 different dose levels (6 sequential and 3 concurrent). The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) on the sequential schedule was decitabine 10 mg/m2/day on days 1-5 and vorinostat 200 mg three times a day on days 6-12. The MTD on the concurrent schedule was decitabine 10 mg/m2/day on days 1-5 with vorinostat 200 mg twice a day on days 3-9. However, the sequential schedule of decitabine 10 mg/m2/day on days 1-5 and vorinostat 200 mg twice a day on days 6-12 was more deliverable than both MTDs with fewer delays on repeated dosing and it represents the recommended phase II (RP2D) dose of this combination. Dose-limiting toxicities during the first cycle consisted of myelosuppression, constitutional and gastrointestinal symptoms and occurred in 12/42 (29%) patients evaluable for toxicity. The most common ≥ grade 3 adverse events were neutropenia (49% of patients), thrombocytopenia (16%), fatigue (16%), lymphopenia (14%), and febrile neutropenia (7%). Disease stabilization for ≥ 4 cycles was observed in 11/38 (29%) evaluable patients.
Conclusion
The combination of decitabine with vorinostat is tolerable on both concurrent schedules in previously treated patients with advanced solid tumors or non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The sequential schedule was easier to deliver. The combination showed activity with prolonged disease stabilization in different tumor types.
PMCID: PMC2997755  PMID: 21152384
15.  Fluorescence in situ hybridization gene amplification analysis of EGFR and HER2 in patients with malignant salivary gland tumors treated with lapatinib 
Head & neck  2009;31(8):1006-1012.
Aim
Gene amplification status of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) were analyzed and correlated with clinical outcome in patients with progressive malignant salivary glands tumors (MSGT) treated with the dual EGFR/Her2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib
Methods
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis for both EGFR and HER2 gene amplification was performed successfully in the archival tumor specimens of 20 patients with adenoid cystic carcinomas (ACC) and 17 patients with non-ACC, all treated with lapatinib.
Results
For ACC, no EGFR or HER2 amplifications were detected. For non-ACC, no EGFR gene amplifications were detected but 3 patients (18%) were HER2 amplified and all had stained 3+ for both EGFR and HER2 by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in their archival specimens. Two of these patients had time-to-progression (TTP) durations of 8.3 months and 18.4 months respectively. Interestingly, patients with low and high HER2/chromosome-specific centromeric enumeration probe (CEP) 17 ratio had a prolonged TTP than those with moderate ratios for both ACC and non-ACC subtypes.
Conclusions
HER2 to CEP17 FISH ratio may predict which patients with MSGT have an increased likelihood to benefit from lapatinib. The finding of HER2:CEP17 ratio as a predictive marker of efficacy to lapatinib warrants further investigation.
doi:10.1002/hed.21052
PMCID: PMC2711990  PMID: 19309723
MSGT; lapatinib; EGFR and HER2 gene amplification; FISH
16.  Hepatic steatosis secondary to capecitabine: a case report 
Introduction
There are no known case reports of hepatic steatosis caused by oral fluoropyrimidines such as capecitabine. With increasing use of capecitabine since its approval for the treatment of metastatic colon cancer in 2001, and more recently for adjuvant treatment of colon cancer and treatment of metastatic breast cancer, we can anticipate increased recognition of potential toxicities associated with this 5-fluorouracil derivative.
Case presentation
We report the case of a 74-year-old Armenian woman who received capecitabine as adjuvant treatment for colon cancer and subsequently developed abnormal liver biochemical tests and radiographic findings in keeping with hepatic steatosis. There was complete reversal of liver enzyme abnormalities with discontinuation of the drug and this patient represents a case of reversible liver injury due to capecitabine.
Conclusion
In this original case report, capecitabine use was associated with hepatic steatosis. It is important for clinicians to recognize and monitor for this potential toxicity, which may be a cause of abnormal liver enzymes in this patient population.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-4-227
PMCID: PMC2916012  PMID: 24576340
17.  First-in-class, first-in-human phase I results of targeted agents: Highlights of the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting 
This review summarizes phase I trial results of 11 drugs presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting held in Chicago IL from May 30 to June 3rd 2008: BMS-663513, CT-322, CVX-045, GDC-0449, GRN163L, LY2181308, PF-00562271, RAV12, RTA 402, XL765, and the survivin vaccine.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-1-20
PMCID: PMC2647552  PMID: 18959794
18.  Understanding the attitudes of the elderly towards enrolment into cancer clinical trials 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:34.
Background
The optimal cancer treatment for an older population is largely unknown because of the low numbers of elderly patients accrued into clinical trials. This project focuses on the attitudes of the elderly about participation in clinical trials to determine if this is one of the barriers to the involvement of this population in clinical trials.
Methods
The first phase of this study was a self-administered questionnaire mailed to 425 elderly persons with cancer, selected from Princess Margaret Hospital oncology clinics. The second phase consisted of individual semi-structured interviews with cancer patients to assess their attitudes towards cancer, its management and enrolment into cancer clinical trials.
Results
Ninety-four patients responded to the survey giving a response rate of 22.1%. Three quarters of respondents stated that they would be willing to participate in a clinical trial. The factors that most influenced older patients' willingness to participate in a cancer study were recommendations from a cancer doctor and the chance that the study treatment may help them feel better. Seventeen survey responders participated in interviews. Common themes from these interviews included patient-physician communication, the referral process, and the role of age in cancer care decision-making.
Conclusion
Most elderly people, who responded to this survey, are willing to consider participation in cancer clinical trials however, elderly patients do not appear to actively seek clinical trials and few were informed of the availability of clinical trials. Physician barriers and availability of appropriate clinical trials may play a bigger role in preventing accrual of elderly cancer patients into trials.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-34
PMCID: PMC1382233  PMID: 16466574
19.  Pre-Clinical Characterization of Dacomitinib (PF-00299804), an Irreversible Pan-ErbB Inhibitor, Combined with Ionizing Radiation for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98557.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is over-expressed in nearly all cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), and is an important driver of disease progression. EGFR targeted therapies have demonstrated clinical benefit for SCCHN treatment. In this report, we investigated the pre-clinical efficacy of Dacomitinib (PF-00299804), an irreversible pan-ErbB inhibitor, both alone and in combination with ionizing radiation (IR), a primary curative modality for SCCHN. One normal oral epithelial (NOE) and three SCCHN (FaDu, UT-SCC-8, UT-SCC-42a) cell lines were used to conduct cell viability, clonogenic survival, cell cycle, and immunoblotting assays in vitro, using increasing doses of Dacomitinib (10–500 nM), both with and without IR (2–4 Gy). The FaDu xenograft model was utilized for tumor growth delay assays in vivo, and immunohistochemical analyses were conducted on extracted tumors. A dose-dependent reduction in cell viability and clonogenic survival after Dacomitinib treatment was observed in all three SCCHN models. Treatment led to a significant reduction in EGFR signalling, with a subsequent decrease in phosphorylation of downstream targets such as ERK, AKT, and mTOR. In vivo, Dacomitinib treatment delayed tumor growth, while decreasing phospho-EGFR and Ki-67 immunoexpression. These effects were further enhanced when combined with IR, both in vitro and in vivo. The preclinical data support the further evaluations of Dacomitinib combined with IR for the future management of patients with SCCHN.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098557
PMCID: PMC4031184  PMID: 24853121
20.  Phase 1 trial of the oral AKT inhibitor MK-2206 plus carboplatin/paclitaxel, docetaxel, or erlotinib in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Background
Inhibition of AKT with MK-2206 has demonstrated synergism with anticancer agents. This phase 1 study assessed the MTD, DLTs, PK, and efficacy of MK-2206 in combination with cytotoxic and targeted therapies.
Methods
Advanced solid tumor patients received oral MK-2206 45 or 60 mg (QOD) with either carboplatin (AUC 6.0) and paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 (arm 1), docetaxel 75 mg/m2 (arm 2), or erlotinib 100 or 150 mg daily (arm 3); alternative schedules of MK-2206 135-200 mg QW or 90-250 mg Q3W were also tested.
Results
MTD of MK-2206 (N = 72) was 45 mg QOD or 200 mg Q3W (arm 1); MAD was 200 mg Q3W (arm 2) and 135 mg QW (arm 3). DLTs included skin rash (arms 1, 3), febrile neutropenia (QOD, arms 1, 2), tinnitus (Q3W, arm 2), and stomatitis (QOD, arm 3). Common drug-related toxicities included fatigue (68%), nausea (49%), and rash (47%). Two patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (arm 1; Q3W) demonstrated a complete and partial response (PR); additional PRs were observed in patients (1 each) with melanoma, endometrial, neuroendocrine prostate, NSCLC, and cervical cancers. Six patients had stable disease ≥6 months.
Conclusion
MK-2206 plus carboplatin and paclitaxel, docetaxel, or erlotinib was well-tolerated, with early evidence of antitumor activity.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00848718.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-7-1
PMCID: PMC3884022  PMID: 24387695
MK-2206; AKT inhibitor; Protein serine-threonine kinase; Phase 1; Chemotherapy; Combination therapy; Solid tumors
21.  Early mortality and overall survival in oncology phase I trial participants: can we improve patient selection? 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:426.
Background
Patient selection for phase I trials (PIT) in oncology is challenging. A typical inclusion criterion for PIT is 'life expectancy > 3 months', however the 90 day mortality (90DM) and overall survival (OS) of patients with advanced solid malignancies are difficult to predict.
Methods
We analyzed 233 patients who were enrolled in PIT at Princess Margaret Hospital. We assessed the relationship between 17 clinical characteristics and 90DM using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to create a risk score (PMHI). We also applied the Royal Marsden Hospital risk score (RMI), which consists of 3 markers (albumin < 35g/L, > 2 metastatic sites, LDH > ULN).
Results
Median age was 57 years (range 21-88). The 90DM rate was 14%; median OS was 320 days. Predictors of 90DM were albumin < 35g/L (OR = 8.2, p = 0.01), > 2 metastatic sites (OR = 2.6, p = 0.02), and ECOG > 0 (OR = 6.3, p = 0.001); all 3 factors constitute the PMHI. To predict 90DM, the PMHI performed better than the RMI (AUC = 0.78 vs 0.69). To predict OS, the RMI performed slightly better (RMI ≥ 2, HR = 2.2, p = 0.002 vs PMHI ≥ 2, HR = 1.6, p = 0.05).
Conclusions
To predict 90DM, the PMHI is helpful. To predict OS, risk models should include ECOG > 0, > 2 metastatic sites, and LDH > ULN. Prospective validation of the PMHI is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-426
PMCID: PMC3199018  PMID: 21975023
22.  The association between EGFR variant III, HPV, p16, c-MET, EGFR gene copy number and response to EGFR inhibitors in patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck 
Head & Neck Oncology  2011;3:11.
Background
We examine the potential prognostic and predictive roles of EGFR variant III mutation, EGFR gene copy number (GCN), human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, c-MET and p16INK4A protein expression in recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (R/M SCCHN).
Methods
We analyzed the archival tumor specimens of 53 patients who were treated in 4 phase II trials for R/M SCCHN. Two trials involved the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib, and 2 trials involved non-EGFR targeted agents. EGFRvIII mutation was determined by quantitative RT-PCR, HPV DNA by Linear Array Genotyping, p16 and c-MET protein expression by immunohistochemistry, and EGFR GCN by FISH.
Results
EGFRvIII mutation, detected in 22 patients (42%), was associated with better disease control, but no difference was seen between erlotinib-treated versus non-erlotinib treated patients. EGFRvIII was not associated with TTP or OS. The presence of HPV DNA (38%), p16 immunostaining (32%), c-MET high expression (58%) and EGFR amplification (27%), were not associated with response, TTP or OS.
Conclusion
EGFRvIII mutation, present in about 40% of SCCHN, appears to be an unexpected prognostic biomarker associated with better disease control in R/M SCCHN regardless of treatment with erlotinib. Larger prospective studies are required to validate its significance.
doi:10.1186/1758-3284-3-11
PMCID: PMC3052237  PMID: 21352589
23.  Barriers in phase I cancer clinical trials referrals and enrollment: five-year experience at the Princess Margaret Hospital 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:263.
Background
There is a paucity of literature on the referral outcome of patients seen in phase I trial clinics in academic oncology centres. This study aims to provide information on the accrual rate and to identify obstacles in the recruitment process.
Methods
A retrospective chart review was performed for all new patients referred and seen in the phase I clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital between January 2000 and June 2005. Data on their demographics, medical history, and details of trial participation or non-entry were recorded.
Results
A total of 667 new phase I referrals were seen during the stated period. Of these patients, 197 (29.5%) patients were enrolled into a phase I trial, and 64.5% of them started trial within 1 month of the initial visit. About a quarter (165 of 667) of the patients referred were deemed ineligible at their first visit, with the most frequent reasons for ineligibility being poor performance status, unacceptable bloodwork, too many prior treatments and rapid disease progression. The remaining 305 patients (45.7%) were potentially eligible at their initial visit, but never entered a phase I trial. The main reasons for their non-entry were patient refusal, other treatment recommended first, and lack of available trials or trial spots.
Conclusion
This study provides information on the clinical realities underlying a referral to a phase I clinic and eventual trial enrollment. Better selection of patients, appropriate education of referring physicians, and opening phase I trials with fewer restrictions on some criteria such as prior therapy may enhance their recruitment rates.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-263
PMCID: PMC1636658  PMID: 17092349

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