Adaptive, seamless, multisponsor, multitherapy clinical trial designs executed as large scale platforms, could create superior evidence more efficiently than single‐sponsor, single‐drug trials. These trial PIPELINEs also could diminish barriers to trial participation, increase the representation of real‐world populations, and create systematic evidence development for learning throughout a therapeutic life cycle, to continually refine its use. Comparable evidence could arise from multiarm design, shared comparator arms, and standardized endpoints—aiding sponsors in demonstrating the distinct value of their innovative medicines; facilitating providers and patients in selecting the most appropriate treatments; assisting regulators in efficacy and safety determinations; helping payers make coverage and reimbursement decisions; and spurring scientists with translational insights. Reduced trial times and costs could enable more indications, reduced development cycle times, and improved system financial sustainability. Challenges to overcome range from statistical to operational to collaborative governance and data exchange.
While they account for one-fifth of new cancer cases, rare cancers are difficult to study. A higher than average degree of uncertainty should be accommodated for clinical as well as for population-based decision making. Rules of rational decision making in conditions of uncertainty should be rigorously followed and would need widely informative clinical trials. In principle, any piece of new evidence would need to be exploited in rare cancers. Methodologies to explicitly weigh and combine all the available evidence should be refined, and the Bayesian logic can be instrumental to this end. Likewise, Bayesian-design trials may help optimize the low number of patients liable to be enrolled in clinical studies on rare cancers, as well as adaptive trials in general, with their inherent potential of flexibility when properly applied. While clinical studies are the mainstay to test hypotheses, the potential of electronic patient records should be exploited to generate new hypotheses, to create external controls for future studies (when internal controls are unpractical), to study effectiveness of new treatments in real conditions. Framework study protocols in specific rare cancers to stepwisely test sets of new agents, as from the early post-phase I development stage, should be encouraged. Also the compassionate and the off-label settings should be exploited to generate new evidence, and flexible regulatory innovations such as adaptive licensing could convey new agents early to rare cancer patients, while generating evidence. Though validation of surrogate end points is problematic in rare cancers, the use of an updated notion of tumor response may be of great value in the single patient to optimize the use of therapies, all the more the new ones. Disease-based communities, involving clinicians and patients, should be regularly consulted by regulatory bodies when setting their policies on drug approval and reimbursement in specific rare cancers .
While they account for one-fifth of new cancer cases, rare cancers are difficult to study. A higher than average degree of uncertainty should be accommodated for clinical as well as for population-based decision making. Rules of rational decision making in conditions of uncertainty should be rigorously followed and would need widely informative clinical trials. In principle, any piece of new evidence would need to be exploited in rare cancers. Methodologies to explicitly weigh and combine all the available evidence should be refined, and the Bayesian logic can be instrumental to this end. Likewise, Bayesian-design trials may help optimize the low number of patients liable to be enrolled in clinical studies on rare cancers, as well as adaptive trials in general, with their inherent potential of flexibility when properly applied. While clinical studies are the mainstay to test hypotheses, the potential of electronic patient records should be exploited to generate new hypotheses, to create external controls for future studies (when internal controls are unpractical), to study effectiveness of new treatments in real conditions. Framework study protocols in specific rare cancers to sequentially test sets of new agents, as from the early post-phase I development stage, should be encouraged. Also the compassionate and the off-label settings should be exploited to generate new evidence, and flexible regulatory innovations such as adaptive licensing could convey new agents early to rare cancer patients, while generating evidence. Though validation of surrogate end points is problematic in rare cancers, the use of an updated notion of tumor response may be of great value in the single patient to optimize the use of therapies, all the more the new ones. Disease-based communities, involving clinicians and patients, should be regularly consulted by regulatory bodies when setting their policies on drug approval and reimbursement in specific rare cancers.
rare cancers; clinical trials; research methodology
Selecting patients with ‘sufficient life expectancy' for Phase I oncology trials remains challenging. The Royal Marsden Hospital Score (RMS) previously identified high-risk patients as those with ⩾2 of the following: albumin <35 g l−1; LDH > upper limit of normal; >2 metastatic sites. This study developed an alternative prognostic model, and compared its performance with that of the RMS.
The primary end point was the 90-day mortality rate. The new model was developed from the same database as RMS, but it used Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detection (CHAID). The ROC characteristics of both methods were then validated in an independent database of 324 patients enrolled in European Organization on Research and Treatment of Cancer Phase I trials of cytotoxic agents between 2000 and 2009.
The CHAID method identified high-risk patients as those with albumin <33 g l−1 or ⩾33 g l−1, but platelet counts ⩾400.000 mm−3. In the validation data set, the rates of correctly classified patients were 0.79 vs 0.67 for the CHAID model and RMS, respectively. The negative predictive values (NPV) were similar for the CHAID model and RMS.
The CHAID model and RMS provided a similarly high level of NPV, but the CHAID model gave a better accuracy in the validation set. Both CHAID model and RMS may improve the screening process in phase I trials.
phase I oncology trials; sufficient life expectancy; decision tree analysis; performance; discrimination; calibration
This analysis was performed to assess whether antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) modulate the effectiveness of temozolomide radiochemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma.
The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) 26981–22981/National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) CE.3 clinical trial database of radiotherapy (RT) with or without temozolomide (TMZ) for newly diagnosed glioblastoma was examined to assess the impact of the interaction between AED use and chemoradiotherapy on survival. Data were adjusted for known prognostic factors.
When treatment began, 175 patients (30.5%) were AED-free, 277 (48.3%) were taking any enzyme-inducing AED (EIAED) and 135 (23.4%) were taking any non-EIAED. Patients receiving valproic acid (VPA) only had more grade 3/4 thrombopenia and leukopenia than patients without an AED or patients taking an EIAED only. The overall survival (OS) of patients who were receiving an AED at baseline vs not receiving any AED was similar. Patients receiving VPA alone (97 [16.9%]) appeared to derive more survival benefit from TMZ/RT (hazard ratio [HR] 0.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.24–0.63) than patients receiving an EIAED only (252 [44%]) (HR 0.69, 95% CI 0.53–0.90) or patients not receiving any AED (HR 0.67, 95% CI 0.49–0.93).
VPA may be preferred over an EIAED in patients with glioblastoma who require an AED during TMZ-based chemoradiotherapy. Future studies are needed to determine whether VPA increases TMZ bioavailability or acts as an inhibitor of histone deacetylases and thereby sensitizes for radiochemotherapy in vivo.
Background: Sagopilone (ZK 219477), a lipophylic and synthetic analog of epothilone B, that crosses the blood–brain barrier has demonstrated preclinical activity in glioma models.
Patients and methods: Patients with first recurrence/progression of glioblastoma were eligible for this early phase II and pharmacokinetic study exploring single-agent sagopilone (16 mg/m2 over 3 h every 21 days). Primary end point was a composite of either tumor response or being alive and progression free at 6 months. Overall survival, toxicity and safety and pharmacokinetics were secondary end points.
Results: Thirty-eight (evaluable 37) patients were included. Treatment was well tolerated, and neuropathy occurred in 46% patients [mild (grade 1) : 32%]. No objective responses were seen. The progression-free survival (PFS) rate at 6 months was 6.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3–18.7], the median PFS was just over 6 weeks, and the median overall survival was 7.6 months (95% CI 5.3–12.3), with a 1-year survival rate of 31.6% (95% CI 17.7–46.4). Maximum plasma concentrations were reached at the end of the 3-h infusion, with rapid declines within 30 min after termination.
Conclusions: No evidence of relevant clinical antitumor activity against recurrent glioblastoma could be detected. Sagopilone was well tolerated, and moderate-to-severe peripheral neuropathy was observed in despite prolonged administration.
chemotherapy; glioblastoma; phase II trial; recurrent disease; sagopilone
Head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. These tumors are commonly diagnosed at advanced stages and mortality rates remain high. Even cured patients suffer the consequences of aggressive treatment that includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. In the past, in clinical trials, HNSCC was considered as a single disease entity. Advances in molecular biology with the development of genomic and proteomic approaches have demonstrated distinct prognostic HNSCC patient subsets beyond those defined by traditional clinical–pathological factors such as tumor subsite and stage [Cho W (ed). An Omics Perspective on Cancer Research. New York/Berlin: Springer 2010]. Validation of these biomarkers in large prospective clinical trials is required before their clinical implementation. To promote this research, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Head and Neck Cancer Program will develop the following strategies—(i) biobanking: prospective tissue collection from uniformly treated patients in the setting of clinical trials; (ii) a group of physicians, physician—scientists, and EORTC Headquarters staff devoted to patient-oriented head and neck cancer research; (iii) a collaboration between the basic scientists of the Translational Research Division interested in head and neck cancer research and the physicians of the Head and Neck Cancer Group; and (iv) funding through the EORTC Grant Program and the Network Core Institutions Consortium. In the present report, we summarize our strategic plans to promote head and neck cancer research within the EORTC framework.
EGFR; head and neck cancer; HPV; translational research
Both induction chemotherapy followed by irradiation and concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been reported as valuable alternatives to total laryngectomy in patients with advanced larynx or hypopharynx cancer. We report results of the randomized phase 3 trial 24954 from the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer.
Patients with resectable advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx (tumor stage T3–T4) or hypopharynx (T2–T4), with regional lymph nodes in the neck staged as N0–N2 and with no metastasis, were randomly assigned to treatment in the sequential (or control) or the alternating (or experimental) arm. In the sequential arm, patients with a 50% or more reduction in primary tumor size after two cycles of cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil received another two cycles, followed by radiotherapy (70 Gy total). In the alternating arm, a total of four cycles of cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (in weeks 1, 4, 7, and 10) were alternated with radiotherapy with 20 Gy during the three 2-week intervals between chemotherapy cycles (60 Gy total). All nonresponders underwent salvage surgery and postoperative radiotherapy. The Kaplan–Meier method was used to obtain time-to-event data.
The 450 patients were randomly assigned to treatment (224 to the sequential arm and 226 to the alternating arm). Median follow-up was 6.5 years. Survival with a functional larynx was similar in sequential and alternating arms (hazard ratio of death and/or event = 0.85, 95% confidence interval = 0.68 to 1.06), as were median overall survival (4.4 and 5.1 years, respectively) and median progression-free interval (3.0 and 3.1 years, respectively). Grade 3 or 4 mucositis occurred in 64 (32%) of the 200 patients in the sequential arm who received radiotherapy and in 47 (21%) of the 220 patients in the alternating arm. Late severe edema and/or fibrosis was observed in 32 (16%) patients in the sequential arm and in 25 (11%) in the alternating arm.
Larynx preservation, progression-free interval, and overall survival were similar in both arms, as were acute and late toxic effects.
Aicardi‐Goutières syndrome (AGS) is an autosomal recessive, early onset encephalopathy characterised by calcification of the basal ganglia, chronic cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytosis, and negative serological investigations for common prenatal infections. AGS may result from a perturbation of interferon α metabolism. The disorder is genetically heterogeneous with approximately 50% of families mapping to the first known locus at 3p21 (AGS1).
A genome‐wide scan was performed in 10 families with a clinical diagnosis of AGS in whom linkage to AGS1 had been excluded. Higher density genotyping in regions of interest was also undertaken using the 10 mapping pedigrees and seven additional AGS families.
Our results demonstrate significant linkage to a second AGS locus (AGS2) at chromosome 13q14–21 with a maximum multipoint heterogeneity logarithm of the odds (LOD) score of 5.75 at D13S768. The AGS2 locus lies within a 4.7 cM region as defined by a 1 LOD‐unit support interval.
We have identified a second AGS disease locus and at least one further locus. As in a number of other conditions, genetic heterogeneity represents a significant obstacle to gene identification in AGS. The localisation of AGS2 represents an important step in this process.
AGS2; Aicardi‐Goutières syndrome; interferon α; intracranial calcification; 13q14–21
Cohen syndrome (CS) is an autosomal recessive disorder with variability in the clinical manifestations, characterised by mental retardation, postnatal microcephaly, facial dysmorphism, pigmentary retinopathy, myopia, and intermittent neutropenia. Mutations in the gene COH1 have been found in an ethnically diverse series of patients. Brief clinical descriptions of 24 patients with CS are provided. The patients were from 16 families of different ethnic backgrounds and between 2.5 and 60 years of age at assessment. DNA samples from all patients were analysed for mutations in COH1 by direct sequencing. Splice site mutations were characterised using reverse transcriptase PCR analysis from total RNA samples. In this series, we detected 25 different COH1 mutations; 19 of these were novel, including 9 nonsense mutations, 8 frameshift mutations, 4 verified splice site mutations, 3 larger in frame deletions, and 1 missense mutation. We observed marked variability of developmental and growth parameters. The typical facial gestalt was seen in 23/24 patients. Early onset progressive myopia was present in all the patients older than 5 years. Widespread pigmentary retinopathy was found in 12/14 patients assessed over 5 years of age. We present evidence for extended allelic heterogeneity of CS, with the vast majority of mutations leading to premature termination codons in COH1. Our data confirm the broad clinical spectrum of CS with some patients lacking even the characteristic facial gestalt and pigmentary retinopathy at school age.
Cohen syndrome; allelic heterogeneity; facial dysmorphism; microcephaly; myopia
Costello syndrome (CS) is a rare multiple congenital abnormality syndrome, associated with failure to thrive and developmental delay. One of the more distinctive features in childhood is the development of facial warts, often nasolabial and in other moist body surfaces. Individuals with CS have an increased risk of malignancy, suggested to be about 17%. Recently, mutations in the HRAS gene on chromosome 11p13.3 have been found to cause CS.
We report here the results of HRAS analysis in 43 individuals with a clinical diagnosis of CS.
Mutations were found in 37 (86%) of patients. Analysis of parental DNA samples was possible in 16 cases for both parents and in three cases for one parent, and confirmed the mutations as de novo in all of these cases. Three novel mutations (G12C, G12E, and K117R) were found in five cases.
These results confirm that CS is caused, in most cases, by heterozygous missense mutations in the proto‐oncogene HRAS. Analysis of the major phenotypic features by mutation suggests a potential correlation between malignancy risk and genotype, which is highest for patients with an uncommon (G12A) substitution. These results confirm that mutation testing for HRAS is a reliable diagnostic test for CS.
HRAS mutations; malignancy
Truncating mutations were found in the PHF8 gene (encoding the PHD finger protein 8) in two unrelated families with X linked mental retardation (XLMR) associated with cleft lip/palate (MIM 300263). Expression studies showed that this gene is ubiquitously transcribed, with strong expression of the mouse orthologue Phf8 in embryonic and adult brain structures. The coded PHF8 protein harbours two functional domains, a PHD finger and a JmjC (Jumonji-like C terminus) domain, implicating it in transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodelling. The association of XLMR and cleft lip/palate in these patients with mutations in PHF8 suggests an important function of PHF8 in midline formation and in the development of cognitive abilities, and links this gene to XLMR associated with cleft lip/palate. Further studies will explore the specific mechanisms whereby PHF8 alterations lead to mental retardation and midline defects.
Interestingly, mental retardation was consistently more severe in patients with NSD1 deletions. Macrocephaly and facial gestalt but not overgrowth and advanced bone age were consistently observed in Sotos syndrome patients. We suggest therefore considering macrocephaly and facial gestalt as mandatory criteria for the diagnosis of Sotos syndrome and overgrowth and advanced bone age as minor criteria.
Generalised lipodystrophy of the Berardinelli-Seip type (BSCL) is a rare autosomal recessive human disorder with severe adverse metabolic consequences. A gene on chromosome 9 (BSCL1) has recently been identified, predominantly in African-American families. More recently, mutations in a previously undescribed gene of unknown function (BSCL2) on chromosome 11, termed seipin, have been found to be responsible for this disorder in a number of European and Middle Eastern families. We have studied the genotype/phenotype relationships in 70 affected subjects from 44 apparently unrelated pedigrees of diverse ethnic origin. In all subjects, hepatic dysfunction, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes mellitus, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy were significant contributors to morbidity with no clear differences in their prevalence between subjects with BSCL1 or BSCL2 and those with evidence against cosegregation with either chromosome 9 or 11 (designated BSCLX). BSCL2 appears to be a more severe disorder than BSCL1 with a higher incidence of premature death and a lower prevalence of partial and/or delayed onset of lipodystrophy. Notably, subjects with BSCL2 had a significantly higher prevalence of intellectual impairment than those with BSCL1 or BSCLX (p<0.0001, OR 17.0, CI 3.6 to 79.0). The higher prevalence of intellectual impairment and the increased risk of premature death in BSCL2 compared to BSCL1 emphasise the importance of molecular diagnosis of this syndrome and have clear implications for genetic counselling.
We report a patient with an undetermined leucodystrophy associated with type 1A oculocutaneous albinism (OCA). Type 1 OCA results from recessive mutations in the tyrosinase gene (TYR) located in 11q14.3. The patient was found by FISH to carry a deletion of at least the first exon of the TYR gene on one chromosome and a (TG) deletion at codon 244/245 on the second chromosome. The existence of the microdeletion suggested that a gene responsible for leucodystrophy was located in the vicinity of the TYR gene. A combination of a test of hemizygosity and contig mapping studies allowed us to map the gene within a 0.6 cM region flanked by microsatellite markers D11S1780 and D11S931.
Keywords: leucodystrophy; oculocutaneous albinism; 11q14 deletion; physical mapping
McKusick-Kaufman syndrome (MKKS) is a rare, recessively inherited syndrome reported mainly in young children and is characterised by vaginal atresia with hydrometrocolpos, postaxial polydactyly, and congenital heart defect. Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is the generic name for a genetically heterogeneous group of autosomal recessive disorders characterised by retinal dystrophy or retinitis pigmentosa (appearing usually between 10 and 20 years of age), postaxial polydactyly, obesity, nephropathy, and mental disturbances, or, occasionally, mental retardation. Typically, MKKS is diagnosed (and reported) in very young children, whereas the diagnosis of BBS often is delayed to the teenage years.
We report here a series of nine patients diagnosed in infancy with MKKS because of the presence of vaginal atresia and postaxial polydactyly, who later developed obesity and retinal dystrophy, thus turning out to be instances of BBS.
The overlap of BBS and MKKS is a real diagnostic pitfall and its importance has to be stressed, for genetic counselling, for clinical management and follow up, and for molecular approaches. The diagnosis of MKKS should be considered with caution in all published cases described exclusively in the neonatal period and in those with mental retardation. We strongly recommend all children seen in infancy with a diagnosis of MKKS to be re-evaluated for RP and other signs of BBS.
Keywords: Bardet-Biedl syndrome; McKusick-Kaufman syndrome; hydrometrocolpos
We report on the evaluation of a strategy for screening for XNP/ATR-X mutations in males with mental retardation and associated dysmorphology. Because nearly half of the mutations in this gene reported to date fall into a short 300 bp region of the transcript, we decided to focus in this region and to extend the mutation analysis to cases with a negative family history. This study includes 21 mentally retarded male patients selected because they had severe mental retardation and a typical facial appearance. The presence of haemoglobin H or urogenital abnormalities was not considered critical for inclusion in this study. We have identified six mutations which represents a mutation detection rate of 28%. This figure is high enough for us to propose this strategy as a valid first level of screening in a selected subset of males with mental retardation. This approach is simple, does not require RNA preparation, does not involve time consuming mutation detection methods, and can thus be applied to a large number of patients at a low cost in any given laboratory.
Keywords: mental retardation; ATR-X; mutation; zinc finger
We report three new mutations in PTEN, the gene responsible for Cowden disease in five patients with Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome from three unrelated families. This finding confirms that Cowden disease, a dominant cancer predisposing syndrome, and Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, which includes macrocephaly, multiple lipomas, intestinal hamartomatous polyps, vascular malformations, and pigmented macules of the penis, are allelic disorders at the PTEN locus on chromosome 10q.
A mother and daughter are reported with apparently dissimilar syndromes. The mother has a split hand/split foot deformity and the daughter a condition consistent with a diagnosis of LADD syndrome. Absence of clefting and deficient formation of saliva and tears are the main signs that differentiate the LADD from the EEC syndrome. However, no distinct feature is constant between these two autosomal dominant disorders that show great phenotypic variability. This report emphasises the overlap between the LADD and the EEC syndromes.