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1.  Phase I Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Study of Pazopanib in Children With Soft Tissue Sarcoma and Other Refractory Solid Tumors: A Children's Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Report 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(24):3034-3043.
Pazopanib, an oral multikinase angiogenesis inhibitor, prolongs progression-free survival in adults with soft tissue sarcoma (STS). A phase I pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic study of two formulations of pazopanib was performed in children with STS or other refractory solid tumors.
Patients and Methods
Pazopanib (tablet formulation) was administered once daily in 28-day cycles at four dose levels (275 to 600 mg/m2) using the rolling-six design. Dose determination for a powder suspension was initiated at 50% of the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) for the intact tablet. Ten patients with STS underwent dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) scanning at baseline and 15 ± 2 days after initiation of pazopanib at the tablet MTD.
Fifty-three patients were enrolled; 51 were eligible (26 males; median age, 12.9 years; range, 3.8 to 23.9 years). Hematologic and nonhematologic toxicities were generally mild, with dose-limiting lipase, amylase, and ALT elevation, proteinuria, and hypertension. One patient with occult brain metastasis had grade 4 intracranial hemorrhage. The MTD was 450 mg/m2 for tablet and 160 mg/m2 for suspension. Steady-state trough concentrations were reached by day 15 and did not seem to be dose dependent. One patient each with hepatoblastoma or desmoplastic small round cell tumor achieved a partial response; eight patients had stable disease for ≥ six cycles, seven of whom had sarcoma. All patients with evaluable DCE-MRI (n = 8) experienced decreases in tumor blood volume and permeability (P < .01). Placental growth factor increased, whereas endoglin and soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 decreased (P < .01; n = 41).
Pazopanib is well tolerated in children, with evidence of antiangiogenic effect and potential clinical benefit in pediatric sarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3739862  PMID: 23857966
2.  Population Pharmacokinetic Model for Cancer Chemoprevention With Sulindac in Healthy Subjects 
Journal of clinical pharmacology  2013;53(4):403-412.
Sulindac is a prescription-based non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that continues to be actively investigated as a candidate cancer chemoprevention agent. To further current understanding of sulindac bioavailability, metabolism, and disposition, we developed a population pharmacokinetic model for the parent compound and its active metabolites, sulindac sulfide, and exisulind. This analysis was based on data from 24 healthy subjects who participated in a bioequivalence study comparing two formulations of sulindac. The complex disposition of sulindac and its metabolites was described by a seven-compartment model featuring enterohepatic recirculation and is the first reported population pharmacokinetic model for sulindac. The derived model was used to explore effects of clinical variables on sulindac pharmacokinetics and revealed that body weight, creatinine clearance, and gender were significantly correlated with pharmacokinetic parameters. Moreover, the model quantifies the relative bioavailability of the sulindac formulations and illustrates the utility of population pharmacokinetics in bioequivalence assessment. This novel population pharmacokinetic model provides new insights regarding the factors that may affect the pharmacokinetics of sulindac and the exisulind and sulindac sulfide metabolites in generally healthy subjects, which have implications for future chemoprevention trial design for this widely available agent.
PMCID: PMC4120995  PMID: 23436338
chemoprevention; exisulind; NONMEM; population pharmacokinetics; sulindac
3.  UGT1A1 Genotype-guided Phase I Study of Irinotecan, Oxaliplatin, and Capecitabine 
Investigational new drugs  2013;31(6):10.1007/s10637-013-0034-9.
We performed a UGT1A1 genotype-guided study to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and evaluate the toxicities and pharmacokinetics of the combination of capecitabine (CAP), oxaliplatin (OX), and irinotecan (IRIN).
Experimental Design
Patients were screened for UGT1A1 *28 genotype prior to treatment. The starting dose (mg/m2) was IRIN (150), OX (85) and CAP (400), days 2-15. Doses were escalated or de-escalated within each genotype group (*28/*28, *1/*28 and *1/*1). IRIN pharmacokinetics was performed at the MTD.
50 patients were evaluable for toxicity [11 (*28/*28); 18 (*1/*28); 21 (*1/*1)]. UGT1A1 *28/*28 patients experienced hematologic dose limiting toxicity (DLT), requiring dose-de-escalation. The UGT1A1 *28/*28 recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D) was IRIN (75), OX (85), and CAP (400). In contrast, both UGT1A1 *1/*28 and *1/*1 tolerated higher doses of IRIN and non-hematologic toxicity was dose limiting for UGT1A1 *1/*1. The RP2D was IRIN (150), OX (85), and CAP (400) for UGT1A1*1/*28 and IRIN (150), OX (100), and CAP (1600) for UGT1A1 *1/*1. UGT1A1 *1/*28 and *1/*1 patients treated with IRIN (150) had similar AUCs for the active irinotecan metabolite, SN38 (366 +/− 278 and 350 +/− 159 ng/ml*hr, respectively). UGT1A1 *28/*28 patients (n=3) treated with a lower IRIN dose (100) had non-significantly higher mean SN38 exposures (604 +/− 289 ng/ml*hr, p=0.14). Antitumor activity was observed in all genotype groups.
UGT1A1 genotype affects the dose and pharmacokinetics of the CAPIRINOX regimen and UGT1A1 genotype-guided dosing of CAPIRINOX is ongoing in a phase II study of small bowel cancer (NCT00433550).
PMCID: PMC3880122  PMID: 24114122
Irinotecan; Capecitabine; Oxaliplatin; UGT1A1
4.  A Phase I Study of Vorinostat in Combination with Bortezomib in Patients with Advanced Malignancies 
Investigational new drugs  2013;31(6):1539-1546.
A phase I study to assess the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), pharmacokinetics (PK) and antitumor activity of vorinostat in combination with bortezomib in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Patients received vorinostat orally once daily on days 1–14 and bortezomib intravenously on days 1, 4, 8 and 11 of a 21-day cycle. Starting dose (level 1) was vorinostat (400 mg) and bortezomib (0.7 mg/m2). Bortezomib dosing was increased using a standard phase I dose-escalation schema. PKs were evaluated during cycle 1.
Twenty-three patients received 57 cycles of treatment on four dose levels ranging from bortezomib 0.7 mg/m2 to 1.5 mg/m2. The MTD was established at vorinostat 400 mg daily and bortezomib 1.3 mg/m2. DLTs consisted of grade 3 fatigue in three patients (1 mg/m2,1.3 mg/m2 and 1.5 mg/m2) and grade 3 hyponatremia in one patient (1.5 mg/m2). The most common grade 1/2 toxicities included nausea (60.9%), fatigue (34.8%), diaphoresis (34.8%), anorexia (30.4%) and constipation (26.1%). Objective partial responses were observed in one patient with NSCLC and in one patient with treatment-refractory soft tissue sarcoma. Bortezomib did not affect the PKs of vorinostat; however, the Cmax and AUC of the acid metabolite were significantly increased on day 2 compared with day 1.
This combination was generally well-tolerated at doses that achieved clinical benefit. The MTD was established at vorinostat 400 mg daily x 14 days and bortezomib 1.3 mg/m2 on days 1, 4, 8 and 11 of a 21-day cycle.
PMCID: PMC3901262  PMID: 24114121
SAHA; vorinostat; PS-341; bortezomib; phase I
5.  A Phase 1 Trial of Imetelstat in Children with Refractory or Recurrent Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Phase 1 Consortium Study (ADVL1112) 
Imetelstat is a covalently-lipidated 13-mer thiophosphoramidate oligonucleotide that acts as a potent specific inhibitor of telomerase. It binds with high affinity to the template region of the RNA component of human telomerase (hTERC ) and is a competitive inhibitor of telomerase enzymatic activity. The purpose of this study was to determine the recommended phase 2 dose of imetelstat in children with recurrent or refractory solid tumors.
Experimental Design
Imetelstat was administered intravenously over two hours on days 1 and 8, every 21 days. Dose levels of 225, 285, and 360 mg/m2 were evaluated, using the rolling-six design. Imetelstat pharmacokinetic and correlative biology studies were also performed during the first cycle.
Twenty subjects were enrolled (median age 14 yrs; range 3–21). Seventeen were evaluable for toxicity. The most common toxicities were neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and lymphopenia, with dose-limiting myelosuppression in two of six patients at 360 mg/m2. Pharmacokinetics were dose dependent with a lower clearance at the highest dose level. Telomerase inhibition was observed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells at 285 and 360 mg/m2. Two confirmed partial responses osteosarcoma (n=1) and Ewing sarcoma (n=1) were observed.
The recommended phase 2 dose of imetelstat given on days 1 and 8 of 21-day cycle is 285 mg/m2.
PMCID: PMC4079262  PMID: 24097866
imetelstat; phase I trial; pediatric cancer; solid tumors; Children’s Oncology Group
6.  A Pediatric Phase 1 Trial Of Vorinostat And Temozolomide In Relapsed Or Refractory Primary Brain Or Spinal Cord Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Phase 1 Consortium Study 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(9):1452-1457.
We conducted a pediatric phase I study to estimate the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicities (DLT), and pharmacokinetic properties of vorinostat, a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, when given in combination with temozolomide in children with refractory or recurrent CNS malignancies.
Patients and Methods
Vorinostat, followed by temozolomide approximately one hour later, was orally administered, once daily, for 5 consecutive days every 28 days at 3 dose levels using the rolling 6 design. Studies of histone accumulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were performed on day 1 at 0, 6, and 24 h after vorinostat dosing. Vorinostat pharmacokinetics (PK) and serum MGMT promoter status were also assessed
Nineteen eligible patients were enrolled and eighteen patients were evaluable for toxicity. There were no DLTs observed at dose level 1 or 2. DLTs occurred in 4 patients at dose level 3: thrombocytopenia (4), neutropenia (3), and leucopenia (1). Non-dose limiting grade 3 or 4 toxicities related to protocol therapy were also hematologic and included neutropenia, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, and leucopenia. Three patients exhibited stable disease and one patient had a partial response. There was no clear relationship between vorinostat dosage and drug exposure over the dose range studied. Accumulation of acetylated H3 histone in PBMC was observed after administration of vorinostat.
Five-day cycles of vorinostat in combination with temozolomide are well tolerated in children with recurrent CNS malignancies with myelosuppression as the DLT. The recommended phase II combination doses are vorinostat, 300 mg/m2/day and temozolomide,150 mg/m2/day.
PMCID: PMC4139006  PMID: 23554030
vorinostat; temozolomide phase I trial; pediatric cancer; Children’s Oncology Group
7.  Phase I/II Trial and Pharmacokinetic Study of Cixutumumab in Pediatric Patients With Refractory Solid Tumors and Ewing Sarcoma: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;30(3):256-262.
A phase I/II study of cixutumumab (IMC-A12) in children with refractory solid tumors was conducted. This study was designed to assess the toxicities, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of cixutumumab in children to determine a recommended phase II dose and to assess antitumor activity in Ewing sarcoma (ES).
Patients and Methods
Pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors were treated with cixutumumab as a 1-hour intravenous infusion once per week. Two dose levels—6 and 9 mg/kg—were evaluated using a standard three-plus-three cohort design. Patients with refractory ES were treated in an expanded phase II cohort at each dose level.
Forty-seven eligible patients with a median age of 15 years (range, 4 to 28 years) were enrolled. Twelve patients were treated in the dose-finding phase. Hematologic and nonhematologic toxicities were generally mild and infrequent. Dose-limiting toxicities included grade 4 thrombocytopenia at 6 mg/kg and grade 3 dehydration at 9 mg/kg. Mean trough concentration (± standard deviation) at 9 mg/kg was 106 ± 57 μg/mL, which exceeded the effective trough concentration of 60 μg/mL observed in xenograft models. Three patients with ES had confirmed partial responses: one of 10 at 6 mg/kg and two of 20 at 9 mg/kg. Serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels consistently increased after one dose of cixutumumab. Tumor IGF-I receptor expression by immunohistochemistry did not correlate with response in patients with ES.
Cixutumumab is well tolerated in children with refractory solid tumors. The recommended phase II dose is 9 mg/kg. Limited single-agent activity of cixutumumab was seen in ES.
PMCID: PMC3269952  PMID: 22184397
8.  Tuning Pharmacokinetics and Biodistribution of a Targeted Drug Delivery System Through Incorporation of a Passive Targeting Component 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5669.
Major challenges in the development of drug delivery systems (DDSs) have been the short half-life, poor bioavailability, insufficient accumulation and penetration of the DDSs into the tumor tissue. Understanding the pharmacokinetic (PK) parameters of the DDS is essential to overcome these challenges. Herein we investigate how surface chemistry affects the PK profile and organ distribution of a gold nanoparticle-based DDS containing both a passive and active targeting moiety via two common routes of administration: intravenous and intraperitoneal injections. Using LC/MS/MS, ELISA and INAA we report the half-life, peak plasma concentrations, area under the curve, ability to cross the peritoneal barrier and biodistribution of the nanoconjugates. The results highlight the design criteria for fine-tuning the PK parameters of a targeted drug delivery system that exploits the benefits of both active and passive targeting.
PMCID: PMC4092331  PMID: 25011609
9.  Tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile of a sunitinib powder formulation in pediatric patients with refractory solid tumors: a Children’s Oncology Group study 
Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology  2011;69(4):1021-1027.
Sunitinib is an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF, PDGF, c-KIT, and flt-3 receptors. A pediatric phase I study of sunitinib capsules identified the maximum tolerated dose as 15 mg/m2/day. This study was conducted to evaluate sunitinib given as a powder formulation.
Sunitinib 15 mg/m2 was administered orally daily for 4 weeks on/2 weeks off to patients <21 years old with refractory solid tumors. Sunitinib capsules were opened, and the powder sprinkled onto applesauce or yogurt. Plasma levels of sunitinib and an active metabolite, SU12662, were measured, and pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated.
12 patients, median age 13 (range 4–21) years, were treated. The most common first-cycle toxicities were leucopenia (n = 6), fatigue (n = 5), neutropenia (n = 4), and hypertension (n = 4). Three patients had dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) in cycle 1 (dizziness/back pain, hand–foot syndrome, and intratumoral hemorrhage/hypoxia). A median peak plasma sunitinib concentration of 21 (range 6–36) ng/ml was reached at a median of 4 (range 4–8) h after the first dose. The median exposure (AUC0–48) was 585 (range 196–1,059) h ng/l. The median half-life was 23 (range 13–36) h. The median trough concentration measured before day 14 dosing was 32 (range 12–58) ng/ml.
The pharmacokinetic profile of sunitinib appears similar between a powder formulation and published data using capsules. The powder formulation allows patients unable to swallow capsules to receive sunitinib.
PMCID: PMC4008320  PMID: 22179104
Sunitinib; Pediatric; Pharmacokinetics; Formulation
10.  A Phase I Trial of Vorinostat and Alvocidib in Patients with Relapsed, Refractory or Poor Prognosis Acute Leukemia, or Refractory Anemia with Excess Blasts-2 
This phase I study was conducted to identify the MTD of alvocidib when combined vorinostat in patients with relapsed, refractory, or poor prognosis acute leukemia, or refractory anemia with excess blasts-2 (RAEB-2). Secondary objectives included investigating the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects of the combination.
Experimental Design
Patients received vorinostat (200 mg orally, 3 times a day [TID], for 14 days), on a 21-day cycle, combined with 2 different alvocidib administration schedules: a 1-h intravenous infusion, daily x 5; or a 30-min loading infusion followed by a 4-h maintenance infusion, weekly x 2. The alvocidib dose was escalated using a standard 3+3 design.
Twenty-eight patients were enrolled and treated. The alvocidib MTD was 20 mg/m2 (30-min loading infusion) followed by 20 mg/m2 (4-h maintenance infusion) on days 1 and 8, in combination with vorinostat. The most frequently encountered toxicities were cytopenias, fatigue, hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, hypophosphatemia, and QT prolongation. Dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) were cardiac arrhythmia-atrial fibrillation and QT prolongation. No objective responses were achieved, although 13 of 26 evaluable patients exhibited stable disease. Alvocidib appeared to alter vorinostat pharmacokinetics, whereas alvocidib pharmacokinetics were unaffected by vorinostat. Ex vivo exposure of leukemia cells to plasma obtained from patients after alvocidib treatment blocked vorinostat-mediated p21CIP1 induction and down-regulated Mcl-1 and p-RNA Pol II for some specimens, although parallel in vivo bone marrow responses were infrequent.
Alvocidib combined with vorinostat is well tolerated. Although disease stabilization occurred in some heavily pretreated patients, objective responses were not obtained with these schedules.
PMCID: PMC3618599  PMID: 23515411
Vorinostat; Alvocidib; Acute Leukemia; Clinical Trial; Phase I
11.  Phase I Study of Vorinostat in Combination with Temozolomide in Patients with High-Grade Gliomas: North American Brain Tumor Consortium Study 04-03 
A phase I, dose-finding study of vorinostat in combination with temozolomide (TMZ) was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, and pharmacokinetics in patients with high-grade glioma (HGG).
Experimental Design
This phase I, dose-finding, investigational study was conducted in two parts. Part 1 was a dose-escalation study of vorinostat in combination with TMZ 150 mg/m2/day × 5 days every 28 days. Part 2 was a dose-escalation study of vorinostat in combination with TMZ 150 mg/m2/day × 5 days of the first cycle and 200 mg/m2/day × 5 days of the subsequent 28-day cycles.
In Part 1, the MTD of vorinostat administered on days 1-7 and 15-21 of every 28 day cycle in combination with TMZ was 500 mg daily. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) included grade 3 anorexia, grade 3 ALT, and grade 5 hemorrhage in the setting of grade 4 thrombocytopenia. In Part 2, the MTD of vorinostat on days 1-7 and 15-21 of every 28 day cycle combined with TMZ was 400 mg daily. No DLTs were encountered, but vorinostat dosing could not be escalated further due to thrombocytopenia. The most common serious adverse events were fatigue, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and thromboembolic events. There were no apparent pharmacokinetic interactions between vorinostat and TMZ. Vorinostat treatment resulted in hyperacetylation of histones H3 and H4 in peripheral mononuclear cells.
Vorinostat in combination with temozolomide is well-tolerated in patients with HGG. A phase I/II trial of vorinostat with radiotherapy and concomitant TMZ in newly diagnosed glioblastoma is underway.
PMCID: PMC3947570  PMID: 22923449
High-grade glioma; Temozolomide; Vorinostat; HDAC Inhibitor
12.  A Phase I Trial of Vorinostat and Bortezomib in Children with Refractory or Recurrent Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Study (ADVL0916) 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;60(3):390-395.
A pediatric phase I trial was performed to determine the maximum tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), and pharmacokinetics (PK) of vorinostat and bortezomib, in patients with solid tumors.
Oral vorinostat was administered on days 1–5 and 8–12 of a 21 day cycle (starting dose 180 mg/m2/day with dose escalations to 230 and 300 mg/m2/day). Bortezomib (1.3 mg/m2 i.v.) was administered on days 1, 4, 8, and 11 of the same cycle. PK and correlative biology studies were performed during cycle 1.
Twenty-three eligible patients [17 male, median age 12 years (range, 1–20)] were enrolled of whom 17 were fully evaluable for toxicity. Cycle 1 DLTs that occurred in 2/6 patients at dose level 3 (vorinostat 300 mg/m2/day) were grade 2 sensory neuropathy that progressed to grade 4 (n=1) and grade 3 nausea and anorexia (n=1). No objective responses were observed. There was wide interpatient variability in vorinostat PK parameters. Bortezomib disposition was best described by a three-compartment model that demonstrated rapid distribution followed by prolonged elimination. We did not observe a decrease in NF-κB activity or Grp78 induction after bortezomib treatment in PBMCs from solid tumor patients.
The recommended phase 2 dose and schedule is vorinostat (230 mg/m2/day PO on days 1–5 and 8–12) in combination with bortezomib (1.3 mg/m2/day i.v. on days 1,4, 8, and 11 of a 21 day cycle) in children with recurrent or refractory solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3511610  PMID: 22887890
vorinostat; bortezomib; phase I trial; pediatric cancer; solid tumors; Children’s Oncology Group
13.  Phase I study of temsirolimus in combination with EKB-569 in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Investigational new drugs  2011;30(5):10.1007/s10637-011-9742-1.
Activation of EGFR can stimulate proliferative and survival signaling through mTOR. Preclinical data demonstrates synergistic activity of combined EGFR and mTOR inhibition. We undertook a phase I trial of temsirolimus (T, an mTOR inhibitor) and EKB-569 (E, an EGFR inhibitor) to determine the safety and tolerability.
The primary aim was to determine the maximally tolerated dose (MTD) of this combination in adults with solid tumors. Following the dose-escalation phase, (Cohort A), two subsequent cohorts were used to assess any pharmacokinetic (PK) interaction between the agents.
Forty eight patients were enrolled. The MTD of this combination was E, 35 mg daily and T, 30 mg on days 1–3 and 15–17 using a 28-day cycle. The most common toxicities were nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, anorexia, stomatitis, rash, anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and hypertriglyceridemia. Sixteen patients (36%) had at least one grade 3 toxicity. The most frequent grade 3/4 toxicities were diarrhea, dehydration, and nausea and vomiting (19% each). No grade 5 events were seen. Four patients had a partial response and 15 had stable disease. Clinical benefit was seen across a range of tumor types and in all cohorts. PK analysis revealed no significant interaction between E and T.
This combination of agents is associated with tolerable toxicities at doses that induced responses. PK studies revealed no interaction between the drugs. Further investigations of this targeting strategy may be attractive in renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, alveolar sarcoma, and carcinoid tumor.
PMCID: PMC3816525  PMID: 21881915
CCI-779; EKB-569; Temsirolimus; Phase I; Pharmacokinetics; Solid tumors
14.  Gemcitabine and Doxetaxel for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Phase II North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) Clinical Trial1 
Few effective options are available for the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Several phase I trials suggest promising activity of a combination of gemcitabine and docetaxel.
Patients with unresectable or metastatic HCC were treated with docetaxel 40 mg/m2 (later reduced to 30 mg/m2) and gemcitabine 800 mg/m2 on days 1, 8 every 3 weeks. Twenty-five patients were enrolled in 26 months. Median age was 64 (range 27-78), 17 were male, 14 had liver-only disease and, 11 had extrahepatic disease.
Of 25 patients evaluable for the primary endpoint (response), 2 (8%) have a confirmed partial response. The median TTP is 2.76 months (95% CI 1.84-6.64 months). Median survival was 12.8 months (95% CI: 5.26-28.00). Two patients died on-study due to adverse events (1 hepatic and 1 renal failure), neither of which were attributed to the study medications. Twenty patients (81%) have experienced grade 3+ adverse events, including 11 with grade 4+ adverse events, primarily neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, diarrhea, and fatigue.
While this combination appears to have potential benefit, as measured by overall survival, its toxicity and the recent introduction of sorafenib has further limited the use of chemotherapy. Approaches other than chemotherapy are likely to be of the greatest potential benefit.
PMCID: PMC3154979  PMID: 21555932
15.  A Phase I Trial and Pharmacokinetic Study of Aflibercept (VEGF Trap) in Children with Refractory Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Report 
Aflibercept is a novel decoy receptor that efficiently neutralizes circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). A pediatric phase 1 trial was performed to define the dose limiting toxicities (DLT), maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and pharmacokinetics (PK) of aflibercept.
Cohorts of 3–6 children with refractory solid tumors received aflibercept intravenously over 60 minutes every 14 days, at 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 mg/kg/dose. PK sampling and analysis of peripheral blood biomarkers were performed with the initial dose.
21 eligible patients were enrolled; 18 were fully evaluable for toxicity. One of 6 patients receiving 2.0 mg/kg/dose developed dose-limiting intra-tumoral hemorrhage and 2 of 6 receiving 3.0 mg/kg/dose developed either dose-limiting tumor pain or tissue necrosis. None of the 6 patients receiving 2.5 mg/kg/dose developed DLT, defining this as the MTD. The most common non-dose limiting toxicities were hypertension and fatigue. Three patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatoblastoma and clear cell sarcoma had stable disease for >13 weeks. At the MTD, the ratio of free to bound aflibercept serum concentration was 2.10 on day 8, but only 0.44 by day 15. A rapid decrease in VEGF (p<0.05) and increase in PlGF (p<0.05) from baseline was observed in response to aflibercept by day 2.
The aflibercept MTD in children of 2.5 mg/kg/dose every 14 days is lower that the adult recommended dose of 4.0 mg/kg. This dose achieves, but does not sustain, free aflibercept concentrations in excess of bound. Tumor pain and hemorrhage may be evidence of anti-tumor activity, but were dose-limiting.
PMCID: PMC3445751  PMID: 22791883
Aflibercept; pediatric; pharmacokinetics; angiogenesis; VEGF
16.  Inhibiting the Growth of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma In Vitro and In Vivo through Targeted Treatment with Designer Gold Nanotherapeutics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57522.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of all human malignancies with limited options for therapy. Here, we report the development of an optimized targeted drug delivery system to inhibit advanced stage pancreatic tumor growth in an orthotopic mouse model.
Method/Principal Findings
Targeting specificity in vitro was confirmed by preincubation of the pancreatic cancer cells with C225 as well as Nitrobenzylthioinosine (NBMPR - nucleoside transporter (NT) inhibitor). Upon nanoconjugation functional activity of gemcitabine was retained as tested using a thymidine incorporation assay. Significant stability of the nanoconjugates was maintained, with only 12% release of gemcitabine over a 24-hour period in mouse plasma. Finally, an in vivo study demonstrated the inhibition of tumor growth through targeted delivery of a low dose of gemcitabine in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer, mimicking an advanced stage of the disease.
We demonstrated in this study that the gold nanoparticle-based therapeutic containing gemcitabine inhibited tumor growth in an advanced stage of the disease in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer. Future work would focus on understanding the pharmacokinetics and combining active targeting with passive targeting to further improve the therapeutic efficacy and increase survival.
PMCID: PMC3590245  PMID: 23483913
17.  A phase I pharmacokinetic study of pulse-dose vorinostat with flavopiridol in solid tumors 
Investigational new drugs  2010;29(5):1004-1012.
Vorinostat (V) at levels >2.5 μM enhances chemotherapy in vitro. Yet the approved oral dose of 400 mg inconsistently achieves this level in patients. We developed an intermittent oral pulse-dose schedule of V to increase serum levels. We combined V with the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor flavopiridol (F) which increases V-induced apoptosis.
Experimental Design
One week before combination treatment, V alone was given daily for 3d (cycle −1). Then V was given on d1-3 and d8-10, and F on d2 and d9, every 21-d. Due to neutropenia, this was modified to V on d1-3 and d15–17, and F on d2 and d16, every 28-d. Bolus and split-dose F schedules were studied.
34 patients were treated. On the 21-d schedule, the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was V 600 mg/d and F 60 mg/m2 bolus. On the 28-d schedule, the MTD was V 800 mg/d and F 30 mg/m2 over 30 min and 30 mg/m2 over 4 h. V Cmax at the 800 mg dose was 4.8 μM (± 2.8). V Cmax ≥2.5 μM was achieved in 86% of patients at the MTD. F increased the Cmax of V by 27% (95% CI 11%–43%). F Cmax of ≥2 μM was achieved in 90% of patients. 8 patients had stable disease for on average 5.5 m (range 1.6–13.2 m).
Intermittent high dose oral V in combination with F is feasible and achieves target serum levels >2.5 μM. V concentrations higher than previously reported with oral dosing were achieved.
PMCID: PMC3545439  PMID: 20461440
CDKs and CDK inhibitors; Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Phase I trials; Combination chemotherapy; Pharmacokinetics
18.  Phase II study of oral capsular 4-hydroxyphenylretinamide (4-HPR/fenretinide) in pediatric patients with refractory or recurrent neuroblastoma: A report from the Children’s Oncology Group NSC #374551; IND# 40294 
To determine the response rate to oral capsular fenretinide in children with recurrent or biopsy proven refractory high-risk neuroblastoma.
Experimental Design
Patients received 7 days of fenretinide: 2475 mg/m2/day divided TID (<18 years) or 1800 mg/m2/day divided BID (≥18 years) every 21 days for a maximum of 30 courses. Patients with stable or responding disease after course 30 could request additional compassionate courses. Best response by course 8 was evaluated in Stratum 1 (measurable disease on CT/MRI +/− bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites) and Stratum 2 (bone marrow and/or MIBG avid sites only).
Sixty-two eligible patients, median age 5 years (range 0.6–19.9), were treated in Stratum 1 (n=38) and Stratum 2 (n=24). One partial response (PR) was seen in Stratum 2 (n=24 evaluable). No responses were seen in Stratum 1 (n=35 evaluable). Prolonged stable disease (SD) was seen in 7 patients in Stratum 1 and 6 patients in Stratum 2 for 4–45+ (median 15) courses. Median time to progression was 40 days (range 17–506) for Stratum 1 and 48 days (range 17–892) for Stratum 2. Mean 4-HPR steady state trough plasma concentrations were 7.25 µM (coefficient of variation 40–56%) at day 7 course 1. Toxicities were mild and reversible.
Although neither stratum met protocol criteria for efficacy, 1 PR + 13 prolonged SD occurred in 14/59 (24%) of evaluable patients. Low bioavailability may have limited fenretinide activity. Novel fenretinide formulations with improved bioavailability are currently in pediatric Phase I studies.
PMCID: PMC3207022  PMID: 21908574
fenretinide; neuroblastoma; Phase II; ANBL0321
19.  Phase I Study of PARP Inhibitor ABT-888 in Combination with Topotecan in Adults with Refractory Solid Tumors and Lymphomas 
Cancer research  2011;71(17):5626-5634.
A phase I trial of ABT-888 (veliparib), a poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP inhibitor), in combination with topotecan, a topoisomerase I–targeted agent, was performed to determine maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of the combination in patients with refractory solid tumors and lymphomas. Varying schedules and doses of intravenous topotecan in combination with ABT-888 (10 mg) administered orally twice a day (BID) were evaluated. Plasma and urine pharmacokinetics were assessed, and levels of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) and the DNA-damage marker, γH2AX, were measured in tumor and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Twenty-four patients were enrolled. Significant myelosuppression limited the ability to co-administer ABT-888 with standard doses of topotecan, necessitating dose reductions. Preclinical studies using athymic mice carrying human tumor xenografts also informed schedule changes. The MTD was established as topotecan 0.6 mg/m2/day and ABT-888 10 mg BID on days 1–5 of 21-day cycles. Topotecan did not alter the pharmacokinetics of ABT-888. A more than 75% reduction in PAR levels was observed in 3 paired tumor biopsy samples; a greater than 50% reduction was observed in PBMCs from 19 of 23 patients with measurable levels. Increases in γH2AX response in circulating tumor cells (CTC) and PBMCs were observed in patients receiving ABT-888 with topotecan. We demonstrate a mechanistic interaction of a PARP inhibitor, ABT-888, with a topoisomerase I inhibitor, topotecan, in PBMCs, tumor, and CTCs. Results of this trial reveal that PARP inhibition can modulate the capacity to repair topoisomerase I–mediated DNA damage in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3166628  PMID: 21795476
ABT-888; topotecan; clinical trial; phase I; PARP inhibitor
20.  Phase I and Pharmacokinetic Study of Sunitinib in Pediatric Patients with Refractory Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Study 
Sunitinib is an oral multi-targeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor. The purpose of this study was to determine the recommended phase 2 dose, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamic effects, and preliminary anti-tumor activity of sunitinib in a pediatric population.
Experimental Design
Patients 2-21 years of age with refractory solid tumors were eligible if they had measurable or evaluable disease and met baseline organ function requirements. Patients received sunitinib once daily for 28 days followed by a 14-day break between each cycle. Dose levels of 15 and 20 mg/m2/day were evaluated, with dose escalation based on a 3+3 design. Sunitinib pharmacokinetics and biomarkers of angiogenesis were also evaluated during the first cycle.
Twenty-three patients were treated (median age 13.9 years; range, 3.9 – 20.6 years). The most common toxicities were neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, elevated liver transaminases, gastrointestinal symptoms, and fatigue. Two patients developed dose-limiting reductions in cardiac ejection fraction prompting a protocol amendment to exclude patients with prior exposure to anthracyclines or cardiac radiation. In patients without these cardiac risk factors, the maximum tolerated dose was 15 mg/m2/day. Steady-state plasma concentrations were reached by day 7. No objective responses were observed. Four patients with sarcoma and glioma had stable disease for 2 - 9 cycles.
Cardiac toxicity precluded determination of a recommended dose for pediatric patients with prior anthracycline or cardiac radiation exposure. The maximum tolerated dose of sunitinib for patients without risk factors for cardiac toxicity is 15 mg/m2/day for 28 days followed by a 14-day break.
PMCID: PMC3149978  PMID: 21690570
sunitinib; pediatric; pharmacokinetics; angiogenesis; VEGF
21.  Phase 0 Clinical Chemoprevention Trial of the AKT Inhibitor SR13668 
SR13668, an orally active AKT pathway inhibitor, has demonstrated cancer chemopreventive potential in preclinical studies. To accelerate the clinical development of this promising agent, we designed and conducted the first-ever phase 0 chemoprevention trial to evaluate and compare the effects of food and formulation on SR13668 bioavailability.
Patients and Methods
Healthy adult volunteers were randomly assigned to receive a single, 38 mg oral dose of SR13668 in one of five different formulations, with or without food. Based on existing animal data, SR13668 in a PEG400/Labrasol® oral solution was defined as the reference formulation. Blood samples were obtained pre- and post-agent administration for pharmacokinetic analyses. Area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC0-∞) was defined as the primary endpoint. Data were analyzed and compared using established statistical methods for phase 0 trials with a limited sample size.
Participants (N=20) were rapidly accrued over a 5-month period. Complete pharmacokinetic data were available for 18 randomized participants. AUC0-∞ values were highest in the fed state (range = 122–439 ng/mL × hours) and were statistically significantly different across formulations (p = 0.007), with Solutol® HS15 providing the highest bioavailability. SR13668 time to peak plasma concentration (3 hours; range, 2 – 6 hours) and half-life were (11.2 ± 3.1 hours) were not formulation dependent.
Using a novel, highly efficient study design, we rapidly identified a lead formulation of SR13668 for further clinical testing. Our findings support application of the phase 0 trial paradigm to accelerate chemoprevention agent development.
PMCID: PMC3061470  PMID: 21372034
22.  Phase I Study of Decitabine with Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide in Children with Neuroblastoma and Other Solid Tumors: A Children’s Oncology Group Study 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(4):629-638.
Demethylating agents may alter the expression of genes involved in chemotherapy resistance. We conducted a phase I trial to determine the toxicity and molecular effects of the demethylating agent, decitabine, followed by doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide in children with refractory solid tumors.
Stratum A included children with any solid tumor; Stratum B included neuroblastoma patients only. Patients received a 1-hour decitabine infusion for 7 days, followed by doxorubicin (45mg/m2) and cyclophosphamide (1g/m2) on day 7. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed after the first dose of decitabine. Biological studies included methylation and gene expression analyses of caspase-8, MAGE-1 and fetal hemoglobin (HbF), and expression profiling of pre- and post-treatment peripheral blood and bone marrow cells.
The maximum-tolerated dose of decitabine was 5 mg/m2/d for 7 days. Dose-limiting toxicities at 10 mg/m2/d were neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Decitabine exhibited rapid clearance from plasma. Three of 9 patients in Stratum A and 4/12 patients in Stratum B had stable disease for ≥4 months. Sustained MAGE-1 demethylation and increased HbF expression were observed in the majority of patients post-treatment (12/20 and 14/16 respectively). Caspase-8 promoter demethylation and gene expression were seen in 2/7 bone marrow samples. Differentially expressed genes were identified by microarray analysis.
Low-dose decitabine when combined with doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide has tolerable toxicity in children. However, doses of decitabine capable of producing clinically relevant biologic effects were not well tolerated with this combination. Alternative strategies of combining demethylating agents with non-cytotoxic, biologically targeted agents such as histone deactelyase inhibitors should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3025700  PMID: 20589651
demethylation; decitabine; pediatric solid tumor; neuroblastoma
23.  Modulating Pharmacokinetics, Tumor Uptake and Biodistribution by Engineered Nanoparticles 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24374.
Inorganic nanoparticles provide promising tools for biomedical applications including detection, diagnosis and therapy. While surface properties such as charge are expected to play an important role in their in vivo behavior, very little is known how the surface chemistry of nanoparticles influences their pharmacokinetics, tumor uptake, and biodistribution.
Method/Principal Findings
Using a family of structurally homologous nanoparticles we have investigated how pharmacological properties including tumor uptake and biodistribution are influenced by surface charge using neutral (TEGOH), zwitterionic (Tzwit), negative (TCOOH) and positive (TTMA) nanoparticles. Nanoparticles were injected into mice (normal and athymic) either in the tail vein or into the peritoneum.
Neutral and zwitterionic nanoparticles demonstrated longer circulation time via both IP and IV administration, whereas negatively and positively charged nanoparticles possessed relatively short half-lives. These pharmacological characteristics were reflected on the tumor uptake and biodistribution of the respective nanoparticles, with enhanced tumor uptake by neutral and zwitterionic nanoparticles via passive targeting.
PMCID: PMC3172229  PMID: 21931696
24.  Pediatric Phase I Trial and Pharmacokinetic Study of Vorinostat: A Children's Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Report 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(22):3623-3629.
The purpose of this study was to determine the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicities (DLT), and pharmacokinetics of vorinostat administered as a single agent and in combination 13-cis retinoic acid (13cRA) in children with refractory solid tumors; to evaluate the tolerability of the solid tumor MTD in children with refractory leukemias; and to characterize the pharmacokinetics of a vorinostat suspension in children.
Patients and Methods
Vorinostat was administered orally daily starting at 180 mg/m2/d with escalations planned in 30% increments. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed with the initial dose. Acetyl-histone (H3) accumulation was assessed by Western blotting of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).
Sixty-four patients were enrolled on this multipart trial. In patients with solid tumors, the MTD was 230 mg/m2/d with dose-limiting neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and hypokalemia at 300 mg/m2/d. DLTs observed with the combination of 13cRA and vorinostat included thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, anorexia, and hypertriglyceridemia, resulting in a MTD of vorinostat 180 mg/m2/d 4 times per week and 13cRA 80 mg/m2/dose twice per day, days 1 through 14 every 28 days. Wide interpatient variability was noted in vorinostat disposition, with area under the concentration-time curves at 230 mg/m2/d for the capsule (range, 1,415 to 9,291 ng/mL × hr) and oral suspension (range, 1,186 to 4,780 ng/mL × hr). Significant accumulation of acetylated H3 histone in PBMC was observed after administration of vorinostat, particularly at higher doses. One patient with neuroblastoma experienced a complete response to the combination.
In children with recurrent solid tumors, vorinostat is well-tolerated at 230 mg/m2/d, with a modest dose reduction being required when combining vorinostat with 13cRA. Drug disposition is similar to that observed in adults.
PMCID: PMC2917318  PMID: 20606092
25.  Phase I Trial of Two Schedules of Vincristine, Oral Irinotecan, and Temozolomide (VOIT) for Children with Relapsed or Refractory Solid Tumors: A Children's Oncology Group Phase I Consortium Study 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;54(4):538-545.
In pre-clinical models, temozolomide and vincristine are additive or synergistic with irinotecan. We examined this 3-drug combination in children with relapsed solid tumors. Patients received orally administered irinotecan together with temozolomide and vincristine on two different schedules, using cefixime to reduce irinotecan-associated diarrhea.
Oral irinotecan was given daily on days 1-5 and 8-12 (Schedule A), or on days 1-5 (Schedule B). Temozolomide was given on days 1-5, with vincristine 1.5 mg/m2 administered on days 1 and 8 (Schedule A) or day 1 (Schedule B) in 21-day courses.
On Schedule A, the maximum tolerated dose of oral irinotecan was 35 mg/m2/day combined with temozolomide 100 mg/m2/day and vincristine on days 1 and 8. Dose-limiting toxicities in 4 of 12 patients included hepatotoxicity, abdominal pain, anorexia, hypokalemia and thrombocytopenia at 50 mg/m2/day. Using Schedule B, 0 of 6 patients experienced dose-limiting toxicity at the highest doses studied of oral irinotecan 90 mg/m2/day, temozolomide 150 mg/m2/day × 5, and vincristine on day 1. First-course and cumulative toxicity was greater with Schedule A. UGT1A1*28 genotype did not correlate with dose-limiting toxicity. At the irinotecan dose of 90 mg/m2/day, the mean SN-38 AUCinf was 63 ng/ml*h. Activity was seen in sarcoma patients, and overall 8 patients received ≥ 6 courses.
The 5-day schedule of VOIT was well tolerated and provided SN-38 exposures similar to those achieved with intravenous IRN. Activity on this and prior studies suggests a potential role for VOIT in a spectrum of childhood solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3074342  PMID: 20049936
temozolomide; oral irinotecan; SN-38; vincristine; cefixime

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