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1.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Phosphatidylinositol 3’ Kinase Inhibitor, SAR245408 (XL147) by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;60(5):791-798.
Background
Activation of the PI3 kinase pathway occurs frequently in many adult cancers and is implicated in tumor cell proliferation, survival, and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, less is known regarding the relevance of this pathway in pediatric cancers. Here we have evaluated SAR245408, a novel small molecule PI3K inhibitor, against childhood cancer cell lines and xenografts.
Procedures
SAR245408 was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel at concentrations from 10 nM to 100 µM and against the PPTP in vivo xenograft panels at a dose of 100 mg/kg administered orally daily × 14.
Results
In vitro SAR245408 demonstrated cytotoxic activity, with a median relative IC50 value of 10.9 µM (range 2.7 µM to 24.5 µM). SAR245408 was well tolerated in vivo, and all 44 tested xenograft models were evaluable for efficacy. SAR245408 induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 29 of 37 (79%) of solid tumor xenografts and in 2 of 7 (29%) ALL xenografts. SAR245408 induced tumor growth inhibition meeting criteria for intermediate EFS T/C activity (EFS T/C > 2) in 4 of 37 (11%) solid tumor xenografts. Intermediate EFS T/C activity was also observed for 2 of 7 (29%) evaluable ALL xenografts. Objective responses were not observed for solid tumor or for ALL xenografts.
Conclusions
Under the conditions evaluated in this study, SAR245408 achieved modest single-agent activity against most PPTP preclinical models. Further exploration of SAR245408 in combination with standard agents or with other signaling inhibitors could be considered.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24301
PMCID: PMC4684943  PMID: 23002019
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; PI3K inhibitor
2.  Initial Testing of Lenalidomide by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;57(4):606-611.
Background
Lenalidomide, a novel immunomodulatory agent, is reported to modulate stem cell differentiation, and have direct antiproliferative activity as well as inhibit inflammation and hyperalgesia. On the basis of this varied pharmacological profile, lenalidomide is under investigation as a treatment for a range of oncologic indications.
Procedures
Lenalidomide was evaluated against the PPTP in vitro panel using 96 hour exposure at concentrations ranging from 1 nM to 10 μM. It was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 30 mg/kg administered orally (PO) oncedaily for a planned for 6 weeks.
Results
In vitro activity was not observed at concentrations up to 10 μM. Lenalidomide was well tolerated, and induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 7 of 37 (18.9%) of the evaluable solid tumor xenografts and in 0 of 8 (0%) of the evaluable ALL xenografts. The best response in the solid tumor panel was PD2 [progressive disease with growth delay (EFS T/C > 1.5)], observed in 4 of 37 (10.8%) solid tumor xenografts. A single ALL xenograft showed a PD2 response.
Conclusions
Direct antiproliferative effects of lenalidomide were not observed in vitro. In vivo lenalidomide demonstrated low activity against tumors in immune-deficient mice. Our results suggest that lenalidomide’s utility in the pediatric clinical setting may depend upon its ability to induce antitumor activity through effects on host immune and stromal cells rather than through direct effects on tumor cells.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22877
PMCID: PMC4505747  PMID: 21360651
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; Lenalidomide
3.  Synergistic activity of fenretinide and the Bcl-2 family protein inhibitor ABT-737 against human neuroblastoma 
Purpose
Fenretinide (4-HPR) is a cytotoxic retinoid with minimal systemic toxicity that has shown clinical activity against recurrent high-risk neuroblastoma. To identify possible synergistic drug combinations for future clinical trials, we determined if ABT-737, a small-molecule BH3-mimetic that inhibits most proteins of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family, could enhance 4-HPR activity in neuroblastoma.
Experimental Design
Eleven neuroblastoma cell lines were tested for the cytotoxic activity of 4-HPR and ABT-737 as single agents and in combination using the DIMSCAN fluorescence digital imaging cytotoxicity assay. The effect of these agents alone and in combination on mitochondrial membrane depolarization and apoptosis (by flow cytometry), cytochrome c release, caspases, Bax-α, t-Bid, and Bak activation, and subcutaneous xenografts in nu/nu mice was also determined.
Results
Multilog synergistic cytotoxicity was observed for the drug combination in all of the eleven neuroblastoma cell lines tested, including multi-drug resistant lines and those insensitive to either drug as single agents. 4-HPR + ABT-737 induced greater mitochondrial membrane depolarization and mitochondrial cytochrome c release, greater activation of caspases, Bax-α, t-Bid, and Bak, and a higher level of apoptosis than either drug alone. In vivo, 4-HPR + ABT-737 increased the event-free survival (EFS) of the multidrug-resistant human neuroblastoma line CHLA-119 implanted subcutaneously in nu/nu mice (194.5 days for the combination vs. 68 days for ABT-737 and 99 days for 4-HPR).
Conclusion
Thus, the combination of 4-HPR with a BH3-mimetic drug warrants clinical trials in recurrent neuroblastoma.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0578
PMCID: PMC4193939  PMID: 21933888
Fenretinide; ABT-737; drug resistance; Bcl-2; neuroblastoma; apoptosis
4.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the PARP Inhibitor BMN 673 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program: PALB2 Mutation Predicts Exceptional in Vivo Response to BMN 673 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;62(1):91-98.
Introduction
BMN 673 is a potent inhibitor of poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) that is in clinical testing with a primary focus on BRCA-mutated cancers. BMN 673 is active both through inhibiting PARP catalytic activity and by tightly trapping PARP to DNA at sites of single strand breaks.
Methods
BMN 673 was tested in vitro at concentrations ranging from 0.1 nM to 1 μM and in vivo at a daily dose of 0.33 mg/kg administered orally twice daily (Mon-Fri) and once daily on weekends (solid tumors) for 28 days.
Results
The median relative IC50 (rIC50) concentration against the PPTP cell lines was 25.8 nM. The median rIC50 for the Ewing cell lines was lower than for the remaining cell lines (6.4 versus 31.1 nM, respectively). In vivo BMN 673 induced statistically significant differences in EFS distribution in 17/43 (39.5%) xenograft models. Three objective regressions were observed: a complete response (CR) in a medulloblastoma line (BT-45), a maintained CR in a Wilms tumor line (KT-10), and a maintained CR in an ependymoma line (BT-41). BMN 673 maintained its high level of activity against KT-10 with a 3-fold reduction in dose. KT-10 possesses a truncating mutation in PALB2 analogous to PALB2 mutations associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer that abrogate homologous recombination (HR) repair.
Conclusions
The PPTP results suggest that single agent BMN 673 may have limited clinical activity against pediatric cancers. Single agent activity is more likely for patients whose tumors have defects in HR repair.
doi:10.1002/pbc.25201
PMCID: PMC4456187  PMID: 25263539
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; PARP inhibitor; PALB2
5.  Evaluation of Cytarabine Against Ewing Sarcoma Xenografts by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(6):1224-1226.
Treatment with the nucleoside analog cytarabine has been shown to mimic changes in gene expression associated with down-regulation of the EWS-FLI1 oncogene in Ewing sarcoma cell lines, selectively inhibit their growth in vitro, and cause tumor regression in athymic nude mice. For this report cytarabine was studied in vitro against a panel of 23 pediatric cancer cell lines and in vivo against 6 Ewing sarcoma xenografts. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines were the most sensitive to cytarabine in vitro (median IC50 9 nM), while Ewing sarcoma cell lines showed intermediate sensitivity (median IC50 232 nM). Cytarabine at a dose of 150 mg/kg administered daily 5× failed to significantly inhibit growth of five xenograft models, but reduced growth rate of the A673 xenograft by 50%. Cytarabine shows no differential in vitro activity against Ewing sarcoma cell lines and is ineffective in vivo against Ewing sarcoma xenografts at the dose and schedule studied.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22355
PMCID: PMC4675330  PMID: 20979180
Ewings/PNET; oncogenes; pediatric hematology/oncology
6.  Metabolic characteristics of 13-cis-retinoic acid (isotretinoin) and anti-tumour activity of the 13-cis-retinoic acid metabolite 4-oxo-13-cis-retinoic acid in neuroblastoma 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(23):5330-5344.
Background and Purpose
Isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid; 13-cRA) is a differentiation inducer used to treat minimal residual disease after myeloablative therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma. However, more than 40% of children develop recurrent disease during or after 13-cRA treatment. The plasma concentrations of 13-cRA in earlier studies were considered subtherapeutic while 4-oxo-13-cis-RA (4-oxo-13-cRA), a metabolite of 13-cRA considered by some investigators as inactive, were greater than threefold higher than 13-cRA. We sought to define the metabolic pathways of 13-cRA and investigated the anti-tumour activity of its major metabolite, 4-oxo-13-cRA.
Experimental Approach
Effects of 13-cRA and 4-oxo-13-cRA on human neuroblastoma cell lines were assessed by DIMSCAN and flow cytometry for cell proliferation, MYCN down-regulation by reverse transcription PCR and immunoblotting, and neurite outgrowth by confocal microscopy. 13-cRA metabolism was determined using tandem MS in human liver microsomes and in patient samples.
Key Results
Six major metabolites of 13-cRA were identified in patient samples. Of these, 4-oxo-13-cRA was the most abundant, and 4-oxo-13-cRA glucuronide was also detected at a higher level in patients. CYP3A4 was shown to play a major role in catalysing 13-cRA to 4-oxo-13-cRA. In human neuroblastoma cell lines, 4-oxo-13-cRA and 13-cRA were equi-effective at inducing neurite outgrowth, inhibiting proliferation, decreasing MYCN mRNA and protein, and increasing the expression of retinoic acid receptor-β mRNA and protein levels.
Conclusions and Implications
We showed that 4-oxo-13-cRA is as active as 13-cRA against neuroblastoma cell lines. Plasma levels of both 13-cRA and 4-oxo-13-cRA should be evaluated in pharmacokinetic studies of isotretinoin in neuroblastoma.
doi:10.1111/bph.12846
PMCID: PMC4294043  PMID: 25039756
7.  Initial Solid Tumor Testing (Stage 1) of AZD1480, an Inhibitor of Janus Kinases 1 and 2 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(11):1972-1979.
Background
AZD1480 is an ATP competitive inhibitor of Janus kinases 1 and 2 (JAK1, 2) that has been shown to inhibit the growth of solid tumor models. This agent was selected for testing the putative role of JAK/STAT signaling in the standard PPTP solid tumor models.
Procedures
AZD1480 was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel at concentrations from 1.0 nM to 10 M and against the PPTP in vivo solid tumor xenograft panels at (60 mg/kg once daily (SID) × 5) for 3 consecutive weeks. Additional studies evaluated 5 to 20 mg/kg BID × 5 with SID dosing at 7–30 mg/kg at weekends for 3 consecutive weeks.
Results
In vitro the median relative IC50 (rIC50) for the PPTP cell lines was 1.5 µM, with a range from 0.3 µM to 5.9 µM. The two cell lines with rIC50 values of 0.3 µM both had ALK activating genomic alterations. AZD1480 demonstrated statistically significant differences (p<0.05) in EFS distribution compared to control in 89% of the solid tumor xenografts. AZD1480 induced intermediate (EFS T/C > 2) or high-level growth inhibition in 15 of 30 (50%) solid tumor xenografts. Tumor regressions were observed in 3 of 6 Wilms tumor models at doses that induced inhibition of Stat3(Y705) phosphorylation.
Conclusions
AZD1480 demonstrated significant tumor growth inhibition against most PPTP solid tumor xenografts, similar to that observed for antiangiogenic agents tested by the PPTP. Tumor regressing activity was noted for Wilms tumor xenografts.
doi:10.1002/pbc.25175
PMCID: PMC4201390  PMID: 25131802
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; JAK1/2 inhibitor
8.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Investigational mTOR Kinase Inhibitor MLN0128 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(8):1486-1489.
MLN0128 is an investigational small molecule ATP-competitive inhibitor of the serine/threonine kinase mTOR. MLN0128 was tested against the in vitro panel at concentrations ranging from 0.1 nM to 1 μM and against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 1 mg/kg administered orally daily x 28. In vitro the median relative IC50 concentration was 19 nM. In vivo MLN0128 induced significant differences in EFS in 24/31 (77%) solid tumor models, but 0/7 ALL xenografts. The modest activity observed for MLN0128 against the PPTP preclinical models is similar to that previously reported for another TOR kinase inhibitor.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24989
PMCID: PMC4248662  PMID: 24623675
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; mTOR inhibitor
9.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Notch Inhibitor PF-03084014, by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2014;61(8):1493-1496.
PF-03084014, a γ-secretase inhibitor, was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel (1.0 nM to 10 μM) and against the in vivo xenograft panels (administered orally twice daily on days 1–7 and 15–21). PF-03084014 demonstrated limited in vitro activity, with no cell line achieving ≥50% inhibition. PF-03084014 induced significant differences in EFS distribution in 14 of 35 (40%) solid tumor xenografts, and 1 of 9 ALL xenografts (which lacked a NOTCH1 mutation), but objective responses were not observed. PF-03084014 demonstrated limited single agent activity in vitro and in vivo against the pediatric preclinical models studied.
doi:10.1002/pbc.25026
PMCID: PMC4225044  PMID: 24664981
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; Notch inhibitors
10.  Outcome After Surgery Alone or With Restricted Use of Chemotherapy for Patients With Low-Risk Neuroblastoma: Results of Children's Oncology Group Study P9641 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(15):1842-1848.
Purpose
The primary objective of Children's Oncology Group study P9641 was to demonstrate that surgery alone would achieve 3-year overall survival (OS) ≥ 95% for patients with asymptomatic International Neuroblastoma Staging System stages 2a and 2b neuroblastoma (NBL). Secondary objectives focused on other low-risk patients with NBL and on those who required chemotherapy according to protocol-defined criteria.
Patients and Methods
Patients underwent maximally safe resection of tumor. Chemotherapy was reserved for patients with, or at risk for, symptomatic disease, with less than 50% tumor resection at diagnosis, or with unresectable progressive disease after surgery alone.
Results
For all 915 eligible patients, 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and OS were 89% ± 1% and 97% ± 1%, respectively. For patients with asymptomatic stage 2a or 2b disease, 5-year EFS and OS were 87% ± 2% and 96% ± 1%, respectively. Among patients with stage 2b disease, EFS and OS were significantly lower for those with unfavorable histology or diploid tumors, and OS was significantly lower for those ≥ 18 months old. For patients with stage 1 and 4s NBL, 5-year OS rates were 99% ± 1% and 91% ± 1%, respectively. Patients who required chemotherapy at diagnosis achieved 5-year OS of 98% ± 1%. Of all patients observed after surgery, 11.1% experienced recurrence or progression of disease.
Conclusion
Excellent survival rates can be achieved in asymptomatic low-risk patients with stages 2a and 2b NBL after surgery alone. Immediate use of chemotherapy may be restricted to a minority of patients with low-risk NBL. Patients with stage 2b disease who are older or have diploid or unfavorable histology tumors fare less well. Future studies will seek to refine risk classification.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2011.37.9990
PMCID: PMC3383182  PMID: 22529259
11.  Initial Testing of JNJ-26854165 (Serdemetan) by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;59(2):329-332.
JNJ-26854165 was originally developed as an activator of p53 capable of inducing apoptosis in cancer cell lines. In vitro, JNJ-26854165 demonstrated cytotoxic activity. The ALL cell line panel had a significantly lower median IC50 (0.85 µM) than the remaining cell lines. In vivo JNJ-26854165 induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 18 of 37 solid tumors and in 5 of 7 of the evaluable ALL xenografts. Objective responses were observed in 4 of 37 solid tumor xenografts, and 2 of 7 ALL xenografts achieved PR or CR. Responses were noted in xenografts with both mutant and wild-type p53.
doi:10.1002/pbc.23319
PMCID: PMC4504194  PMID: 21922647
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; JNJ-26854165
12.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Topoisomerase II inhibitor Pixantrone, by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;61(5):922-924.
Pixantrone, a novel aza-anthracenedione with cytotoxic activity, was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel (3.0 nM to 30.0 μM) and against a limited panel of PPTP Wilms tumors and sarcomas (7.5 mg/kg) administered intravenously using an every 4 day x 3 schedule. In vitro pixantrone showed a median relative IC50 value of 54 nM, (range <3 nM to 1.03 μM). In vivo pixantrone induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to controls in 2 of 8 solid tumor xenografts at dose levels relevant to human drug exposure. A complete response was observed for one Wilms tumor xenograft.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24800
PMCID: PMC3951603  PMID: 24166988
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; Topoisomerase 2 inhibitor
13.  National Cancer Institute Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program: Model Description for In Vitro Cytotoxicity Testing 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;56(2):239-249.
Background
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has established the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) for testing drugs against in vitro and in vivo childhood cancer models to aid in the prioritization of drugs considered for early phase pediatric clinical trials.
Procedures
In vitro cytotoxicity testing employs a semi-automated fluorescence-based digital imaging cytotoxicity assay (DIMSCAN) that has a 4-log dynamic range of detection. Curve fitting of the fractional survival data of the cell lines in response to various concentrations of the agents was used to calculate relative IC50, absolute IC50, and Ymin values The panel of 23 pediatric cancer cell lines included leukemia (n=6), lymphoma (n=2), rhabdomyosarcoma (n=4), brain tumors (n=3), Ewing family of tumors (EFT, n=4), and neuroblastoma (n=4). The doubling times obtained using DIMSCAN were incorporated into data analyses to estimate the relationship between input cell numbers and final cell number.
Results
We report in vitro activity data for three drugs (vincristine, melphalan, and etoposide) that are commonly used for pediatric cancer and for the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, an agent that is currently under preclinical investigation for cancer. To date, the PPTP has completed in vitro testing of 39 investigational and approved agents for single drug activity and two investigational agents in combination with various “standard” chemotherapy drugs.
Conclusions
This robust in vitro cytotoxicity testing system for pediatric cancers will enable comparisons to response data for novel agents obtained from xenograft studies and from clinical trials.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22801
PMCID: PMC3005554  PMID: 20922763
Cell line models; childhood cancer; cytotoxicity; DIMSCAN; NCI PPTP
14.  Bcl-2 Inhibitors: Targeting Mitochondrial Apoptotic Pathways in Cancer Therapy 
Defects in apoptotic pathways can promote cancer cell survival and also confer resistance to antineoplastic drugs. One pathway being targeted for antineoplastic therapy is the anti-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) family of proteins (Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, Bfl1/A-1, and Bcl-B) that bind to and inactivate BH3-domain pro-apoptotic proteins. Signals transmitted by cellular damage (including antineoplastic drugs) or cytokine deprivation can initiate apoptosis via the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. It is controversial whether some BH3-domain proteins (Bim or tBid) directly activate multidomain pro-apoptotic proteins (e.g., Bax and Bak) or act via inhibition of those anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, Bfl1/A-1, and Bcl-B) that stabilize pro-apoptotic proteins. Overexpression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members has been associated with chemotherapy resistance in various human cancers, and preclinical studies have shown that agents targeting anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members have preclinical activity as single agents and in combination with other antineoplastic agents. Clinical trials of several investigational drugs targeting the Bcl-2 family (oblimersen sodium, AT-101, ABT-263, GX15-070) are ongoing. Here, we review the role of the Bcl-2 family in apoptotic pathways and those agents that are known and/or designed to inhibit the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family of proteins.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0144
PMCID: PMC3182268  PMID: 19228717
15.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the histone deacetylase inhibitor, quisinostat (JNJ-26481585), by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;61(2):245-252.
Background
Quisinostat (JNJ-26481585) is a second generation pyrimidyl-hydroxamic acid histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor with high cellular potency towards class I and II HDACs. Quisinostat was selected for clinical development as it showed prolonged pharmacodynamic effects in vivo and demonstrated improved single agent antitumoral efficacy compared to other analogs.
Procedures
Quisinostat was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel at concentrations ranging from 1.0 nM to 10 μM and was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 5 mg/kg (solid tumors) or 2.5 mg/kg (ALL models) administered intraperitoneally daily x 21.
Results
In vitro quisinostat demonstrated potent cytotoxic activity, with T/C% values approaching 0% for all of the cell lines at the highest concentration tested. The median relative IC50 value for the PPTP cell lines was 2.2 nM, (range <1 nM to 19 nM). quisinostat induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 21 of 33 (64%) of the evaluable solid tumor xenografts and in 4 of 8 (50%) of the evaluable ALL xenografts. An objective response was observed in 1 of 33 solid tumor xenografts while for the ALL panel, two xenografts achieved complete response (CR) or maintained CR, and a third ALL xenograft achieved stable disease.
Conclusions
Quisinostat demonstrated broad activity in vitro, and retarded growth in the majority of solid tumor xenografts studied. The most consistent in vivo activity signals observed were for the glioblastoma xenografts and T-cell ALL xenografts.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24724
PMCID: PMC4225045  PMID: 24038993
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; HDAC inhibitor
16.  Initial Testing of the Hypoxia-Activated Prodrug PR-104 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;57(3):443-453.
Background
PR-104 is rapidly hydrolyzed to PR-104A in vivo, which is activated by reduction to the corresponding 5-hydroxylamine (PR-104H) and amine (PR-104M) to produce DNA interstrand cross-links. PR-104 activation can occur via hypoxia-dependent reductases and also independently of hypoxia by aldo-keto reductase (AKR) 1C3.
Procedures
PR-104A was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel (10 nM to 100 μM), and PR-104 in vivo using a weekly × 6 schedule at its maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of 550 mg/kg. Subsequently PR-104 was tested at 270 and 110 mg/kg. Pharmacokinetics for PR-104 and its metabolites were determined, as were levels of AKR1C3 RNA and protein in xenografts.
Results
In vitro, the leukemia models were most sensitive to PR-104A. In vivo, PR-104 induced objective responses at its MTD in 21/34 solid tumor models and maintained complete responses against 7/7 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) models. At 270 mg/kg and lower dose levels, PR-104 did not induce solid tumor regressions, suggesting a steep dose–response relationship. Pharmacokinetic analysis suggests higher systemic exposures to PR-104A and its metabolites in mice compared to those achievable in patients. Levels of AKR1C3 protein did not correlate with tumor responsiveness.
Conclusions
As monotherapy, PR-104 demonstrated a high level of activity against both solid tumor and ALL models at its MTD, but the activity was almost completely lost at half the MTD dose for solid tumors. Pharmacokinetic data at the PR-104 MTD from human trials suggest that PR-104 metabolites may not reach the plasma exposures in children that were associated with high-level preclinical activity.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22921
PMCID: PMC4304205  PMID: 21744473
developmental therapeutics; preclinical testing; PR-104
17.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the mTOR Kinase Inhibitor AZD8055 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;58(2):191-199.
Background
AZD8055 is a small molecule ATP-competitive inhibitor of the serine/threonine kinase mTOR that regulates cap-dependent translation through the mTORC1 complex and Akt activation through the mTORC2 complex.
Procedures
AZD8055 was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel at concentrations ranging from 1.0 nM to 10 μM and against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 20 mg/kg administered orally daily × 7 for 4 weeks.
Results
In vitro the median relative IC50 for AZD8055 against the PPTP cell lines was 24.7 nM. Relative I/O values >0% (consistent with a cytostatic effect) were observed in 8 cell lines and 15 cell lines showed Relative I/O values ranging from −4.7 to −92.2% (consistent with varying degrees of cytotoxic activity). In vivo AZD8055 induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to controls in 23 of 36 (64%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts, and 1 of 6 evaluable ALL xenografts. Intermediate activity for the time to event activity measure (EFS T/C >2) was observed in 5 of 32 (16%) solid tumor xenografts evaluable. The best response was stable disease. PD2 (progressive disease with growth delay) was observed in 20 of 36 (55.6%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts. AZD8055 significantly inhibited 4E-BP1, S6, and Akt phosphorylation following day 1 and day 4 dosing, but suppression of mTORC1 or mTORC2 signaling did not predict tumor sensitivity.
Conclusions
AZD8055 demonstrated broad activity in vitro, but at the dose and schedule studied demonstrated limited activity in vivo against the PPTP solid tumor and ALL panels.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22935
PMCID: PMC4304209  PMID: 21337679
developmental therapeutics; mTOR inhibitor; preclinical testing
18.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Polo-Like Kinase Inhibitor Volasertib (BI 6727), by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;61(1):158-164.
Background
Volasertib (BI 6727) is a potent inhibitor of Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), that is overexpressed in several childhood cancers and cell lines. Because of its novel mechanism of action, volasertib was evaluated through the PPTP.
Procedures
Volasertib was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel at concentrations from 0.1 nM to 1.0 μM and against the PPTP in vivo xenograft panels administered I.V at a dose of 30 mg/kg (solid tumors) or 15 mg/kg (ALL models) using a q7dx3 schedule.
Results
In vitro volasertib demonstrated cytotoxic activity, with a median relative IC50 value of 14.1 nM, (range 6.0 nM to 135 nM). Volasertib induced significant differences in EFS in 19 of 32 (59%) of the evaluable solid tumor xenografts and in 2 of 4 (50%) of the evaluable ALL xenografts. Volasertib induced tumor growth inhibition meeting criteria for intermediate EFS T/C (>2) activity in 11 of 30 (37%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts, including neuroblastoma (4 of 6) and glioblastoma (2 of 3) panels, and 2 of 4 ALL models. Objective responses (CR’s) were observed for 4 of 32 solid tumor (2 neuroblastoma, 1 glioblastoma, and 1 rhabdomyosarcoma) and 1 of 4 ALL xenografts.
Conclusions
Volasertib shows potent in vitro activity against the PPTP cell lines with no histotype selectivity. In vivo, volasertib induced regressions in several xenograft models. However, pharmacokinetic data suggest that mice tolerate higher systemic exposure to volasertib than humans, suggesting that the current results may over-estimate potential clinical efficacy against the childhood cancers studied.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24616
PMCID: PMC4241497  PMID: 23956067
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; Plk inhibitor
19.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the IGF-1 Receptor Inhibitor BMS-754807 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;56(4):595-603.
Background
BMS-754807 is a small molecule ATP-competitive inhibitor of the type-1 insulin-like growth factor receptor currently in phase 1 clinical trials.
Procedures
BMS-754807 was tested against the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) in vitro panel at concentrations ranging from 1.0 nM to 10 μM and was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 25 mg/kg administered orally BID for 6 days, repeated for 6 weeks.
Results
In vitro BMS-754807 showed a median EC50 value of 0.62 μM against the PPTP cell lines. The median EC50 for the four Ewing sarcoma cell lines was less than that for the remaining PPTP cell lines (0.19 μM vs. 0.78 μM, P = 0.0470). In vivo BMS-754807 induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to controls in 18 of 32 evaluable solid tumor xenografts (56%) tested, but in none of the ALL xenografts studied. Criteria for intermediate activity for the time to event activity measure (EFS T/C >2) were met in 7 of 27 solid tumor xenografts evaluable for this measure. The best response was PD2 (progressive disease with growth delay), which was observed in 18 of 32 solid tumor xenografts. PD2 responses were most commonly observed in the rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, and Wilms tumor panels.
Conclusions
BMS-754807 activity in vitro is consistent with a specific IGF-1R effect that has half-maximal response in the 0.1 μM range and that is observed in a minority of the PPTP cell lines. In vivo intermediate activity was most commonly observed in the neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma panels.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22741
PMCID: PMC4263954  PMID: 21298745
developmental therapeutics; IGF-1 receptor inhibitor; preclinical testing
20.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of Eribulin, a Novel Tubulin Binding Agent, by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(8):1325-1332.
Background
Antimitotic agents are essential components for curative therapy of pediatric acute leukemias and many solid tumors. Eribulin is a novel agent that differs from both Vinca alkaloids and taxanes in its mode of binding to tubulin polymers.
Procedures
Eribulin was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel at concentrations from 0.1 nM to 1.0 μM and against the PPTP in vivo xenograft panels at a dose of 1 mg/kg (solid tumors) or 1.5 mg/kg (ALL models) using a q4dx3 schedule repeated at Day 21.
Results
In vitro eribulin demonstrated cytotoxic activity, with a median relative IC50 value of 0.27 nM, (range <0.1–14.8 nM). Eribulin was well tolerated in vivo, and all 43 xenograft models were considered evaluable for efficacy. Eribulin induced significant differences in event-free survival (EFS) distribution compared to control in 29 of 35 (83%) of the solid tumors and in 8 of 8 (100%) of the ALL xenografts. Objective responses were observed in 18 of 35 (51%) solid tumor xenografts. Complete responses (CR) or maintained CR were observed in panels of Wilms tumor, Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, glioblastoma, and osteosarcoma xenografts. All eight ALL xenografts achieved CR or MCR.
Conclusions
The high level of activity observed for eribulin against the PPTP preclinical models makes this an interesting agent to consider for pediatric evaluation. The activity pattern observed for eribulin in the solid tumor panels is equal or superior to that observed previously for vincristine.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24517
PMCID: PMC4263960  PMID: 23553917
developmental therapeutics; PI3K inhibitor; preclinical testing
21.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Antibody-Maytansinoid Conjugate, IMGN901 (Lorvotuzumab Mertansine), by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(11):1860-1867.
Background
IMGN901 (lorvotuzumab mertansine) is an antibody-drug conjugate composed of a humanized antibody that specifically binds to CD56 (NCAM, neural cell adhesion molecule) and that is conjugated to the maytansinoid, DM1 (a microtubule targeting agent).
Procedures
IMGN901 and DM1-SMe (unconjugated DM1 as a mixed disulfide with thiomethane to cap its sulfhydryl group) were tested in vitro at concentrations ranging from 0.01 nM to 0.1 μM and 0.3 pM to 3 nM, respectively. IMGN901 was tested against a subset of PPTP solid tumor xenografts focusing on those with high CD56 expression.The combination of IMGN901 with topotecan was also evaluated.
Results
Neuroblastoma models expressed CD56 at or above the median expression level for all PPTP xenografts and cell lines. Neuroblastoma cell lines demonstrated relatively low sensitivity to DM1-SMe compared to other cell lines, but the sensitivity of neuroblastoma cell lines to IMGN901 was comparable to that of non-neuroblastoma cell lines. In vivo, objective responses were observed in 9 of 24 (38%) models including, 3 of 7 neuroblastoma xenografts, and 2 of 7 rhabdomyosarcoma xenografts. All xenografts with objective responses showed homogeneous high-level staining by IHC for CD56, but not all xenografts with homogenous high-level staining had objective responses. Combined with topotecan, IMGN901 demonstrated therapeutic enhancement against 2 of 4 neuroblastoma models.
Conclusions
IMGN901 has anti-tumor activity against some CD56 expressing pediatric cancer models. High expression of CD56 is a biomarker for in vivo response, but resistance mechanisms to IMGN901 in some high CD56 expressing lines need to be defined.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24647
PMCID: PMC4260400  PMID: 23798344
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; antibody-maytansinoid conjugate; microtubules
22.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of Temozolomide by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(5):783-790.
Background
The DNA methylating agent temozolomide was developed primarily for treatment of glioblastoma. However, preclinical data have suggested a broader application for treatment of childhood cancer. Temozolomide was tested against the PPTP solid tumor and ALL models.
Procedures
Temozolomide was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 1,000 μM and was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at doses from 22 to 100 mg/kg administered orally daily for 5 days, repeated at day 21.
Results
In vitro temozolomide showed cytotoxicity with a median relative IC50 (rIC50) value of 380 μM against the PPTP cell lines (range 1 to > 1,000 μM). The three lines with rIC50 values lesser than 10 μM had low MGMT expression compared to the remaining cell lines. In vivo temozolomide demonstrated significant toxicity at 100 mg/kg, but induced tumor regressions in 15 of 23 evaluable solid tumor models (13 maintained CR [MCR], 2 CR) and 5 of 8 ALL models (3 MCR, 2 CR). There was a steep dose response curve, with lower activity at 66 mg/kg temozolomide and with tumor regressions at 22 and 44 mg/kg restricted to models with low MGMT expression.
Conclusions
Temozolomide demonstrated high level antitumor activity against both solid tumor and leukemia models, but also elicited significant toxicity at the highest dose level. Lowering the dose of TMZ to more closely match clinical exposures markedly reduced the antitumor activity for many xenograft lines with responsiveness at lower doses closely related to low MGMT expression.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24368
PMCID: PMC4244112  PMID: 23335050
developmental therapeutics; preclinical testing; temodar
23.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of Ganetespib, an Hsp90 Inhibitor, by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(7):E42-E45.
Ganetespib, an Hsp90 inhibitor, was tested against the PPTP in vitro cell line panel and selected xenografts in vivo, including JAK2- and BRAF-mutated models. Ganetespib demonstrated potent in vitro cytotoxic activity (median rIC50 8.8 nM, range 4.4–27.1 nM). In vivo, ganetespib induced significant differences in EFS distribution for 4 of 11 xenografts. Intermediate activity (EFS T/C > 2) was noted only for the MV4;11 xenograft, and there were no objective responses. Administered as single agents, Hsp90 inhibitors examined by the PPTP have shown limited evidence for a therapeutic window against both solid tumor and leukemia pediatric preclinical models.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24451
PMCID: PMC4225043  PMID: 23303741
Developmental therapeutics; Hsp90 inhibitors; preclinical testing
24.  Phase I Trial of Fenretinide Delivered Orally in a Novel Organized Lipid Complex in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Neuroblastoma: A Report from the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) Consortium 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(11):1801-1808.
Background
A phase I study was conducted to determine the maximum-tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), and pharmacokinetics of fenretinide (4-HPR) delivered in an oral powderized lipid complex (LXS) in patients with relapsed/refractory neuroblastoma.
Procedure
4-HPR/LXS powder (352 - 2210 mg/m2/day) was administered on Days 0 – 6, in 21-day courses, by standard 3+3 design.
Results
Thirty-two patients (median age = 8 years, range 3 – 27 years) enrolled with thirty evaluable for dose escalation. Prior therapies included stem cell transplantation/support (n = 26), 13-cis-retinoic acid (n = 22), 125/131I-MIBG (n = 13), and anti-GD2 antibody (n = 6). 170+ courses were delivered. Course 1 DLTs were a Grade 3 (n = 1) alkaline phosphatase at 352 mg/m2/day. Other major toxicities were Grade 4 (n = 1) alkaline phosphatases on Courses 5 and 6 at 774 mg/m2/day, and Grade 3 (n = 1) ALT/AST elevation on Course 2 at 1700 mg/m2/day. Of twenty-nine response-evaluable patients, six had stable disease (SD)(4 – 26 courses); four with marrow- or bone disease-only had complete responses (CR)(10 - 46 courses). 4-HPR plasma levels were several fold higher (P<0.05) than previously reported using capsular fenretinide. The Day 6 mean peak 4-HPR plasma level at 1700 mg/m2/day was 21 μM. An MTD was not reached.
Conclusions
4-HPR/LXS oral powder obtained higher plasma levels, with minimal toxicity and evidence of anti-tumor activity, than a previous capsule formulation. A recommended phase II schedule of 4-HPR/LXS powder is 1500 mg/m2/day, TID, on Days 0 – 6, of a 21-day course.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24643
PMCID: PMC4066886  PMID: 23813912
fenretinide; neuroblastoma; pediatric; powder; Lym-X-Sorb™
25.  Molecular Characterization of the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Panel 
Purpose
Identifying novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of childhood cancers requires preclinical models that recapitulate the molecular characteristics of their respective clinical histotypes.
Experimental Design and Results
Here, we have applied Affymetrix HG-U133Plus2 profiling to an expanded panel of models in the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program. Profiling led to exclusion of two tumor lines that were of mouse origin and five osteosarcoma lines that did not cluster with human or xenograft osteosarcoma samples. We compared expression profiles of the remaining 87 models with profiles from 112 clinical samples representing the same histologies and show that model tumors cluster with the appropriate clinical histotype, once “immunosurveillance” genes (contributed by infiltrating immune cells in clinical samples) are eliminated from the analysis. Analysis of copy number alterations using the Affymetrix 100K single nucleotide polymorphism GeneChip showed that the models have similar copy number alterations to their clinical counterparts. Several consistent copy number changes not reported previously were found (e.g., gain at 22q11.21 that was observed in 5 of 7 glioblastoma samples, loss at 16q22.3 that was observed in 5 of 9 Ewing’s sarcoma and 4 of 12 rhabdomyosarcoma models, and amplification of 21q22.3 that was observed in 5 of 7 osteosarcoma models). We then asked whether changes in copy number were reflected by coordinate changes in gene expression. We identified 493 copy number – altered genes that are nonrandom and appear to identify histotype-specific programs of genetic alterations.
Conclusions
These data indicate that the preclinical models accurately recapitulate expression profiles and genetic alterations common to childhood cancer, supporting their value in drug development.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-5090
PMCID: PMC4209898  PMID: 18628472

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