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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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™
12.  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
13.  Purged versus non-purged peripheral blood stem-cell transplantation for high-risk neuroblastoma (COG A3973): a randomised phase 3 trial 
The lancet oncology  2013;14(10):999-1008.
Summary
Background
Myeloablative chemoradiotherapy and immunomagnetically purged autologous bone marrow transplantation has been shown to improve outcome for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. Currently, peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) are infused after myeloablative therapy, but the effect of purging is unknown. We did a randomised study of tumour-selective PBSC purging in stem-cell transplantation for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma.
Methods
Between March 16, 2001, and Feb 24, 2006, children and young adults (<30 years) with high-risk neuroblastoma were randomly assigned at diagnosis by a web-based system (in a 1:1 ratio) to receive either nonpurged or immunomagnetically purged PBSC. Randomisation was done in blocks stratified by International Neuroblastoma Staging System stage, age, MYCN status, and International Neuroblastoma Pathology classification. Patients and treating physicians were not masked to treatment assignment. All patients were treated with six cycles of induction chemotherapy, myeloablative consolidation, and radiation therapy to the primary tumour site plus metaiodobenzylguanidine avid metastases present before myeloablative therapy, followed by oral isotretinoin. PBSC collection was done after two induction cycles. For purging, PBSC were mixed with carbonyl iron and phagocytic cells removed with samarium cobalt magnets. Remaining cells were mixed with immunomagnetic beads prepared with five monoclonal antibodies targeting neuroblastoma cell surface antigens and attached cells were removed using samarium cobalt magnets. Patients underwent autologous stem-cell transplantation with PBSC as randomly assigned after six cycles of induction therapy. The primary endpoint was event-free survival and was analysed by intention-to-treat. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00004188.
Findings
495 patients were enrolled, of whom 486 were randomly assigned to treatment: 243 patients to receive non-purged PBSC and 243 to received purged PBSC. PBSC were collected from 229 patients from the purged group and 236 patients from the non-purged group, and 180 patients from the purged group and 192 from the non-purged group received transplant. 5-year event-free survival was 40% (95% CI 33–46) in the purged group versus 36% (30–42) in the non-purged group (p=0·77); 5-year overall survival was 50% (95% CI 43–56) in the purged group compared with 51% (44–57) in the non-purged group (p=0·81). Toxic deaths occurred in 15 patients during induction (eight in the purged group and seven in the non-purged group) and 12 during consolidation (eight in the purged group and four in the non-purged group). The most common adverse event reported was grade 3 or worse stomatitis during both induction (87 of 242 patients in the purged group and 93 of 243 patients in the non-purged group) and consolidation (131 of 177 in the purged group vs 145 of 191 in the non-purged group). Serious adverse events during induction were grade 3 or higher decreased cardiac function (four of 242 in the purged group and five of 243 in the non-purged group) and elevated creatinine (five of 242 in the purged group and six of 243 non-purged group) and during consolidation were sinusoidal obstructive syndrome (12 of 177 in the purged group and 17 of 191 in the non-purged group), acute vascular leak (11 of 177 in the purged group and nine of 191 in the non-purged group), and decreased cardiac function (one of 177 in the purged group and four of 191 in the non-purged group).
Interpretation
Immunomagnetic purging of PBSC for autologous stem-cell transplantation did not improve outcome, perhaps because of incomplete purging or residual tumour in patients. Non-purged PBSC are acceptable for support of myeloablative therapy of high-risk neuroblastoma.
Funding
National Cancer Institute and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70309-7
PMCID: PMC3963485  PMID: 23890779
14.  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
15.  Probable fatal drug interaction between intravenous fenretinide, ceftriaxone, and acetaminophen: a case report from a New Approaches to Neuroblastoma (NANT) Phase I study 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:256.
Background
Patients with relapsed/refractory stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma were enrolled on a phase I study (NANT2004-03) of intravenous fenretinide emulsion. Pharmacokinetic samples were collected during and after the infusion, and the levels were measured using an HPLC system. A likely case of a fatal drug interaction between fenretinide, ceftriaxone, and acetaminophen is described, including the pharmacokinetics of fenretinide, laboratory data, and post-mortem autopsy in a pediatric neuroblastoma patient treated on this study.
Case presentation
On Day 4 of a scheduled 5-day-infusion of intravenous fenretinide, the patient developed a fever, acetaminophen was started, ceftriaxone initiated for possible bacteremia, and fenretinide level doubled from 56 to 110 μM. Over the next three days, although blood cultures remained negative, the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly. Acute liver failure was diagnosed on Day 7, and the patient expired on Day 20 of fulminant hepatic failure with associated renal, cardiac, and hemorrhagic/coagulation toxicities. Autopsy showed extensive hemorrhagic necrosis of the liver, marked bile duct proliferation, and abundant hemosiderin, consistent with cholestasis and drug toxicity.
Conclusions
After extensive review of patient data, the clinical course, and the literature, we conclude that observed hepatic toxicity was likely due to a drug interaction between fenretinide and concomitant ceftriaxone and acetaminophen. None of the other 16 patients treated on this study experienced significant hepatic toxicity. Although the prevalence of cholestasis with ceftriaxone usage is relatively high, the potential drug interaction with these concomitant medications has not been previously reported. Concomitant use of fenretinide, ceftriaxone, and acetaminophen should be avoided.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-256
PMCID: PMC4006848  PMID: 24755475
Ceftriaxone; Fenretinide; Acetaminophen; Drug interaction; Biliary sludge; Fulminant hepatic failure
16.  Initial Testing of the MDM2 Inhibitor RG7112 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;60(4):633-641.
Background
RG7112 is a selective inhibitor of p53-MDM2 binding that frees p53 from negative control, activating the p53 pathway in cancer cells leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. RG7112 was selected for evaluation by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program (PPTP) due to the relatively low incidence of p53 mutations in pediatric cancers compared with adult malignancies.
Procedures
RG7112 and its inactive enantiomer RG7112i were evaluated against the 23 cell lines of the PPTP in vitro panel using 96 hour exposure (1 nM to 10 µM). It was tested against the PPTP in vivo panel focusing on p53 wild-type (WT) xenografts at a dose of 100 mg/kg daily for 14 days followed by 4 weeks of observation. Response outcomes were related to MDM2 and p53 expression datasets (http://pptp.nchresearch.org/data.html).
Results
RG7112 demonstrated cytotoxic activity with a lower median IC50 for p53 WT versus p53 mutant cell lines (approximately 0.4 µM versus > 10 µM, respectively). RG7112 induced tumor growth inhibition meeting criteria for intermediate activity (EFS T/C > 2) in 10 of 26 (38%) solid tumor xenografts. Objective responses included medulloblastoma, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, Wilms, rhabdoid and Ewing sarcoma xenografts. For the ALL panel, there was 1 partial response, 5 complete responses and 1 maintained complete response. The ALL xenografts expressed the highest levels of p53 among the PPTP panels.
Conclusions
RG7112 induced tumor regressions in solid tumors from different histotype panels, and exhibited consistent high-level activity against ALL xenografts. This high level of activity supports prioritization of RG7112 for further evaluation.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24235
PMCID: PMC3495996  PMID: 22753001
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; RG7112
17.  E-Cadherin Cell-Cell Adhesion in Ewing Tumor Cells Mediates Suppression of Anoikis through Activation of the ErbB4 Tyrosine Kinase 
Cancer research  2007;67(7):3094-3105.
Ability to grow under anchorage-independent conditions is one of the major hallmarks of transformed cells. Key to this is the capacity of cells to suppress anoikis, or programmed cell death induced by detachment from the extracellular matrix. To model this phenomenon in vitro, we plated Ewing tumor cells under anchorage-independent conditions by transferring them to dishes coated with agar to prevent attachment to underlying plastic. This resulted in marked up-regulation of E-cadherin and rapid formation of multicellular spheroids in suspension. Addition of calcium chelators, antibodies to E-cadherin (but not to other cadherins or β1-integrin), or expression of dominant negative E-cadherin led to massive apoptosis of spheroid cultures whereas adherent cultures were unaffected. This correlated with reduced activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt pathway but not the Ras-extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 cascade. Furthermore, spheroid cultures showed profound chemoresistance to multiple cytotoxic agents compared with adherent cultures, which could be reversed by α-E-cadherin antibodies or dominant negative E-cadherin. In a screen for potential downstream effectors of spheroid cell survival, we detected E-cadherin–dependent activation of the ErbB4 receptor tyrosine kinase but not of other ErbB family members. Reduction of ErbB4 levels by RNA interference blocked Akt activation and spheroid cell survival and restored chemosensitivity to Ewing sarcoma spheroids. Our results indicate that anchorage-independent Ewing sarcoma cells suppress anoikis through a pathway involving E-cadherin cell-cell adhesion, which leads to ErbB4 activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt pathway, and that this is associated with increased resistance of cells to cytotoxic agents.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-3259
PMCID: PMC3906735  PMID: 17409416
suppression of anoikis; E-cadherin; ErbB4; EWS-FLI1; Ewing tumor
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Cyclin Dependent Kinase Inhibitor SCH 727965 (Dinaciclib) by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;59(7):1266-1274.
Background
SCH 727965 is a novel drug in clinical development that potently and selectively inhibits CDK1, CDK2, CDK5, and CDK9. The activity of SCH 727965 was evaluated against the PPTP’s in vitro and in vivo panels.
Procedures
SCH 727965 was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel using 96 hour exposure at concentrations ranging from 0.1 nM to 1.0 μM. It was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 40 mg/kg administered intraperitoneally twice weekly for 2 weeks and repeated at Day 21 with a total observation period of 6 weeks.
Results
The median IC50 value for the cell lines was 7.5 nM, with less than 4-fold range between the minimum (3.4 nM) and maximum (11.2 nM) IC50 values. SCH 727965 demonstrated an activity pattern consistent with cytotoxicity for most of the cell lines. Forty-three xenograft models were studied and SCH 727965 induced significant delays in event free survival distribution compared to control in 23 of 36 (64%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts and in 3 of 7 ALL xenografts. SCH 727965 did not induce objective responses in the solid tumor panels and the best response observed was stable disease for one osteosarcoma xenograft. In the leukemia panel, there were two objective responses with a complete response observed in a single xenograft.
Conclusions
SCH 727965 shows an interesting pattern of activity suggesting its potential applicability against selected childhood cancers, particularly leukemias.
doi:10.1002/pbc.24073
PMCID: PMC3349821  PMID: 22315240
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; SCH 727965; Dinaciclib
21.  Characterization and Drug Resistance Patterns of Ewing's Sarcoma Family Tumor Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80060.
Despite intensive treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, over 70% of patients with metastatic Ewing's Sarcoma Family of Tumors (EFT) will die of their disease. We hypothesize that properly characterized laboratory models reflecting the drug resistance of clinical tumors will facilitate the application of new therapeutic agents to EFT. To determine resistance patterns, we studied newly established EFT cell lines derived from different points in therapy: two established at diagnosis (CHLA-9, CHLA-32), two after chemotherapy and progressive disease (CHLA-10, CHLA-25), and two at relapse after myeloablative therapy and autologous bone marrow transplantation (post-ABMT) (CHLA-258, COG-E-352). The new lines were compared to widely studied EFT lines TC-71, TC-32, SK-N-MC, and A-673. These lines were extensively characterized with regard to identity (short tandem repeat (STR) analysis), p53, p16/14 status, and EWS/ETS breakpoint and target gene expression profile. The DIMSCAN cytotoxicity assay was used to assess in vitro drug sensitivity to standard chemotherapy agents. No association was found between drug resistance and the expression of EWS/ETS regulated genes in the EFT cell lines. No consistent association was observed between drug sensitivity and p53 functionality or between drug sensitivity and p16/14 functionality across the cell lines. Exposure to chemotherapy prior to cell line initiation correlated with drug resistance of EFT cell lines in 5/8 tested agents at clinically achievable concentrations (CAC) or the lower tested concentration (LTC): (cyclophosphamide (as 4-HC) and doxorubicin at CAC, etoposide, irinotecan (as SN-38) and melphalan at LTC; P<0.1 for one agent, and P<0.05 for four agents. This panel of well-characterized drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cell lines will facilitate in vitro preclinical testing of new agents for EFT.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080060
PMCID: PMC3846563  PMID: 24312454
22.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of the Multi-targeted Kinase Inhibitor Sorafenib by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(6):10.1002/pbc.22712.
Background
Sorafenib is an inhibitor of multiple kinases (e.g., VEGF receptors, PDGFR, FLT3, RET, BRAF, KIT) and is approved by FDA for treatment of two adult cancers. The activity of sorafenib was evaluated against the PPTP's in vitro and in vivo panels.
Procedures
Sorafenib was evaluated against the PPTP in vitro panel using 96 hour exposure at concentrations ranging from 1.0 nM to 10.0 μM. It was tested against the PPTP in vivo panels at a dose of 60 mg/kg administered by oral gavage daily for 5 days per week, repeated for 6 weeks.
Results
In vitro sorafenib demonstrated cytotoxic activity, with a median IC50 value of 4.3 μM. Twenty of 23 cell lines had IC50 values between 1.0 and 10.0 μM. A single cell line (Kasumi-1) with an activating KIT mutation had an IC50 value < 1.0 μM (IC50 = 0.02 μM). In vivo sorafenib induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 27 of 36 (75%) of the evaluable solid tumor xenografts and in 1 of 8 (12.5%) of the evaluable ALL xenografts. Sorafenib induced tumor growth inhibition meeting criteria for intermediate activity (EFS T/C) in 15 of 34 (44%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts. No xenografts achieved an objective response.
Conclusions
The primary in vitro activity of sorafenib was noted at concentrations above 1 μM, with the exception of a more sensitive cell line with an activating KIT mutation. The primary in vivo effect for sorafenib was tumor growth inhibition, which was observed across multiple histotypes.
doi:10.1002/pbc.22712
PMCID: PMC3823056  PMID: 20672370
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; tyrosine kinases
23.  Initial Testing of the Investigational NEDD8 Activating Enzyme Inhibitor MLN4924 by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;59(2):10.1002/pbc.23357.
Background
MLN4924 is an investigational first-in-class small molecule inhibitor of NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE). NAE is an essential component of the NEDD8 conjugation pathway, controlling the activity of a subset of ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) E3 ligases, multiprotein complexes that transfer ubiquitin molecules to substrate proteins.
Procedures
MLN4924 was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel using 96 hour exposure time at concentrations ranging from 1.0 nM to 10 μM. It was tested in vivo at a dose of 100 mg/kg [66 mg/kg for the acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) xenografts] administered orally twice daily × 5 days. Treatment duration was 3 weeks.
Results
The median relative IC50 for MLN4924 against the PPTP cell lines was 143 nM, (range 15 nM to 678 nM) with that for the Ewing panel being significantly lower (31 nM). MLN4924 induced significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in 20 of 34 (59%) evaluable solid tumor xenografts. MLN4924 induced intermediate activity (EFS T/C values > 2) in 9 of the 33 evaluable xenografts (27%), including 4 of 4 glioblastoma xenografts, 2 of 3 Wilms tumor xenografts, 2 of 5 rhabdomyosarcoma xenografts, and 1 of 4 neuroblastoma xenografts. For the ALL panel, 5 of 8 evaluable xenografts showed intermediate activity for the EFS T/C measure. MLN4924 did not induce objective responses in the PPTP solid tumor or ALL panels.
Conclusions
MLN4924 showed potent activity in vitro and in vivo showed tumor growth inhibitory activity against a subset of the PPTP solid tumor and ALL xenografts.
doi:10.1002/pbc.23357
PMCID: PMC3823062  PMID: 22012946
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; MLN4924
24.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of SGI-1776, a PIM1 Kinase Inhibitor, by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2011;59(4):749-752.
The PIM kinase inhibitor, SGI-1776, was tested against the PPTP in vitro (1.0 nM to 10 μM) and in vivo panels (148 mg/kg daily x 5 days for 3 weeks). SGI-1776 exhibited cytotoxic activity in vitro with a median relative IC50 of 3.1 μM. SGI-1776 induced significant differences in EFS distribution in vivo in 9 of 31 solid tumor xenografts and in 1 of 8 of the evaluable ALL xenografts. SGI-1776 induced tumor growth inhibition meeting criteria for intermediate EFS T/C activity in 1 of 39 evaluable models. In contrast, SGI-1776 induced complete responses of subcutaneous MV4;11 (B myeloid leukemia).
doi:10.1002/pbc.23364
PMCID: PMC3276706  PMID: 22052829
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; kinase inhibitors
25.  Evaluation of Arsenic Trioxide by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program with a Focus on Ewing Sarcoma 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2012;59(4):753-755.
Arsenic trioxide was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel (1.0 nM to 10 μM) and against the PPTP Ewing sarcoma in vivo panel administered intraperitoneally at a dose of 2.5 mg/kg daily × 5 per week for a planned treatment duration of 3 weeks. Arsenic trioxide showed a median relative IC50 value of 0.9 μM, with Ewing sarcoma cell lines having IC50 values similar to those of the remaining PPTP cell lines. Arsenic trioxide did not induce significant differences in EFS distribution compared to control in any of the Ewing sarcoma xenografts studied, and no objective responses were observed.
doi:10.1002/pbc.23391
PMCID: PMC3612422  PMID: 22315235
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; Arsenic trioxide; Ewing sarcoma

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