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1.  A Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Model of Tumor Lysis Syndrome in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients Treated with Flavopiridol 
Flavopiridol, the first clinically evaluated cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor, demonstrates activity in patients with refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but prevalent and unpredictable tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) presents a major barrier to its broad clinical use. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between pretreatment risk factors, drug pharmacokinetics, and TLS.
Experimental Design
A population pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic model linking drug exposure and TLS was developed. Plasma data of flavopiridol and its glucuronide metabolite (flavo-G) were obtained from 111 patients treated in early phase trials with frequent sampling following initial and/or escalated doses. TLS grading was modeled with logistic regression as a pharmacodynamic endpoint. Demographics, baseline disease status, and blood chemistry variables were evaluated as covariates.
Gender was the most significant pharmacokinetic covariate, with females displaying higher flavo-G exposure than males. Glucuronide metabolite exposure was predictive of TLS occurrence, and bulky lymphadenopathy was identified as a significant covariate on TLS probability. The estimated probability of TLS occurrence in patients with baseline bulky lymphadenopathy < 10 cm or > 10 cm during the first two treatments was 0.111 (SE% 13.0%) and 0.265, (SE% 17.9%) respectively, when flavo-G area under the plasma concentration vs. time curve was at its median value in whole patient group.
This is the first population pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic model of TLS. Further work is needed to explore potential mechanisms and to determine if the associations between TLS, gender and glucuronide metabolites are relevant in CLL patients treated with other cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3845832  PMID: 23300276
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; flavopiridol; tumor lysis syndrome; population pharmacokinetics; glucuronide metabolite; logistic regression model
2.  Cyclophosphamide, Alvocidib (Flavopiridol), and Rituximab, a Novel Feasible Chemoimmunotherapy Regimen for Patients with High-Risk Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Leukemia research  2013;37(10):1195-1199.
Alvocidib has demonstrated efficacy in high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. In this phase I study, we combined cyclophosphamide, alvocidib and rituximab (CAR) in a schema designed to mitigate tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) seen previously with alvocidib. Nine nucleoside analog-naïve, high-risk patients received escalating doses of CAR therapy. Dose limiting toxicity was not experienced. No instances of TLS were observed. Patient responses included three complete remissions and four partial remissions. CAR was tolerable and active in high-risk CLL patients without TLS toxicity. With continued monitoring of toxicities, a phase Ib/II study of this combination as frontline therapy is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3934299  PMID: 23867058
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; flavopiridol; high-risk cytogenetics; cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor; chemoimmunotherapy; alvocidib; del(17p); del(11q)
3.  Pharmacokinetics and Dose Escalation of the Heat Shock Protein Inhibitor 17-AAG in Combination with Bortezomib in Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2013;54(9):10.3109/10428194.2012.760733.
This phase I study was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and dose limiting toxicities (DLT) of the heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor 17-allyamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) in combination with bortezomib, and to provide pharmacokinetic data in relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Eleven patients were enrolled. The MTD was 17-AAG 150mg/m2 and bortezomib 0.7mg/m2. Hepatic toxicity and cardiac toxicity were dose limiting. Co-administration on day 4 led to a decrease in clearance (p=0.005) and increase in AUC (p=.032) of 17-amino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AG) not observed when 17-AAG was administered alone. Pharmacokinetic parameters of patients who developed toxicities and those who did not were not different. The combination of 17-AAG and bortezomib led to toxicity without measurable response in patients with relapsed or refractory AML. Pharmacokinetic data provide insight for studies of related agents in AML; next generation HSP90 inhibitors are appealing for further development in this area.
PMCID: PMC3860322  PMID: 23256542
Relapsed AML; bortezomib; 17-AAG; heat shock protein inhibition
4.  In Vivo Quantification of Active Decitabine-Triphosphate Metabolite: A Novel Pharmacoanalytical Endpoint for Optimization of Hypomethylating Therapy in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
The AAPS Journal  2012;15(1):242-249.
Decitabine (DAC) is used for treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Following cellular uptake, DAC is activated to DAC-triphosphate (TP) and incorporated into DNA. Once incorporated into the DNA, DAC-TP binds and inactivates DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), thereby leading to hypomethylation and re-expression of epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes and ultimately antileukemia activity. However, direct evidence of in vivo DAC-TP occurrence in DAC-treated patients has been difficult to demonstrate due to a lack of suitable validated analytical methodology. Thus, we developed and validated a nonradioactive sensitive and specific LC-MS/MS assay for quantification of DAC-TP. The assay is linear from 50 to 1,000 nM and from 1 to 10 μM and has a lower limit of quantitation of 50 nM and a coefficient of variation for both within- and between-day precision <20%. Following DAC treatment, we detected DAC-TP in parental and DAC-resistant AML cells (in vitro) and bone marrow (BM) and spleen of normal and leukemic mice (in vivo). Downregulation of DNMTs and correlation of DAC-TP concentration with proteins involved in mechanisms of DAC resistance were also demonstrated. The clinical applicability of this method was proven by measuring DAC-TP level in BM and blood mononuclear cells from DAC-treated AML patients. Higher levels are seemingly associated with clinical response. Monitoring the DAC-TP intracellular level may serve as a novel pharmacological endpoint for designing more effective DAC-based regimens.
PMCID: PMC3535094  PMID: 23180159
acute myeloid leukemia; decitabine; metabolite; quantification method; triphosphate
5.  PRMT5 Is Upregulated in Malignant and Metastatic Melanoma and Regulates Expression of MITF and p27Kip1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74710.
Protein arginine methyltransferase-5 (PRMT5) is a Type II arginine methyltransferase that regulates various cellular functions. We hypothesized that PRMT5 plays a role in regulating the growth of human melanoma cells. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated significant upregulation of PRMT5 in human melanocytic nevi, malignant melanomas and metastatic melanomas as compared to normal epidermis. Furthermore, nuclear PRMT5 was significantly decreased in metastatic melanomas as compared to primary cutaneous melanomas. In human metastatic melanoma cell lines, PRMT5 was predominantly cytoplasmic, and associated with its enzymatic cofactor Mep50, but not STAT3 or cyclin D1. However, histologic examination of tumor xenografts from athymic mice revealed heterogeneous nuclear and cytoplasmic PRMT5 expression. Depletion of PRMT5 via siRNA inhibited proliferation in a subset of melanoma cell lines, while it accelerated growth of others. Loss of PRMT5 also led to reduced expression of MITF (microphthalmia-associated transcription factor), a melanocyte-lineage specific oncogene, and increased expression of the cell cycle regulator p27Kip1. These results are the first to report elevated PRMT5 expression in human melanoma specimens and indicate this protein may regulate MITF and p27Kip1 expression in human melanoma cells.
PMCID: PMC3786975  PMID: 24098663
6.  Therapeutic Potential of the Translation Inhibitor Silvestrol in Hepatocellular Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76136.
Background & Aims
Although hepatocellular cancers (HCC) frequently arise in the setting of fibrosis and a hepatic regenerative response requiring new cell growth, therapeutic strategies for these cancers have not targeted protein synthesis. Silvestrol, a rocaglate isolated from Aglaiafoveolata, can inhibit protein synthesis by modulating the initiation of translation through the eukaryotic initiation factor 4A. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of silvestrol for HCC.
The efficacy of silvestrol was examined using human HCC cells in vitro using an orthotopic tumor cell xenograft model in a fibrotic liver. The impact of silvestrol on the liver was assessed in vivo in wild-type mice.
Silvestrol inhibited cell growth with an IC50 of 12.5-86 nM in four different HCC cell lines. In vitro, silvestrol increased apoptosis and caspase 3/7 activity accompanied by loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and decreased expression of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL. A synergistic effect was observed when silvestrol was combined with other therapeutic agents, with a dose-reduction index of 3.42-fold with sorafenib and 1.75-fold with rapamycin at a fractional effect of 0.5. In vivo, an antitumor effect was observed with 0.4 mg/kg silvestrol compared to controls after one week, and survival of tumor-bearing mice was improved with a median survival time of 42 and 28 days in the silvestrol and control groups, respectively. The effect on survival was not observed in orthotopic xenografts in non-fibrotic livers. Silvestrol treatment in vivo did not alter liver structure.
These data identify silvestrol as a novel, structurally unique drug with potent anticancer activity for HCC and support the potential value of targeting initiation of translation in the treatment of HCC.
PMCID: PMC3784426  PMID: 24086701
7.  Development and validation of a rapid and sensitive high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy assay for determination of 17-(allylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin and 17-(amino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin in human plasma 
A sensitive method was developed and validated for the measurement of 17-(allylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17AAG) and its active metabolite 17-amino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17AG) in human plasma using 17-(dimethylaminoethylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17DMAG) as an internal standard. After the addition of internal standard, 200 µL of plasma was extracted using ice cold acetonitrile followed by analysis on a Thermo Finnigan triple-quadruple mass spectrometer coupled to an Agilent 1100 HPLC system. Chromatography was carried out on a 50 × 2.1 mm Agilent Zorbax SB-phenyl 5 µm column coupled to a 3mm Varian metaguard diphenyl pre-column using glacial acetic acid 0.1% and a gradient of acetonitrile and water at a flow rate of 500 µL/min. Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization and detection of 17AAG, 17AG and 17DMAG were accomplished using selected reaction monitoring of m/z 584.3 > 541.3, 544.2 > 501.2, and 615.3 >572.3 respectively in negative ion mode. Retention times for 17AAG, 17AG, and 17DMAG were 4.1, 3.5, and 2.9 minutes, respectively, with a total run time of 7 minutes. The assay was linear over the range 0.5–3000 ng/mL for 17AAG and 17AG. Replicate sample analysis indicated within- and between-run accuracy and precision within 15%. The recovery of 17AAG and 17AG from 200 µL of plasma containing 1, 25, 300, and 2500 ng/mL was 93% or greater. This high performance liquid chromatographic tandem mass spectroscopy (HPLC/MS/MS) method is superior to previous methods. It is the first analytical method reported to date for the quantitation of both 17AAG and its metabolite 17AG and can reliably quantitate concentrations of both compounds as low as 0.5 ng/mL.
PMCID: PMC3782378  PMID: 18635408
8.  Phase II Trial of Temsirolimus in Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma 
Leukemia research  2009;33(11):1475-1480.
In a phase II trial, 16 patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma received temsirolimus 25 mg IV weekly until progression. One partial response and 5 minor responses were observed for a total response rate of 38%. The median time to progression was 138 days. Grade 3–4 toxicity included fatigue (n=3), neutropenia (n=2), thrombocytopenia (n=2), interstitial pneumonitis (n=1), stomatitis (n=1) and diarrhea (n=1). Clinical activity was associated with a higher area under the curve (AUC) and maximal reduction in phosphorylated p70S6K and 4EBP1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. At the dose and schedule used, temsirolimus had low single agent activity. Investigation of alternate dosing schedules and use in combinations is indicated.
PMCID: PMC3771631  PMID: 19261329
Multiple myeloma; mTOR; temsirolimus; pharmacokinetics
9.  Dual Targeting of the Cyclin/Rb/E2F and Mitochondrial Pathways in Mantle Cell Lymphoma with the Translation Inhibitor Silvestrol 
During cell cycle progression, D-cyclins activate cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) 4/6 to inactivate Rb, permitting E2F1-mediated S-phase gene transcription. This critical pathway is typically deregulated in cancer, and novel inhibitory strategies would be effective in a variety of tumors. The protein synthesis inhibitor silvestrol has potent activity in B-cell leukemias via the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, and also reduces cyclin D1 expression in breast cancer and lymphoma cell lines. We hypothesized that this dual activity of silvestrol would make it especially effective in malignancies driven by aberrant cyclin D1 expression.
Experimental Design
Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL), characterized by elevated cyclin D1, was used as a model to test this approach. The cyclin D/Rb/E2F1 pathway was investigated in vitro using MCL cell lines and primary tumor cells. Silvestrol was also evaluated in vivo using an aggressive model of MCL.
Silvestrol showed low nanomolar potency both in MCL cell lines and primary MCL tumor cells. D-cyclins were depleted with just 10 nM silvestrol at 16 hr, with subsequent reductions of phosphorylated Rb, E2F1 protein, and E2F1 target transcription. As demonstrated in other leukemias, silvestrol caused Mcl-1 depletion followed by mitochondrial depolarization and caspase-dependent apoptosis, effects not related to inhibition of CDK4/6. Silvestrol significantly (P<0.0001) prolonged survival in a MCL xenograft model without detectable toxicity.
These data indicate that silvestrol effectively targets the cyclin/CDK/Rb pathway, and additionally induces cytotoxicity via intrinsic apoptosis. This dual activity may be an effective therapeutic strategy in MCL and other malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3677230  PMID: 22791882
translation; cyclin; Rb; lymphoma; cell cycle
10.  Development and Validation of a Highly Sensitive Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Method for Simultaneous Quantification of Lenalidomide and Flavopiridol in Human Plasma 
Therapeutic drug monitoring  2008;30(5):620-627.
Lenalidomide, an immunomodulatory agent, and flavopiridol, a broad cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, are both active therapies for clinical use in genomic high risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). A high-performance liquid chromatographic assay with tandem mass spectrometric detection has been developed to simultaneously quantify lenalidomide and flavopiridol in human and mouse plasma to facilitate their combined clinical development. Samples were prepared by liquid-liquid extraction with acetonitrile- (ACN) containing internal standard (IS), genistein, followed by evaporation of solvent and reconstitution in 95/5 H2O/ACN. Lenalidomide and IS were separated by reverse phase liquid chromatography on a C-18 column using a gradient of H2O and ACN, each with 0.1% formic acid. Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) in positive-ion mode with single reaction monitoring on a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer were applied to detect transitions of lenalidomide (260.06 > 149.10) and flavopiridol (402.09 > 341.02). Lower limits of quantification (LLOQ) of lenalidomide and flavopiridol were 1nM and 0.3nM respectively. Recoveries of lenalidomide and flavopiridol from human plasma ranged from 99% to 116% throughout their linear ranges. Within and between-run precision and accuracy of replicate samples were all less than 15%. This is the most sensitive analytical method reported to date for both lenalidomide and flavopiridol. This sensitivity will enable late terminal phase concentration measurements and accurate pharmacokinetic parameter estimation in a planned clinical trial with lenalidomide and flavopiridol in CLL patients.
PMCID: PMC3740534  PMID: 18708993
Lenalidomide; Pharmacokinetics; Flavopiridol; LCMS
11.  Complex karyotype predicts for inferior outcomes following reduced-intensity conditioning allogeneic transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia 
British journal of haematology  2012;159(1):82-87.
Complex karyotype (CK) on metaphase cytogenetics discriminates poor outcome in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients undergoing salvage treatment; we hypothesized that it might provide prognostic information for patients undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplant. Fifty-one CLL patients were analysed following transplant; 18-month overall survival (OS), event-free survival (EFS) and cumulative incidence of progression estimates were 35%, 14% and 63%, respectively, in patients with CK (n = 19) versus 83%, 68% and 29% in patients without (n = 32) (P ≤ 0.0001, P ≤ 0.0001, and P = 0.02). In patients with high-risk interphase cytogenetics, CK remained predictive of worse OS (P = 0.02) and EFS (P = 0.009). These findings support further evaluation of metaphase karyotype in transplant risk assessment.
PMCID: PMC3719859  PMID: 22831395
chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; transplant; fluorescent insitu hybridization; metaphase cytogenetics; conditioning
13.  The Novel Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor Dinaciclib (SCH727965) Promotes Apoptosis and Abrogates Microenvironmental Cytokine Protection in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Cells 
Leukemia  2012;26(12):2554-2557.
The cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor flavopiridol has demonstrated promising clinical results in relapsed CLL patients leading to efforts to develop improved CDK inhibitors. Dinaciclib (SCH727965) is a pan-CDK inhibitor, derived from a detailed screen in ovarian xenograft mouse models for therapeutic index, whose toxicity in solid tumor phase I studies appears favorable. Dinaciclib in CLL cells demonstrates concentration dependent apoptosis that is superior to flavopiridol following a clinically relevant 2-hour exposure. Dinaciclib potently down-regulates expression of Mcl-1 in CLL cells and antagonizes protection mediated by multiple soluble proteins important in the microenvironment of CLL including TNF-α IL-4, BAFF, and CD40-ligand. In contrast, contact with stromal cells or fibronectin abrogates the cytotoxicity of dinaciclib that is antagonized by a pan inhibitor and p110 alpha isoform specific inhibitor of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway suggesting potential for combination strategies. These data justify clinical development of dinaciclib in CLL.
PMCID: PMC3645353  PMID: 22791353
Dinaciclib; CDK; chronic lymphocytic leukemia
14.  A dose-finding, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic study of a novel schedule of flavopiridol in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Investigational new drugs  2010;30(2):629-638.
Based on the promising activity and tolerability of flavopiridol administered with a pharmacokinetically-derived dosing schedule in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), we conducted a phase I study using this schedule in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Experimental Design
Flavopiridol was given IV as a 30-min loading dose followed by a 4-hr infusion weekly for 4 weeks repeated every 6 weeks. Dose-escalation was in cohorts of three patients using the standard 3+3 phase I study design. Blood samples were obtained for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies.
Thirty-four eligible patients with advanced solid tumors received a total of 208 doses (median 7, range 1–24). Total doses ranged from 40 – 105 mg/m2. The primary dose limiting toxicity was cytokine release syndrome (CKRS). No antitumor responses were observed. The mean peak plasma concentration across all doses was 1.65 ± 0.86 µM. Area under the concentration-versus-time curve (AUC0–∞) ranged from 4.31 to 32.2 µM·hr with an overall mean of 13.6 ± 7.0 µM·hr. Plasma flavopiridol concentrations and AUC increased proportionally with dose. There was no correlation between cytokine levels and clinical outcomes.
The maximum-tolerated dose of flavopiridol is 20 mg/m2 bolus followed by 20 mg/m2 infusion over 4 hours given weekly for 4 weeks on a 6-week cycle in patients with advanced solid tumors. Flavopiridol PK was notably different, and there was a higher frequency of CKRS, despite prophylactic steroids, seen in this patient group compared to previous studies with CLL using a similar dosing schedule.
PMCID: PMC3486515  PMID: 20938713
Flavopiridol; CDK inhibitor; Phase I trial; Solid tumors
15.  A dose-finding and pharmacodynamic study of bortezomib in combination with weekly paclitaxel in patients with advanced solid tumors 
A phase I study to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of bortezomib (B) when combined with weekly paclitaxel in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Patients and methods
Eligible patients received escalating doses of intravenous (IV) bortezomib (0.6–2 mg/m2) on days 2 and 9 and IV paclitaxel at 100 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 of a 21-day cycle. Dose escalation was based on two end-points: not exceeding 80% 20S-proteasome inhibition (20-S PI) and the development of dose-limiting toxicity defined as grade 3 or greater non-hematologic or grade 4 hematologic toxicities.
Forty-five patients with advanced solid tumors and a median of 3 prior chemotherapy regimens (range 0– 9), received 318 doses (median 5, range 1–34) of bortezomib and paclitaxel. Dose-related inhibition of 20-S PI was observed with a maximum inhibition of 70–80% at the MTD of 1.8 mg/m2 of bortezomib. At the MTD (N = 9) the following toxicities were observed: grade 4 neutropenia without fever (n = 2) and cerebrovascular ischemia (n = 1); grade 3 neutropenia (n = 3), diarrhea (n = 2), nausea (n = 1), and fatigue (n = 1); grade 2 fatigue (n = 5), diarrhea (n = 4), and dyspnea (n = 2). There was one partial response in a patient with an eccrine porocarcinoma. Stabilization of disease was observed in 7 (16%) patients, 3 of whom had advanced pancreatic cancer.
Sequential paclitaxel and bortezomib in previously treated patients with advanced solid tumors resulted in acceptable toxicity and no evidence of interaction. The recommended phase II dose of bortezomib in combination with weekly paclitaxel was 1.8 mg/m2.
PMCID: PMC3540804  PMID: 19774377
Bortezomib; Phase I; Solid tumors; Paclitaxel
16.  Resistance to the Translation Initiation Inhibitor Silvestrol is Mediated by ABCB1/P-Glycoprotein Overexpression in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells 
The AAPS Journal  2011;13(3):357-364.
Protein synthesis is a powerful therapeutic target in leukemias and other cancers, but few pharmacologically viable agents are available that affect this process directly. The plant-derived agent silvestrol specifically inhibits translation initiation by interfering with eIF4A/mRNA assembly with eIF4F. Silvestrol has potent in vitro and in vivo activity in multiple cancer models including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and is under pre-clinical development by the US National Cancer Institute, but no information is available about potential mechanisms of resistance. In a separate report, we showed that intraperitoneal silvestrol is approximately 100% bioavailable systemically, although oral doses were only 1% bioavailable despite an apparent lack of metabolism. To explore mechanisms of silvestrol resistance and the possible role of efflux transporters in silvestrol disposition, we characterized multi-drug resistance transporter expression and function in a silvestrol-resistant ALL cell line generated via culture of the 697 ALL cell line in gradually increasing silvestrol concentrations. This resistant cell line, 697-R, shows significant upregulation of ABCB1 mRNA and P-glycoprotein (Pgp) as well as cross-resistance to known Pgp substrates vincristine and romidepsin. Furthermore, 697-R cells readily efflux the fluorescent Pgp substrate rhodamine 123. This effect is prevented by Pgp inhibitors verapamil and cyclosporin A, as well as siRNA to ABCB1, with concomitant re-sensitization to silvestrol. Together, these data indicate that silvestrol is a substrate of Pgp, a potential obstacle that must be considered in the development of silvestrol for oral delivery or targeting to tumors protected by Pgp overexpression.
PMCID: PMC3160166  PMID: 21538216
ABCB1; leukemia; multi-drug resistance; P-glycoprotein; silvestrol
17.  Characterization of Silvestrol Pharmacokinetics in Mice Using Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry 
The AAPS Journal  2011;13(3):347-356.
A sensitive and specific liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method was developed and validated for the quantification of the plant natural product silvestrol in mice, using ansamitocin P-3 as the internal standard. The method was validated in plasma with a lower limit of quantification of 1 ng/mL, accuracy ranging from 87 to 114%, and precision (coefficient of variation) below 15%. The validated method was used to characterize pharmacokinetics in C57BL/6 mice and metabolism in mouse, human and rat plasma, and liver microsomes. Mice were dosed with silvestrol formulated in hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin via intravenous, intraperitoneal, and oral routes followed by blood sampling up to 24 h. Intraperitoneal systemic availability was 100%, but oral administration resulted in only 1.7% bioavailability. Gradual degradation of silvestrol was observed in mouse and human plasma, with approximately 60% of the parent drug remaining after 6 h. In rat plasma, however, silvestrol was completely converted to silvestric acid (SA) within 10 min. Evaluation in microsomes provided further evidence that the main metabolite formed was SA, which subsequently showed no cytotoxic or cytostatic activity in a silvestrol-sensitive lymphoblastic cell line. The ability of the analytical assay to measure tissue levels of silvestrol was evaluated in liver, brain, kidney, and spleen. Results indicated the method was capable of accurately measuring tissue levels of silvestrol and suggested it has a relatively low distribution to brain. Together, these data suggest an overall favorable pharmacokinetic profile of silvestrol in mice and provide crucial information for its continued development toward potential clinical testing.
PMCID: PMC3160157  PMID: 21499689
liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry; mouse plasma; pharmacokinetics; silvestrol
18.  Risk Factors for Tumor Lysis Syndrome in patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treated with the Cyclin Dependent Kinase Inhibitor, Flavopiridol 
Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) has been described in over 40% of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treated with the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor, flavopiridol. We conducted a retrospective analysis to determine predictive factors for TLS. In 116 patients, the incidence of TLS was 46% (95% CI: 36%-55%). In univariable analysis, female gender, greater number of prior therapies, Rai stages III-IV, adenopathy ≥ 10 cm, splenomegaly, del(11q), decreased albumin, and increased absolute lymphocyte count, white blood cell count (WBC), β2-microglobulin, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were associated (p<0.05) with TLS. In multivariable analysis, female gender, adenopathy ≥ 10 cm, elevated WBC, increased β2-microglobulin, and decreased albumin were associated with TLS (p<0.05). With respect to patient outcomes, 49% and 44% of patients with and without TLS, respectively, responded to flavopiridol (p=0.71). In a multivariable analysis controlling for number of prior therapies, cytogenetics, Rai stage, age, and gender, progression-free survival (PFS) was inferior in patients with TLS (p=0.01). Female patients and patients with elevated β2-microglobulin, increased WBC, adenopathy ≥ 10 cm, and decreased albumin were at highest risk and should be monitored for TLS with flavopiridol. TLS does not appear to be predictive of response or improved PFS in patients receiving flavopiridol.
PMCID: PMC3162125  PMID: 21606960
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; flavopiridol; tumor lysis syndrome
19.  Dose Escalation of Lenalidomide in Relapsed or Refractory Acute Leukemias 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(33):4919-4925.
Lenalidomide is effective in myeloma and low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes with deletion 5q. We report results of a phase I dose-escalation trial of lenalidomide in relapsed or refractory acute leukemia.
Patients and Methods
Thirty-one adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and four adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were enrolled. Lenalidomide was given orally at escalating doses of 25 to 75 mg daily on days 1 through 21 of 28-day cycles to determine the dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) and maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), as well as to provide pharmacokinetic and preliminary efficacy data.
Patients had a median age of 63 years (range, 22 to 79 years) and a median of two prior therapies (range, one to four therapies). The DLT was fatigue; 50 mg/d was the MTD. Infectious complications were frequent. Plasma lenalidomide concentration increased proportionally with dose. In AML, five (16%) of 31 patients achieved complete remission (CR); three of three patients with cytogenetic abnormalities achieved cytogenetic CR (none with deletion 5q). Response duration ranged from 5.6 to 14 months. All responses occurred in AML with low presenting WBC count. No patient with ALL responded. Two of four patients who received lenalidomide as initial therapy for AML relapse after allogeneic transplantation achieved durable CR after development of cutaneous graft-versus-host disease, without donor leukocyte infusion.
Lenalidomide was safely escalated to 50 mg daily for 21 days, every 4 weeks, and was active with relatively low toxicity in patients with relapsed/refractory AML. Remissions achieved after transplantation suggest a possible immunomodulatory effect of lenalidomide, and results provide enthusiasm for further studies in AML, either alone or in combination with conventional agents or other immunotherapies.
PMCID: PMC3020696  PMID: 20956622
20.  Potential of Plant-Derived Natural Products in the Treatment of Leukemia and Lymphoma 
Current drug targets  2010;11(7):812-822.
Hematologic malignancies account for a substantial percentage of cancers worldwide, and the heterogeneity and biological characteristics of leukemias and lymphomas present unique therapeutic challenges. Although treatment options exist for most of these diseases, many types remain incurable and the emergence of drug resistance is pervasive. Thus, novel treatment approaches are essential to improve outcome. Nearly half of the agents used in cancer therapy today are either natural products or derivatives of natural products. The enormous chemical diversity in nature, coupled with millennia of biological selection, has generated a vast and underexplored reservoir of unique chemical structures with biologic activity. This review will describe the investigation and application of natural products derived from higher plants in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma and the rationale behind these efforts. In addition to the approved vinca alkaloids and the epipodophyllotoxin derivatives, a number of other plant compounds have shown promise in clinical trials and in preclinical investigations. In particular, we will focus on the discovery and biological evaluation of the plant-derived agent silvestrol, which shows potential for additional development as a new therapeutic agent for B-cell malignancies including chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
PMCID: PMC2892601  PMID: 20370646
Epipodophylloxin derivatives; flavopiridol; hematological malignancies; leukemia; lymphoma; natural products; silvestrol; vinca alkaloids
21.  Validation of an LC-MS Based Approach for Profiling Histones in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Proteomics  2009;9(5):1197-1206.
The in vitro evaluation of histones and their post-translational modifications has drawn substantial interest in the development of epigenetic therapies. The differential expression of histone isoforms may serve as a potential marker in the classification of diseases affected by chromatin abnormalities. In this study, protein profiling by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry was used to explore differences in histone composition in primary CLL cells. Extensive method validations were performed to determine the experimental variances that would impact histone relative abundance. The resulting data demonstrated that the proposed methodology was suitable for the analysis of histone profiles. In 4 normal individuals and 40 CLL patients, a significant decrease in the relative abundance of histone H2A variants (H2AFL and H2AFA/M*) was observed in primary CLL cells as compared to normal B cells. Protein identities were determined using high mass accuracy mass spectrometry and shotgun proteomics.
PMCID: PMC3108439  PMID: 19253275
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; histone; variant; RPLC-MS
22.  Pentostatin and Rituximab Therapy for Previously Untreated B-CLL 
Cancer  2010;116(9):2180-2187.
We have shown that the combination of pentostatin (P), cyclophosphamide (C) and rituximab (R) achieves an overall response (OR) rate >90% with more than 40% complete responses (CR) in patients with untreated CLL. To evaluate if the tolerability of this regimen could be enhanced without sacrificing efficacy, we conducted a phase II trial of P and R without cyclophosphamide, using a higher P dose (4 mg/m2). Among the 33 patients enrolled, 82% were male, median age was 65 (9 patients ≥70 years) and 64% were Rai stage III-IV. The OR rate was 76% with 9 CR (27%), 5 nPR, and 11 PRs. At the time of this analysis, 29/33 patients are still alive and the median follow up for patients still alive is 14 months (range: 1-34.8 months). Four (12%) patients experienced grade 3 or higher hematologic toxicity and 5 (15%) experienced grade 3 or higher non-hematologic toxicity. Comparison of this trial to our previous PCR trial showed that patients treated with PCR had a higher OR rate (91% vs. 76%) and CR rate (41% vs. 27%) compared to patients treated with PR. Median treatment-free survival for all accrued patients was notably longer in PCR treated patients compared to PR (30 vs. 16 months). These findings suggest that increasing the dose of the purine nucleoside analogue does not eliminate the need for cyclophosphamide in chemoimmunotherapy for treatment of CLL.
PMCID: PMC2919331  PMID: 20187101
pentostatin; rituximab; cyclophosphamide; chemoimmunotherapy; response rates; B-CLL
23.  A LC-MS/MS Method for the Analysis of Intracellular Nucleoside Triphosphate Levels 
Pharmaceutical research  2009;26(6):1504-1515.
To simultaneously quantify intracellular nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) and deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) pools and to assess their changes produced by interfering with ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) expression in leukemia cells.
A HPLC-MS/MS system was used to quantify intracellular NTP and dNTP pools.
The assay was linear between 50 nM, the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ), and 10 μMin cell lysate. The within-day coefficients of variation (CVs, n=5) were found to be 12.0–18.0% at the LLOQ and 3.0–9.0% between 500 and 5,000 nM for dNTPs and 8.0–15.0% and 2.0–6.0% for NTPs. The between-day CVs (n=5) were 9.0–13.0% and 3.0–11.0% for dNTPs and 9.0–13.0% and 3.0–6.0% for NTPs. The within-day accuracy values were 93.0–119.0% for both NTPs and dNTPs. ATP overlapped with dGTP and they were analyzed as a composite. This method was applied to measure basal intracellular dNTPs/NTPs in five leukemia cell lines exposed to the RNR antisense GTI-2040. Following drug treatment, dCTP and dATP levels were found to decrease significantly in MV4-11 and K562 cells. Additionally, perturbation of dNTP/NTP levels in bone marrow sample of a patient treated with GTI-2040 was detected.
This method provides a practical tool to measure intracellular dNTP/NTP levels in cells and clinical samples.
PMCID: PMC3071250  PMID: 19291372
dNTP/NTP levels; GTI-2040; LC-MS/MS
24.  Phase I and pharmacokinetic study of erlotinib (OSI-774) in combination with docetaxel in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SSCHN) 
Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology  2010;67(3):10.1007/s00280-010-1332-y.
This phase I study determined the maximal-tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicities, pharmacokinetics, and recommended dose of erlotinib with docetaxel.
Patients and methods
Twenty-eight patients with head and neck cancer were enrolled. Patients were orally given erlotinib (50 mg) daily plus 35 mg/m2 of docetaxel intravenously weekly × 3 every 4 weeks. Dose escalation of erlotinib was in 50-mg increments until toxicity. Pharmacokinetics were studied with LC–MS/MS, standard, and population pharmacokinetic methods.
Ninety-five courses were successfully given (median 3, range 1–6). The most frequent side effects were diarrhea, fatigue, skin rash, anemia, and hypoalbuminemia. Dose de-escalation for both erlotinib and docetaxel was due to skin rash, neutropenia and/or severe infection with docetaxel to 25 mg/m2 and erlotinib to starting dose of 50 mg and re-escalation of docetaxel to 35 mg/m2. Responses were observed in 4/26 evaluable patients (100 mg erlotinib). In 24 patients, the mean Cmax and AUC erlotinib values increased with dose and following cumulative dosing (days 7 and 8 vs. day1, p < 0.05). The CL/F (~7 L/h), V/F (~140 L), and t1/2 (~20 h) for erlotinib were similar to the reported. The mean AUC ratio of metabolite OSI-420 to erlotinib following repetitive dosing at 100 mg (+ or − docetaxel) showed a ~50% increase (p < 0.02), possibly suggesting self-enzyme induction. Population pharmacokinetic studies showed no significant covariate affecting erlotinib pharmacokinetics.
The combination of erlotinib and docetaxel was associated with significant toxicity, which limited the amount of administered erlotinib. Dosing for phase II trials was docetaxel 35 mg/m2 and erlotinib 50 mg. The reason for excessive toxicity is not clear, but not due to change in pharmacokinetics.
PMCID: PMC3828747  PMID: 20490801
Erlotinib; Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck; OSI-774; Phase I
25.  A novel liposomal formulation of flavopiridol 
International journal of pharmaceutics  2008;365(1-2):170-174.
Flavopiridol has shown promising activities in hematologic and solid tumor models, as well as in clinical trials in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients. Flavopiridol has relatively low solubility and high plasma protein-binding. To address these issues and to provide an alternative strategy to achieve clinical efficacy, we encapsulated flavopiridol into a liposomal carrier and characterized its physicochemical and pharmacokinetic properties. The liposomes, comprising hydrogenated soy phosphatidylcholine (HSPC), cholesterol and poly (ethylene glycol) 2000-distearoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (PEG-DSPE), were prepared by polycarbonate membrane extrusion and then loaded with flavopiridol by a pH-gradient driven remote loading procedure. The liposomes had a mean diameter of 120.7 nm and a flavopiridol entrapment efficiency of 70.4%. Pharmacokinetic study in mice after i.v. bolus injection showed that the liposomal flavopiridol had an increased elimination phase half-life (T1/2β, 339.7 min vs. 57.0 min), decreased clearance (CL, 0.012 L/min vs. 0.036 L/min), and increased area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC, 10.8 min μmol/L vs. 3.4 min μmol/L) compared to the free drug. This indicates a significant and potentially beneficial change in flavopiridol pharmacokinetics for the liposomal formulation. Further preclinical studies are warranted to define the toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of this novel formulation.
PMCID: PMC3035394  PMID: 18778761
Liposomes; Flavopiridol; Physicochemical properties; Pharmacokinetics; Nanotechnology

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