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1.  A Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Model of Tumor Lysis Syndrome in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients Treated with Flavopiridol 
Purpose
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1092
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.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2013.06.006
PMCID: PMC3934299  PMID: 23867058
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; flavopiridol; high-risk cytogenetics; cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor; chemoimmunotherapy; alvocidib; del(17p); del(11q)
3.  REO-10: A Phase I Study of Intravenous Reovirus and Docetaxel in Patients with Advanced Cancer 
Purpose
REOLYSIN (Oncolytics Biotech) consists of a wild-type oncolytic reovirus, which has selective cytotoxicity for tumor cells while sparing normal cells. In a phase I study as a single agent, repeated infusions of reovirus were safe with evidence of antitumor activity. Preclinical studies indicate potential for synergy between reovirus and chemotherapeutic agents. A multicenter, phase I dose escalation study was designed to assess the safety of combining reovirus with docetaxel chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer.
Experimental Design
Patients received 75 mg/m2 docetaxel (day 1) and escalating doses of reovirus up to 3 × 1010 TCID50 (days 1-5) every 3 weeks.
Results
Twenty-five patients were enrolled, and 24 patients were exposed to treatment, with 23 completing at least one cycle and 16 suitable for response assessment. Dose-limiting toxicity of grade 4 neutropenia was seen in one patient, but the maximum tolerated dose was not reached. Antitumor activity was seen with one complete response and three partial responses. A disease control rate (combined complete response, partial response, and stable disease) of 88% was observed. Immunohistochemical analysis of reovirus protein expression was observed in posttreatment tumor biopsies from three patients.
Conclusion
The combination of reovirus and docetaxel is safe, with evidence of objective disease response, and warrants further evaluation in a phase II study at a recommended schedule of docetaxel (75 mg/m2, three times weekly) and reovirus (3 × 1010 TCID50, days 1-5, every 3 weeks).
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-1233
PMCID: PMC3934355  PMID: 20926400
4.  Milatuzumab-Conjugated Liposomes as Targeted Dexamethasone Carriers for Therapeutic Delivery in CD74+ B-cell Malignancies 
Purpose:
Corticosteroids are widely used for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia; however, this class of drug is associated with undesirable off-target effects. Herein, we developed novel milatuzumab-conjugated liposomes as a targeted dexamethasone carrier for therapeutic delivery in CD74+ B-cell malignancies and explored its effect against the disease.
Experimental Design:
The targeting efficiency of milatuzumab-targeted liposomes to CD74+ cells was evaluated in vitro. The effect of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone was compared with free dexa-methasone in primary CLL cells and cell lines in vitro. The therapeutic efficacy of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone was evaluated in a Raji-severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) xenograft model in vivo.
Results:
Milatuzumab-targeted liposomes promoted selective incorporation of carrier molecules into transformed CD74-positive B cells as compared with CD74-negative T-cells. The CD74-dexamethasone-targeted liposomes (CD74-IL-DEX) promoted and increased killing in CD74-positive tumor cells and primary CLL cells. Furthermore, the targeted drug liposomes showed enhanced therapeutic efficacy against a CD74-positive B-cell model as compared with free, or non-targeted, liposomal dexamethasone in SCID mice engrafted with Raji cells in vivo.
Conclusions:
These studies provide evidence and support for a potential use of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone as a new therapy for B-cell malignancies.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-2046
PMCID: PMC3793126  PMID: 23209030
5.  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.
doi:10.3109/10428194.2012.760733
PMCID: PMC3860322  PMID: 23256542
Relapsed AML; bortezomib; 17-AAG; heat shock protein inhibition
6.  Development and Validation of Sensitive Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry Methods for Quantification of Bendamustine in Mouse Brain Tissue 
A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method for quantification of bendamustine in mouse brain tissue was developed and fully validated. Methanol was used to precipitate proteins in brain tissue. Bendamustine and internal standard (chlorambucil) were separated with reverse phase chromatography on a C-18 column with a gradient of water and 95% methanol in 0.1% formic acid. Positive mode electrospray ionization was applied with selected reaction monitoring to achieve 5 ng/ml lower limits of quantitation in mouse brain tissue. The calibration curve for bendamustine in mouse brain was linear between 5 and 2000 ng/ml. The within- and between- batch accuracy and precision of the assay were within 15% at 10, 100 and 1000 ng/ml. The recovery and matrix effect of bendamustine in mouse brain tissue ranged from 41.1% to 51.6% and 107.4% to 110.3%, respectively. Validated the method was then applied to quantitate bendamustine in an animal study. Results indicate the assay can be applied to evaluate bendamustine disposition in mouse brain tissue. This assay will be applied in the future to detect and quantify bendamustine in human brain tissue samples.
doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2012.08.013
PMCID: PMC3856370  PMID: 22925718
Bendamustine; Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry; LC-MS/MS; Brain
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2008.06.029
PMCID: PMC3782378  PMID: 18635408
8.  miR-221 silencing blocks hepatocellular carcinoma and promotes survival 
Cancer research  2011;71(24):7608-7616.
Patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) face a dismal prognosis due to a lack of any effective therapies. To address this situation, we conducted a preclinical investigation of the therapeutic efficacy of oligonucleotides directed against the oncogenic microRNA miR-221 which has been implicated in HCC. Of 9 chemistries evaluated, we determined that a 2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate-modified anti-miR-221 oligonucleotide was most effective at reducing proliferation in vitro. A cholesterol-modified isoform of anti-miR-221 (chol-anti-miR-221) exhibited improved pharmacokinetics and liver tissue distribution compared to unmodified oligonucleotide. Chol-anti-miR-221 significantly reduced miR-221 levels in liver within a week of intravenous administration and in situ hybridization studies confirmed accumulation of the oligonucleotide in tumor cells in vivo. Within the same period, chol-anti-miR-221 reduced tumor cell proliferation and increased markers of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, elevating the tumor doubling time and increasing mouse survival. Taken together, our findings offer a preclinical proof of efficacy for chol-anti-miR-221 in a valid orthotopic mouse model of HCC, suggesting that this targeted agent could benefit treatment of advanced HCC patients.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-1144
PMCID: PMC3773601  PMID: 22009537
microRNA; antisense; antagomiR; HCC; liver
9.  Pharmacokinetics and Tissue Disposition of Lenalidomide in Mice 
The AAPS Journal  2012;14(4):872-882.
Lenalidomide is a synthetic derivative of thalidomide exhibiting multiple immunomodulatory activities beneficial in the treatment of several hematological malignancies. Murine pharmacokinetic characterization necessary for translational and further preclinical investigations has not been published. Studies herein define mouse plasma pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution after intravenous (IV) bolus administration and bioavailability after oral and intraperitoneal delivery. Range finding studies used lenalidomide concentrations up to 15 mg/kg IV, 22.5 mg/kg intraperitoneal injections (IP), and 45 mg/kg oral gavage (PO). Pharmacokinetic studies evaluated doses of 0.5, 1.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg IV and 0.5 and 10 mg/kg doses for IP and oral routes. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry was used to quantify lenalidomide in plasma, brain, lung, liver, heart, kidney, spleen, and muscle. Pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated using noncompartmental and compartmental methods. Doses of 15 mg/kg IV, 22.5 mg/kg IP, and 45 mg/kg PO lenalidomide caused no observable toxicity up to 24 h postdose. We observed dose-dependent kinetics over the evaluated dosing range. Administration of 0.5 and 10 mg/kg resulted in systemic bioavailability ranges of 90–105% and 60–75% via IP and oral routes, respectively. Lenalidomide was detectable in the brain only after IV dosing of 5 and 10 mg/kg. Dose-dependent distribution was also observed in some tissues. High oral bioavailability of lenalidomide in mice is consistent with oral bioavailability in humans. Atypical lenalidomide tissue distribution was observed in spleen and brain. The observed dose-dependent pharmacokinetics should be taken into consideration in translational and preclinical mouse studies.
doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9401-2
PMCID: PMC3475844  PMID: 22956478
bioavailability; distribution; lenalidomide; mouse; pharmacokinetics
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.
doi:10.1097/FTD.0b013e318185813d
PMCID: PMC3740534  PMID: 18708993
Lenalidomide; Pharmacokinetics; Flavopiridol; LCMS
11.  Toxicology and Biodistribution Studies for MGH2.1, an Oncolytic Virus that Expresses Two Prodrug-activating Genes, in Combination with Prodrugs 
MGH2.1 is a herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) oncolytic virus that expresses two prodrug-activating transgenes: the cyclophosphamide (CPA)-activating cytochrome P4502B1 (CYP2B1) and the CPT11-activating secreted human intestinal carboxylesterase (shiCE). Toxicology and biodistribution of MGH2.1 in the presence/absence of prodrugs was evaluated in mice. MGH2.1 ± prodrugs was cytotoxic to human glioma cells, but not to normal cells. Pharmacokinetically, intracranial MGH2.1 did not significantly alter the metabolism of intraperitoneally (i.p.) administered prodrugs in mouse plasma, brain, or liver. MGH2.1 did not induce an acute inflammatory reaction. MGH2.1 DNA was detected in brains of mice inoculated with 108 pfus for up to 60 days. However, only one animal showed evidence of viral gene expression at this time. Expression of virally encoded genes was restricted to brain. Intracranial inoculation of MGH2.1 did not induce lethality at 108 pfus in the absence of prodrugs and at 106 pfus in the presence of prodrugs. This study provides safety and toxicology data justifying a possible clinical trial of intratumoral injection of MGH2.1 with peripheral administration of CPA and/or CPT11 prodrugs in humans with malignant gliomas.
doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.38
PMCID: PMC3759737  PMID: 23922029
carboxylesterase; CPT11; cyclophosphamide; cytochrome P450; herpes simplex virus; irinotecan
12.  Inhibitors of Tubulin Assembly Identified through Screening a Compound Library 
Chemical biology & drug design  2008;72(6):513-524.
Tubulin is the proposed target for drugs against cancer and helminths and is also a validated target in kinetoplastid parasites. With the aim of identifying new lead compounds against Leishmania sp., tubulin isolated from L. tarentolae was used to screen a 10 000 compound library. One compound, Chembridge No. 7992831 (5), displayed an IC50 of 13 μm against Leishmania tubulin in an in vitro assembly assay and showed a greater than threefold selectivity over mammalian tubulin. Another compound, Chembridge No. 9067250 (8), exhibited good activity against mammalian tubulin (IC50 = 5.0 μm). This compound was also toxic to several cancer cell lines with IC50 values in the region of 1 μM. Subsequent testing of analogues of 8 contained within the library identified two compounds with greater potency against mammalian tubulin (IC50 values of 1.1 and 2.8 μM). The more potent antitubulin agent also showed promising activity against cancer cell lines in vitro, with IC50 values ranging from 0.18 to 0.73 μM.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-0285.2008.00729.x
PMCID: PMC3677961  PMID: 19090918
Tubulin; screen; library; Leishmania
13.  Program in pharmacogenomics at the Ohio State University Medical Center 
Pharmacogenomics  2012;13(7):751-756.
Established in 2002, the Ohio State University Medical Center Program in Pharmacogenomics, lead by Wolfgang Sadee, is comprised of nearly 50 members dedicated to the discovery, investigation and translation of genetic biomarkers with the primary goal of advancing personalized healthcare. This article describes the research teams, bioinformatics infrastructure, supporting laboratories and Centers for Personalized Healthcare and for Clinical and Translational Science, current molecular genetic studies, translational and clinical pharmacogenomic studies, examples of biomarkers under development, and the future directions of the program.
doi:10.2217/pgs.12.46
PMCID: PMC3650730  PMID: 22594506
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.
Purpose
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1007/s10637-010-9563-7
PMCID: PMC3486515  PMID: 20938713
Flavopiridol; CDK inhibitor; Phase I trial; Solid tumors
15.  Phase I Trial of Lenalidomide and CCI-779 in Patients With Relapsed Multiple Myeloma: Evidence for Lenalidomide–CCI-779 Interaction via P-Glycoprotein  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(25):3427-3434.
Purpose
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable plasma-cell neoplasm for which most treatments involve a therapeutic agent combined with dexamethasone. The preclinical combination of lenalidomide with the mTOR inhibitor CCI-779 has displayed synergy in vitro and represents a novel combination in MM.
Patients and Methods
A phase I clinical trial was initiated for patients with relapsed myeloma with administration of oral lenalidomide on days 1 to 21 and CCI-779 intravenously once per week during a 28-day cycle. Pharmacokinetic data for both agents were obtained, and in vitro transport and uptake studies were conducted to evaluate potential drug-drug interactions.
Results
Twenty-one patients were treated with 15 to 25 mg lenalidomide and 15 to 20 mg CCI-779. The maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) was determined to be 25 mg lenalidomide with 15 mg CCI-779. Pharmacokinetic analysis indicated increased doses of CCI-779 resulted in statistically significant changes in clearance, maximum concentrations, and areas under the concentration-time curves, with constant doses of lenalidomide. Similar and significant changes for CCI-779 pharmacokinetics were also observed with increased lenalidomide doses. Detailed mechanistic interrogation of this pharmacokinetic interaction demonstrated that lenalidomide was an ABCB1 (P-glycoprotein [P-gp]) substrate.
Conclusion
The MTD of this combination regimen was 25 mg lenalidomide with 15 mg CCI-779, with toxicities of fatigue, neutropenia, and electrolyte wasting. Pharmacokinetic and clinical interactions between lenalidomide and CCI-779 seemed to occur, with in vitro data indicating lenalidomide was an ABCB1 (P-gp) substrate. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a clinically significant P-gp–based drug-drug interaction with lenalidomide.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2010.32.4962
PMCID: PMC3164245  PMID: 21825263
16.  Structurally Modified Curcumin Analogs Inhibit STAT3 Phosphorylation and Promote Apoptosis of Human Renal Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40724.
The Janus kinase-2 (Jak2)-signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) pathway is critical for promoting an oncogenic and metastatic phenotype in several types of cancer including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and melanoma. This study describes two small molecule inhibitors of the Jak2-STAT3 pathway, FLLL32 and its more soluble analog, FLLL62. These compounds are structurally distinct curcumin analogs that bind selectively to the SH2 domain of STAT3 to inhibit its phosphorylation and dimerization. We hypothesized that FLLL32 and FLLL62 would induce apoptosis in RCC and melanoma cells and display specificity for the Jak2-STAT3 pathway. FLLL32 and FLLL62 could inhibit STAT3 dimerization in vitro. These compounds reduced basal STAT3 phosphorylation (pSTAT3), and induced apoptosis in four separate human RCC cell lines and in human melanoma cell lines as determined by Annexin V/PI staining. Apoptosis was also confirmed by immunoblot analysis of caspase-3 processing and PARP cleavage. Pre-treatment of RCC and melanoma cell lines with FLLL32/62 did not inhibit IFN-γ-induced pSTAT1. In contrast to FLLL32, curcumin and FLLL62 reduced downstream STAT1-mediated gene expression of IRF1 as determined by Real Time PCR. FLLL32 and FLLL62 significantly reduced secretion of VEGF from RCC cell lines in a dose-dependent manner as determined by ELISA. Finally, each of these compounds inhibited in vitro generation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. These data support further investigation of FLLL32 and FLLL62 as lead compounds for STAT3 inhibition in RCC and melanoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040724
PMCID: PMC3416819  PMID: 22899991
17.  Multi-Institutional Phase II Study of Selumetinib in Patients With Metastatic Biliary Cancers 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(17):2357-2363.
Purpose
Biliary cancers (BCs) carry a poor prognosis, but targeting the RAS/RAF/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) pathway is of significance. Selumetinib is an inhibitor of MEK1/2, so this trial was designed to determine the safety and efficacy of selumetinib in BC.
Patients and Methods
This was a multi-institutional phase II study of selumetinib at 100 mg given orally twice per day to patients with advanced BC. The primary end point was response rate. All patients were required to provide tissue before enrolling. The levels of phosphorylated ERK (pERK) and AKT (pAKT) were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Tumors were genotyped for the presence of BRAF- and/or RAS-activating mutations.
Results
Twenty-eight eligible patients with a median age of 55.6 years were enrolled. Thirty-nine percent of patients had received one prior systemic therapy. Three patients (12%) had a confirmed objective response. Another 17 patients (68%) experienced stable disease (SD), 14 of whom (56%) experienced prolonged SD (> 16 weeks). Patients gained an average nonfluid weight of 8.6 pounds. Median progression-free survival was 3.7 months (95% CI, 3.5 to 4.9) and median overall survival was 9.8 months (95% CI, 5.97 to not available). Toxicities were mild, with rash (90%) and xerostomia (54%) being most frequent. Only one patient experienced grade 4 toxicity (fatigue). All patients had tissue available for analysis. No BRAF V600E mutations were found. Two patients with short-lived SD had KRAS mutations. Absence of pERK staining was associated with lack of response.
Conclusion
Selumetinib displays interesting activity and acceptable tolerability in patients with metastatic BC. Our results warrant further evaluation of selumetinib in patients with metastatic BC.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2010.33.9473
PMCID: PMC3107751  PMID: 21519026
18.  Pharmacogenomic testing: Relevance in medical practice 
Genetics may account for much of the variability in our patients’ responses to drug therapies. This article offers the clinician an up-to-date overview of pharmacogenomic testing, discussing implications and limitations of emerging validated tests relevant to the use of warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), statins, tamoxifen (Nolvadex), codeine, and psychotropic drugs. It also discusses the future role of pharmacogenomic testing in medicine.
doi:10.3949/ccjm.78a.10145
PMCID: PMC3351041  PMID: 21460130
19.  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.
doi:10.1208/s12248-011-9276-7
PMCID: PMC3160166  PMID: 21538216
ABCB1; leukemia; multi-drug resistance; P-glycoprotein; silvestrol
20.  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.
doi:10.1208/s12248-011-9273-x
PMCID: PMC3160157  PMID: 21499689
liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry; mouse plasma; pharmacokinetics; silvestrol
21.  Dose Escalation of Lenalidomide in Relapsed or Refractory Acute Leukemias 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(33):4919-4925.
Purpose
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2010.30.3339
PMCID: PMC3020696  PMID: 20956622
22.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2008.08.008
PMCID: PMC3035394  PMID: 18778761
Liposomes; Flavopiridol; Physicochemical properties; Pharmacokinetics; Nanotechnology
23.  Phase II Study of Flavopiridol in Relapsed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Demonstrating High Response Rates in Genetically High-Risk Disease 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(35):6012-6018.
Purpose
Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) with high-risk genomic features achieve poor outcomes with traditional therapies. A phase I study of a pharmacokinetically derived schedule of flavopiridol suggested promising activity in CLL, irrespective of high-risk features. Given the relevance of these findings to treating genetically high-risk CLL, a prospective confirmatory study was initiated.
Patients and Methods
Patients with relapsed CLL were treated with single-agent flavopiridol, with subsequent addition of dexamethasone to suppress cytokine release syndrome (CRS). High-risk genomic features were prospectively assessed for response to therapy.
Results
Sixty-four patients were enrolled. Median age was 60 years, median number of prior therapies was four, and all patients had received prior purine analog therapy. If patients tolerated treatment during week 1, dose escalation occurred during week 2. Dose escalation did not occur in four patients, as a result of severe tumor lysis syndrome; three of these patients required hemodialysis. Thirty-four patients (53%) achieved response, including 30 partial responses (PRs; 47%), three nodular PRs (5%), and one complete response (1.6%). A majority of high-risk patients responded; 12 (57%) of 21 patients with del(17p13.1) and 14 (50%) of 28 patients with del(11q22.3) responded irrespective of lymph node size. Median progression-free survival among responders was 10 to 12 months across all cytogenetic risk groups. Reducing the number of weekly treatments per cycle from four to three and adding prophylactic dexamethasone, which abrogated interleukin-6 release and CRS (P ≤ .01), resulted in improved tolerability and treatment delivery.
Conclusion
Flavopiridol achieves significant clinical activity in patients with relapsed CLL, including those with high-risk genomic features and bulky lymphadenopathy. Subsequent clinical trials should use the amended treatment schedule developed herein and prophylactic corticosteroids.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.22.6944
PMCID: PMC2793044  PMID: 19826119
24.  Flavopiridol Pharmacogenetics: Clinical and Functional Evidence for the Role of SLCO1B1/OATP1B1 in Flavopiridol Disposition 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13792.
Background
Flavopiridol is a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor in phase II clinical development for treatment of various forms of cancer. When administered with a pharmacokinetically (PK)-directed dosing schedule, flavopiridol exhibited striking activity in patients with refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This study aimed to evaluate pharmacogenetic factors associated with inter-individual variability in pharmacokinetics and outcomes associated with flavopiridol therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Thirty-five patients who received single-agent flavopiridol via the PK-directed schedule were genotyped for 189 polymorphisms in genes encoding 56 drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters. Genotypes were evaluated in univariate and multivariate analyses as covariates in a population PK model. Transport of flavopiridol and its glucuronide metabolite was evaluated in uptake assays in HEK-293 and MDCK-II cells transiently transfected with SLCO1B1. Polymorphisms in ABCC2, ABCG2, UGT1A1, UGT1A9, and SLCO1B1 were found to significantly correlate with flavopiridol PK in univariate analysis. Transport assay results indicated both flavopiridol and flavopiridol-glucuronide are substrates of the SLCO1B1/OATP1B1 transporter. Covariates incorporated into the final population PK model included bilirubin, SLCO1B1 rs11045819 and ABCC2 rs8187710. Associations were also observed between genotype and response. To validate these findings, a second set of data with 51 patients was evaluated, and overall trends for associations between PK and PGx were found to be consistent.
Conclusions/Significance
Polymorphisms in transport genes were found to be associated with flavopiridol disposition and outcomes. Observed clinical associations with SLCO1B1 were functionally validated indicating for the first time its relevance as a transporter of flavopiridol and its glucuronide metabolite. A second 51-patient dataset indicated similar trends between genotype in the SLCO1B1 and other candidate genes, thus providing support for these findings. Further study in larger patient populations will be necessary to fully characterize and validate the clinical impact of polymorphisms in SLCO1B1 and other transporter and metabolizing enzyme genes on outcomes from flavopiridol therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013792
PMCID: PMC2967470  PMID: 21072184
25.  Development and validation of a sensitive liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry method for quantitation of flavopiridol in plasma enables accurate estimation of pharmacokinetic parameters with a clinically active dosing schedule 
A high-performance liquid chromatographic assay with tandem mass spectrometric detection was developed and validated for quantitation of the broad spectrum kinase inhibitor, flavopiridol, in human plasma. Sample preparation conditions included liquid-liquid extraction in acetonitrile (ACN), drying, and reconstitution in 20/80 water/ACN. Flavopiridol and the internal standard (IS), genistein, were separated by reversed phase chromatography using a C-18 column and a gradient of water with 25 mM ammonium formate and ACN. Electrospray ionization and detection of flavopiridol and genistein were accomplished with single reaction monitoring of m/z 402.09 > 341.02 and 271.09 > 152.90, respectively in positive-ion mode [M+H]+ on a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. Recovery was greater than 90% throughout the linear range of 3 nM to 1,000 nM. Replicate sample analysis indicated within- and between-run accuracy and precision to be less than 13% throughout the linear range. This method has the lowest LLOQ reported to date for flavopiridol, and it allows for more accurate determination of terminal phase concentrations and improved pharmacokinetic parameter estimation in patients receiving an active dosing schedule of flavopiridol.
doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2008.04.023
PMCID: PMC2504738  PMID: 18490204

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