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1.  Effects of contiguous scars in dermoscopic evaluation of clinically atypical melanocytic nevi 
PMCID: PMC3329219  PMID: 22507589
Dermoscopy; atypical nevi; atypical melanocytic nevi; biopsy; scar
2.  Effect of Selumetinib versus Chemotherapy on Progression-Free Survival in Uveal Melanoma: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
JAMA  2014;311(23):2397-2405.
Uveal melanoma is characterized by mutations in GNAQ and GNA11, resulting in MAPK pathway activation.
To assess the efficacy of selumetinib, a selective, non-ATP competitive inhibitor of MEK1 and MEK2, in uveal melanoma.
Randomized open-label phase II clinical trial comparing selumetinib versus chemotherapy. Those receiving chemotherapy could receive selumetinib at the time of radiographic progression.
Fifteen academic oncology centers.
120 patients with metastatic uveal melanoma.
101 patients were randomized on a 1:1 ratio to selumetinib 75 mg orally twice daily on a continual basis (n=50) or chemotherapy (temozolomide 150 mg/m2 orally daily for 5 of every 28 days or DTIC 1000 mg/m2 intravenously every 21 days; investigator choice; n=51) until disease progression, death, intolerable toxicity, or withdrawal of consent. Following primary outcome analysis, enrollment continued in a non-randomized fashion to the superior therapy.
Main Outcomes
Final analysis of progression-free survival, the primary endpoint, was assessed as of April 22, 2013. Additional endpoints, including overall survival, response rate, and safety/toxicity, were assessed as of December 31, 2013.
Median progression-free survival for those randomized to chemotherapy and selumetinib was 7 (95% CI, 4.3 – 8.4; median treatment duration of 8 weeks (IQR, 4.3–16)) and 15.9 weeks (95% CI, 8.4 – 21.1; median treatment duration of 16.1 weeks (IQR, 8.1–25.3)), respectively (hazard ratio 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30 – 0.71; p < 0.001). Median overall survival was 9.1 (95% CI, 6.1 – 11.1) and 11.8 months (95% CI, 9.8 – 15.7) for those randomized to chemotherapy and selumetinib, respectively (hazard ratio 0.66; 95% CI, 0.41–1.06; p=0.09). No objective responses were observed with chemotherapy. 49% of patients treated with selumetinib achieved tumor regression, with 14% achieving an objective radiographic response to therapy. Treatment-related adverse events were observed in 97% patients treated with selumetinib, with 37% requiring at least one dose reduction.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this hypothesis-generating study of patients with advanced uveal melanoma, selumetinib compared with chemotherapy resulted in a modestly improved progression-free survival and response rate; however, no improvement in overall survival was observed. Improvement in clinical outcomes was accompanied by a high adverse event rate.
PMCID: PMC4249701  PMID: 24938562
Uveal; melanoma; MEK; GNAQ; GNA11
5.  Ipilimumab and radiation therapy for melanoma brain metastases 
Cancer Medicine  2013;2(6):899-906.
Ipilimumab, an antibody that enhances T-cell activation, may augment immunogenicity of tumor cells that are injured by radiation therapy. We hypothesized that patients with melanoma brain metastasis treated with both ipilimumab and radiotherapy would have improved overall survival, and that the sequence of treatments may affect disease control in the brain. We analyzed the clinical and radiographic records of melanoma patients with brain metastases who were treated with whole brain radiation therapy or stereotactic radiosurgery between 2005 and 2012. The hazard ratios for survival were estimated to assess outcomes as a function of ipilimumab use and radiation type. Seventy patients were identified, 33 of whom received ipilimumab and 37 who did not. The patients who received ipilimumab had a censored median survival of 18.3 months (95% confidence interval 8.1–25.5), compared with 5.3 months (95% confidence interval 4.0–7.6) for patients who did not receive ipilimumab. Ipilimumab and stereotactic radiosurgery were each significant predictors of improved overall survival (hazard ratio = 0.43 and 0.45, with P = 0.005 and 0.008, respectively). Four of 10 evaluable patients (40.0%) who received ipilimumab prior to radiotherapy demonstrated a partial response to radiotherapy, compared with two of 22 evaluable patients (9.1%) who did not receive ipilimumab. Ipilimumab is associated with a significantly reduced risk of death in patients with melanoma brain metastases who underwent radiotherapy, and this finding supports the need for multimodality therapy to optimize patient outcomes. Prospective studies are needed and are underway.
PMCID: PMC3892394  PMID: 24403263
Brain metastases; immunotherapy; ipilimumab; melanoma; stereotactic radiosurgery
6.  Concurrent whole brain radiotherapy and bortezomib for brain metastasis 
Survival of patients with brain metastasis particularly from historically more radio-resistant malignancies remains dismal. A phase I study of concurrent bortezomib and whole brain radiotherapy was conducted to determine the tolerance and safety of this approach in patients with previously untreated brain metastasis.
A phase I dose escalation study evaluated the safety of bortezomib (0.9, 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, and 1.7 mg/m2) given on days 1, 4, 8 and 11 of whole brain radiotherapy. Patients with confirmed brain metastasis were recruited for participation. The primary endpoint was the dose-limiting toxicity, defined as any ≥ grade 3 non-hematologic toxicity or grade ≥ 4 hematologic toxicity from the start of treatment to one month post irradiation. Time-to-Event Continual Reassessment Method (TITE-CRM) was used to determine dose escalation. A companion study of brain diffusion tensor imaging MRI was conducted on a subset of patients to assess changes in the brain that might predict delayed cognitive effects.
Twenty-four patients were recruited and completed the planned therapy. Patients with melanoma accounted for 83% of all participants. The bortezomib dose was escalated as planned to the highest dose of 1.7 mg/m2/dose. No grade 4/5 toxicities related to treatment were observed. Two patients had grade 3 dose-limiting toxicities (hyponatremia and encephalopathy). A partial or minor response was observed in 38% of patients. Bortezomib showed greater demyelination in hippocampus-associated white matter structures on MRI one month after radiotherapy compared to patients not treated with bortezomib (increase in radial diffusivity +16.8% versus 4.8%; p = 0.0023).
Concurrent bortezomib and whole brain irradiation for brain metastasis is well tolerated at one month follow-up, but MRI changes that have been shown to predict delayed cognitive function can be detected within one month of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3765365  PMID: 23965287
Radiation; Brain; Melanoma; Bortezomib; Phase I; TITE-CRM; Diffusion tensor imaging; MRI
7.  Randomized Phase II Trial of Sorafenib with Temsirolimus or Tipifarnib in Untreated Metastatic Melanoma (S0438) 
Signaling pathway stimulation by activating mutations of oncogenes occurs in most melanomas and can provide excellent targets for therapy, but the short-term therapeutic success is limited by intrinsic and acquired resistance. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and PI3 kinase/AKT/mTOR pathways are activated in most cutaneous melanomas. The purpose of this trial was to prospectively evaluate two molecularly-targeted drug combinations in patients with untreated metastatic melanoma.
Patients and Methods
This randomized Phase II study enrolled patients between May 2008 and November 2009 with non-ocular melanoma, no prior systemic chemotherapy, and no history of brain metastasis. Arm A: oral sorafenib 200 mg b.i.d. plus intravenous temsirolimus 25 mg weekly; Arm B: oral sorafenib 400 mg q.a.m., 200 mg q.p.m. daily plus oral tipifarnib 100 mg twice daily, 3 weeks of every 4. The primary objectives were to evaluate progression-free survival (PFS), objective response rate (ORR), and toxicity for the two regimens.
On Arm A (63 evaluable patients), the median PFS was 2.1 months and median overall survival (OS) 7 months. Three patients achieved partial response (PR). Thirty-nine evaluable patients were accrued to Arm B, which closed after first-stage accrual; the median PFS was 1.8 months and OS 7 months, with 1 patient achieving PR.
The combinations of molecularly-targeted agents tested did not demonstrate sufficient activity to justify further use. Newer agents and improved patient selection by characterization of the molecular targets in individual tumors show great promise and should be incorporated into future studies, along with appropriate laboratory correlates.
PMCID: PMC3481165  PMID: 22228638
8.  Phase II Trial of Sorafenib in Combination with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel in Patients with Metastatic Uveal Melanoma: SWOG S0512 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48787.
Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor of cell proliferation and angiogenesis, inhibits the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway that is activated in most uveal melanoma tumors. This phase II study was conducted by the SWOG cooperative group to evaluate the efficacy of sorafenib in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel (CP) in metastatic uveal melanoma.
Twenty-five patients with stage IV uveal melanoma who had received 0–1 prior systemic therapy were enrolled. Treatment included up to 6 cycles of carboplatin (AUC = 6) and paclitaxel (225 mg/m2) administered IV on day 1 plus sorafenib (400 mg PO twice daily), followed by sorafenib monotherapy until disease progression. The primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR); a two-stage design was used with the study to be terminated if no confirmed responses were observed in the first 20 evaluable patients. Secondary efficacy endpoints included progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).
No confirmed objective responses occurred among the 24 evaluable patients (ORR = 0% [95% CI: 0–14%]) and the study was terminated at the first stage. Minor responses (tumor regression less than 30%) were seen in eleven of 24 (45%) patients. The median PFS was 4 months [95% CI: 1–6 months] and the 6-month PFS was 29% [95% CI: 13%–48%]. The median OS was 11 months [95% CI: 7–14 months].
In this study, the overall efficacy of CP plus sorafenib in metastatic uveal melanoma did not warrant further clinical testing when assessed by ORR, although minor tumor responses and stable disease were observed in some patients.
Trial Registration NCT00329641
PMCID: PMC3511501  PMID: 23226204
9.  Personalized Oncology Through Integrative High-Throughput Sequencing: A Pilot Study 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(111):111ra121.
Individual cancers harbor a set of genetic aberrations that can be informative for identifying rational therapies currently available or in clinical trials. We implemented a pilot study to explore the practical challenges of applying high-throughput sequencing in clinical oncology. We enrolled patients with advanced or refractory cancer who were eligible for clinical trials. For each patient, we performed whole-genome sequencing of the tumor, targeted whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal DNA, and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) of the tumor to identify potentially informative mutations in a clinically relevant time frame of 3 to 4 weeks. With this approach, we detected several classes of cancer mutations including structural rearrangements, copy number alterations, point mutations, and gene expression alterations. A multidisciplinary Sequencing Tumor Board (STB) deliberated on the clinical interpretation of the sequencing results obtained. We tested our sequencing strategy on human prostate cancer xenografts. Next, we enrolled two patients into the clinical protocol and were able to review the results at our STB within 24 days of biopsy. The first patient had metastatic colorectal cancer in which we identified somatic point mutations in NRAS, TP53, AURKA, FAS, and MYH11, plus amplification and overexpression of cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8). The second patient had malignant melanoma, in which we identified a somatic point mutation in HRAS and a structural rearrangement affecting CDKN2C. The STB identified the CDK8 amplification and Ras mutation as providing a rationale for clinical trials with CDK inhibitors or MEK (mitogenactivated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) and PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) inhibitors, respectively. Integrative high-throughput sequencing of patients with advanced cancer generates a comprehensive, individual mutational landscape to facilitate biomarker-driven clinical trials in oncology.
PMCID: PMC3476478  PMID: 22133722
10.  Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation 
Curcumin is the major yellow pigment extracted from turmeric, a commonly-used spice in India and Southeast Asia that has broad anticarcinogenic and cancer chemopreventive potential. However, few systematic studies of curcumin's pharmacology and toxicology in humans have been performed.
A dose escalation study was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose and safety of a single dose of standardized powder extract, uniformly milled curcumin (C3 Complex™, Sabinsa Corporation). Healthy volunteers were administered escalating doses from 500 to 12,000 mg.
Seven of twenty-four subjects (30%) experienced only minimal toxicity that did not appear to be dose-related. No curcumin was detected in the serum of subjects administered 500, 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, 6,000 or 8,000 mg. Low levels of curcumin were detected in two subjects administered 10,000 or 12,000 mg.
The tolerance of curcumin in high single oral doses appears to be excellent. Given that achieving systemic bioavailability of curcumin or its metabolites may not be essential for colorectal cancer chemoprevention, these findings warrant further investigation for its utility as a long-term chemopreventive agent.
PMCID: PMC1434783  PMID: 16545122

Results 1-10 (10)