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1.  Squamousness: Next-generation sequencing reveals shared molecular features across squamous tumor types 
Cell Cycle  2015;14(14):2355-2361.
In order to gain a better understanding of the underlying biology of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), we tested the hypothesis that SCC originating from different organs may possess common molecular alterations. SCC samples (N = 361) were examined using clinical-grade targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS). The most frequent SCC tumor types were head and neck, lung, cutaneous, gastrointestinal and gynecologic cancers. The most common gene alterations were TP53 (64.5% of patients), PIK3CA (28.5%), CDKN2A (24.4%), SOX2 (17.7%), and CCND1 (15.8%). By comparing NGS results of our SCC cohort to a non-SCC cohort (N = 277), we found that CDKN2A, SOX2, NOTCH1, TP53, PIK3CA, CCND1, and FBXW7 were significantly more frequently altered, unlike KRAS, which was less frequently altered in SCC specimens (all P < 0.05; multivariable analysis). Therefore, we identified “squamousness” gene signatures (TP53, PIK3CA, CCND1, CDKN2A, SOX2, NOTCH 1, and FBXW7 aberrations, and absence of KRAS alterations) that were significantly more frequent in SCC versus non-SCC histologies. A multivariable co-alteration analysis established 2 SCC subgroups: (i) patients in whom TP53 and cyclin pathway (CDKN2A and CCND1) alterations strongly correlated but in whom PIK3CA aberrations were less frequent; and (ii) patients with PIK3CA alterations in whom TP53 mutations were less frequent (all P ≤ 0 .001, multivariable analysis). In conclusion, we identified a set of 8 genes altered with significantly different frequencies when SCC and non-SCC were compared, suggesting the existence of patterns for “squamousness.” Targeting the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and/or cyclin pathway components in SCC may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC4613537  PMID: 26030731
cancer; gene signature; next-generation sequencing; squamous; SCC
2.  Precision oncology for patients with advanced cancer: the challenges of malignant snowflakes 
Cell Cycle  2015;14(14):2219-2221.
Precision oncology implies customizing treatment to the unique molecular and biologic characteristics of each individual and their cancer. Its implementation is being facilitated by remarkable technological advances in genomic sequencing, as well as the increasing availability of targeted and immunotherapeutic drugs. Yet, next generation sequencing may be a disruptive technology in that its results suggest that classic paradigms for clinical research and practice are a poor fit with the complex reality encountered in metastatic malignancies. Indeed, it is evident that advanced tumors have heterogeneous molecular landscapes that mostly differ between patients. Traditional modes of clinical research/practice are drug centered, with a strategy of finding commonalities between patients so that they can be grouped together and treated similarly. However, if each patient with metastatic cancer has a unique molecular portfolio, a new patient-centered, N-of-one approach that utilizes individually tailored treatment is needed.
PMCID: PMC4615125  PMID: 26030337
cancer; genomics; precision oncology; targeted therapy
3.  Next generation sequencing demonstrates association between tumor suppressor gene aberrations and poor outcome in patients with cancer 
Cell Cycle  2015;14(11):1730-1737.
Next generation sequencing is transforming patient care by allowing physicians to customize and match treatment to their patients’ tumor alterations. Our goal was to study the association between key molecular alterations and outcome parameters. We evaluated the characteristics and outcomes (overall survival (OS), time to metastasis/recurrence, and best progression-free survival (PFS)) of 392 patients for whom next generation sequencing (182 or 236 genes) had been performed. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression models were used for our analysis, and results were subjected to internal validation using a resampling method (bootstrap analysis). In a multivariable analysis (Cox regression model), the parameters that were statistically associated with a poorer overall survival were the presence of metastases at diagnosis (P = 0.014), gastrointestinal histology (P < 0.0001), PTEN (P < 0.0001), and CDKN2A alterations (P = 0.0001). The variables associated with a shorter time to metastases/recurrence were gastrointestinal histology (P = 0.004), APC (P = 0.008), PTEN (P = 0.026) and TP53 (P = 0.044) alterations. TP53 (P = 0.003) and PTEN (P = 0.034) alterations were independent predictors of a shorter best PFS. A personalized treatment approach (matching the molecular aberration with a cognate targeted drug) also correlated with a longer best PFS (P = 0.046). Our study demonstrated that, across diverse cancers, anomalies in specific tumor suppressor genes (PTEN, CDKN2A, APC, and/or TP53) were independently associated with a worse outcome, as reflected by time to metastases/recurrence, best PFS on treatment, and/or overall survival. These observations suggest that molecular diagnostic tests may provide important prognostic information in patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC4614790  PMID: 25928476
APC; cancer; CDKN2A; next-generation sequencing; patient's outcome; PTEN; tumor suppressor; TP53
4.  VEGF and dual-EGFR inhibition in colorectal cancer 
Cell Cycle  2015;14(8):1129-1130.
PMCID: PMC4614794  PMID: 25845022
5.  SU2C Phase Ib Study of Paclitaxel and MK-2206 in Advanced Solid Tumors and Metastatic Breast Cancer 
There is preclinical synergism between taxanes and MK-2206. We aim to determine the maximum tolerated dose, safety, and activity of combining MK-2206 and paclitaxel in metastatic cancer.
Patients received weekly doses of paclitaxel at 80mg/m2 on day 1, followed by MK-2206 orally on day 2 escalated at 90mg, 135mg, and 200mg. Treatment continued until progression, excessive toxicity, or patient request. Blood and tissue were collected for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics markers. A cycle consisted of three weeks of therapy. Dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) was defined as unacceptable toxicity during the first cycle. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Twenty-two patients were treated, nine in dose escalation and 13 in dose expansion. Median age was 55 years. Median number of cycles was four. Dose escalation was completed with no DLT. CTCAE Grade 3 or higher adverse events were fatigue (n = 2), rash (n = 2), hyperglycemia (n = 1), and neutropenia (n = 7). Four patients in the expansion phase required MK-2206 dose reduction. Phase II recommended dose was established as paclitaxel 80mg/m2 weekly on day 1, and MK-2206 135mg weekly on day 2. Paclitaxel systemic exposure was similar in the presence or absence of MK-2206. Plasma MK-2206 concentrations were similar to data from previous phase I monotherapy. There was a statistically significant decrease in expression of pAKT S473 (P = .01) and pAKT T308 (P = .002) after therapy. PI3K/AKT/mTOR downregulation in tumor tissues and circulating markers did not correlate with tumor response or clinical benefit. There were five objective responses, and nine patients had stable disease.
MK-2206 was well tolerated with paclitaxel. Preliminary antitumor activity was documented.
PMCID: PMC4342675  PMID: 25688104
6.  Cyclin-dependent kinase pathway aberrations in diverse malignancies: clinical and molecular characteristics 
Cell Cycle  2015;14(8):1252-1259.
Aberrations in the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) pathways that regulate the cell cycle restriction point contribute to genomic instability and tumor proliferation, and can be targeted by recently developed CDK inhibitors. We therefore investigated the clinical correlates of CDK4/6 and CDKN2A/B abnormalities in diverse malignancies. Patients with various cancers who underwent molecular profiling by targeted next generation sequencing (Foundation Medicine; 182 or 236 cancer-related genes) were reviewed. Of 347 patients analyzed, 79 (22.8%) had aberrant CDK 4/6 or CDKN2A/B. Only TP53 mutations occurred more frequently than those in CDK elements. Aberrations were most frequent in glioblastomas (21/26 patients; 81%) and least frequent in colorectal cancers (0/26 patients). Aberrant CDK elements were independently associated with EGFR and ARID1A gene abnormalities (P < 0.0001 and p = 0.01; multivariate analysis). CDK aberrations were associated with poor overall survival (univariate analysis; HR[95% CI] = 2.09 [1.35–4.70]; p = 0.004). In multivariate analysis, PTEN and TP53 aberrations were independently associated with poorer survival (HR = 4.83 and 1.92; P < 0.0001 and p = 0.01); CDK aberrations showed a trend toward worse survival (HR = 1.67; p = 0.09). There was also a trend toward worse progression-free survival (PFS) with platinum-containing regimens in patients with abnormal CDK elements (3.5 versus 5.0 months, p = 0.13). In conclusion, aberrations in the CDK pathway were some of the most common in cancer and independently associated with EGFR and ARID1A alterations. Patients with abnormal CDK pathway genes showed a trend toward poorer survival, as well as worse PFS on platinum-containing regimens. Further investigation of the prognostic and predictive impact of CDK alterations across cancers is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4614867  PMID: 25695927
cancer; CDKN2A/B; CDK4/6; cyclin-Dependent Kinase; next generation sequencing
7.  A Phase 1, Open–label Study of Trebananib Combined With Sorafenib or Sunitinib in Patients With Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma 
Clinical genitourinary cancer  2013;12(3):167-177.e2.
Trebananib, an investigational peptibody, binds to angiopoietin–1/–2, thereby blocking their interaction with Tie2.
Patients and Methods
This open–label phase 1 study examined trebananib 3 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg IV QW plus sorafenib 400 mg BID or sunitinib 50 mg QD in advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Primary endpoints were adverse event incidence and pharmacokinetics.
Thirty–seven patients were enrolled. During trebananib plus sorafenib administration (n = 17), the most common treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) included rash (71%), diarrhea (71%), hypertension (65%), and fatigue (65%); grade ≥ 3 TRAEs (41%); and 14% of patients had peripheral edema. During trebananib plus sunitinib administration (n = 19), the most common TRAEs included diarrhea (74%), fatigue (68%), hypertension (58%), and decreased appetite (58%); grade ≥ 3 TRAEs (68%); and 42% of patients had peripheral edema. Trebananib did not appear to alter the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib or sunitinib. No patient developed anti-trebananib antibodies. Objective response rates were 29% (trebananib plus sorafenib) and 53% (trebananib plus sunitinib).
The toxicities of trebananib IV 3 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg plus sorafenib or sunitinib in RCC were similar to those of sorafenib or sunitinib monotherapy, with peripheral edema being likely specific to the combinations. Antitumor activity was observed.
PMCID: PMC4754667  PMID: 24365125
Angiogenesis; Angiopoietins; Targeted therapies; Tie2 receptor; Vascular growth factor receptor
8.  A phase I trial of combination trastuzumab, lapatinib, and bevacizumab in patients with advanced cancer 
Investigational new drugs  2014;33(1):177-186.
Preclinical data indicate that combination HER2-directed and anti-VEGF therapy may bypass resistance to trastuzumab. A phase I trial was performed to assess safety, activity, and correlates.
Patients with advanced, refractory malignancy were enrolled (modified 3 + 3 design with expansions for responding tumor types). Patients received lapatinib daily for 21 days, and bevacizumab and trastuzumab every three weeks. Correlates included HER2 extracellular domain levels (ECD) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
Ninety-four patients were treated (median = four prior systemic therapies). The most common related adverse events ≥ grade 2 were diarrhea (n=33, 35%) and hypertension (n=10, 11%). The recommended phase 2 dose was trastuzumab 6 mg/m2 (loading = 8 mg/m2) and bevacizumab 15 mg/kg every three weeks, with lapatinib 1250 mg daily (full FDA-approved dose of each drug). One patient (1%) achieved a complete response (CR); eight (9%), a partial response (PR) (includes breast (n=7, one of which was HER2 2+ by IHC) and salivary ductal carcinoma (n=1); and 14 (15%), stable disease (SD) ≥ 6 months (total SD≥6 months/PR/CR = 23 (25%). All patients with PR/CR received prior trastuzumab +/− lapatinib. SD≥6 months/PR/CR rate and time to treatment failure (TTF) correlated with elevated baseline HER2 ECD (N=75 patients tested) but not with HER2 SNPs.
Combination trastuzumab, lapatinib, and bevacizumab was well-tolerated and demonstrated antitumor activity in heavily pretreated patients with advanced malignancy.
PMCID: PMC4297242  PMID: 25323060
trastuzumab; lapatinib; bevacizumab; HER2; VEGF
9.  Dual antiangiogenic inhibition: a phase I dose escalation and expansion trial targeting VEGF-A and VEGFR in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Investigational new drugs  2014;33(1):215-224.
Angiogenesis plays a pivotal role in tumor growth and metastasis. Sorafenib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), combined with bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), would vertically inhibit VEGF/VEGFR signaling. A phase I trial was performed to assess safety, maximum tolerated dose (MTD), and clinical correlates.
Experimental design
Patients with advanced solid tumors refractory to standard therapy were eligible. In cohorts of escalating doses, patients received sorafenib daily for 28 days and bevacizumab every two weeks. Clinical correlates included VEGF polymorphisms. Expansion cohorts of responding tumor types were enrolled.
One hundred fifteen patients were treated, and the MTD was identified as 200 mg twice daily sorafenib and 5 mg/kg bevacizumab every two weeks. Median number of prior therapies was four. Twenty-nine patients (25 %) achieved stable disease ≥6 months; six patients (5 %) achieved a partial response (total SD≥6 months/PR=35 (30 %)). 76 patients (66 %) experienced adverse events of grade 2 or higher, most commonly hand and foot syndrome (n=27, 24 %) and hypertension (n=24, 21 %). Dose-limiting toxicity occurred in eight patients (7 %), and 45 patients (39 %) required dose reduction for toxicity. Grade 3 and 4 hypertension was associated with longer time to treatment failure, overall survival, and higher response rate.
Combination sorafenib and bevacizumab was well-tolerated and demonstrated antitumor activity in heavily pretreated patients with advanced solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC4477529  PMID: 25363205
Bevacizumab; Sorafenib; VEGF; VEGFR; Angiogenesis
10.  BRAF Inhibitor Dabrafenib in Patients with Metastatic BRAF-Mutant Thyroid Cancer 
Thyroid  2015;25(1):71-77.
Background: Mutations of v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF) are commonly identified in papillary and anaplastic thyroid carcinoma and are associated with worse prognosis compared with the wild type. BRAF inhibition in papillary thyroid carcinoma cell lines and xenografts inhibits proliferation and decreases downstream phosphorylation. Our objectives were to analyze safety and efficacy of the selective BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib in patients with metastatic BRAF-mutant thyroid carcinoma.
Methods: We present the subset of patients with BRAF-mutant thyroid carcinoma enrolled in a larger phase 1 study, the main results of which are reported elsewhere.
Results: Fourteen patients with BRAFV600E-mutant thyroid carcinoma were enrolled, of whom 13 (93%) had received prior radioactive iodine. The median duration on treatment was 8.4 months, and seven (50%) patients received treatment for ≥10 months. The most common treatment-related adverse events were skin papillomas (n=8, 57%), hyperkeratosis (n=5, 36%), and alopecia (n=4, 29%), all of which were grade 1. Treatment-related adverse events grade ≥3 included grade 4 elevated lipase and grade 3 elevated amylase, fatigue, febrile neutropenia, and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (n=1 for each). Four (29%) partial responses were observed, and nine (64%) patients achieved at least 10% decrease. Only one responder progressed while on the study drug after a response duration of 9.3 months. The other three responders had not progressed, with response duration of 4.6+, 10.4+, and 21.4+ months. With seven (50%) patients showing no progression at the time of study completion, the median progression-free survival was 11.3 months.
Conclusions: Dabrafenib was well tolerated and resulted in durable responses in BRAF-mutant differentiated thyroid carcinoma patients.
PMCID: PMC4291160  PMID: 25285888
11.  The Prevalence and Impact of Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia in Patients With Advanced Cancer Receiving Combination Treatment With the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Inhibitor Temsirolimus and Insulin Growth Factor-Receptor Antibody Cixutumumab 
The Oncologist  2015;20(7):737-741.
The prevalence, management, and impact on outcome of metabolic disorders were evaluated in patients with advanced cancer who received combined cixutumumab and temsirolimus therapies. The combined treatment was safe and resulted in manageable metabolic toxicities.
Cixutumumab (a humanized monoclonal antibody against insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor [IGF-1R]) and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor temsirolimus were combined in a phase I study of patients with advanced cancer. We investigated the prevalence of metabolic toxicities, their management, and impact on outcome.
The temsirolimus dose was 25 mg or 37.5 mg i.v. weekly with escalating doses of cixutumumab (3, 5, or 6 mg/kg i.v. weekly). No patients with diabetes or hyperlipidemia at baseline were eligible until the expansion cohort. We assessed metabolic derangements in our patient cohort, their management, and their association with tumor shrinkage, time to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS).
Of the 57 patients analyzed, hyperglycemia was seen in 36 (63%) (grade 1–2: 33 [58%]; grade 3–4: 3 [5%]). The median blood sugar level (fasting and nonfasting) across cohorts was 149 mg/dL (upper limit of normal: 110 mg/dL). No patient developed diabetic ketoacidosis or nonketotic hyperosmolar coma or pancreatitis during treatment. Median maximum triglyceride, cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein levels achieved were 247 mg/dL (range: 65–702 mg/dL), 243 mg/dL (range: 103–424 mg/dL), and 153 mg/dL (range 50–375 mg/dL), respectively. Higher glucose levels were associated with more RECIST tumor shrinkage (r = −.30 [95% confidence interval: −.52, −.03; p = .03]). There was no association between metabolic toxicities of the mTOR and IGF-1R combination and TTP or OS.
The combination of temsirolimus and cixutumumab was safe and resulted in manageable metabolic toxicities. More tumor shrinkage was seen in patients who developed these adverse events. Although perhaps limited by the small number of patients, no significant association was discerned between hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, or hypercholesterolemia and TTP or OS.
Implications for Practice:
Results of this study show that the combination of temsirolimus and cixutumumab is safe. The most common side effects, hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia, are tolerable and manageable. This combination of therapies should not be withheld from diabetic patients and patients with high cholesterol levels. Collaboration between oncologist and endocrinologist allows for individualized treatment and better control of these adverse events, with few dose interruptions and reductions. Supportive care and close monitoring is needed. Those patients who develop hyperglycemia or hypercholesterolemia may benefit more from the drug.
PMCID: PMC4492245  PMID: 26054632
Phase I clinical trials; IGF-1R pathway; mTOR pathway; Cixutumumab
12.  Effect of Food on the Pharmacokinetics of the Investigational Aurora A Kinase Inhibitor Alisertib (MLN8237) in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors 
Drugs in R&D  2015;16(1):45-52.
This study was conducted to characterize the effects of food on single-dose pharmacokinetics (PK) of the investigational Aurora A kinase inhibitor alisertib (MLN8237) in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Following overnight fasting for 10 h, a single 50 mg enteric-coated tablet (ECT) of alisertib was administered under either fasted (alisertib with 240 mL of water) or fed (high-fat meal consumed 30 min before receiving alisertib with 240 mL of water) conditions using a two-cycle, two-way crossover design. Patients on both arms were not allowed food for 4 h post-dose. Water was allowed as desired, except for 1 h before and after alisertib administration.
Twenty-four patients were enrolled and 14 patients were PK-evaluable (ten patients were not PK-evaluable due to insufficient data). Following a single oral dose of alisertib, median tmax was 6 h and 3 h under fed and fasted conditions, respectively. The geometric mean ratio of AUCinf (fed- vs. fasted-state dosing) was 0.94 [90 % confidence interval (CI) 0.68–1.32]. The geometric mean Cmax under fed conditions was 84 % of that under fasted conditions (90 % CI 66–106). Alisertib was generally well-tolerated; most common drug-related grade 3/4 adverse events included neutropenia (50 %), leukopenia (38 %), and thrombocytopenia (21 %).
Systemic exposures achieved following a single 50 mg dose of alisertib administered as an ECT formulation after a high-fat meal are similar to those observed in the fasted state. Alisertib 50 mg ECT can be administered without regard for food. Identifier
PMCID: PMC4767718  PMID: 26689566
13.  Unique Molecular Landscapes in Cancer: Implications for Individualized, Curated Drug Combinations 
Cancer research  2014;74(24):7181-7184.
With increasing lysophisticated technologies in molecular biology and ‘omic’ platforms to analyze patients’ tumors, more molecular diversity and complexity in cancer are being observed. Recently, we noted unique genomic profiles in a group of patients with metastatic breast cancer based on an analysis with next generation sequencing (NGS); amongst 57 consecutive patients, no two had the same molecular portfolio (1). Applied genomics therefore appears to represent a disruptive innovation in that it unveils a heterogeneity to metastatic cancer that may be ill suited to canonical clinical trials and practice paradigms. Upon recognizing that patients have unique tumor landscapes, it is possible that there may be a ‘mismatch’ between our traditional clinical trials system that selects patients based on common characteristics in order to evaluate a drug (drug-centric approach), and optimal treatment based on curated, individualized drug combinations for each patient (patient-centric approach).
PMCID: PMC4292868  PMID: 25326492
Clinical trials; Genomics; Personalized medicine
14.  Phase 1b study of lenvatinib (E7080) in combination with temozolomide for treatment of advanced melanoma 
Oncotarget  2015;6(40):43127-43134.
Objective and Methods
In this phase 1b study, patients with stage 4 or unresectable stage 3 melanoma were treated with escalating doses of lenvatinib (once daily) and temozolomide (TMZ) (days 1–5) in 28-day cycles, to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of the combination. Dose Level (DL)1: lenvatinib 20 mg, TMZ 100 mg/m2; DL2: lenvatinib 24 mg, TMZ 100 mg/m2; DL3: lenvatinib 24 mg, TMZ 150 mg/m2. Adverse events (AEs) were recorded and tumor response assessed per RECIST 1.0.
Dose-limiting toxicity occurred in 1 of 32 treated patients (DL1); MTD was not reached. The highest dose administered was lenvatinib 24 mg + TMZ 150 mg/m2. Most common treatment-related AEs included fatigue (56.3%), hypertension (53.1%), and proteinuria (46.9%). Overall objective response rate was 18.8% (6 patients), all partial response; (DL1, n = 1; DL3, n = 5). Stable disease (SD) ≥ 16 weeks was observed in 28.1% of patients (DL1 and DL2, n = 1 each; DL3, n = 7); 12.5% of patients had SD ≥ 23 weeks. Single and repeat-dose pharmacokinetics of lenvatinib were comparable across cycles and with concomitant TMZ administration.
Lenvatinib 24 mg/day + TMZ 150 mg/m2/day (days 1–5) demonstrated modest clinical activity, an acceptable safety profile, and was administered without worsening of either lenvatinib- or TMZ-related toxicities in this patient group.
PMCID: PMC4767496  PMID: 26503473
lenvatinib; melanoma; pharmacodynamic; phase 1b; advanced solid tumors
15.  Investigational Aurora A kinase inhibitor alisertib (MLN8237) as an enteric-coated tablet formulation in non-hematologic malignancies: Phase 1 dose-escalation study 
Investigational new drugs  2014;32(6):1181-1187.
This phase 1b study evaluated an enteric-coated tablet (ECT) formulation of the investigational Aurora A kinase inhibitor, alisertib (MLN8237).
Patients with advanced, non-hematologic malignancies received oral alisertib ECT for 7 days BID followed by 14 days treatment-free (21-day cycles; 3+3 dose escalation schema). Objectives were to assess safety, pharmacokinetics, and antitumor activity, and to define a recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D) of alisertib.
24 patients were treated. Median age was 57 years. Patients received a median of 2 cycles (range 1–12). The RP2D was determined as 50 mg BID for 7 days (21-day cycles). A cycle 1 dose-limiting toxicity of grade 4 febrile neutropenia was observed in 1 of 13 patients at RP2D. The most common drug-related adverse event (AE) was neutropenia (50%). At doses ≥40 mg BID, 7 patients had drug-related AEs that were serious but largely reversible/manageable by dose reduction and supportive care, including 3 with febrile neutropenia. Pharmacokinetic data were available in 24 patients. Following administration of alisertib ECT, the plasma peak concentration of alisertib was achieved at ~3 h; systemic exposure increased with increasing dose over 10–60 mg BID. Mean t½ was ~21 h following multiple dosing. Renal clearance was negligible. Nine patients achieved stable disease (3.98*, 5.59, 1.28*, 2.56, 5.45*, 3.48, 3.15, 8.31, and 6.93* months; *censored).
Alisertib ECT was generally well tolerated in adults with advanced, non-hematologic malignancies. The RP2D is 50 mg BID for 7 days and is being evaluated in ongoing phase 2 studies.
PMCID: PMC4229392  PMID: 24879333
Aurora A kinase; alisertib; MLN8237; Pharmacokinetics; pharmacodynamics
16.  Triple Negative Breast Cancer Patients Treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Phase I Trials: Improved Outcomes with Combination Chemotherapy and Targeted Agents 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2014;13(12):3175-3184.
Patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) have poor treatment outcomes. We reviewed the electronic records of consecutive patients with metastatic TNBC treated in phase I clinic at MD Anderson between August 2005 and May 2012. One hundred and six patients received at least 1 phase I trial. Twelve of 98 evaluable patients (12%) had either complete response (n=1); partial response (n=7); or, stable disease ≥6 months (n=4). Patients treated on matched therapy (n=16) compared to those on non-matched therapy (n=90) had improved SD≥6 months/PR/CR (33% vs 8%; p=0.018) and longer PFS (median, 6.4 vs 1.9 months; p=0.001). Eleven of 57 evaluable patients (19%) treated with combination chemotherapy and targeted therapy had SD≥ 6 months/PR/CR versus 1 of 41 evaluable patients (2%) treated on other phase I trials (p=0.013); and longer PFS (3.0 vs 1.6 months; p<0.0001). Patients with molecular alterations in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway treated on matched therapy (n=16) had improved PFS compared to those with and without molecular alterations treated on non-matched therapy (n=27) (6.4 vs 3.2 months; p= 0.036). On multivariate analysis, improved PFS was associated with treatment with combined chemotherapy and targeted agents (p=0.0002); ≤2 metastatic sites (p=0.003); therapy with PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors for those with cognate pathway abnormalities (p=0.018); and, treatment with anti-angiogenic agents (p=0.023). In summary, combinations of chemotherapy and angiogenesis and/or PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors demonstrated improved outcomes in metastatic TNBC patients.
PMCID: PMC4258414  PMID: 25253784
next-generation sequencing; matched therapy; phase I trials; PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway; triple negative breast cancer
17.  Molecular inimitability amongst tumors: implications for precision cancer medicine in the age of personalized oncology 
Oncotarget  2015;6(32):32602-32609.
Tumor sequencing has revolutionized oncology, allowing for detailed interrogation of the molecular underpinnings of cancer at an individual level. With this additional insight, it is increasingly apparent that not only do tumors vary within a sample (tumor heterogeneity), but also that each patient's individual tumor is a constellation of unique molecular aberrations that will require an equally unique personalized therapeutic regimen. We report here the results of 439 patients who underwent Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA)-certified next generation sequencing (NGS) across histologies. Among these patients, 98.4% had a unique molecular profile, and aside from three primary brain tumor patients with a single genetic lesion (IDH1 R132H), no two patients within a given histology were molecularly identical. Additionally, two sets of patients had identical profiles consisting of two mutations in common and no other anomalies. However, these profiles did not segregate by histology (lung adenocarcinoma-appendiceal cancer (KRAS G12D and GNAS R201C), and lung adenocarcinoma-liposarcoma (CDK4 and MDM2 amplification pairs)). These findings suggest that most advanced tumors are molecular singletons within and between histologies, and that tumors that differ in histology may still nonetheless exhibit identical molecular portraits, albeit rarely.
PMCID: PMC4741715  PMID: 26418953
personalized medicine; genomics; cancer; next-generation sequencing; clinical trials
18.  A phase 2, open-label, multicenter study of the long-term safety of siltuximab (an anti-interleukin-6 monoclonal antibody) in patients with multicentric Castleman disease 
Oncotarget  2015;6(30):30408-30419.
Multicentric Castleman disease (MCD) is a rare, systemic lymphoproliferative disorder driven by interleukin (IL)-6 overproduction. Siltuximab, an anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody, has demonstrated durable tumor and symptomatic responses in a multinational, randomized, placebo-controlled study of MCD.
This preplanned safety analysis was conducted to evaluate the long-term safety of siltuximab treatment among 19 patients with MCD who had stable disease or better and were enrolled in a phase-1 study and subsequent ongoing, open-label, phase-2 extension study. Dosing was 11 mg/kg administered intravenously every 3 weeks, per protocol, or every 6 weeks at the investigator's discretion. Safety monitoring focused on potential risks associated with the anti-IL-6 mechanism of action. Investigator-assessed disease control status was also documented.
Median treatment duration for the 19 patients was 5.1 (range 3.4, 7.2) years, with 14 (74%) patients treated for >4 years. Grade-≥3 adverse events (AEs) reported in >1 patient included hypertension (n = 3) and nausea, cellulitis, and fatigue (n = 2 each). Grade-≥3 AEs at least possibly attributed to siltuximab were leukopenia, lymphopenia, and a serious AE of polycythemia (n = 1 each). Hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia (total cholesterol) were reported in 8 and 9 patients, respectively. No disease relapses were observed, and 8 of 19 patients were able to switch to an every-6-week dosing schedule.
All MCD patients in this extension study have received siltuximab for a prolonged duration (up to 7 years) without evidence of cumulative toxicity or treatment discontinuations and with few serious infections. All patients are alive, demonstrate sustained disease control, and continue to receive siltuximab.
PMCID: PMC4745809  PMID: 26327301
multi-centric Castleman's disease; interleukin-6; siltuximab; clinical trial
19.  BRAF mutation testing with a rapid, fully integrated molecular diagnostics system 
Oncotarget  2015;6(29):26886-26894.
Fast and accurate diagnostic systems are needed for further implementation of precision therapy of BRAF-mutant and other cancers. The novel IdyllaTM BRAF Mutation Test has high sensitivity and shorter turnaround times compared to other methods. We used Idylla to detect BRAF V600 mutations in archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor samples and compared these results with those obtained using the cobas 4800 BRAF V600 Mutation Test or MiSeq deep sequencing system and with those obtained by a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified laboratory employing polymerase chain reaction–based sequencing, mass spectrometric detection, or next-generation sequencing. In one set of 60 FFPE tumor samples (15 with BRAF mutations per Idylla), the Idylla and cobas results had an agreement of 97%. Idylla detected BRAF V600 mutations in two additional samples. The Idylla and MiSeq results had 100% concordance. In a separate set of 100 FFPE tumor samples (64 with BRAF mutation per Idylla), the Idylla and CLIA-certified laboratory results demonstrated an agreement of 96% even though the tests were not performed simultaneously and different FFPE blocks had to be used for 9 cases. The IdyllaTM BRAF Mutation Test produced results quickly (sample to results time was about 90 minutes with about 2 minutes of hands on time) and the closed nature of the cartridge eliminates the risk of PCR contamination. In conclusion, our observations demonstrate that the Idylla test is rapid and has high concordance with other routinely used but more complex BRAF mutation–detecting tests.
PMCID: PMC4694960  PMID: 26330075
BRAF; rapid; integrated; qPCR
20.  Exploring response signals and targets in aggressive unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma: an analysis of targeted therapy phase 1 trials 
Oncotarget  2015;6(29):28453-28462.
Patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have limited effective therapeutic options. Given the rapid advanced in drug development and emergence of novel agents, we analyzed the characteristics and outcomes of HCC patients treated on early phase trials with an emphasis on targeted therapies.
We reviewed the records of consecutive HCC patients evaluated in the Phase I Clinical Trials Program at MD Anderson from March 2004.
Thirty-nine patients were not treated due to poor performance status (n = 22, 56%) and decision to pursue alternate therapies (n = 10, 27%). Of 61 treated patients (median age, 60 years; median prior therapies, 3), eight patients (13%) attained stable disease lasting ≥6 months; four (7%) had a partial response, mainly with anti-angiogenic or multikinase inhibitors. Median Phase I progression-free survival (PFS) was 2.6 months versus 4.4 months (p 0.019) and 4.1 months (p 0.27) for their first-, and second-line FDA-approved therapy. Molecular analysis showed frequent PTEN loss (10/19 patients, 53%) and P53 mutation (4/4 patients tested). On multivariate analysis, independent factors predicting shorter survival were white ethnicity/race (p 0.031), cirrhosis (p 0.016), and serum sodium (p 0.0013).
In our heavily-pretreated HCC patients, the phase I PFS was comparable to that of 2nd-line therapy, highlighting a potential role for clinical trials after progression on first-line therapy. The response rate (SD>6 months/PR) of 20% was observed with early signals of activity in regimens combining inhibitors of angiogenesis, multiple kinases and mTOR with preliminary molecular analysis revealing prevalence of PTEN loss.
PMCID: PMC4695071  PMID: 26164085
targeted agents; novel therapeutics; management; systemic therapy; clinical trials
21.  Genomic landscape of salivary gland tumors 
Oncotarget  2015;6(28):25631-25645.
Effective treatment options for advanced salivary gland tumors are lacking. To better understand these tumors, we report their genomic landscape. We studied the molecular aberrations in 117 patients with salivary gland tumors that were, on physician request, tested in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) laboratory (Foundation Medicine, Cambridge, MA) using next-generation sequencing (182 or 236 genes), and analyzed by N-of-One, Inc. (Lexington, MA). There were 354 total aberrations, with 240 distinct aberrations identified in this patient population. Only 10 individuals (8.5%) had a molecular portfolio that was identical to any other patient (with four different portfolios amongst the ten patients).
The most common abnormalities involved the TP53 gene (36/117 [30.8% of patients]), cyclin pathway (CCND1, CDK4/6 or CDKN2A/B) (31/117 [26.5%]) and PI3K pathway (PIK3CA, PIK3R1, PTEN or AKT1/3) (28/117 [23.9%]). In multivariate analysis, statistically significant co-existing aberrations were observed as follows: TP53 and ERBB2 (p = 0.01), cyclin pathway and MDM2 (p = 0.03), and PI3K pathway and HRAS (p = 0.0001). We were able to identify possible cognate targeted therapies in most of the patients (107/117 [91.5%]), including FDA-approved drugs in 80/117 [68.4%]. In conclusion, salivary gland tumors were characterized by multiple distinct aberrations that mostly differed from patient to patient. Significant associations between aberrations in TP53 and ERBB2, the cyclin pathway and MDM2, and HRAS and the PI3K pathway were identified. Most patients had actionable alterations. These results provide a framework for tailored combinations of matched therapies.
PMCID: PMC4694855  PMID: 26247885
salivary gland tumor; next-generation sequencing; genomic landscape; personalized therapy; targeted therapy
22.  Personalized Medicine for Patients with Advanced Cancer in the Phase I Program at MD Anderson: Validation and Landmark Analyses 
The purpose of this study was to confirm our previous results that targeted agents matched with tumor molecular alterations were associated with improved outcomes compared to non-matched therapy in patients with advanced cancer.
Outcomes of patients who were referred for treatment on phase I clinical trials at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from 3/2011 to 1/2012 were compared between those who had received targeted therapy and those for whom no targeted therapy was available. Two-month landmark analyses for overall and progression-free survival (PFS) combining previously published and validation cohort patient data were performed.
In patients with 1 alteration, matched therapy (n=143) compared with treatment without matching (n=236) was associated with a higher objective response rate (12% vs. 5%; P<0.0001), longer PFS (median, 3.9 vs. 2.2 months; P=0.001), and longer survival (median, 11.4 vs. 8.6 months; P=0.04). In multivariate analysis, matched therapy was an independent factor predicting response (P<0.015) and PFS (P<0.004). Two-month landmark analyses in the matched therapy group demonstrated that the median survival of responders was 30.5 months compared to 11.3 months for non-responders (P=0.01); and the median PFS was 38.7 months compared to 5.9 months, respectively (P<0.0001). The respective values in the non-matched therapy group were 9.8 and 9.4 months (P=0.46) and 8.5 and 4.2 months (P=0.18).
This validation analysis confirms our previous observations. In the matched therapy group, 2-month landmark analyses demonstrated that responders have longer survival and PFS than non-responders.
PMCID: PMC4518867  PMID: 24987059
Personalized medicine; Phase I; Clinical trials; Targeted therapy; Molecular alterations
24.  A first-in-human study of AMG 208, an oral MET inhibitor, in adult patients with advanced solid tumors 
Oncotarget  2015;6(21):18693-18706.
This first-in-human study evaluated AMG 208, a small-molecule MET inhibitor, in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Three to nine patients were enrolled into one of seven AMG 208 dose cohorts (25, 50, 100, 150, 200, 300, and 400 mg). Patients received AMG 208 orally on days 1 and days 4–28 once daily. The primary objectives were to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of AMG 208.
Fifty-four patients were enrolled. Six dose-limiting toxicities were observed: grade 3 increased aspartate aminotransferase (200 mg), grade 3 thrombocytopenia (200 mg), grade 4 acute myocardial infarction (300 mg), grade 3 prolonged QT (300 mg), and two cases of grade 3 hypertension (400 mg). The MTD was not reached. The most frequent grade ≥3 treatment-related adverse event was anemia (n = 3) followed by hypertension, prolonged QT, and thrombocytopenia (two patients each). AMG 208 exposure increased linearly with dose; mean plasma half-life estimates were 21.4–68.7 hours. One complete response (prostate cancer) and three partial responses (two in prostate cancer, one in kidney cancer) were observed.
In this study, AMG 208 had manageable toxicities and showed evidence of antitumor activity, particularly in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4621921  PMID: 26155941
MET; first-in-human; solid tumors; prostate cancer; small molecule
25.  Fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling in hereditary and neoplastic disease: biologic and clinical implications 
Cancer Metastasis Reviews  2015;34:479-496.
Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and their receptors (FGFRs) are transmembrane growth factor receptors with wide tissue distribution. FGF/FGFR signaling is involved in neoplastic behavior and also development, differentiation, growth, and survival. FGFR germline mutations (activating) can cause skeletal disorders, primarily dwarfism (generally mutations in FGFR3), and craniofacial malformation syndromes (usually mutations in FGFR1 and FGFR2); intriguingly, some of these activating FGFR mutations are also seen in human cancers. FGF/FGFR aberrations reported in cancers are mainly thought to be gain-of-function changes, and several cancers have high frequencies of FGFR alterations, including breast, bladder, or squamous cell carcinomas (lung and head and neck). FGF ligand aberrations (predominantly gene amplifications) are also frequently seen in cancers, in contrast to hereditary syndromes. There are several pharmacologic agents that have been or are being developed for inhibition of FGFR/FGF signaling. These include both highly selective inhibitors as well as multi-kinase inhibitors. Of note, only four agents (ponatinib, pazopanib, regorafenib, and recently lenvatinib) are FDA-approved for use in cancer, although the approval was not based on their activity against FGFR. Perturbations in the FGFR/FGF signaling are present in both inherited and malignant diseases. The development of potent inhibitors targeting FGF/FGFR may provide new tools against disorders caused by FGF/FGFR alterations.
PMCID: PMC4573649  PMID: 26224133
FGF; FGFR; Cancer; Cancer therapy; Genetics

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