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1.  Central Nervous System Metastasis From Breast Cancer 
The Oncologist  2014;20(1):3-4.
The development of new treatment options for central nervous system metastases from breast cancer and from other solid tumors lags far behind progress in other areas of oncology. Despite this lag, a series of paradigm shifts have made it possible to renew our efforts to make progress.
PMCID: PMC4294618  PMID: 25542449
2.  Tumor Growth Rates Derived from Data for Patients in a Clinical Trial Correlate Strongly with Patient Survival: A Novel Strategy for Evaluation of Clinical Trial Data 
The Oncologist  2008;13(10):1046-1054.
The slow progress in developing new cancer therapies can be attributed in part to the long time spent in clinical development. To hasten development, new paradigms especially applicable to patients with metastatic disease are needed.
Patients and Methods
We present a new method to predict survival using tumor measurement data gathered while a patient with cancer is receiving therapy in a clinical trial. We developed a two-phase equation to estimate the concomitant rates of tumor regression (regression rate constant d) and tumor growth (growth rate constant g).
We evaluated the model against serial levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in 112 patients undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Survival was strongly correlated with the log of the growth rate constant, log(g) (Pearson r=−0.72) but not with the log of the regression rate constants, log(d)(r=−0.218). Values of log(g) exhibited a bimodal distribution. Patients with log(g) values above the median had a mortality hazard of 5.14 (95% confidence interval, 3.10–8.52) when compared with those with log(g) values below the median. Mathematically, the minimum PSA value (nadir) and the time to this minimum are determined by the kinetic parameters d and g, and can be viewed as surrogates.
This mathematical model has applications to many tumor types and may aid in evaluating patient outcomes. Modeling tumor progression using data gathered while patients are on study, may help evaluate the ability of therapies to prolong survival and assist in drug development.
PMCID: PMC3313464  PMID: 18838440
3.  Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Influence Chemotherapy Transport by Modulating Expression and Trafficking of a Common Polymorphic Variant of the ABCG2 Efflux Transporter 
Cancer research  2012;72(14):3642-3651.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDI) have exhibited some efficacy in clinical trials, but it is clear that their most effective applications have yet to be fully determined. In this study, we show that HDIs influence the expression of a common polymorphic variant of the chemotherapy drug efflux transporter ABCG2, which contributes to normal tissue protection. As one of the most frequent variants in human ABCG2, the polymorphism Q141K impairs expression, localization, and function, thereby reducing drug clearance and increasing chemotherapy toxicity. Mechanistic investigations revealed that the ABCG2 Q141K variant was fully processed but retained in the aggresome, a perinuclear structure, where misfolded proteins aggregate. In screening for compounds that could correct its expression, localization, and function, we found that the microtubule-disrupting agent colchicine could induce relocalization of the variant from the aggresome to the cell surface. More strikingly, we found that HDIs could produce a similar effect but also restore protein expression to wild-type levels, yielding a restoration of ABCG2-mediated specific drug efflux activity. Notably, HDIs did not modify aggresome structures but instead rescued newly synthesized protein and prevented aggresome targeting, suggesting that HDIs disturbed trafficking along microtubules by eliciting changes in motor protein expression. Together, these results showed how HDIs are able to restore wild-type functions of the common Q141K polymorphic isoform of ABCG2. More broadly, our findings expand the potential uses of HDIs in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC4163836  PMID: 22472121
4.  Phase I Trial of a New Schedule of Romidepsin in Patients with Advanced Cancers 
Romidepsin is a potent histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDI) with activity in T-cell lymphoma. Given preclinical data demonstrating greater induction of gene expression with longer exposures to HDIs, a phase I study of a days 1, 3, and 5 romidepsin schedule was evaluated. A secondary objective was to assess the effect of romidepsin on radioactive iodine (RAI) uptake in thyroid cancers.
Experimental Design
Open label, single arm, phase I, 3 + 3 dose escalation study. Romidepsin was administered as a four-hour infusion on days 1, 3 and 5 of a 21-day cycle. Pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) were assessed, including histone acetylation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs); RAI uptake in refractory thyroid cancer; and HDI-related ECG changes.
28 patients with solid tumors, including eleven patients with thyroid cancer were enrolled. Six dose levels were explored and 7 mg/m2 on days 1, 3, and 5 was identified as tolerable. No RECIST-defined objective responses were recorded although nine patients had stable disease a median 30 weeks (range 21 – 112) including six with thyroid cancer a median of 33 weeks. PD studies detected acetylated histones in PBMCs and ECG changes beginning at low dose levels. Follow-up RAI scans in patients with RAI refractory thyroid cancer did not detect meaningful increases.
A romidepsin dose of 7 mg/m2 administered on days 1, 3, and 5 was found tolerable and resulted in histone acetylation in PBMCs. Although there were no objective responses with romidepsin alone, this schedule may be useful for developing combination studies in solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3967244  PMID: 23757352
phase I clinical trial; romidepsin; histone deacetylase inhibitor; cancer
5.  Clinical Trial Results: Sharing Results, Speeding Discoveries 
The Oncologist  2013;18(7):779.
PMCID: PMC3720628  PMID: 23882019
6.  A Pharmacodynamic Study of the P-glycoprotein Antagonist CBT-1® in Combination With Paclitaxel in Solid Tumors 
The Oncologist  2012;17(4):512.
This pharmacodynamic trial evaluated the effect of CBT-1® on efflux by the ATP binding cassette (ABC) multidrug transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp/MDR1/ABCB1) in normal human cells and tissues. CBT-1® is an orally administered bisbenzylisoquinoline Pgp inhibitor being evaluated clinically. Laboratory studies showed potent and durable inhibition of Pgp, and in phase I studies CBT-1® did not alter the pharmacokinetics of paclitaxel or doxorubicin.
CBT-1® was dosed at 500 mg/m2 for 7 days; a 3-hour infusion of paclitaxel at 135 mg/m2 was administered on day 6. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were obtained prior to CBT-1® administration and on day 6 prior to the paclitaxel infusion. 99mTc-sestamibi imaging was performed on the same schedule. The area under the concentration–time curve from 0–3 hours (AUC0–3) was determined for 99mTc-sestamibi.
Twelve patients were planned and enrolled. Toxicities were minimal and related to paclitaxel (grade 3 or 4 neutropenia in 18% of cycles). Rhodamine efflux from CD56+ PBMCs was a statistically significant 51%–100% lower (p < .0001) with CBT-1®. Among 10 patients who completed imaging, the 99mTc-sestamibi AUC0–3 for liver (normalized to the AUC0–3 of the heart) increased from 34.7% to 100.8% (median, 71.9%; p < .0001) after CBT-1® administration. Lung uptake was not changed.
CBT-1® is able to inhibit Pgp-mediated efflux from PBMCs and normal liver to a degree observed with Pgp inhibitors studied in earlier clinical trials. Combined with its ease of administration and lack of toxicity, the data showing inhibition of normal tissue Pgp support further studies with CBT-1® to evaluate its ability to modulate drug uptake in tumor tissue.
Although overexpression of ABCB1 and other ABC transporters has been linked with poor outcome following chemotherapy efforts to negate that through pharmacologic inhibition have generally failed. This is thought to be a result of several factors, including (a) failure to select patients with tumors in which ABCB1 is a dominant resistance mechanism; (b) inhibitors that were not potent, or that impaired drug clearance; and (c) the existence of other mechanisms of drug resistance, including other ABC transporters. Although an animal model for Pgp has been lacking, recent studies have exploited a Brca1−/−; p53−/− mouse model of hereditary breast cancer that develops sporadic tumors similar to cancers in women harboring BRCA1 mutations. Treatment with doxorubicin, docetaxel, or the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor olaparib brings about shrinkage, but resistance eventually emerges. Overexpression of the Abcb1a gene, the mouse ortholog of human ABCB1, has been shown to be a mechanism of resistance in a subset of these tumors. Treating mice with resistant tumors with olaparib plus the Pgp inhibitor tariquidar resensitized the tumors to olaparib. Although results in this animal model support a new look at Pgp as a target, in this era of “targeted therapies,” trial designs that directly assess modulation of drug uptake, including quantitative nuclear imaging, should be pursued before clinical efficacy assessments are undertaken. Such assessment should be performed with compounds that inhibit tissue Pgp without altering the pharmacokinetics of chemotherapeutic agents. This pharmacodynamic study demonstrated that CBT-1®, inhibits Pgp-mediated efflux from PBMCs and normal liver.
PMCID: PMC3336838  PMID: 22416063
7.  Clinical Trial Results: A Clinical Trial Bazaar! 
The Oncologist  2014;19(4):313-314.
The Oncologist’s Clinical Trial Results section welcomes both positive and negative results in an effort to share information, speed discovery, and inform the field. Clinical Trial Results submissions have shown how succinctly the salient features of a submission can be presented, with more in-depth information to be found online.
PMCID: PMC3983835  PMID: 24668329
8.  Arginine 383 is a crucial residue in ABCG2 biogenesis 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2009;1788(7):1434-1443.
ABCG2 is an ATP-binding cassette half-transporter initially identified in multidrug-resistant cancer cell lines and recently suggested to play an important role in pharmacokinetics. Here we report studies of a conserved arginine predicted to localize near the cytoplasmic side of TM1. First, we determined the effect of losing charge and bulk at this position via substitutions with glycine and alanine. The R383G mutant when transfected into HEK cells was not detectable on immunoblot or by functional assay, while the R383A mutant exhibited detectable but significantly decreased levels compared to wild-type, partial retention in the ER and altered glycosylation. Efflux of the ABCG2-substrates mitoxantrone and pheophorbide a was observed. Our experiments suggested rapid degradation of the R383A mutant by the proteasome via a kifunensine-insensitive pathway. Interestingly, overnight treatment of the R383A mutant with mitoxantrone assisted in protein maturation as evidenced by a shift to the N-glycosylated form. The R383A mutant when expressed in insect cells, though detected on the surface, had no measurable ATPase activity. In addition, substitution with the positively charged lysine resulted in significantly decreased protein expression levels in HEK cells, while retaining function. In conclusion, arginine 383 is a crucial residue for ABCG2 biogenesis, where even the most conservative mutations have a large impact.
PMCID: PMC4163909  PMID: 19406100
ABCG2; ABC transporter; membrane protein; mutagenesis; biogenesis
9.  Loss of the proteins Bak and Bax prevents apoptosis mediated by histone deacetylase inhibitors 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(17):2829-2838.
Burkitt lymphoma is characterized by deregulation of c-myc, and therapies targeting c-myc are under investigation as treatments. Histone deacetylase inhibitors are known to abrogate c-myc expression, leading us to examine their effect in a series of Burkitt lymphoma cell lines. While treatment with romidepsin, panobinostat, vorinostat, or belinostat for 48 h resulted in complete cell death in the Ramos and ST486 lines, CA46 and DG75 cells were resistant. In parallel studies, CA46 and DG75 cells were also insensitive to 48 h treatment with the Aurora kinase inhibitors (AKIs) MLN8237 (alisertib), VX-680 (tozasertib), or ZM447439. Bax knockdown is known to lead to HDI resistance, and we found that loss of Bax or both Bak and Bax correlated with resistance to both AKIs and HDIs in the Burkitt cell lines. As proof-of-concept to evaluate the contribution of Bax and Bak to HDI-mediated apoptosis, we found that apoptosis was unaffected in HCT-116 colon carcinoma cells lacking Bak, blunted in cells lacking Bax, and nearly completely abrogated in cells lacking both Bak and Bax compared with wild-type cells. To explore potential clinical variations in Bak and Bax expression, a series of samples from 16 patients diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma was examined. While the majority of samples were positive for both Bak and Bax, some (3/16) expressed low levels of both proteins. We thus conclude that HDI-mediated and AKI-mediated apoptosis requires mitochondrial engagement, and that baseline Bax and Bak expression may serve as biomarkers for patients with Burkitt lymphoma likely to respond to HDI treatment.
PMCID: PMC3899196  PMID: 23966164
Bak; Bax; histone deacetylase inhibitor; vorinostat; romidepsin
10.  Targeting the Epigenome in Lung Cancer: Expanding Approaches to Epigenetic Therapy 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:261.
Epigenetic aberrations offer dynamic and reversible targets for cancer therapy; increasingly, alteration via overexpression, mutation, or rearrangement is found in genes that control the epigenome. Such alterations suggest a fundamental role in carcinogenesis. Here, we consider three epigenetic mechanisms: DNA methylation, histone tail modification and non-coding, microRNA regulation. Evidence for each of these in lung cancer origin or progression has been gathered, along with evidence that epigenetic alterations might be useful in early detection. DNA hypermethylation of tumor suppressor promoters has been observed, along with global hypomethylation and hypoacetylation, suggesting an important role for tumor suppressor gene silencing. These features have been linked as prognostic markers with poor outcome in lung cancer. Several lines of evidence have also suggested a role for miRNA in carcinogenesis and in outcome. Cigarette smoke downregulates miR-487b, which targets both RAS and MYC; RAS is also a target of miR-let-7, again downregulated in lung cancer. Together the evidence implicates epigenetic aberration in lung cancer and suggests that targeting these aberrations should be carefully explored. To date, DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors have had minimal clinical activity. Explanations include the possibility that the agents are not sufficiently potent to invoke epigenetic reversion to a more normal state; that insufficient time elapses in most clinical trials to observe true epigenetic reversion; and that doses often used may provoke off-target effects such as DNA damage that prevent epigenetic reversion. Combinations of epigenetic therapies may address those problems. When epigenetic agents are used in combination with chemotherapy or targeted therapy it is hoped that downstream biological effects will provoke synergistic cytotoxicity. This review evaluates the challenges of exploiting the epigenome in the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3793201  PMID: 24130964
epigenetics; non-small cell lung cancer; small-cell lung cancer; DNA methylation; histone modification; microRNA
11.  Icotinib antagonizes ABCG2-mediated multidrug resistance, but not the pemetrexed resistance mediated by thymidylate synthase and ABCG2 
Oncotarget  2014;5(12):4529-4542.
ABCG2 is a potential biomarker causing multidrug resistance (MDR) in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). We conducted this study to investigate whether Icotinib, a small-molecule inhibitor of EGFR tyrosine kinase, could interact with ABCG2 transporter in NSCLC. Our results showed that Icotinib reversed ABCG2-mediated MDR by antagonizing the drug efflux function of ABCG2. Icotinib stimulated the ATPase activity in a concentration-dependent manner and inhibited the photolabeling of ABCG2 with [125I]-Iodoarylazidoprazosin, demonstrating that it interacts at the drug-binding pocket. Homology modeling predicted the binding conformation of Icotinib at Asn629 centroid-based grid of ABCG2. However, Icotinib at reversal concentration did not affect the expression levels of AKT and ABCG2. Furthermore, a combination of Icotinib and topotecan exhibited significant synergistic anticancer activity against NCI-H460/MX20 tumor xenografts. However, the inhibition of transport activity of ABCG2 was insufficient to overcome pemetrexed resistance in NCI-H460/MX20 cells, which was due to the co-upregulated thymidylate synthase (TS) and ABCG2 expression. This is the first report to show that the up-regulation of TS in ABCG2-overexpressing cell line NCI-H460/MX20 may play a role of resistance to pemetrexate. Our findings suggested different possible strategies of overcoming the resistance of topotecan and pemetrexed in the NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC4147343  PMID: 24980828
Icotinib; ABCG2; Reversal of drug resistance; thymidylate synthase; Lung cancer
Discovery medicine  2012;13(68):19-34.
Drug transporters mediate the movement of endobiotics and xenobiotics across biological membranes in multiple organs and in most tissues. As such, they are involved in physiology, development of disease, drug pharmacokinetics, and ultimately the clinical response to myriad medications. Genetic variants in transporters cause population-specific differences in drug transport and are responsible for considerable inter-individual variation in physiology and pharmacotherapy. The purpose of this review is to provide a broad overview of how inherited variants in transporters are associated with disease etiology, disease state, and the pharmacological treatment of diseases. Given that there are thousands of published papers related to the interplay between transporter genetics and medicine, this review will provide examples that exemplify the broader focus of the literature.
PMCID: PMC4006110  PMID: 22284781
ABC; SLC; transporter; clinical pharmacology
13.  The Challenge of Exploiting ABCG2 in the Clinic 
ABCG2, or breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), is an ATP-binding cassette half transporter that has been shown to transport a wide range of substrates including chemotherapeutics, antivirals, antibiotics and flavonoids. Given its wide range of substrates, much work has been dedicated to developing ABCG2 as a clinical target. But where can we intervene clinically and how can we avoid the mistakes made in past clinical trials targeting P-glycoprotein? This review will summarize the normal tissue distribution, cancer tissue expression, substrates and inhibitors of ABCG2, and highlight the challenges presented in exploiting ABCG2 in the clinic. We discuss the possibility of inhibiting ABCG2, so as to increase oral bioavailability or increase drug penetration into sanctuary sites, especially the central nervous system; and at the other end of the spectrum, the possibility of improving ABCG2 function, in the case of gout caused by a single nucleotide polymphism. Together, these aspects of ABCG2/BCRP make the protein a target of continuing interest for oncologists, biologists, and pharmacologists.
PMCID: PMC3091815  PMID: 21118093
ABCG2/BCRP; Blood Brain Barrier; CNS Penetration; Drug Resistance; Gout; Oral Bioavailability; Q141K; Single nucleotide polymorphism
14.  A Pharmacodynamic Study of Docetaxel in Combination with the P-glycoprotein Antagonist, Tariquidar (XR9576) in Patients with Lung, Ovarian, and Cervical Cancer 
P-glycoprotein (Pgp) antagonists have been difficult to develop because of complex pharmacokinetic interactions and a failure to demonstrate meaningful results. Here we report the results of a pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic trial using a third generation, potent, non-competitive inhibitor of Pgp, tariquidar (XR9576), in combination with docetaxel.
Experimental Design
In the first treatment cycle, the pharmacokinetics of docetaxel (40 mg/m2) were evaluated after day 1 and day 8 doses, which were administered with or without tariquidar (150 mg). 99mTc-sestamibi scanning and CD56+ mononuclear cell rhodamine efflux assays were performed to assess Pgp inhibition. In subsequent cycles, 75 mg/m2 docetaxel was administered with 150 mg tariquidar every three weeks.
Forty-eight patients were enrolled onto the trial. Non-hematologic grade 3/4 toxicities in 235 cycles were minimal. Tariquidar inhibited Pgp-mediated rhodamine efflux from CD56+ cells and reduced 99mTc-sestamibi clearance from the liver. A 12 to 24% increase in sestamibi uptake in visible lesions was noted in 8 of 10 patients with lung cancer. No significant difference in docetaxel disposition was observed in pairwise comparison with and without tariquidar. Four PRs were seen (4/48); three in the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cohort, measuring 40%, 57% and 67% by RECIST and one PR in a patient with ovarian cancer.
Tariquidar is well-tolerated with less observed systemic pharmacokinetic interaction than previous Pgp antagonists. Variable effects of tariquidar on retention of sestamibi in imageable lung cancers suggest that follow-up studies assessing tumor drug uptake in this patient population would be worthwhile.
PMCID: PMC3071989  PMID: 21081657
P-glycoprotein; ABC transporter; drug resistance; sestamibi imaging; lung cancer
15.  Histone deacetylase inhibitors induce CXCR4 mRNA but antagonize CXCR4 migration 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(2):175-183.
The stromal cell-derived factor-1α SDF-1α (CXCL12)/CXCR4 axis has been linked to poor prognosis in some cancers. As histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) exert antitumor effects by targeting proteins affecting cell migration, we sought to evaluate the effects of the HDIs apicidin, vorinostat, entinostat (MS-275) and romidepsin on the expression and function of CXCR4 in human cancer cell lines. After treatment with romidepsin, CXCR4 mRNA expression increased 12-fold in UOK121 renal cancer cells, 16-fold in H460 non-small cell cancer cells and 4-fold in SF295 glioma cells; treatment with other HDIs yielded similar effects. CXCR4 induction was not observed in MCF7 breast cancer cells or SW620 colon cancer cells. To evaluate the corresponding functional increase, the effect of CXCR4 ligand, CXCL12, on ERK1/2, STAT3 and c-SRC activation and cell migration was examined in UOK121, SF295 and H460 cells. Alone, the HDIs increased pERK1/2, while reducing pSTAT-3 and pSRC. Following CXCL12 exposure, pERK1/2 induction was maintained, but STAT3 and SRC phosphorylation was impaired. These findings resulted in reduced basal and CXCL12-mediated cell migration. In conclusion, HDIs upregulated CXCR4 mRNA expression but impaired CXCL12-dependent signaling cascades through STAT3 and c-SRC, suggesting a potential role for HDIs in delaying or preventing metastatic processes in solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3571999  PMID: 23192271
CXCR4; CXCL12; histone deacetylase inhibitor; romidepsin; migration
16.  ABC Transporters: Unvalidated Therapeutic Targets in Cancer and the CNS 
The discovery of the multidrug transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp) over 35 years ago in drug resistant cells prompted several decades of work attempting to overcome drug resistance by inhibition of drug efflux. Despite convincing laboratory data showing that drug transport can be inhibited in vitro, efforts to translate this discovery to the clinic have not succeeded. Since overexpression of Pgp and related transporters including ABCG2 and members of the ABCC family have been linked with poor outcome, it remains a reasonable hypothesis that this poor outcome is linked to reduction of drug exposure by efflux, and thus to drug resistance. In this review, we will discuss the question of whether ABC transporters mediate drug resistance in cancer through a reduction in drug accumulation in tumors, and whether the “Pgp inhibition hypothesis” might be wrong. The hypothesis, which holds that increased chemotherapy effectiveness can be achieved by inhibiting Pgp-mediated drug efflux has only been validated in model systems. Possible explanations for the failure to validate this clinically include the existence of other modulators of drug accumulation and uptake in tumors. Despite these difficulties, a potential role has emerged for drug transporters as therapeutic targets in the central nervous system (CNS). Both lines of investigation point to the need for imaging agents to facilitate the study of drug accumulation in human cancer. This is a critical need for targeted therapies where an important dose-response relationship is likely to exist, and where drug resistance renders many of the novel targeted agents ineffective in a subset of patients.
PMCID: PMC3119022  PMID: 21189132
ABC transporters; drug resistance; P-glycoprotein
17.  ABCG2: A Perspective 
ABCG2, or Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (BCRP), is an ABC transporter that has been the subject of intense study since its discovery a decade ago. With high normal tissue expression in the brain endothelium, gastrointestinal tract, and placenta, ABCG2 is believed to be important in protection from xenobiotics, regulating oral bioavailability, forming part of the blood-brain barrier, the blood-testis barrier, and the maternal-fetal barrier. Notably, ABCG2 is often expressed in stem cell populations, where it likely plays a role in xenobiotic protection. However, clues to its epigenetic regulation in various cell populations are only beginning to emerge. While ABCG2 overexpression has been demonstrated in cancer cells after in vitro drug treatment, endogenous ABCG2 expression in certain cancers is likely a reflection of the differentiated phenotype of the cell of origin and likely contributes to intrinsic drug resistance. Notably, research into the transporter’s role in cancer drug resistance and its development as a therapeutic target in cancer has lagged. Substrates and inhibitors of the transporter have been described, among them chemotherapy drugs, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, antivirals, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, carcinogens, and flavonoids. This broad range of substrates complements the efficiency of ABCG2 as a transporter in laboratory studies and suggests that, while there are redundant mechanisms of xenobiotic protection, the protein is important in normal physiology. Indeed, emerging studies in pharmacology and toxicology assessing polymorphic variants in man, in combination with murine knockout models have confirmed its dynamic role. Work in pharmacology may eventually lead us to a greater understanding of the physiologic role of ABCG2.
PMCID: PMC3105088  PMID: 19135109
ABCG2; BCRP; drug-resistance; ABC transporter; chemotherapy; pharmacology
18.  Laboratory Correlates for a Phase II Trial of Romidepsin in Cutaneous and Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma 
British journal of haematology  2009;148(2):256-267.
Since romidepsin has shown promise in the treatment of T-cell lymphomas, we evaluated molecular endpoints gathered from 61 patients enrolled on a phase II trial of romidepsin in cutaneous and peripheral T-cell lymphoma at the National Institutes of Health. The endpoints included histone H3 acetylation and ABCB1 gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs); ABCB1 gene expression in tumor biopsy samples; and blood fetal hemoglobin levels (HbF), all of which were increased following romidepsin treatment. The fold increase in histone acetylation in PBMCs at 24 h was weakly to moderately well correlated with the pharmacokinetic parameters Cmax and AUClast (ρ =0.37, p=0.03 and ρ =0.36, p=0.03 respectively) and inversely associated with clearance (ρ =−0.44; p=0.03). Histone acetylation in PBMCs at 24 h was associated with response (p = 0.026) as was the increase in fetal hemoglobin (p = 0.014); this latter association may be due to the longer on-study duration for patients with disease response. Together, these results suggest that pharmacokinetics may be an important determinant of response to HDIs – the association with histone acetylation in PBMCs at 24 h is consistent with a hypothesis that potent HDIs are needed for a critical threshold of drug exposure and durable activity.
PMCID: PMC2838427  PMID: 19874311
histone deacetylase inhibitor; romidepsin; p-glycoprotein; fetal hemoglobin; T-cell lymphoma
19.  Flavonoids from Eight Tropical Plant Species That Inhibit the Multidrug Resistance Transporter ABCG2 
Journal of natural products  2011;74(2):262-266.
Overexpression of ABCG2, a membrane-bound multidrug transporter, can make tumor cells resistant to treatment with conventional chemotherapeutic agents. A high-throughput screening effort with the NCI repository of natural product extracts revealed that eight tropical plant extracts significantly inhibited the function of ABCG2. This activity was tracked throughout the extract fractionation process to a series of ABCG2 inhibitory flavonoids (1–13). Their structures were identified by a combination of NMR, mass spectrometry, and circular dichroism studies, and this resulted in the elucidation of (2S)-5,7,3′-trihydroxy-4′-methoxy-8-(3″-methylbut-2″-enyl)-flavonone (1), (2S)-5,7,3′,5′-tetrahydroxy-8-[3″,8″ -dimethylocta-2″(E),7″-dienyl]flavonone (3), and 5,7,3′-trihydroxy-3,5′-dimethoxy-2′-(3′-methylbut-2-enyl)flavone (12) as new compounds.
PMCID: PMC3805045  PMID: 21275386
20.  Escape from hsa-miR-519c enables drug resistant cells to maintain high expression of ABCG2 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(10):2959-2968.
Overexpression of ABCG2 has been reported in cell lines selected for drug resistance and it is widely believed to be important in the clinical pharmacology of anticancer drugs. We and others have previously identified and validated two microRNAs (hsa-miR-519c and hsa-miR-520h) targeting ABCG2. In this study, the shortening of the ABCG2 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) was found to be a common phenomenon in a number of ABCG2-overexpressing resistant cell lines, which as a result removes the hsa-miR-519c binding site and its repressive effects on mRNA stability and translation blockade, thereby contributing to drug resistance. On the other hand, reduced expression of hsa-miR-520h, previously thought to have allowed ABCG2 overexpression, was found to be caused by the sequestering of the microRNA by the highly expressed ABCG2. In drug sensitive cells, inhibitors against hsa-miR-519c and hsa-miR-520h could augment the cytotoxic effect of mitoxantrone, suggesting a substantial role for both microRNAs in controlling ABCG2 level and thereby anticancer drug response. However, in drug resistant cells, altering the levels of the two microRNAs did not have any effect on sensitivity to mitoxantrone. Taken together, these studies suggest that in ABCG2 overexpressing drug resistant cells, hsa-miR-519c, is unable to impact ABCG2 expression because the mRNA lacks its binding site; whereas hsa-miR-520h is sequestered and unable to limit ABCG2 expression. Given the recent observation that a truncated 3′UTR is also observed in ABCG2-overexpressing human embryonic stem cells, our results in drug resistant cell lines suggest that 3′UTR truncation is a relatively common mechanism of ABCG2 regulation.
PMCID: PMC3680354  PMID: 19825807
ABCG2; microRNA; multidrug resistance; gene translocation; mRNA stability
21.  Targeting MDR in Breast and Lung Cancer: Discriminating its Potential Importance from the Failure of Drug Resistance Reversal Studies 
This special issue of Drug Resistance Updates is dedicated to multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR-1), 35 years after its discovery. While enormous progress has been made and our understanding of drug resistance has become more sophisticated and nuanced, after 35 years the role of MDR-1 in clinical oncology remains a work in progress. Despite clear in vitro evidence that P-glycoprotein (Pgp), encoded by MDR-1, is able to dramatically reduce drug concentrations in cultured cells, and that drug accumulation can be increased by small molecule inhibitors, clinical trials testing this paradigm have mostly failed. Some have argued that it is no longer worthy of study. However, repeated analyses have demonstrated MDR-1 expression in a tumor is a poor prognostic indicator leading some to conclude MDR-1 is a marker of a more aggressive phenotype, rather than a mechanism of drug resistance. In this review we will re-evaluate the MDR-1 story in light of our new understanding of molecular targeted therapy, using breast and lung cancer as examples. In the end we will reconcile the data available and the knowledge gained in support of a thesis that we understand far more than we realize, and that we can use this knowledge to improve future therapies.
PMCID: PMC3680361  PMID: 22464282
MDR-1/Pgp; 99mTc-sestamibi; 18F fluoropaclitaxel; breast cancer; lung cancer; drug penetration
22.  Other Paradigms: Growth Rate Constants and Tumor Burden Determined Using Computed Tomography Data Correlate Strongly With the Overall Survival of Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma 
Cancer journal (Sudbury, Mass.)  2009;15(5):441-447.
In solid tumors, where curative therapies still elude oncologists, novel paradigms are needed to assess the efficacy of new therapies and those already approved. We used radiologic measurements obtained in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma enrolled in a phase II study of the epothilone B analog, ixabepilone (Ixempra), to address this issue. Using a novel 2-phase mathematical equation, we used the radiologic measurements to estimate the concomitant rates of tumor regression and growth (regression and growth rate constants). Eighty-one patients were enrolled on the ixabepilone trial at the time of this analysis. Growth rate constants were determined using computed tomography measurements obtained exclusively while a patient was enrolled on study. The growth rate constants of renal cell carcinomas treated with ixabepilone were significantly reduced compared with those of tumors in patients who received placebo in a previous trial. Furthermore, a correlation with overall survival was found for both the growth rate constant and the initial tumor burden; and this correlation was even stronger when both the growth rate constant and the initial tumor burden were combined. The readily amenable mathematical model described herein has potential applications to many tumor types that can be assessed with imaging modalities. Because the growth rate constant seems to be a surrogate for survival, assessment could aid in the evaluation of relative efficacies of different therapies and perhaps in assessing the potential individual benefit of an experimental therapy.
PMCID: PMC3667552  PMID: 19826366
RECIST; chemotherapy efficacy; cancer clinical trials; phase II studies; chemotherapy assessment; chemotherapy evaluation
23.  Analyzing the pivotal trial that compared sunitinib and interferon alfa in renal cell carcinoma, using a method that assesses tumor regression and growth 
Clinical Cancer Research  2012;18(8):2374-2381.
We applied a method that analyzes tumor response, quantifying the rates of tumor growth (g) and regression (d), using tumor measurements obtained while patients receive therapy. We used data from the phase III trial comparing sunitinib and interferon-alfa (IFN-α) in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients.
The analysis used an equation that extracts d and g.
For sunitinib, overall survival (OS) was strongly correlated with log g (Rsq=0.44, p<0.0001); much less with log d (Rsq=0.04; p=0.0002). The median g of tumors in these patients (0.00082 per days; log g=−3.09) was about half that (p<0.001) of tumors in patients receiving IFN-α (0.0015 per day; log g=−2.81). With IFN-α, the OS/log g correlation (Rsq=0.14) was weaker. Values of g from measurements obtained by study investigators or central review were highly correlated (Rsq=0.80). No advantage resulted in including data from central review in regressions. Further, g can be estimated accurately four months before treatment discontinuation. Extrapolating g in a model that incorporates survival generates the hypothesis that g increased after discontinuation of sunitinib but did not accelerate.
In patients with mRCC, sunitinib reduced tumor growth rate, g, more than did IFN-α. Correlating g with OS confirms earlier analyses suggesting g may be an important clinical trial endpoint, to be explored prospectively and in individual patients.
PMCID: PMC3328595  PMID: 22344231
Renal cell carcinoma; Tumor growth rates; Tumor regression rates; Sunitinib; Interferon
24.  Drug resistance: Still a daunting challenge to the successful treatment of AML 
Drug Resistance Updates  2012;15(1-2):62-69.
Resistance to chemotherapy remains a challenging issue for patients and their physicians. P-glycoprotein (Pgp, MDR1, ABCB1), as well as a family of structurally and functionally related proteins, are plasma membrane transporters able to efflux a variety of substrates from the cell cytoplasm, including chemotherapeutic agents. The discovery of ABCB1 made available a potential target for pharmacologic down-regulation of efflux-mediated chemotherapy resistance. In patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a neoplasm characterized by proliferation of poorly differentiated myeloid progenitor cells, leukemic cells often express ABCB1 at high levels, which may lead to the development of resistance to chemotherapy. Thus, AML seemed to be a likely cancer for which the addition of drug efflux inhibitors to the chemotherapeutic regimen would improve outcomes in patients. Despite this rational hypothesis, the majority of clinical trials evaluating this strategy have failed to reach a positive endpoint, most recently the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group E3999 trial. Here we review data suggesting the importance of ABCB1 in AML, address the failure of clinical trials to support a therapeutic strategy aimed at modulating ABCB1-mediated resistance, and consider the type of research that should be conducted in this field going forward.
PMCID: PMC3348380  PMID: 22409994
acute myeloid leukemia; multidrug resistance; ABC transporters; cancer stem cells; gene signatures
25.  EZH2 mediates epigenetic silencing of neuroblastoma suppressor genes CASZ1, CLU, RUNX3 and NGFR 
Cancer research  2011;72(1):315-324.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial pediatric solid tumor with an undifferentiated status and generally poor prognosis, but the basis for these characteristics remains unknown. In this study, we show that upregulation of the Polycomb complex histone methytransferase EZH2, which limits differentiation in many tissues, is critical to maintain the undifferentiated state and poor prognostic status of NB by epigenetic repression of multiple tumor suppressor genes. We identified this role for EZH2 by examining the regulation of CASZ1, a recently identified NB tumor suppressor gene whose ectopic restoration inhibits NB cell growth and induces differentiation. Reducing EZH2 expression by RNAi-mediated knockdown or pharmacological inhibiton with 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep) increased CASZ1 expression, inhibited NB cell growth and induced neurite extension. Similarly, EZH2−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) displayed 3-fold higher levels of CASZ1 mRNA compared to EZH2+/+ MEFs. In cells with increased expression of CASZ1, treatment with HDAC inhibitors decreased expression of EZH2 and the Polycomb complex component SUZ12. Under steady-state conditions H3K27me3 and PRC2 components bound to the CASZ1 gene were enriched, but this enrichment was decreased after HDAC inhibitor treatment. We determined that the tumor suppressors CLU, NGFR and RUNX3 were also directly repressed by EZH2 like CASZ1 in NB cells. Together, our findings establish that aberrant upregulation of EZH2 in NB cells silences several tumor suppressors, which contribute to the genesis and maintenance of the undifferentiated phenotype of NB tumors.
PMCID: PMC3487161  PMID: 22068036
CASZ1; neuroblastoma; EZH2; NGFR; CLU; RUNX3

Results 1-25 (53)