Publications by authors named "Connor Wells"

31 Publications

Outcomes of patients with solid tumour malignancies treated with first-line immuno-oncology agents who do not meet eligibility criteria for clinical trials.

Eur J Cancer 2021 Jul 8;151:115-125. Epub 2021 May 8.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Immuno-oncology (IO)-based therapies have been approved based on randomised clinical trials, yet a significant proportion of real-world patients are not represented in these trials. We sought to compare the outcomes of trial-ineligible vs. -eligible patients with advanced solid tumours treated with first-line (1L) IO therapy.

Patients And Methods: Using the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) Database Consortium and the Alberta Immunotherapy Database, patients with advanced RCC, non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or melanoma treated with 1L PD-(L)1 inhibition-based therapy were included. Trial eligibility was retrospectively determined as per commonly used exclusion criteria. The outcomes of interest were overall survival (OS), overall response rate (ORR), treatment duration (TD) and time to next treatment (TTNT).

Results: A total of 395 of 1241 (32%) patients were deemed trial-ineligible. The main reasons for ineligibility based on preselected exclusion criteria were Karnofsky performance status <70%/Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status >1 (40%, 158 of 395), brain metastases (32%, 126 of 395), haemoglobin < 9 g/dL (16%, 63 of 395) and estimated glomerular filtration rate <40 mL/min (15%, 61 of 395). Between the ineligible vs. eligible groups, the median OS, ORR, median TD and median TTNT were 10.2 vs. 39.7 months (p < 0.01), 36% vs. 47% (p < 0.01), 2.7 vs. 6.9 months (p < 0.01) and 6.0 vs. 16.8 months (p < 0.01), respectively. Subgroup analyses showed statistically significant inferior OS, TD and TTNT for trial-ineligible vs. -eligible patients across all tumour types. Adjusted hazard ratios for death in RCC, NSCLC and melanoma were 1.84 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22-2.77), 2.21 (95% CI 1.58-3.11) and 1.82 (95% CI 1.21-2.74), respectively..

Conclusions: Thirty-two percent of real-world patients treated with contemporary 1L IO-based therapies were ineligible for clinical trials. Although one-third of the trial-ineligible patients responded to treatment, the overall trial-ineligible population had inferior outcomes than trial-eligible patients. These data may guide patient counselling and temper expectations of benefit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.04.004DOI Listing
July 2021

Cancer, Clinical Trials, and Canada: Our Contribution to Worldwide Randomized Controlled Trials.

Curr Oncol 2021 Apr 13;28(2):1518-1527. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Queen's University Cancer Research Institute, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada.

Canada has a long tradition of leading practice-changing clinical trials in oncology. Here, we describe methodology, results, and interpretation of oncology RCTs with Canadian involvement compared to RCTs from other high-income countries (HICs). A literature search identified all RCTs evaluating anti-cancer therapies published 2014-2017. RCTs were classified based on the country affiliation of first authors. The study cohort included 636 HIC-led RCTs; 155 (24%) had Canadian authors. Three-quarters (112/155, 72%) of Canadian RCTs were conducted in the palliative setting, compared to two thirds (299/481, 62%) of RCTs from other HICs ( = 0.022). Canadian RCTs were more likely than those from other HICs to be supported by industry (85% vs. 69%, < 0.001). The proportion of positive Canadian trials that met the ESMO-MCBS threshold for substantial clinical benefit was comparable to RCTs without Canadian authors (29% vs. 32%, = 0.137). Thirteen percent (20/155) of all Canadian trials were affiliated with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). Canada plays a meaningful role in the global cancer research ecosystem but is overly reliant on industry support. The very low proportion of trials that identify a new treatment with substantial clinical benefit is worrisome. A renewed investment in cancer clinical trials is needed in Canada.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28020143DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8167552PMC
April 2021

Clinical Effectiveness of Second-line Sunitinib Following Immuno-oncology Therapy in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: A Real-world Study.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2021 Mar 17. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Department of Oncology, Calgary, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Limited data exist on the clinical effectiveness of second-line (2L) vascular endothelial growth factor (receptor) targeted inhibitor (VEGF(R)i) sunitinib after first-line (1L) immuno-oncology (IO) therapy for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) in real-world settings.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study among adult patients with mRCC treated with 2L sunitinib following 1L IO was conducted from select International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) centers. All analyses were performed overall and by 1L ipilimumab + nivolumab (IPI+NIVO) or 1L IO+VEGF(R)i. Median overall survival (mOS) and time-to-treatment discontinuation (mTTD) in 2L were estimated using Kaplan-Meier analysis. The 2L objective response rate (ORR) (complete/partial response) was reported.

Results: Among 102 patients on 2L sunitinib, mean age was 61.3 years. IMDC risk scores at 2L initiation was available for 83 patients: 8 (9.6%) were favorable, 45 (54.2%) were intermediate, and 30 (36.1%) were poor risk. The 1L consisted of IPI+NIVO in 62 (60.8%), IO+VEGF(R)i therapy in 27 (26.5%), and IO monotherapy in 13 (12.7%) patients. Among all patients, mOS was 15.6 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8-21.7), with a 1-year OS rate of 57.5% (95% CI, 45.2-68.0). mTTD was 5.4 months (95% CI, 4.2-7.2) and ORR was 22.5%.

Conclusion: Despite availability of effective 1L therapies in recent years, 2L sunitinib continues to have clinical activity after failure of 1L IO. Further studies on optimal treatment sequencing after 1L IO progression are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2021.03.006DOI Listing
March 2021

Efficacy of immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in the treatment of older adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) - an International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) analysis.

J Geriatr Oncol 2021 Jun 3;12(5):820-826. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

William Osler Health System, Brampton, ON, Canada. Electronic address:

Objective: Older adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma(mRCC) are underrepresented in immune-checkpoint inhibitor(ICI) registration trials. Here we compare the efficacy of ICI treatments in older vs. younger adults with mRCC.

Methods: Using the International mRCC Database Consortium(IMDC), patients treated with a PD(L)-1 based ICI were identified. Older adult was defined as ≥70-years at the time of treatment. Descriptive statistics were summarized in means, medians, and proportions. Effectiveness endpoints included overall survival (OS), time-to-treatment failure(TTF), time-to-next treatment(TNT), and overall response rate(ORR). Hazards ratios were adjusted(aHR) for IMDC risk factors, histology, line of treatment and older age.

Results: Of 1427 included patients, 397(28%) were older adults. ICI was used as 1st line(1 L) in 40%, 2nd line(2 L) in 49% and 3rd line(3 L) in 11% of patients. In univariable analysis, older adults had inferior OS compared to younger adults(25.1 m vs. 30.8 m, p < 0.01). There were no significant differences in TTF (6.9 m vs. 6.9 m, p = 0.4) or TNT(9.1 m vs 10 m, p = 0.3) between groups. In multivariable analyses, older age was not independently associated with worse OS(aHR = 1.02, p = 0.8), TTF(aHR = 0.95, p = 0.6) or TNT(aHR = 0.93, p = 0.5). Older adults had a lower ORR compared to younger adults(24% vs. 31%, p = 0.01), which was mainly driven by responses in 1 L(31% vs. 44%, p = 0.02) and not observed in 2 L/3 L.

Conclusions: After multivariable analyses, older adults with mRCC treated with ICI had no difference in OS, TTF or TNT when compared to younger adults. Our data support that chronological older age should not preclude patients from receiving ICI based therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jgo.2021.02.022DOI Listing
June 2021

An Analysis of Contemporary Oncology Randomized Clinical Trials From Low/Middle-Income vs High-Income Countries.

JAMA Oncol 2021 Mar;7(3):379-385

Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Queen's University Cancer Research Institute, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Importance: The burden of cancer falls disproportionally on low-middle-income countries (LMICs). It is not well known how novel therapies are tested in current clinical trials and the extent to which they match global disease burden.

Objectives: To describe the design, results, and publication of oncology randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and examine the extent to which trials match global disease burden and how trial methods and results differ across economic settings.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this retrospective cohort study, a literature search identified all phase 3 RCTs evaluating anticancer therapies published from 2014 to 2017. Randomized clinical trials were classified based on World Bank economic classification. Descriptive statistics were used to compare RCT design and results from high-income countries (HICs) and low/middle-income countries (LMICs). Statistical analysis was conducted in January 2020.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Differences in the design, results, and output of RCTs between HICs and LMICs.

Results: The study cohort included 694 RCTs: 636 (92%) led by HICs and 58 (8%) led by LMICs. A total of 601 RCTs (87%) tested systemic therapy and 88 RCTs (13%) tested radiotherapy or surgery. The proportion of RCTs relative to global deaths was higher for breast cancer (121 RCTs [17%] and 7% of deaths) but lower for gastroesophageal cancer (38 RCTs [6%] and 14% of deaths), liver cancer (14 RCTs [2%] and 8% of deaths), pancreas cancer (14 RCTs [2%] and 5% of deaths), and cervical cancer (9 RCTs [1%] and 3% of deaths). Randomized clinical trials in HICs were more likely than those in LMICs to be funded by industry (464 [73%] vs 24 [41%]; P < .001). Studies in LMICs were smaller than those in HICs (median, 219 [interquartile range, 137-363] vs 474 [interquartile range, 262-743] participants; P < .001) and more likely to meet their primary end points (39 of 58 [67%] vs 286 of 636 [45%]; P = .001). The observed median effect size among superiority trials was larger in LMICs compared with HICs (hazard ratio, 0.62 [interquartile range, 0.54-0.76] vs 0.84 [interquartile range, 0.67-0.97]; P < .001). Studies from LMICs were published in journals with lower median impact factors than studies from HICs (7 [interquartile range, 4-21] vs 21 [interquartile range, 7-34]; P < .001). Publication bias persisted when adjusted for whether a trial was positive or negative (median impact factor: LMIC negative trial, 5 [interquartile range, 4-6] vs HIC negative trial, 18 [interquartile range, 6-26]; LMIC positive trial, 9 [interquartile range, 5-25] vs HIC positive trial, 25 [interquartile range, 10-48]; P < .001).

Conclusions And Relevance: This study suggests that oncology RCTs are conducted predominantly by HICs and do not match the global burden of cancer. Randomized clinical trials from LMICs are more likely to identify effective therapies and have a larger effect size than RCTs from HICs. This study suggests that there is a funding and publication bias against RCTs led by LMICs. Policy makers, research funders, and journals need to address this issue with a range of measures including building capacity and capability in RCTs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.7478DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844695PMC
March 2021

Evaluation of Clear Cell, Papillary, and Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma Metastasis Sites and Association With Survival.

JAMA Netw Open 2021 01 4;4(1):e2021869. Epub 2021 Jan 4.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Importance: There exists considerable biological and clinical variability between histologic variants of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). Data reporting on patterns of metastasis in histologic variants of mRCC are sparse.

Objective: To characterize sites of metastasis and their association with survival across the 3 most common histologic variants of mRCC: clear cell (ccRCC), papillary (pRCC), and chromophobe (chrRCC).

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this multicenter, international cohort study, the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) database was used to identify consecutive patients starting systemic therapy for mRCC between 2002 and 2019. Patients with mixed histologic subtype were excluded. Statistical analysis was performed from February to June 2020.

Exposures: Data regarding histologic subtype and sites of metastatic involvement at the time of first systemic therapy initiation were collected.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary outcomes were prevalence of metastatic site involvement and overall survival (OS) from time of systemic therapy initiation. Patients with multiple sites of metastatic involvement were included in analyses of all groups to which they had metastases.

Results: A total of 10 105 patients were eligible for analysis. Median (interquartile range) age at diagnosis was 60 (53-67) years, 7310 (72.4%) were men and 8526 (84.5%) underwent nephrectomy. Of these, 9252 (92%) had ccRCC, 667 (7%) had pRCC, and 186 (2%) had chrRCC. The median number of sites of metastasis was 2 (range, 0-7). In ccRCC, the most common sites of metastasis were lung (70%; 6189 of 8804 patients [448 missing]), lymph nodes (45%; 3874 of 8655 patients [597 missing]), bone (32%; 2847 of 8817 patients [435 missing]), liver (18%; 1560 of 8804 [448 missing]), and adrenal gland (10%; 678 of 6673 patients [2579 missing]). Sites of metastasis varied between subtypes. Lung, adrenal, brain, and pancreatic metastases were more frequent in ccRCC, lymph node involvement was more common in pRCC, and liver metastases were more frequent in chrRCC. Median OS for ccRCC varied by site of metastatic involvement, ranging between 16 months (95% CI, 13.7-18.8 months) for the pleura and 50 months (95% CI, 41.1-55.5 months) for the pancreas. Compared with ccRCC, patients with pRCC tended to have lower OS, regardless of metastatic site.

Conclusions And Relevance: Sites of metastatic involvement differ according to histologic subtype in mRCC and are associated with OS. These data highlight the clinical and biological variability between histologic subtypes of mRCC. Patterns of metastatic spread may reflect differences in underlying disease biology. Further work to investigate differences in immune, molecular, and genetic profiles between metastatic sites and histologic subtypes is encouraged.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7821027PMC
January 2021

Cabozantinib real-world effectiveness in the first-through fourth-line settings for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Cancer Med 2021 02 18;10(4):1212-1221. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Background: Cabozantinib is approved for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) based on the METEOR and CABOSUN trials. However, real-world effectiveness and dosing patterns of cabozantinib are not well characterized.

Methods: Patients with mRCC treated with cabozantinib between 2011 and 2019 were identified and stratified using the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) risk groups. First- (1L), second- (2L), third- (3L), and fourth-line (4L) overall response rate (ORR), time to treatment failure (TTF), and overall survival (OS) were analyzed. Dose reduction rates and their association with TTF and OS were determined.

Results: A total of 413 patients were identified. The ORRs across 1L to 4L were 32%, 26%, 25%, and 29%, respectively, and the median TTF rates were 8.3, 7.3, 7.0, and 8.0 months, respectively. The median OS (mOS) rates in 1L to 4L were 30.7, 17.8, 12.6, and 14.9 months, respectively. For patients treated with 1L PD(L)1 combination agent (n = 31), 2L cabozantinib had ORR of 22%, median TTF of 5.4 months, and mOS of 17.4 months. About 50% (129/258) of patients required dose reductions. The TTF and mOS were significantly longer for patients who required dose reduction vs. patients who did not, with an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.37 (95% CI 0.202-0.672, p < 0.01) and 0.46 (95% CI 0.215-0.980, p = 0.04), respectively. Limitations include the retrospective study design and the lack of central radiology review.

Conclusion: The ORR and TTF of cabozantinib were maintained from the 1L to 4L settings. Dose reductions due to toxicity were associated with improved TTF and OS. Cabozantinib has clinical activity after 1L Immuno-oncology combination agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3717DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7926018PMC
February 2021

pH-Responsive nanocomposite fibres allowing MRI monitoring of drug release.

J Mater Chem B 2020 08;8(32):7264-7274

UCL School of Pharmacy, University College London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most widely-used non-invasive clinical imaging tools, producing detailed anatomical images whilst avoiding side effects such as trauma or X-ray radiation exposure. In this article, a new approach to non-invasive monitoring of drug release from a delivery vehicle via MRI was developed, using pH-responsive Eudragit L100 and S100 fibres encapsulating superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) and carmofur (a drug used in the treatment of colon cancer). Fibres were prepared by electrospinning, and found to be smooth and cylindrical with diameters of 645 ± 225 nm for L100 and 454 ± 133 nm for S100. The fibres exhibited pH responsive dissolution behaviour. Around the physiological pH range, clear pH-responsive proton relaxation rate changes due to matrix swelling/dissolution can be observed: r2 values of L100 fibres increase from 29.3 ± 8.3 to 69.8 ± 2.5 mM-1 s-1 over 3 h immersion in a pH 7.4 medium, and from 13.5 ± 2.0 mM-1 s-1 to 42.1 ± 3.0 mM-1 s-1 at pH 6.5. The r2 values of S100 fibres grow from 30.4 ± 4.4 to 64.7 ± 1.0 mM-1 s-1 at pH 7.4, but at pH 6.5, where the S100 fibres are not soluble, r2 remains very low (< 4 mM-1 s-1). These dramatic changes in relaxivity demonstrate that pH-responsive dissolution results in SPION release. In vitro drug release studies showed the formulations gave rapid release of carmofur at physiological pH values (pH 6.5 and 7.4), and acid stability studies revealed that they can protect the SPIONs from digestion in acid environments, giving the fibres potential for oral administration. Exploration of the relationship between relaxivity and carmofur release suggests a linear correlation (R2 > 0.94) between the two. Mathematical equations were developed to predict carmofur release in vitro, with very similar experimental and predicted release profiles obtained. Therefore, the formulations developed herein have the potential to be used for non-invasive monitoring of drug release in vivo, and could ultimately result in dramatic reductions to off-target side effects from interventions such as chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0tb01033bDOI Listing
August 2020

Deferred Cytoreductive Nephrectomy in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Eur Urol 2020 10 30;78(4):615-623. Epub 2020 Apr 30.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Background: The use of cytoreductive nephrectomy (CN) selectively for patients who show a favorable response to upfront systemic therapy may be an approach to select optimal candidates with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) who are most likely to benefit.

Objective: We sought to characterize outcomes of deferred CN (dCN) after upfront sunitinib, outcomes relative to sunitinib alone, and outcomes of CN followed by sunitinib.

Design, Setting, And Participants: We used the prospectively maintained International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) database to identify patients with newly diagnosed mRCC (2006-2018).

Intervention: Sunitinib alone, upfront CN followed by sunitinib, sunitinib followed by dCN.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Outcomes were overall survival (OS) and time to sunitinib treatment failure (TTF). Kaplan-Meier and multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed; dCN was analyzed as a time-varying covariate to account for immortal time bias.

Results And Limitations: We evaluated 1541 patients, of whom 651 (42%) received sunitinib alone, 805 (52%) underwent CN followed by sunitinib, and 85 (5.5%) received sunitinib followed by dCN, at a median of 7.8 mo from diagnosis. Median OS periods for patients treated with sunitinib alone, CN followed by sunitinib, and sunitinib followed by dCN were 10, 19, and 46 mo, respectively, while the median TTF values were 4, 8, and 13 mo, respectively. In multivariable regression analyses, sunitinib followed by dCN was significantly associated with improved OS (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.33-0.60, p < 0.001) and TTF (HR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.46-0.85, p = 0.003) versus sunitinib alone. Among CN-treated patients, sunitinib followed by dCN was associated with improved OS (HR = 0.52, 95% CI 0.39-0.70, p < 0.001) and TTF (HR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.90, p = 0.005) compared with upfront CN followed by sunitinib. In various sensitivity analyses, dCN remained significantly associated with improved OS and TTF.

Conclusions: Patients who received dCN were carefully selected and achieved long OS. With these benchmark outcomes, optimal selection criteria need to be identified and confirmation of the role of dCN in a clinical trial is warranted.

Patient Summary: We characterized benchmark survival outcomes for patients with metastatic kidney cancer treated with sunitinib alone, nephrectomy (kidney removal) followed by sunitinib, and sunitinib followed by nephrectomy. Patients who had their nephrectomy after an initial course of sunitinib had prolonged survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2020.04.038DOI Listing
October 2020

Outcomes in Black and White Patients With Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Treated With First-Line Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors: Insights From Two Large Cohorts.

JCO Glob Oncol 2020 02;6:293-306

University of California San Diego, Moores Cancer Center, San Diego, CA.

Purpose: To investigate whether black race is an independent predictor of overall survival (OS) in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Methods: We performed a retrospective 2-cohort (International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium [IMDC] and trial-database) study of patients with mRCC treated with first-line tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Unmatched (UM) and matched (M) analyses accounting for imbalances in region, year of treatment, age, and sex between races were performed. Cox models adjusting for histology, number of metastatic sites, nephrectomy, and IMDC risk compared time to treatment failure (TTF; IMDC cohort), progression-free survival (PFS; trial-database cohort), and OS.

Results: The IMDC cohort included 73 black versus 3,381 (UM) and 1,236 (M) white patients. The trial-database cohort included 21 black versus 1,040 (UM) and 431 (M) white patients. Median OS for black versus white patients was 18.5 versus 25.8 months in the IMDC group and 21.0 versus 25.6 months in the trial-database group. Differences in OS were not significant in multivariable analysis in the IMDC group (hazard ratio [HR], 1.0; 95% CI, 0.7 to 1.5; HR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.8 to 1.4) and trial-database (HR, 1.5; 95% CI, 0.8 to 2.7; HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.8 to 2.6) cohorts. TTF for black patients was shorter in the UM IMDC cohort (HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.8; = .003), but not in the M analysis. PFS was shorter for black patients in both analyses in the trial-database cohort (HR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.9; = .002; HR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.9; = .002).

Conclusion: Black patients had more IMDC risk factors and worse outcomes with TKIs versus white patients. Race was not an independent predictor of OS. Strategies to understand biologic determinants of outcomes for minority patients are needed to optimize care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JGO.19.00380DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7055470PMC
February 2020

Synchronous Versus Metachronous Metastatic Disease: Impact of Time to Metastasis on Patient Outcome-Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur Urol Oncol 2020 08 6;3(4):530-539. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

Tom Baker Cancer Center, Calgary, Canada.

Background: Patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) may present with primary metastases (synchronous disease) or develop metastases during follow-up (metachronous disease). The impact of time to metastasis on patient outcome is poorly characterised.

Objective: To characterise overall survival (OS) and time to treatment failure (TTF) based on time to metastasis in mRCC patients treated with targeted therapy (tyrosine kinase inhibitors [TKIs]).

Design, Setting, And Participants: We used the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) to compare synchronous (metastases within ≤3 mo of initial diagnosis of cancer) versus metachronous disease (evaluated by >3-12 mo, >1-2 yr, >2-7 yr, and >7 yr intervals).

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: OS and TFF were assessed using Kaplan-Meier curves. Cox multivariable regressions analyses (MVAs) were adjusted for baseline factors.

Results And Limitations: Of 7386 patients with mRCC treated with first-line TKIs, 3906 (53%) and 3480 (47%) had synchronous and metachronous metastasis, respectively. More patients with synchronous versus metachronous disease had higher T stage (T1-2: 19% vs 34%), N1 disease (21% vs 6%), presence of sarcomatoid differentiation (15.8% vs 7.9%), Karnofsky performance status <80 (25.9% vs 15.1%), anaemia (62.5% vs 42.3%), elevated neutrophils (18.9% vs 10.9%), elevated platelets (21.6% vs 11.4%), bone metastases (40.4% vs 29.8%), and IMDC poor risk (40.6% vs 11.3%). Synchronous versus metachronous disease by intervals >3-12 mo, >1-2 yr, >2-7 yr, and >7 yr correlated with poor TTF (5.6 mo vs 7.3, 8.0, 10.8, and 13.3 mo, p <  0.0001) and poor OS (median 16.7 mo vs 23.8, 30.2, 34.8, and 41.7 mo, p <  0.0001). In MVAs, the adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 1.00 (reference), 0.98 (0.90-1.06), 0.81 (0.73-0.91), 0.74 (0.68-0.81), and 0.60 (0.54-0.67), respectively, for OS (p <  0.0001), and 1.00 (reference), 0.99 (0.92-1.06), 0.98 (0.90-1.07), 0.83 (0.77-0.89), and 0.66 (0.60-0.72), respectively, for TTF (p <  0.0001). Data were collected retrospectively.

Conclusions: Timing of metastases after initial RCC diagnosis may impact the outcomes from targeted therapy in mRCC.

Patient Summary: We looked at the impact of the timing of metastatic outbreak on survival outcomes in kidney cancer patients treated with targeted therapy. We found that the longer time to metastatic development was associated with improved outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euo.2020.01.001DOI Listing
August 2020

Real-World Assessment of Clinical Outcomes Among First-Line Sunitinib Patients with Clear Cell Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (mRCC) by the International mRCC Database Consortium Risk Group.

Oncologist 2020 05 23;25(5):422-430. Epub 2020 Jan 23.

University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.

Background: International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (mRCC) Database Consortium (IMDC) risk groups are important when considering therapeutic options for first-line treatment.

Materials And Methods: Adult patients with clear cell mRCC initiating first-line sunitinib between 2010 and 2018 were included in this retrospective database study. Median time to treatment discontinuation (TTD) and overall survival (OS) were estimated using Kaplan-Meier analysis. Outcomes were stratified by IMDC risk groups and evaluated for those in the combined intermediate and poor risk group and separately for those in the intermediate risk group with one versus two risk factors.

Results: Among 1,769 patients treated with first-line sunitinib, 318 (18%) had favorable, 1,031 (58%) had intermediate, and 420 (24%) had poor IMDC risk. Across the three risk groups, patients had similar age, gender, and sunitinib initiation year. Median TTD was 15.0, 8.5, and 4.2 months in the favorable, intermediate, and poor risk groups, respectively, and 7.1 months in the combined intermediate and poor risk group. Median OS was 52.1, 31.5, and 9.8 months in the favorable, intermediate, and poor risk groups, respectively, and 23.2 months in the combined intermediate and poor risk group. Median OS (35.1 vs. 21.9 months) and TTD (10.3 vs. 6.6 months) were significantly different between intermediate risk patients with one versus two risk factors.

Conclusion: This real-world study found a median OS of 52 months for patients with favorable IMDC risk treated with first-line sunitinib, setting a new benchmark on clinical outcomes of clear cell mRCC. Analysis of intermediate risk group by one or two risk factors demonstrated distinct clinical outcomes.

Implications For Practice: This analysis offers a contemporary benchmark for overall survival (median, 52.1 months; 95% confidence interval, 43.4-61.2) among patients with clear cell metastatic renal cell carcinoma who were treated with sunitinib as first-line therapy in a real-world setting and classified as favorable risk according to International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) risk group classification. This study demonstrates that clinical outcomes differ between IMDC risk groups as well as within the intermediate risk group based on the number of risk factors, thus warranting further consideration of risk group when counseling patients about therapeutic options and designing clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0605DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7216460PMC
May 2020

Multivariate Modulation of the Zr MOF UiO-66 for Defect-Controlled Combination Anticancer Drug Delivery.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2020 03 4;59(13):5211-5217. Epub 2020 Feb 4.

WestCHEM School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow, Joseph Black Building, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are emerging as leading candidates for nanoscale drug delivery, as a consequence of their high drug capacities, ease of functionality, and the ability to carefully engineer key physical properties. Despite many anticancer treatment regimens consisting of a cocktail of different drugs, examples of delivery of multiple drugs from one MOF are rare, potentially hampered by difficulties in postsynthetic loading of more than one cargo molecule. Herein, we report a new strategy, multivariate modulation, which allows incorporation of up to three drugs in the Zr MOF UiO-66 by defect-loading. The drugs are added to one-pot solvothermal synthesis and are distributed throughout the MOF at defect sites by coordination to the metal clusters. This tight binding comes with retention of crystallinity and porosity, allowing a fourth drug to be postsynthetically loaded into the MOFs to yield nanoparticles loaded with cocktails of drugs that show enhancements in selective anticancer cytotoxicity against MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro. We believe that multivariate modulation is a significant advance in the application of MOFs in biomedicine, and anticipate the protocol will also be adopted in other areas of MOF chemistry, to easily produce defective MOFs with arrays of highly functionalised pores for potential application in gas separations and catalysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201915848DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7154787PMC
March 2020

Clinical Outcomes of First-line Sunitinib Followed by Immuno-oncology Checkpoint Inhibitors in Patients With Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2020 08 13;18(4):e350-e359. Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: The present retrospective, longitudinal cohort study assessed the association between the first-line sunitinib treatment duration and clinical outcomes with second-line immuno-oncology (IO) therapy among patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Patients And Methods: A total of 161 patients with mRCC who had been treated with first-line sunitinib and subsequent IO therapy from select International mRCC Database Consortium centers were included. The overall survival, time to next therapy, time to treatment discontinuation, and real-world physician-assessed best response measured from IO therapy initiation were analyzed and compared between patients treated with first-line sunitinib for ≥ 6 months and those treated for < 6 months.

Results: The 116 patients treated with sunitinib for ≥ 6 months tended to be older and to have a better International mRCC Database Consortium risk than the 45 patients treated for < 6 months (favorable, 36% vs. 8%, P = .001; intermediate, 59% vs. 70%, P = .21; poor, 5% vs. 22%, P = .007). The receipt of sunitinib for ≥ 6 months versus < 6 months was associated with longer survival (hazard ratio [HR], 0.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21-0.87; P = .02). No significant association was observed between the first-line sunitinib duration and second-line IO outcomes, including the time to next therapy (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.52-1.51; P = .66), time to treatment discontinuation (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.54-1.34; P = .49), and tumor response (odds ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.22-2.49; P = .62).

Conclusions: We found no statistically significant association between the first-line sunitinib duration and clinical outcomes with second-line IO therapy. Patients receiving first-line sunitinib for ≥ 6 months compared with < 6 months was associated with better overall survival, although potential unadjusted confounders could have been present. These findings support the paradigm that previous therapy will not dictate the effectiveness of subsequent immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2019.12.007DOI Listing
August 2020

Outcomes of Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Treated with Targeted Therapy After Immuno-oncology Checkpoint Inhibitors.

Eur Urol Oncol 2021 Feb 28;4(1):102-111. Epub 2019 Nov 28.

University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Immuno-oncology (IO) therapies have changed the treatment standards of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). However, the effectiveness of targeted therapy following discontinuation of IO therapy in real-world settings has not been well studied.

Objective: To describe treatment sequence and assess clinical effectiveness of targeted therapy for mRCC patients who received prior IO therapy.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A retrospective, longitudinal cohort study using data from eight international cancer centers was conducted. Patients with mRCC were ≥18yr old, received IO therapy in any line, and initiated targeted therapy following IO therapy discontinuation.

Intervention: Patients were treated with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (VEGFR-TKIs) or mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors (mTORIs).

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Outcomes were time to treatment discontinuation (TTD), overall survival (OS), and objective response rate (ORR). Crude and adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazard models. Models were adjusted for age, sex, therapy line, and International Metastatic RCC Database Consortium risk group.

Results And Limitations: Among 314 patients, 276 (87.9%) and 38 (12.1%) were treated with VEGFR-TKI and mTORI therapy, respectively. The most common tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatments were axitinib, cabozantinib, and sunitinib following IO therapy. In adjusted models, patients treated with VEGFR-TKI versus mTORI therapy had lower hazard of TTD after IO treatment (aHR=0.46; 95% CI: 0.30-0.71; p < 0.01). One-year OS probability (65% vs 47%, p < 0.01) and proportion of ORR (29.8% vs 3.6%, p < 0.01) were significantly greater for patients treated with VEGFR-TKIs versus those treated with mTORIs.

Conclusions: Targeted therapy has clinical activity following IO treatment. Patients who received VEGFR-TKIs versus mTORIs following IO therapy had improved clinical outcomes. These findings may help inform treatment guidelines and clinical practice for patients post-IO therapy.

Patient Summary: Patients may continue to experience clinical benefits from targeted therapies after progression on immuno-oncology treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euo.2019.11.001DOI Listing
February 2021

First-line Immuno-Oncology Combination Therapies in Metastatic Renal-cell Carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal-cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur Urol 2019 12 22;76(6):861-867. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: In metastatic renal-cell carcinoma (mRCC), recent data have shown efficacy of first-line ipilimumab and nivolumab (ipi-nivo) as well as immuno-oncology (IO)/vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor combinations. Comparative data between these strategies are limited.

Objective: To compare the efficacy of ipi-nivo versus IO-VEGF (IOVE) combinations in mRCC, and describe practice patterns and effectiveness of second-line therapies.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Using the International Metastatic Renal-cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) dataset, patients treated with any first-line IOVE combination were compared with those treated with ipi-nivo.

Intervention: All patients received first-line IO combination therapies.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: First- and second-line response rates, time to treatment failure (TTF), time to next treatment (TNT), and overall survival (OS) were analysed. Hazard ratios were adjusted for IMDC risk factors.

Results And Limitations: In total, 113 patients received IOVE combinations and 75 received ipi-nivo. For IOVE combinations versus ipi-nivo, first-line response rates were 33% versus 40% (between-group difference 7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] -8% to 22%, p =  0.4), TTF was 14.3 versus 10.2 mo (p =  0.2), TNT was 19.7 versus 17.9 mo (p =  0.4), and median OS was immature but not statistically different (p = 0.17). Adjusted hazard ratios for TTF, TNT, and OS were 0.71 (95% CI 0.46-1.12, p =  0.14), 0.65 (95% CI 0.38-1.11, p =  0.11), and 1.74 (95% CI 0.82-3.68, p =  0.14), respectively. Sixty-four (34%) patients received second-line treatment. In patients receiving subsequent VEGF-based therapy, second-line response rates were lower in the IOVE cohort than in the ipi-nivo cohort (15% vs 45%; between-group difference 30%, 95% CI 3-57%, p =  0.04; n = 40), though second-line TTF was not significantly different (3.7 vs 5.4 mo; p =  0.4; n = 55). Limitations include the study's retrospective design and sample size.

Conclusions: There were no significant differences in first-line outcomes between IOVE combinations and ipi-nivo. Most patients received VEGF-based therapy in the second line. In this group, second-line response rate was greater in patients who received ipi-nivo initially.

Patient Summary: There were no significant differences in key first-line outcomes for patients with metastatic renal-cell carcinoma receiving immuno-oncology/vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor combinations versus ipilimumab and nivolumab.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2019.07.048DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6858928PMC
December 2019

Cytoreductive Nephrectomy in Metastatic Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur Urol Oncol 2019 Nov 5;2(6):643-648. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: There is evidence that cytoreductive nephrectomy (CN) may be beneficial in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). This has been studied predominantly in clear-cell RCC, with more limited data on the role of CN in patients with papillary histology.

Objective: To determine the benefit of CN in synchronous metastatic papillary RCC.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Using the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) database, a retrospective analysis was performed for patients with papillary mRCC treated with or without CN.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were determined for both patient groups. Cox regression analysis was performed to control for imbalances in individual IMDC risk factors.

Results And Limitations: In total, 647 patients with papillary mRCC were identified, of whom 353 had synchronous metastatic disease. Of these, 109 patients were treated with CN and 244 were not. The median follow-up was 57.1mo (95% confidence interval [CI] 32.9-77.8) and the OS from the start of first-line targeted therapy for the entire cohort was 13.2mo (95% CI 12.0-16.1). Median OS for patients with CN was 16.3mo, compared to 8.6mo (p<0.0001) in the no-CN group. When adjusted for individual IMDC risk factors, the hazard ratio (HR) of death for CN was 0.62 (95% CI 0.45-0.85; p=0.0031). Limitations include the retrospective nature of the analysis.

Conclusions: The use of CN in patients with mRCC and papillary histology appears to be associated with better survival compared to no CN after adjustment for risk criteria. Selection of appropriate candidates for CN is crucial. A clinical trial in this rare population may not be possible.

Patient Summary: In a population of patients with advanced papillary kidney cancer, we found that surgical removal of the primary kidney tumor was associated with better overall survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euo.2019.03.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6886238PMC
November 2019

Outcomes of Older Patients (≥ 70 Years) Treated With Targeted Therapy in Metastatic Chemorefractory Colorectal Cancer: Retrospective Analysis of NCIC CTG CO.17 and CO.20.

Clin Colorectal Cancer 2019 03 28;18(1):e140-e149. Epub 2018 Nov 28.

Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Kingston, Canada.

Background: The safety and efficacy of targeted therapy in older patients (≥ 70 years) with metastatic colorectal cancer is not well evaluated.

Patients And Methods: Outcomes of older patients (including overall survival [OS], progression-free survival [PFS], toxicity, and quality of life [QoL]) were compared to young patients using data from 2 large previously reported clinical trials, CO.17 (cetuximab vs. best supportive care) and CO.20 (cetuximab plus placebo vs. cetuximab plus brivanib). Only patients with wild-type KRAS tumors were included.

Results: A total of 251 (26.3%) of 955 patients were ≥ 70 years old. No significant differences in OS, PFS, or grade 3/4 adverse events were observed between older and younger patients treated with cetuximab (or cetuximab with placebo) in either trial. Younger patients trended toward superior OS in both CO.17 (hazard ratio = 1.80; P = .16) and CO.20 (hazard ratio = 1.34; P = .07). QoL maintenance favored younger patients in CO.17 (3.6 vs. 5.7 months; P = .046) but no difference of QoL maintenance was observed in the larger CO.20 trial (1.7 vs. 1.8 months; P = .64). Combination therapy of cetuximab and brivanib was significantly more toxic in older adults (87% vs. 77%; P = .03).

Conclusion: OS, PFS, and toxicities were similar between older and younger patients with wild-type KRAS metastatic colorectal cancer when treated with cetuximab. Both age groups likely experience similar QoL maintenance with cetuximab. Dual targeted therapy was significantly more toxic in older patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clcc.2018.11.006DOI Listing
March 2019

Active Smoking Is Associated With Worse Prognosis in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Patients Treated With Targeted Therapies.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2019 Feb 12;17(1):65-71. Epub 2018 Sep 12.

Tom Baker Cancer Center, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Smoking increases the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma (RCC) but the effect of tobacco consumption on survival outcome of patients with metastatic RCC (mRCC) treated with targeted therapies has not been well characterized.

Patients And Methods: The primary outcome was overall survival (OS) and secondary outcome was progression-free survival (PFS). Patients with mRCC were categorized as current, former, and nonsmokers at the time of starting targeted therapy. Smoking data from 1980 patients with mRCC treated with targeted therapy were collected through the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) from 12 international cancer centers.

Results: Although former and nonsmokers had comparable OS times (23.8 vs. 23.4 months; P = .898), current smokers had significantly shorter OS (16.1 months; P < .001) than nonsmokers. Current but not former smoking status was an independent poor prognosis factor (hazard ratio [HR], 1.3; P = .002) when adjusted for the IMDC risk criteria. Each pack-year increased the risk of death by 1% (HR, 1.01; P = .036). The duration of first-line therapy response was not different and was 7.7 months versus 7.5 months versus 6.4 months in never, former (P = .609), and current smokers (P = .839), respectively.

Conclusion: Active smoking is associated with diminished OS in mRCC patients treated with targeted therapy agents. However, patients who quit smoking returned to a similar risk of death from RCC compared with patients who never smoked. Smoking cessation should be a counseling priority among mRCC patients receiving targeted agents and smoking should be considered as a confounding factor in major clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2018.09.006DOI Listing
February 2019

Checkpoint inhibitors in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Cancer 2018 09 11;124(18):3677-3683. Epub 2018 Oct 11.

Department of Medical Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Center, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Background: To the authors' knowledge, outcomes and prognostic tools have yet to be clearly defined in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) who are treated with immuno-oncology (IO) checkpoint inhibitors (programmed death-ligand 1 [PD-L1] inhibitors). In the current study, the authors aimed to establish IO efficacy benchmarks in patients with mRCC and update patient outcomes in each International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) prognostic class.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed using the IMDC database with data from 38 centers. It included patients with mRCC who were treated with ≥1 line of IO. Overall response rates (ORRs), duration of treatment (DOT), and overall survival (OS) were calculated. Patients were stratified using IMDC prognostic factors.

Results: A total of 687 patients (90% with clear cell and 10% with non-clear cell) were included. The ORR was 27% in evaluable patients (461 patients). In patients treated with first-line nivolumab and ipilimumab (49 patients), the combination of PD-L1 inhibitor and vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor (72 patients), and PD-L1 inhibitor (51 patients), the ORR was 31%, 39%, and 40%, respectively, and the median DOT was 8.3 months, 14.7 months, and 8.3 months, respectively. The ORR for second-line, third-line, and fourth-line nivolumab was 22%, 24%, and 26%, respectively. The median DOT was 5.7 months, 6.2 months, and 8.3 months, respectively, in the second-line, third-line, and fourth-line settings. When segregated into IMDC favorable-risk, intermediate-risk, and poor-risk groups, the median OS rates for the first-line, second-line, third-line, and fourth-line treatment settings were not reached (NR), NR, and NR, respectively (P = .163); NR, 26.7 months, and 7.4 months, respectively (P < 0. 0001); 36.1 months, 28.2 months, and 11.1 months, respectively (P = .016); and NR, NR, and 6.7 months, respectively (P = .047).

Conclusions: The ORR was not found to deteriorate from the first-line to the fourth-line of IO therapy. In the second line through fourth line, the IMDC criteria appropriately stratified patients into favorable-risk, intermediate-risk, and poor-risk groups for OS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31595DOI Listing
September 2018

The Clinical Activity of PD-1/PD-L1 Inhibitors in Metastatic Non-Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Cancer Immunol Res 2018 07 10;6(7):758-765. Epub 2018 May 10.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Programmed death 1 (PD-1) and PD ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors have shown activity in metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Data on the activity of these agents in patients with non-clear cell RCC (nccRCC) or patients with sarcomatoid/rhabdoid differentiation are limited. In this multicenter analysis, we explored the efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in patients with nccRCC or sarcomatoid/rhabdoid differentiation. Baseline and follow-up demographic, clinical, treatment, and radiographic data were collected. The primary endpoint was objective response rate. Secondary endpoints include time-to-treatment failure (TTF), overall survival (OS), and biomarker correlates. Forty-three patients were included: papillary ( = 14; 33%), chromophobe ( = 10; 23%), unclassified ( = 9; 21%), translocation ( = 3; 7%), and ccRCC with sarcomatoid differentiation ( = 7, 16%). Of those 43 patients, 11 patients (26%) had sarcomatoid and/or rhabdoid differentiation ( = 7 with ccRCC; = 4 nccRCC). Overall, 8 patients (19%) objectively responded, including 4 patients (13%) who received PD-1/PD-L1 monotherapy. Responses were observed in patients with ccRCC with sarcomatoid and/or rhabdoid differentiation ( = 3/7, 43%), translocation RCC ( = 1/3, 33%), and papillary RCC ( = 4/14, 29%). The median TTF was 4.0 months [95% confidence interval (CI), 2.8-5.5] and median OS was 12.9 months (95% CI, 7.4-not reached). No specific genomic alteration was associated with clinical benefit. Modest antitumor activity for PD-1/PD-L1-blocking agents was observed in some patients with nccRCC. Further prospective studies are warranted to investigate the efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 blockade in this heterogeneous patient population. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-17-0475DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6712567PMC
July 2018

Characterizing the outcomes of metastatic papillary renal cell carcinoma.

Cancer Med 2017 May 16;6(5):902-909. Epub 2017 Apr 16.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Outcomes of metastatic papillary renal cell carcinoma (pRCC) patients are poorly characterized in the era of targeted therapy. A total of 5474 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) in the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) were retrospectively analyzed. Outcomes were compared between clear cell (ccRCC; n = 5008) and papillary patients (n = 466), and recorded type I and type II papillary patients (n = 30 and n = 165, respectively). Overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall response rate (ORR) favored ccRCC over pRCC. OS was 8 months longer in ccRCC patients and the hazard ratio of death was 0.71 for ccRCC patients. No differences in PFS or ORR were detected between type I and II PRCC in this limited dataset. The median OS for type I pRCC was 20.0 months while the median OS for type II was 12.6 months (P = 0.096). The IMDC prognostic model was able to stratify pRCC patients into favorable risk (OS = 34.1 months), intermediate risk (OS = 17.0 months), and poor-risk groups (OS = 6.0 months). pRCC patient outcomes were inferior to ccRCC, even after controlling for IMDC prognostic factors. The IMDC prognostic model was able to effectively stratify pRCC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.1048DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5430092PMC
May 2017

Efficacy of Second-line Targeted Therapy for Renal Cell Carcinoma According to Change from Baseline in International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium Prognostic Category.

Eur Urol 2017 06 19;71(6):970-978. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

Tom Baker Cancer Center, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Background: We hypothesized that changes in International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) prognostic category at start of second-line therapy (2L) for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) might predict response.

Objective: To assess outcomes of 2L according to type of therapy and change in IMDC prognostic category.

Design, Setting, And Participants: We performed a retrospective review of the IMDC database for mRCC patients who received first-line (1L) VEGF inhibitors (VEGFi) and then 2L with VEGFi or mTOR inhibitors (mTORi). IMDC prognostic categories were defined before each line of therapy (favorable, F; intermediate, I; poor, P). Data were analyzed for 1516 patients, of whom 89% had clear cell histology.

Intervention: All included patients received targeted therapy for mRCC.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Overall survival (OS), time to treatment failure, and response to 2L were analyzed using Cox or logistic regression.

Results And Limitations: At start of 2L, 60% of patients remained in the same prognostic category; 9.0% improved (3% I → F; 6% P → I); 31% deteriorated (15% F → I or P; 16% I → P). Patients with the same or better IMDC prognostic category had a longer time to treatment failure if they remained on VEGFi compared to those who switched to mTORi (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] ranging from 0.33 to 0.78, adjusted p<0.05). Patients who deteriorated from F to I appeared more likely to benefit from switching to mTORi (median OS 16.5 mo, 95% confidence interval [CI] 12.0-19.0 for VEGFi; 20.2 mo, 95% CI 14.3-26.1 for mTORi; AHR 1.53, 95% CI 1.04-2.24; adjusted p=0.03).

Conclusions: Changes in IMDC prognostic category predict the subsequent clinical course for patients with mRCC and provide a rational basis for selection of subsequent therapy.

Patient Summary: The pattern of treatment failure might help to predict what the next treatment should be for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2016.09.047DOI Listing
June 2017

First-line sunitinib versus pazopanib in metastatic renal cell carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur J Cancer 2016 09 31;65:102-8. Epub 2016 Jul 31.

Tom Baker Cancer Center, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Sunitinib (SU) and pazopanib (PZ) are standards of care for first-line treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). However, how the efficacy of these drugs translates into effectiveness on a population-based level is unknown.

Patients And Methods: We used the International mRCC Database Consortium (IMDC) to assess overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), response rate (RR) and performed proportional hazard regression adjusting for IMDC prognostic groups. Second-line OS (OS2) and second-line PFS (PFS2) were also evaluated.

Results: We obtained data from 7438 patients with mRCC treated with either first-line SU (n = 6519) or PZ (n = 919) with an overall median follow-up of 40.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 39.2-42.1). There were no significant differences in IMDC prognostic groups (p = 0.36). There was no OS difference between SU and PZ (22.3 versus 22.6 months, respectively, p = 0.65). When adjusted for IMDC criteria, the hazard ratio (HR) of death for PZ versus SU was 1.03 (95% CI 0.92-1.17, p = 0.58). There was no PFS difference between SU and PZ (8.4 versus 8.3 months, respectively, p = 0.17). When adjusted for IMDC criteria, the HR for PFS for PZ versus SU was 1.08 (95% CI 0.981-1.19, p = 0.12). There was no difference in RR between SU and PZ (30% versus 28%, respectively, p = 0.15). We also found no difference in any second-line treatment between either post-SU or post-PZ groups for OS2 (13.1 versus 11 months, p = 0.27) and PFS2 (3.7 versus 5.0 months, p = 0.07).

Conclusions: We confirmed in real-world practice that SU and PZ have similar efficacy in the first-line setting for mRCC and do not affect outcomes with subsequent second-line treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2016.06.016DOI Listing
September 2016

Third-line Targeted Therapy in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur Urol 2017 02 16;71(2):204-209. Epub 2016 Jun 16.

Tom Baker Cancer Center, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: The use of third-line targeted therapy (TTT) in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) is not well characterized and varies due to the lack of robust data to guide treatment decisions. This study examined the use of third-line therapy in a large international population.

Objective: To evaluate the use and efficacy of targeted therapy in a third-line setting.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Twenty-five international cancer centers provided consecutive data on 4824 mRCC patients who were treated with an approved targeted therapy. One thousand and twelve patients (21%) received TTT and were included in the analysis.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Patients were analyzed for overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival using Kaplan-Meier curves, and were evaluated for overall response. Cox regression analyses were used to determine the statistical association between OS and the six factors included in the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) prognostic model. Subgroup analysis was performed on patients stratified by their IMDC prognostic risk status.

Results And Limitations: Everolimus was the most prevalent third-line therapy (27.5%), but sunitinib, sorafenib, pazopanib, temsirolimus, and axitinib were all utilized in over ≥9% of patients. Patients receiving any TTT had an OS of 12.4 mo, a progression-free survival of 3.9 mo, and 61.1% of patients experienced an overall response of stable disease or better. Patients not receiving TTT had an OS of 2.1 mo. Patients with favorable- (7.2%) or intermediate-risk (65.3%) disease had the highest OS with TTT, 29.9 mo and 15.5 mo, respectively, while poor-risk (27.5%) patients survived 5.5 mo. Results are limited by the retrospective nature of the study.

Conclusions: TTT remains highly heterogeneous. The IMDC prognostic criteria can be used to stratify third-line patients. TTT use in favorable- and intermediate-risk patients was associated with the greatest OS.

Patient Summary: Patients with favorable- and intermediate-prognostic criteria disease treated with third-line targeted therapy have an associated longer overall survival compared with those with poor risk disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2016.05.049DOI Listing
February 2017

Disulfiram when Combined with Copper Enhances the Therapeutic Effects of Temozolomide for the Treatment of Glioblastoma.

Clin Cancer Res 2016 08 22;22(15):3860-75. Epub 2016 Mar 22.

Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Clark H. Smith Brain Tumour Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Purpose: Glioblastoma is one of the most lethal cancers in humans, and with existing therapy, survival remains at 14.6 months. Current barriers to successful treatment include their infiltrative behavior, extensive tumor heterogeneity, and the presence of a stem-like population of cells, termed brain tumor-initiating cells (BTIC) that confer resistance to conventional therapies.

Experimental Design: To develop therapeutic strategies that target BTICs, we focused on a repurposing approach that explored already-marketed (clinically approved) drugs for therapeutic potential against patient-derived BTICs that encompass the genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity of glioblastoma observed clinically.

Results: Using a high-throughput in vitro drug screen, we found that montelukast, clioquinol, and disulfiram (DSF) were cytotoxic against a large panel of patient-derived BTICs. Of these compounds, disulfiram, an off-patent drug previously used to treat alcoholism, in the presence of a copper supplement, showed low nanomolar efficacy in BTICs including those resistant to temozolomide and the highly infiltrative quiescent stem-like population. Low dose DSF-Cu significantly augmented temozolomide activity in vitro, and importantly, prolonged in vivo survival in patient-derived BTIC models established from both newly diagnosed and recurrent tumors. Moreover, we found that in addition to acting as a potent proteasome inhibitor, DSF-Cu functionally impairs DNA repair pathways and enhances the effects of DNA alkylating agents and radiation. These observations suggest that DSF-Cu inhibits proteasome activity and augments the therapeutic effects of DNA-damaging agents (temozolomide and radiation).

Conclusions: DSF-Cu should be considered as an adjuvant therapy for the treatment of patients with glioblastoma in both newly diagnosed and recurrent settings. Clin Cancer Res; 22(15); 3860-75. ©2016 AACR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-1798DOI Listing
August 2016

Change in Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte Ratio in Response to Targeted Therapy for Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma as a Prognosticator and Biomarker of Efficacy.

Eur Urol 2016 08 28;70(2):358-64. Epub 2016 Feb 28.

Department of Medical Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Center, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), if elevated, is associated with worse outcomes in several malignancies.

Objective: Investigation of NLR at baseline and during therapy for metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Retrospective analysis of 1199 patients from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC cohort) and 4350 patients from 12 prospective randomized trials (validation cohort).

Intervention: Targeted therapies for metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: NLR was examined at baseline and 6 (± 2) wk later. A landmark analysis at 8 wk was conducted to explore the prognostic value of relative NLR change on overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and objective response rate using Cox or logistic regression models, adjusted for variables in IMDC score and NLR values at baseline.

Results And Limitations: Higher NLR at baseline was associated with shorter OS and PFS (Hazard Ratios [HR] per 1 unit increase in log-transformed NLR = 1.69 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 1.46-1.95] and 1.30 [95% CI = 1.15-1.48], respectively). Compared with no change (decrease < 25% to increase < 25%, reference), increase NLR at Week 6 by 25-50% and > 75% was associated with poor OS (HR=1.55 [95% CI=1.10-2.18] and 2.31 [95% CI=1.64-3.25], respectively), poor PFS (HR=1.46 [95% CI=1.04-2.03], 1.76 [95% CI=1.23-2.52], respectively), and reduced objective response rate (odds ratios = 0.77 [95% CI=0.37-1.63] and 0.24 [95% CI=0.08-0.72], respectively). By contrast, a decrease of 25-50% was associated with improved outcomes. Findings were confirmed in the validation cohort. The study is limited by its retrospective design.

Conclusions: Compared with no change, early decline of NLR is associated with favorable outcomes, whereas an increase is associated with worse outcomes.

Patient Summary: We found that the proportion of immune cells in the blood is of prognostic value, namely that a decrease of the proportion of neutrophils-to-lymphocytes is associated with more favorable outcomes while an increase had the opposite effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2016.02.033DOI Listing
August 2016

Risk factors and model for predicting toxicity-related treatment discontinuation in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with vascular endothelial growth factor-targeted therapy: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Cancer 2016 Feb 5;122(3):411-9. Epub 2015 Nov 5.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapies are standard treatment for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC); however, toxicities can lead to drug discontinuation, which can affect patient outcomes. This study was aimed at identifying risk factors for toxicity and constructing the first model to predict toxicity-related treatment discontinuation (TrTD) in mRCC patients treated with VEGF-targeted therapies.

Methods: The baseline characteristics, treatment outcomes, and toxicity data were collected for 936 mRCC patients receiving first-line VEGF-targeted therapy from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium. A competing risk regression model was used to identify risk factors for TrTD, and it accounted for other causes as competing risks.

Results: Overall, 198 (23.8%) experienced TrTD. Sunitinib was the most common VEGF-targeted therapy (77%), and it was followed by sorafenib (18.4%). The median time on therapy was 7.1 months for all patients and 4.4 months for patients with TrTD. The most common toxicities leading to TrTD included fatigue, diarrhea, and mucositis. In a multivariate analysis, significant predictors for TrTD were a baseline age ≥60 years, a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) <30 mL/min/1.73 m(2) , a single metastatic site, and a sodium level <135 mmol/L. A risk group model was developed that used the number of patient risk factors to predict the risk of TrTD.

Conclusions: In the largest series to date, age, GFR, number of metastatic sites, and baseline sodium level were found to be independent risk factors for TrTD in mRCC patients receiving VEGF-targeted therapy. Based on the number of risk factors present, a model for predicting TrTD was built to be used as a tool for toxicity monitoring in clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.29773DOI Listing
February 2016

Characterizing the impact of lymph node metastases on the survival outcome for metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients treated with targeted therapies.

Eur Urol 2015 Sep 15;68(3):506-15. Epub 2014 Dec 15.

Department of Medical Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: It is unknown whether lymph node metastases (LNM) and their localization negatively affect clinical outcome in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients.

Objective: To evaluate the clinicopathological features, survival outcome, and treatment response in mRCC patients with LNM versus those without LNM after treatment with targeted therapies (TT).

Design, Setting, And Participants: Patients (n=2996) were first analyzed without consideration of lymph node (LN) localization or histologic subtype. Additional analyses (n=1536) were performed in subgroups of patients with supradiaphragmatic (SPD) LNM, subdiaphragmatic (SBD) LNM, and patients with LNM in both locations (SPD+/SBD+) without histologic considerations, and then separately in clear cell RCC (ccRCC) and non-clear cell RCC (nccRCC) patients, respectively.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: The primary outcome was overall survival (OS) and the secondary outcome was progression-free survival (PFS).

Results And Limitations: All patients with LNM had worse PFS (p=0.001) and OS (p<0.001) compared to those without LNM. Compared to patients without LNM (PFS 8.8 mo; OS 25.1 mo), any SBD LNM involvement was associated with worse PFS (SBD, 6.8 mo; p=0.003; SPD+/SBD+, 5.5 mo; p<0.001) and OS (SBD, 16.2 mo; p<0.001; SPD+/SBD+, 11.5 mo; p<0.001). Both SBD and SPD+/SBD+ LNM were retained as independent prognostic factors in multivariate analyses (MVA) for PFS (p=0.006 and p=0.022, respectively) and OS (both p<0.001), while SPD LNM was not an independent risk factor. Likewise, in ccRCC, SBD LNM (19.8 mo) and SPD+/SBD+ LNM (12.85 mo) patients had the worst OS. SPD+/SBD+ LNM (p=0.006) and SBD LNM (p=0.028) were independent prognostic factors for OS in MVA, while SPD LNM was not significant (p=0.301). The study is limited by its retrospective design and the lack of pathologic evaluation of LNM in all cases.

Conclusions: The metastatic spread of RCC to SBD lymph nodes is associated with poor prognosis in mRCC patients treated with TT.

Patient Summary: The presence of lymph node metastases below the diaphragm is associated with shorter survival outcome when metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients are treated with targeted therapies. Clinical trials should evaluate whether surgical removal of regional lymph nodes at the time of nephrectomy may improve outcomes in high-risk RCC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2014.11.054DOI Listing
September 2015

A retrospective, Canadian multi-center study examining the impact of prior response to abiraterone acetate on efficacy of docetaxel in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Prostate 2014 Nov 29;74(15):1544-50. Epub 2014 Aug 29.

Department of Medical Oncology, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Background: Questions about optimal sequencing of systemic therapy in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and whether cross-resistance occurs between different drugs remain largely unanswered. Previous studies have produced conflicting data on the activity of docetaxel in patients who did not attain a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response to abiraterone acetate (abiraterone). We investigated whether the biochemical response to abiraterone is associated with efficacy of subsequent docetaxel therapy.

Methods: mCRPC patients treated with docetaxel after abiraterone were retrospectively identified at three Canadian institutions. Patients who had also received docetaxel prior to abiraterone were termed "docetaxel-experienced," while those not treated with docetaxel prior to abiraterone were termed "docetaxel-naïve." Treatment outcomes on docetaxel were stratified by prior response to abiraterone and compared using χ(2) -square test for confirmed PSA response rate (≥ 50% decline from baseline maintained for ≥ 3 weeks) and the log-rank method for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: Eighty-six patients were treated with abiraterone, of whom 49 were docetaxel-experienced and 37 were docetaxel-naïve. Prior PSA response to abiraterone was no decline, <50% decline and ≥ 50% decline in 37%, 26%, and 37% of patients respectively. The overall PSA response rate to docetaxel was 34.9%, median PFS was 4.0 months and median OS was 11.66 months. Notably, no differences were seen in confirmed PSA response rates (38% vs. 36% vs. 31%, P = 0.86), median PFS (4.04 months vs. 3.94 months vs. 4.24 months, P = 0.43) and median OS (11.86 months vs. 15.38 months vs. 11.00 months, P = 0.56) on docetaxel for patients with no PSA decline, <50% decline and ≥ 50% decline on abiraterone respectively. Importantly, PSA response rates to docetaxel were comparable in the docetaxel-experienced and docetaxel-naïve cohorts and were not linked to prior response to abiraterone in either group.

Conclusion: Activity of docetaxel was not associated with the biochemical response to prior abiraterone therapy. These data suggest that prior response to abiraterone should not influence decisions on subsequent use of docetaxel in mCRPC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pros.22872DOI Listing
November 2014