Publications by authors named "Howard Safran"

104 Publications

Mutations in DNA Repair Genes and Clinical Outcomes of Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Receiving Oxaliplatin or Irinotecan-containing Regimens.

Am J Clin Oncol 2021 02;44(2):68-73

Division of Hematology/Oncology, Lifespan Cancer Institute.

Objectives: First-line regimens in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) combine a fluoropyrimidine with oxaliplatin (FOLFOX/XELOX) or irinotecan (FOLFIRI). There is limited efficacy data to guide the selection of one treatment over the other. This study investigated whether mutations affecting DNA damage response (DDR) could differentially influence the response to oxaliplatin and irinotecan-containing regimens.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 49 patients with mCRC for whom treatment outcomes and results of comprehensive genomic profiling of tumors were available. Specimens with at least 1 pathogenic mutation involving BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, BARD1, BRIP1, CDK12, CHEK1, CHEK2, FANCL, PALB2, PPP2R2A, RAD51B, RAD51C, RAD51D, or RAD54L were classified as DDR-mutated, while those without mutations were DDR-wild-type (WT). We compared the overall survival (OS), disease control rate, and response rate (RR) between the DDR-mutated and DDR-WT groups.

Results: DDR mutations occurred in 11 patients (22%). First-line treatment with an oxaliplatin-containing regimen was administered to 33 patients (31 FOLFOX, 2 XELOX), while 16 patients received FOLFIRI. Among DDR-mutated cases, first-line treatment with FOLFOX/XELOX correlated with a statistically significant improvement in median OS compared with FOLFIRI (3.4 vs.1.8 y; P=0.042) and numerically higher RR (50% vs. 33%; P=0.58). No significant difference in OS (2.4 vs. 2.5 y; P=0.42), RR, disease control rate was observed between the 2 regimens in patients with DDR-WT tumors.

Conclusions: Mutations in DDR genes were present in 22% of patients with mCRC. In patients with DDR-mutated tumors, initial treatment with FOLFOX/XELOX correlated with improved OS and a numerically higher RR compared with FOLFIRI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/COC.0000000000000785DOI Listing
February 2021

Nanoliposomal Irinotecan and Metronomic Temozolomide for Patients With Recurrent Glioblastoma: BrUOG329, A Phase I Brown University Oncology Research Group Trial.

Am J Clin Oncol 2021 02;44(2):49-52

Brown University Oncology Research Group, Providence, RI.

Background: Liposomal formulations may improve the solubility and bioavailability of drugs potentially increasing their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. We performed a phase I study to determine the maximum tolerated dose and preliminary efficacy of pegylated nanoliposomal irinotecan (nal-IRI)+metronomic temozolomide (TMZ) in patients with recurrent glioblastoma.

Patients And Methods: Patients with glioblastoma who progressed after at least 1 line of therapy were eligible. All patients received TMZ 50 mg/m2/d until disease progression. Three dose levels of nal-IRI were planned, 50, 70, and 80 mg/m2, intravenously every 2 weeks. Patients were accrued in a 3+3 design. The study included a preliminary assessment after the first 13 evaluable patients. The trial would be terminated early if 0 or 1 responses were observed in these patients.

Results: Twelve patients were treated over 2 dose levels (nal-IRI 50 and 70 mg/m2). At dose level 2, nal-IRI 70 mg/m2, 2 of 3 patients developed dose-limiting toxicities including 1 patient who developed grade 4 neutropenia and grade 3 diarrhea and anorexia and 1 patient with grade 3 diarrhea, hypokalemia fatigue, and anorexia. Accrual to dose level 1 was expanded to 9 patients. The Drug Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) reviewed the data of the initial 12 patients-there were 0/12 responses (0%) and the median progression-free survival was 2 months and accrual was halted.

Conclusions: The maximum tolerated dose of nal-IRI was 50 mg/m2 every 2 weeks with TMZ 50 mg/m2/d. The dose-limiting toxicities were diarrhea and neutropenia. No activity was seen at interim analysis and the study was terminated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/COC.0000000000000780DOI Listing
February 2021

MEK inhibitors reduce cellular expression of ACE2, pERK, pRb while stimulating NK-mediated cytotoxicity and attenuating inflammatory cytokines relevant to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Oncotarget 2020 11 17;11(46):4201-4223. Epub 2020 Nov 17.

Brown Experimentalists Against COVID-19 (BEACON) Group, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.

COVID-19 affects vulnerable populations including elderly individuals and patients with cancer. Natural Killer (NK) cells and innate-immune TRAIL suppress transformed and virally-infected cells. ACE2, and TMPRSS2 protease promote SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, while inflammatory cytokines IL-6, or G-CSF worsen COVID-19 severity. We show MEK inhibitors (MEKi) VS-6766, trametinib and selumetinib reduce ACE2 expression in human cells. In some human cells, remdesivir increases ACE2-promoter luciferase-reporter expression, ACE2 mRNA and protein, and ACE2 expression is attenuated by MEKi. In serum-deprived and stimulated cells treated with remdesivir and MEKi we observed correlations between pRB, pERK, and ACE2 expression further supporting role of proliferative state and MAPK pathway in ACE2 regulation. We show elevated cytokines in COVID-19-(+) patient plasma ( = 9) versus control ( = 11). TMPRSS2, inflammatory cytokines G-CSF, M-CSF, IL-1α, IL-6 and MCP-1 are suppressed by MEKi alone or with remdesivir. We observed MEKi stimulation of NK-cell killing of target-cells, without suppressing TRAIL-mediated cytotoxicity. Pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus with a lentiviral core and SARS-CoV-2 D614 or G614 SPIKE (S) protein on its envelope infected human bronchial epithelial cells, small airway epithelial cells, or lung cancer cells and MEKi suppressed infectivity of the pseudovirus. We show a drug class-effect with MEKi to stimulate NK cells, inhibit inflammatory cytokines and block host-factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection leading also to suppression of SARS-CoV-2-S pseudovirus infection of human cells. MEKi may attenuate SARS-CoV-2 infection to allow immune responses and antiviral agents to control disease progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27799DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7679035PMC
November 2020

Phase III Trial of Avelumab Maintenance After First-Line Induction Chemotherapy Versus Continuation of Chemotherapy in Patients With Gastric Cancers: Results From JAVELIN Gastric 100.

J Clin Oncol 2021 Mar 16;39(9):966-977. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Purpose: The role of maintenance therapy for gastric (GC) or gastroesophageal junction cancer (GEJC) is unclear. We investigated avelumab (anti-programmed death ligand-1 [PD-L1]) maintenance after first-line induction chemotherapy for GC/GEJC.

Patients And Methods: JAVELIN Gastric 100 was a global, open-label, phase III trial. Eligible patients had untreated, unresectable, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, locally advanced or metastatic GC or GEJC. Patients without progressive disease after 12 weeks of first-line chemotherapy with oxaliplatin plus a fluoropyrimidine were randomly assigned 1:1 to avelumab 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks or continued chemotherapy, stratified by region (Asia non-Asia). The primary end point was overall survival (OS) after induction chemotherapy in all randomly assigned patients or the PD-L1-positive randomly assigned population (≥ 1% of tumor cells; 73-10 assay).

Results: A total of 805 patients received induction; 499 were randomly assigned to avelumab (n = 249) or continued chemotherapy (n = 250). Median OS was 10.4 months (95% CI, 9.1 to 12.0 months) versus 10.9 months (95% CI, 9.6 to 12.4 months) and 24-month OS rate was 22.1% versus 15.5% with avelumab versus chemotherapy, respectively (hazard ratio [HR], 0.91; 95% CI, 0.74 to 1.11; = .1779). In the PD-L1-positive population (n = 54), the HR for OS was 1.13 (95% CI, 0.57 to 2.23; = .6352). In an exploratory analysis of the PD-L1-positive population, defined as combined positive score ≥ 1 (22C3 assay; n = 137), median OS was 14.9 months (95% CI, 8.7 to 17.3 months) with avelumab versus 11.6 months (95% CI, 8.4 to 12.6 months) with chemotherapy (unstratified HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.49 to 1.05). With avelumab and chemotherapy, treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) occurred in 149 (61.3%) and 184 (77.3%) patients, including grade ≥ 3 TRAEs in 31 (12.8%) and 78 (32.8%) patients, respectively.

Conclusion: JAVELIN Gastric 100 did not demonstrate superior OS with avelumab maintenance versus continued chemotherapy in patients with advanced GC or GEJC overall or in a prespecified PD-L1-positive population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.00892DOI Listing
March 2021

Commentary: GSK-3 Inhibition as a Therapeutic Approach Against SARs CoV2: Dual Benefit of Inhibiting Viral Replication While Potentiating the Immune Response.

Front Immunol 2020 19;11:595289. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Division of Hematology/Oncology, Lifespan Cancer Institute, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.595289DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7604263PMC
November 2020

ONC201 and imipridones: Anti-cancer compounds with clinical efficacy.

Neoplasia 2020 12 23;22(12):725-744. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, 70 Ship Street, Room 537, Providence, RI 02912, USA. Electronic address:

ONC201 was originally discovered as TNF-Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL)-inducing compound TIC10. ONC201 appears to act as a selective antagonist of the G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2), and as an allosteric agonist of mitochondrial protease caseinolytic protease P (ClpP). Downstream of target engagement, ONC201 activates the ATF4/CHOP-mediated integrated stress response leading to TRAIL/Death Receptor 5 (DR5) activation, inhibits oxidative phosphorylation via c-myc, and inactivates Akt/ERK signaling in tumor cells. This typically results in DR5/TRAIL-mediated apoptosis of tumor cells; however, DR5/TRAIL-independent apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, or antiproliferative effects also occur. The effects of ONC201 extend beyond bulk tumor cells to include cancer stem cells, cancer associated fibroblasts and immune cells within the tumor microenvironment that can contribute to its efficacy. ONC201 is orally administered, crosses the intact blood brain barrier, and is under evaluation in clinical trials in patients with advanced solid tumors and hematological malignancies. ONC201 has single agent clinical activity in tumor types that are enriched for DRD2 and/or ClpP expression including specific subtypes of high-grade glioma, endometrial cancer, prostate cancer, mantle cell lymphoma, and adrenal tumors. Synergy with radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immune-checkpoint agents has been identified in preclinical models and is being evaluated in clinical trials. Structure-activity relationships based on the core pharmacophore of ONC201, termed the imipridone scaffold, revealed novel potent compounds that are being developed. Imipridones represent a novel approach to therapeutically target previously undruggable GPCRs, ClpP, and innate immune pathways in oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neo.2020.09.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7588802PMC
December 2020

The Landscape of Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 Beta Genomic Alterations in Cancer.

Mol Cancer Ther 2021 01 21;20(1):183-190. Epub 2020 Oct 21.

The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), a serine/threonine kinase, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many cancers, with involvement in cell-cycle regulation, apoptosis, and immune response. Small-molecule GSK-3β inhibitors are currently undergoing clinical investigation. Tumor sequencing has revealed genomic alterations in , yet an assessment of the genomic landscape in malignancies is lacking. This study assessed >100,000 tumors from two databases to analyze alterations. GSK-3β expression and immune cell infiltrate data were analyzed across cancer types, and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression was compared between -mutated and wild-type tumors. was mutated at a rate of 1%. The majority of mutated residues were in the kinase domain, with frequent mutations occurring in a GSK-3β substrate binding pocket. Uterine endometrioid carcinoma was the most commonly mutated (4%) tumor, and copy-number variations were most commonly observed in squamous histologies. Significant differences across cancer types for -mutated tumors were observed for B cells ( = 0.018), monocytes ( = 0.002), dendritic cells ( = 0.005), neutrophils ( = 0.0003), and endothelial cells ( = 0.014). mRNA expression was highest in melanoma. The frequency of PD-L1 expression was higher among -mutated tumors compared with wild type in colorectal cancer ( = 0.03), endometrial cancer ( = 0.05), melanoma ( = 0.02), ovarian carcinoma ( = 0.0001), and uterine sarcoma ( = 0.002). Overall, molecular alterations were detected in approximately 1% of solid tumors, tumors with mutations displayed a microenvironment with increased infiltration of B cells, and mutations were associated with increased PD-L1 expression in selected histologies. These results advance the understanding of GSK-3β complex signaling network interfacing with key pathways involved in carcinogenesis and immune response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-20-0497DOI Listing
January 2021

Adjuvant FOLFOX+Nab-Paclitaxel (FOLFOX-A) for Pancreatic Cancer: A Brown University Oncology Research Group Phase II Study (BrUOG295).

Am J Clin Oncol 2020 12;43(12):857-860

The Rhode Island Hospital/Lifespan Cancer Institute and The Brown University Oncology Research Group, Providence, RI.

Objectives: Multiple clinical trials have established a role for adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Adjuvant FOLFIRINOX increases survival as compared with gemcitabine but with increased toxicity. FOLFOX+nab-paclitaxel (FOLFOX-A) was developed by the Brown University Oncology Research Group (BrUOG) as an alternative to FOLFIRINOX. This phase II trial explored the feasibility and toxicity of adjuvant FOLFOX-A in patients who have completed resection for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Patients And Methods: Patients with resected pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma were eligible. The primary objective was to determine the feasibility of adjuvant FOLFOX-A. Patients experiencing grade 2 neuropathy received a 20% reduction of oxaliplatin. Secondary end points were disease-free survival, and overall survival.

Results: Between June 2014 and October 2018, 25 patients were enrolled following surgical resection. The median number of cycles completed was 9.5. Median disease-free survival was 19.7 months (95% confidence interval, 10.3 to not reached) and median overall survival was 53.5 months (95% confidence interval, 24.2 to not reached). The most common treatment-related grade 3 or greater adverse events were fatigue (58%), nausea (13%), and neutropenia (26%). Fourteen patients had grade 2 neuropathy (58%) and 1 patient (4%) had grade 3 neuropathy. Only 2 patients (8%) had grade 3 diarrhea.

Conclusions: Adjuvant FOLFOX-A is a feasible multi-agent adjuvant treatment regimen and, with further validation, could be an alternative to FOLFIRINOX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/COC.0000000000000762DOI Listing
December 2020

Impact of Diabetes and Insulin Use on Prognosis in Patients With Resected Pancreatic Cancer: An Ancillary Analysis of NRG Oncology RTOG 9704.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Jan 26;109(1):201-211. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

Purpose: Diabetes mellitus (DM) has been proposed to be tumorigenic; however, prior studies of the association between DM and survival are conflicting. The goal of this ancillary analysis of RTOG 9704, a randomized controlled trial of adjuvant chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer, was to determine the prognostic effects of DM and insulin use on survival.

Methods And Materials: Eligible patients from RTOG 9704 with available data on DM and insulin use were included. Overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and variable levels were compared using log-rank test. Cox proportional hazards models were created to assess the associations among DM, insulin use, and body mass index phenotypes on outcomes.

Results: Of 538 patients enrolled from 1998 to 2002, 238 patients were eligible with analyzable DM and insulin use data. Overall 34% of patients had DM and 66% did not. Of patients with DM, 64% had insulin-dependent DM, and 36% had non-insulin-dependent DM. On univariable analysis, neither DM nor insulin dependence were associated with OS or DFS (P > .05 for all). On multivariable analysis, neither DM, insulin use, nor body mass index were independently associated with OS or DFS. Nonwhite race (hazard ratio [HR], 2.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.35-3.50; P = .0014), nodal involvement (HR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.24-2.45; P = .0015), and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) ≥90 U/mL (HR, 3.61; 95% CI, 2.32-5.63; P < .001) were associated with decreased OS. Nonwhite race (HR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.05-2.63; P = .029) and CA19-9 ≥90 U/mL (HR, 2.86; 95% CI, 1.85-4.40; P < .001) were associated with decreased DFS.

Conclusions: DM and insulin use were not associated with OS or DFS in patients with pancreatic cancer in this study. Race, nodal involvement, and increased CA19-9 were significant predictors of outcomes. These data might apply to the more modern use of neoadjuvant therapies for potentially resectable pancreatic cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2020.08.042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7736166PMC
January 2021

Correction: AMG-232 sensitizes high MDM2-expressing tumor cells to T-cell-mediated killing.

Cell Death Discov 2020 7;6:71. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Joint Program in Cancer Biology, Brown University and Lifespan Health System, Providence, RI USA.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1038/s41420-020-0292-1.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41420-020-00310-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414103PMC
August 2020

Natural Killer cell activation, reduced ACE2, TMPRSS2, cytokines G-CSF, M-CSF and SARS-CoV-2-S pseudovirus infectivity by MEK inhibitor treatment of human cells.

bioRxiv 2020 Aug 3. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

COVID-19 affects vulnerable populations including elderly individuals and patients with cancer. Natural Killer (NK) cells and innate-immune TRAIL suppress transformed and virally-infected cells. ACE2, and TMPRSS2 protease promote SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, while inflammatory cytokines IL-6, or G-CSF worsen COVID-19 severity. We show MEK inhibitors (MEKi) VS-6766, trametinib and selumetinib reduce ACE2 expression in human cells. Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine increase cleaved active SP-domain of TMPRSS2, and this is potentiated by MEKi. In some human cells, remdesivir increases ACE2-promoter luciferase-reporter expression, ACE2 mRNA and protein, and ACE2 expression is attenuated by MEKi. We show elevated cytokines in COVID-19- (+) patient plasma (N=9) versus control (N=11). TMPRSS2, inflammatory cytokines G-CSF, M- CSF, IL-1a, IL-6 and MCP-1 are suppressed by MEKi alone or in combination with remdesivir. MEKi enhance NK cell (but not T-cell) killing of target-cells, without suppressing TRAIL-mediated cytotoxicity. We generated a pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus with a lentiviral core but with the SARS-CoV-2 D614 or G614 SPIKE (S) protein on its envelope and used VSV-G lentivirus as a negative control. Our results show infection of human bronchial epithelial cells or lung cancer cells and that MEKi suppress infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2-S pseudovirus following infection. We show a drug class-effect with MEKi to promote immune responses involving NK cells, inhibit inflammatory cytokines and block host-factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection leading also to suppression of SARS-CoV-2-S pseudovirus infection of human cells in a model system. MEKi may attenuate coronavirus infection to allow immune responses and antiviral agents to control COVID-19 disease progression and severity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.02.230839DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7418728PMC
August 2020

AMG-232 sensitizes high MDM2-expressing tumor cells to T-cell-mediated killing.

Cell Death Discov 2020 6;6:57. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Joint Program in Cancer Biology, Brown University and Lifespan Health System, Providence, RI USA.

Oncogenic mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2) is an E3-ubiquitin ligase that facilitates proteasomal degradation of p53. MDM2 amplification occurs in cancer and has been implicated in accelerated tumor growth, known as hyper-progression, following immune-checkpoint therapy. MDM2 amplification also predicts poor response to immune-checkpoint inhibitors. We sought to evaluate the role of MDM2 in T-cell-mediated immune resistance. Ovarian clear cell carcinoma cell lines carrying wild-type p53 with low/high MDM2 expression were investigated in a T-cell co-culture system evaluating T-cell-mediated tumor killing. Targeting of MDM2 was achieved by siRNA transfection or a selective MDM2 inhibitor, AMG-232 and tumor cells were tested in the T-cell co-culture system. AMG-232 activated p53 signaling in cancer cells and relative resistance to AMG-232 was observed in high MDM2-expressing cell lines. Cell lines with high MDM2 expression were more resistant to T cell-mediated tumor killing. Targeting MDM2 by gene-silencing or pharmacological blockade with AMG-232 enhanced T-cell killing of cancer cells. AMG-232 potentiated tumor cell killing by T-cells in combination with anti-PD-1 antibody treatment, regardless of changes in PD-L1 expression. The AMG-232 was not toxic to the T-cells. MDM2 inhibition lowered expression of Interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory pro-tumorigenic cytokine. Our data support targeting MDM2 in tumors with overexpression or amplification of MDM2 as a precision therapy approach to overcome drug resistance including hyper-progression in the context of immune checkpoint therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41420-020-0292-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7338458PMC
July 2020

Marital Status and Overall Survival in Patients with Resectable Pancreatic Cancer: Results of an Ancillary Analysis of NRG Oncology/RTOG 9704.

Oncologist 2020 03 16;25(3):e477-e483. Epub 2019 Dec 16.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

Background: Several registry-based analyses suggested a survival advantage for married versus single patients with pancreatic cancer. The mechanisms underlying the association of marital status and survival are likely multiple and complex and, therefore, may be obscured in analyses generated from large population-based databases. The goal of this research was to characterize this potential association of marital status with outcomes in patients with resected pancreatic cancer who underwent combined modality adjuvant therapy on a prospective clinical trial.

Materials And Methods: This is an ancillary analysis of 367 patients with known marital status treated on NRG Oncology/RTOG 97-04. Survival analysis was performed using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Multivariate analysis was performed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model.

Results: Of 367 patients, 271 (74%) were married or partnered and 96 (26%) were single. Married or partnered patients were more likely to be male. There was no association between marital status and overall survival (OS) or disease-free survival (DFS) on univariate (hazard ratio [HR], 1.09 and 1.01, respectively) or multivariate analyses (HR, 1.05 and 0.98, respectively). Married or partnered male patients did not have improved survival compared with female or single patients.

Conclusion: Ancillary analysis of data from NRG Oncology/RTOG 97-04 demonstrated no association between marital and/or partner status and OS or DFS in patients with resected pancreatic cancer who received adjuvant postoperative chemotherapy followed by concurrent external beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Clinical trial identification number. NCT00003216.

Implications For Practice: Several population-based studies have shown an epidemiological link between marital status and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer. A better understanding of this association could offer an opportunity to improve outcomes through psychosocial interventions designed to mitigate the negative effects of not being married. Based on the results of this analysis, patients who have undergone a resection and are receiving adjuvant therapy on a clinical trial are unlikely to benefit from such interventions. Further efforts to study the association between marital status and survival should be focused on less selected subgroups of patients with pancreatic cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0562DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7066692PMC
March 2020

Prometastatic secretome trafficking via exosomes initiates pancreatic cancer pulmonary metastasis.

Cancer Lett 2020 07 4;481:63-75. Epub 2020 Mar 4.

Liver Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, 02903, USA; Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, 73104, USA. Electronic address:

To demonstrate multifaceted contribution of aspartate β-hydroxylase (ASPH) to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) pathogenesis, in vitro metastasis assay and patient derived xenograft (PDX) murine models were established. ASPH propagates aggressive phenotypes characterized by enhanced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), 2-D/3-D invasion, extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation/remodeling, angiogenesis, stemness, transendothelial migration and metastatic colonization/outgrowth at distant sites. Mechanistically, ASPH activates Notch cascade through direct physical interactions with Notch1/JAGs and ADAMs. The ASPH-Notch axis enables prometastatic secretome trafficking via exosomes, subsequently initiates MMPs mediated ECM degradation/remodeling as an effector for invasiveness. Consequently, ASPH fosters primary tumor development and pulmonary metastasis in PDX models, which was blocked by a newly developed small molecule inhibitor (SMI) specifically against ASPH's β-hydroxylase activity. Clinically, ASPH is silenced in normal pancreas, progressively upregulated from pre-malignant lesions to invasive/advanced stage PDAC. Relatively high levels of ASPH-Notch network components independently/jointly predict curtailed overall survival (OS) in PDAC patients (log-rank test, Ps < 0.001; Cox proportional hazards regression, P < 0.001). Therefore, ASPH-Notch axis is essential for propagating multiple-steps of metastasis and predicts prognosis of PDAC patients. A specific SMI targeting ASPH offers a novel therapeutic approach to substantially retard PDAC development/progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2020.02.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7309190PMC
July 2020

Results of the NRG Oncology/RTOG 0848 Adjuvant Chemotherapy Question-Erlotinib+Gemcitabine for Resected Cancer of the Pancreatic Head: A Phase II Randomized Clinical Trial.

Am J Clin Oncol 2020 03;43(3):173-179

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer, New York.

Purpose: NRG/RTOG 0848 was designed to determine whether adjuvant radiation with fluoropyrimidine sensitization improved survival following gemcitabine-based adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with resected pancreatic head adenocarcinoma. In step 1 of this protocol, patients were randomized to adjuvant gemcitabine versus the combination of gemcitabine and erlotinib. This manuscript reports the final analysis of these step 1 data.

Methods: Eligibility-within 10 weeks of curative intent pancreaticoduodenectomy with postoperative CA19-9<180. Gemcitabine arm-6 cycles of gemcitabine. Gemcitabine+erlotinib arm-gemcitabine and erlotinib 100 mg/d. Two hundred deaths provided 90% power (1-sided α=0.15) to detect the hypothesized OS signal (hazard ratio=0.72) in favor of the arm 2.

Results: From November 17, 2009 to February 28, 2014, 163 patients were randomized and evaluable for arm 1 and 159 for arm 2. Median age was 63 (39 to 86) years. CA19-9 ≤90 in 93%. Arm 1: 32 patients (20%) grade 4 and 2 (1%) grade 5 adverse events; arm 2, 27 (17%) grade 4 and 3 (2%) grade 5. GI adverse events, arm 1: 22% grade ≥3 and arm 2: 28%, (P=0.22). The median follow-up (surviving patients) was 42.5 months (min-max: <1 to 75). With 203 deaths, the median and 3-year OS (95% confidence interval) are 29.9 months (21.7, 33.4) and 39% (30, 45) for arm 1 and 28.1 months (20.7, 30.9) and 39% (31, 47) for arm 2 (log-rank P=0.62). Hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) comparing OS of arm 2 to arm 1 is 1.04 (0.79, 1.38).

Conclusions: The addition of adjuvant erlotinib to gemcitabine did not provide a signal for increased OS in this trial.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/COC.0000000000000633DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7280743PMC
March 2020

Aspartate β-hydroxylase promotes pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma metastasis through activation of SRC signaling pathway.

J Hematol Oncol 2019 12 30;12(1):144. Epub 2019 Dec 30.

Liver Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, 55 Claverick Street, 4th Fl., Providence, RI, 02903, USA.

Background: Signaling pathways critical for embryonic development re-emerge in adult pancreas during tumorigenesis. Aspartate β-hydroxylase (ASPH) drives embryonic cell motility/invasion in pancreatic development/differentiation. We explored if dysregulated ASPH is critically involved in pancreatic cancer pathogenesis.

Methods: To demonstrate if/how ASPH mediates malignant phenotypes, proliferation, migration, 2-D/3-D invasion, pancreatosphere formation, immunofluorescence, Western blot, co-immunoprecipitation, invadopodia formation/maturation/function, qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and self-developed in vitro metastasis assays were performed. Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) were established to illustrate in vivo antitumor effects of the third-generation small molecule inhibitor specifically against ASPH's β-hydroxylase activity. Prognostic values of ASPH network components were evaluated with Kaplan-Meier plots, log-rank tests, and Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results: ASPH renders pancreatic cancer cells more aggressive phenotypes characterized by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), 2-D/3-D invasion, invadopodia formation/function as demonstrated by extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation, stemness (cancer stem cell marker upregulation and pancreatosphere formation), transendothelial migration (mimicking intravasation/extravasation), and sphere formation (mimicking metastatic colonization/outgrowth at distant sites). Mechanistically, ASPH activates SRC cascade through direct physical interaction with ADAM12/ADAM15 independent of FAK. The ASPH-SRC axis enables invadopodia construction and initiates MMP-mediated ECM degradation/remodeling as executors for invasiveness. Pharmacologic inhibition of invadopodia attenuates in vitro metastasis. ASPH fosters primary tumor development and pulmonary metastasis in PDX models of PDAC, which is blocked by a leading compound specifically against ASPH enzymatic activity. ASPH is silenced in normal pancreas, progressively upregulated from pre-malignant lesions to invasive/advanced stages of PDAC. Expression profiling of ASPH-SRC network components independently/jointly predicts clinical outcome of PDAC patients. Compared to a negative-low level, a moderate-very high level of ASPH, ADAM12, activated SRC, and MMPs correlated with curtailed overall survival (OS) of pancreatic cancer patients (log-rank test, ps < 0.001). The more unfavorable molecules patients carry, the more deleterious prognosis is destinated. Patients with 0-2 (n = 4), 3-5 (n = 8), 6-8 (n = 24), and 9-12 (n = 73) unfavorable expression scores of the 5 molecules had median survival time of 55.4, 15.9, 9.7, and 5.0 months, respectively (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Targeting the ASPH-SRC axis, which is essential for propagating multi-step PDAC metastasis, may specifically/substantially retard development/progression and thus improve prognosis of PDAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13045-019-0837-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937817PMC
December 2019

Phase I and Pharmacology Study of Ropidoxuridine (IPdR) as Prodrug for Iododeoxyuridine-Mediated Tumor Radiosensitization in Advanced GI Cancer Undergoing Radiation.

Clin Cancer Res 2019 10 23;25(20):6035-6043. Epub 2019 Jul 23.

Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP), NCI, Bethesda, Maryland.

Purpose: Iododeoxyuridine (IUdR) is a potent radiosensitizer; however, its clinical utility is limited by dose-limiting systemic toxicities and the need for prolonged continuous infusion. 5-Iodo-2-pyrimidinone-2'-deoxyribose (IPdR) is an oral prodrug of IUdR that, compared with IUdR, is easier to administer and less toxic, with a more favorable therapeutic index in preclinical studies. Here, we report the clinical and pharmacologic results of a first-in-human phase I dose escalation study of IPdR + concurrent radiation therapy (RT) in patients with advanced metastatic gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.

Patients And Methods: Adult patients with metastatic GI cancers referred for palliative RT to the chest, abdomen, or pelvis were eligible for study. Patients received IPdR orally once every day × 28 days beginning 7 days before the initiation of RT (37.5 Gy in 2.5 Gy × 15 fractions). A 2-part dose escalation scheme was used, pharmacokinetic studies were performed at multiple time points, and all patients were assessed for toxicity and response to Day 56.

Results: Nineteen patients were entered on study. Dose-limiting toxicity was encountered at 1,800 mg every day, and the recommended phase II dose is 1,200 mg every day. Pharmacokinetic analyses demonstrated achievable and sustainable levels of plasma IUdR ≥1 μmol/L (levels previously shown to mediate radiosensitization). Two complete, 3 partial, and 9 stable responses were achieved in target lesions.

Conclusions: Administration of IPdR orally every day × 28 days with RT is feasible and tolerable at doses that produce plasma IUdR levels ≥1 μmol/L. These results support the investigation of IPdR + RT in phase II studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-0862DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6801071PMC
October 2019

: a novel gene fusion in hepatic angiosarcoma.

Oncotarget 2019 Jan 4;10(2):245-251. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Lifespan Cancer Institute, Warren-Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

Hepatic angiosarcoma (HAS) is a rare and highly lethal malignancy with few effective systemic treatments. Relatively little is known about the genetic abnormalities that drive this disease. As a result, there has been minimal progress towards applying targeted therapies to the treatment of HAS. We describe the first reported case of a patient with HAS that harbored a fusion of with . Similar to other rearrangements involving , the resulting fusion protein is believed to act as a major driver of carcinogenesis and may be subject to inhibition by drugs that target such as crizotinib. We then queried the MSK-IMPACT clinical sequencing cohort and cBioportal datasets, demonstrating the previously unknown prevalence of fusions in soft tissue sarcomas and hepatobiliary cancers. Amplification of these genes was also found to correlate with reduced overall survival. This is followed by a review of the role played by rearrangements in cancer, as well as the evidence supporting the use of targeted therapies against the resulting fusion protein. We suggest that testing for ROS1 fusion and, if positive, treatment with a targeted therapy could be considered at the time of diagnosis for patients with angiosarcoma. This report also highlights the need for further investigation into the molecular pathophysiology of this deadly disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26521DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6349438PMC
January 2019

Avelumab (anti-PD-L1) as first-line switch-maintenance or second-line therapy in patients with advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer: phase 1b results from the JAVELIN Solid Tumor trial.

J Immunother Cancer 2019 02 4;7(1):30. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

Brown University, Providence, USA.

Background: We evaluated the antitumor activity and safety of avelumab, a human anti-PD-L1 IgG1 antibody, as first-line switch-maintenance (1 L-mn) or second-line (2 L) treatment in patients with advanced gastric/gastroesophageal cancer (GC/GEJC) previously treated with chemotherapy.

Methods: In a phase 1b expansion cohort, patients without (1 L-mn) or with (2 L) disease progression following first-line chemotherapy for advanced GC/GEJC received avelumab 10 mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks. Endpoints included best overall response, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and safety.

Results: Overall, 150 patients were enrolled (1 L-mn, n = 90; 2 L, n = 60) and median follow-up in the 1 L-mn and 2 L subgroups was 36.0 and 33.7 months, respectively. The confirmed objective response rate was 6.7% in both subgroups (95% CI, 2.5-13.9% and 1.8-16.2%, respectively), including complete responses in 2.2% of the 1 L-mn subgroup (n = 2). In the 1 L-mn and 2 L subgroups, median duration of response was 21.4 months (95% CI, 4.0-not estimable) and 3.5 months (95% CI, 2.8-8.3) and disease control rates were 56.7 and 28.3%, respectively. Median PFS in the 1 L-mn and 2 L subgroups was 2.8 months (95% CI, 2.3-4.1) and 1.4 months (95% CI, 1.3-1.5), with 6-month PFS rates of 23.0% (95% CI, 14.7-32.4%) and 7.9% (95% CI, 2.6-17.2%), and median OS was 11.1 months (95% CI, 8.9-13.7) and 6.6 months (95% CI, 5.4-9.4), respectively. In the 1 L-mn subgroup, median OS measured from start of 1 L chemotherapy was 18.7 months (95% CI, 15.4-20.6). Across both subgroups, 20.7% had an infusion-related reaction of any grade. Other common treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) of any grade included fatigue (10.0%) and nausea (6.7%). Treatment-related serious adverse events occurred in 4.0% of patients. Overall, 8.7% had a grade ≥3 TRAE, including 1 treatment-related death.

Conclusion: Avelumab showed clinical activity and an acceptable safety profile in patients with GC/GEJC.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01772004 ; registered 21 January 2013.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0508-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6362598PMC
February 2019

Postresection CA19-9 and margin status as predictors of recurrence after adjuvant treatment for pancreatic carcinoma: Analysis of NRG oncology RTOG trial 9704.

Adv Radiat Oncol 2018 Apr-Jun;3(2):154-162. Epub 2018 Feb 9.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: NRG Oncology RTOG 9704 was the first adjuvant trial to validate the prognostic value of postresection CA19-9 levels for survival in patients with pancreatic carcinoma. The data resulting from this study also provide information about predictors of recurrence that may be used to tailor individualized management in this disease setting. This secondary analysis assessed the prognostic value of postresection CA19-9 and surgical margin status (SMS) in predicting patterns of disease recurrence.

Methods And Materials: This multicenter cooperative trial included participants who were enrolled as patients at oncology treatment sites in the United States and Canada. The study included 451 patients analyzable for SMS, of whom 385 were eligible for postresection CA19-9 analysis. Postresection CA19-9 was analyzed at cut points of 90, 180, and continuously. Patterns of disease recurrence included local/regional recurrence (LRR) and distant failure (DF). Multivariable analyses included treatment, tumor size, and nodal status. To adjust for multiple comparisons, a value of ≤ .01 was considered statistically significant and > .01 to ≤ .05 to be a trend.

Results: For CA19-9, 132 (34%) patients were Lewis antigen-negative (no CA19-9 expression), 200 (52%) had levels <90, and 220 (57%) had levels <180. A total of 188 patients (42%) had negative margins, 152 (34%) positive, and 111 (25%) unknown. On univariate analysis, CA19-9 cut at 90 was associated with increases in LRR (trend) and DF. Results were similar at the 180 cut point. SMS was not associated with an increase in LRR on univariate or multivariate analyses. On multivariable analysis, CA19-9 ≥ 90 was associated with increased LRR and DF. Results were similar at the 180 cut point.

Conclusions: In this prospective evaluation, postresection CA19-9 was a significant predictor of both LRR and DF, whereas SMS was not. These findings support consideration of adjuvant radiation therapy dose intensification in patients with elevated postresection CA19-9.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adro.2018.01.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6000159PMC
February 2018

Tolerability of ADXS11-001 Lm-LLO Listeria-Based Immunotherapy With Mitomycin, Fluorouracil, and Radiation for Anal Cancer.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2018 04 31;100(5):1175-1178. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

The Department of Medicine, The Brown University Oncology Research Group, Providence, Rhode Island.

Purpose: To obtain safety and preliminary efficacy data of the combination of ADXS11-001, live attenuated Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, with mitomycin, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and intensity modulated radiation therapy in locally advanced anal cancer.

Patients And Methods: Eligibility included patients with previously untreated, nonmetastatic anal cancer with a primary tumor >4 cm or node-positive disease. Patients received 2 cycles of mitomycin and 5-FU concurrent with 54.0 Gy intensity modulated radiation therapy. One intravenous dose of ADXS11-001 (1 × 10 colony-forming units) was administered before chemoradiation; 3 additional monthly doses were given after chemoradiation.

Results: Ten patients were treated, including 1 with N2 and 4 with N3 disease. Two patients had grade 3 acute toxicities after the initial dose of ADXS11-001, including chills/rigors (n = 2), back pain (n = 1), and hyponatremia (n = 1). All ADXS11-001 toxicities occurred within 24 hours of administration. There was no apparent increase in chemoradiation toxicities or myelosuppression. One patient had a grade 5 cardiopulmonary event shortly after beginning 5-FU treatment. All 9 assessable patients had complete clinical responses by sigmoidoscopy. Eight of 9 patients (89%) are progression-free at a median follow-up of 42 months.

Conclusions: Preliminary data show that ADXS11-001 can be safely administered with standard chemoradiation for anal cancer. Further studies of listeria-based immunotherapy with radiation are warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2018.01.004DOI Listing
April 2018

Prechemotherapy Education: Reducing Patient Anxiety Through Nurse-Led Teaching Sessions
.

Clin J Oncol Nurs 2018 02;22(1):76-82

Background: Patients with cancer experience stress surrounding diagnosis and treatment. Many cancer centers employ a nurse-led education session to alleviate patient anxiety and confusion.
.

Objectives: The goal was to evaluate the effect of a nurse-led chemotherapy teaching session on patients' knowledge, anxiety, and preparedness for 
cancer-directed therapy.
.

Methods: After discussing treatment with their oncologist, participants completed a survey assessing their perceived understanding of various treatment topics. After, they underwent a teaching session with an oncology nurse. The survey was readministered when patients returned for their first and second treatment cycles.
.

Findings: Significant increases were observed in patients' understanding of their treatment schedule, potential adverse effects, and antiemetic medication regimen by the first cycle of therapy and a reduction in treatment-related anxiety by the second cycle of therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1188/18.CJON.76-82DOI Listing
February 2018

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase II Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Monotherapy Ontuxizumab (MORAb-004) Plus Best Supportive Care in Patients with Chemorefractory Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2018 01 30;24(2):316-325. Epub 2017 Oct 30.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of ontuxizumab (MORAb-004), a monoclonal antibody that interferes with endosialin (tumor endothelial marker-1) function, in patients with chemorefractory metastatic colorectal cancer and to identify a responsive patient population based on biomarkers. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase II study. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive weekly intravenous ontuxizumab (8 mg/kg) or placebo plus best supportive care until progression or unacceptable toxicity. Tissue and blood biomarkers were evaluated for their ability to identify a patient population that was responsive to ontuxizumab. A total of 126 patients were enrolled. No significant difference between the ontuxizumab and placebo groups was evident for the primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS), with a median PFS of 8.1 weeks in each group (HR, 1.13; 95% confidence interval, 0.76-1.67; = 0.53). There were no significant differences between groups for overall survival (OS) or overall response rate (ORR). The most common treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) in the ontuxizumab group (vs. the placebo group, respectively) were fatigue (53.7% vs. 47.5%), nausea (39.0% vs. 35.0%), decreased appetite (34.1% vs. 27.5%), and constipation (28.0% vs. 32.5%). The most common grade 3/4 TEAE in the ontuxizumab group versus placebo was back pain (11.0% vs. 0%). No single biomarker clearly identified patients responsive to ontuxizumab. No benefit with ontuxizumab monotherapy compared with placebo for clinical response parameters of PFS, OS, or ORR was demonstrated. Ontuxizumab was well tolerated. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-1558DOI Listing
January 2018

Eltrombopag for thrombocytopenia in patients with advanced solid tumors receiving gemcitabine-based chemotherapy: a randomized, placebo-controlled phase 2 study.

Int J Hematol 2017 Dec 1;106(6):765-776. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

Center Hospital of the Ardenne, Libramont, Belgium.

In this phase 2 study, patients with solid tumors receiving gemcitabine monotherapy or gemcitabine plus cisplatin/carboplatin were randomized 2:1 to eltrombopag 100 mg (n = 52) or placebo (n = 23) for 5 days before and after chemotherapy was started. The primary endpoint was prechemotherapy (Day 1) platelet count across ≤6 cycles. Prechemotherapy platelet counts were numerically higher with eltrombopag than placebo. Frequencies of grades 3/4 thrombocytopenia were lower with eltrombopag in both the combination therapy (77 vs. 100%) and monotherapy (36 vs. 42%) groups. Proportionately fewer eltrombopag-treated patients had platelet counts <100 × 10/L at nadir. Among patients receiving combination chemotherapy, mean time to recovery from platelet nadir was 8 days with eltrombopag vs. 15 days with placebo. Eltrombopag-treated patients had fewer dose delays/reductions or missed doses due to thrombocytopenia in both the combination therapy (77 vs. 91%) and monotherapy (62 vs. 83%) groups. Adverse events and serious adverse events were less frequent with eltrombopag in both chemotherapy groups, with reduced rates of anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia in patients receiving combination chemotherapy. In conclusion, eltrombopag treatment shortened the time to recovery from platelet nadir in patients treated with gemcitabine-based chemotherapy and reduced dose delays/reductions due to thrombocytopenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12185-017-2319-9DOI Listing
December 2017

Therapeutic options for treatment of human papillomavirus-associated cancers - novel immunologic vaccines: ADXS11-001.

Gynecol Oncol Res Pract 2017 14;4:10. Epub 2017 Jul 14.

Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Arizona Oncology (US Oncology Network), University of Arizona College of Medicine, Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital, 2222 E. Highland Ave, Suite 400, Phoenix, AZ 85016 USA.

Survival of patients with advanced, recurrent, or metastatic human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancer is suboptimal despite the availability of various treatment modalities. The recently developed bacterial vector () activates innate and adaptive immune responses and is expected to offer immunologic advantages. Axalimogene filolisbac (AXAL or ADXS11-001) is a novel immunotherapeutic based on the live, irreversibly attenuated fused to the nonhemolytic fragment of listeriolysin O (-LLO) and secretes the -LLO-HPV E7 fusion protein targeting HPV-positive tumors. Herein are reported the development and recent results of various clinical trials in patients with HPV-associated cervical, head and neck, and anal cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40661-017-0047-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5512733PMC
July 2017

Exposure-Response Analyses of Ramucirumab from Two Randomized, Phase III Trials of Second-line Treatment for Advanced Gastric or Gastroesophageal Junction Cancer.

Mol Cancer Ther 2017 10 17;16(10):2215-2222. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ramucirumab is an IgG monoclonal antibody specific for the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2. Ramucirumab, 8 mg/kg every 2 weeks, administered as monotherapy (REGARD) or in combination with paclitaxel (RAINBOW), was safe and effective in patients with previously treated advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. We evaluated exposure-efficacy and exposure-safety relationships of ramucirumab from two randomized, placebo-controlled phase III trials. Sparse pharmacokinetic samples were collected, and a population pharmacokinetic analysis was conducted to predict ramucirumab minimum trough concentration at steady state (C). Kaplan-Meier methods and Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the ramucirumab exposure (C)-efficacy relationship to overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS). Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate exposure-safety relationships. Analyses included 321 ramucirumab + paclitaxel and 335 placebo + paclitaxel patients from RAINBOW and 72 ramucirumab and 35 placebo patients from REGARD. Exposure-efficacy analysis showed ramucirumab C was a significant predictor of OS and PFS in both trials. Higher ramucirumab exposure was associated with longer OS and PFS. In RAINBOW, grade ≥3 hypertension, leukopenia, and neutropenia, but not febrile neutropenia, significantly correlated with C, with increased exposure leading to increased incidence. Exploratory exposure-response analyses suggest a positive relationship between efficacy and ramucirumab exposure with manageable toxicities at exposures generated from a dose of 8 mg/kg ramucirumab given every 2 weeks for patients with advanced gastric/GEJ cancer. These findings suggest an opportunity to further optimize benefit versus risk profiles of ramucirumab treatment in patients with gastric/GEJ cancer. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-16-0895DOI Listing
October 2017

Effect of the Addition of Cetuximab to Paclitaxel, Cisplatin, and Radiation Therapy for Patients With Esophageal Cancer: The NRG Oncology RTOG 0436 Phase 3 Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2017 Nov;3(11):1520-1528

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, New York.

Importance: The role of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition in chemoradiation strategies in the nonoperative treatment of patients with esophageal cancer remains uncertain.

Objective: To evaluate the benefit of cetuximab added to concurrent chemoradiation therapy for patients undergoing nonoperative treatment of esophageal carcinoma.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored, multicenter, phase 3, randomized clinical trial open to patients with biopsy-proven carcinoma of the esophagus. The study accrued 344 patients from 2008 to 2013.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to weekly concurrent cisplatin (50 mg/m2), paclitaxel (25 mg/m2), and daily radiation of 50.4 Gy/1.8 Gy fractions with or without weekly cetuximab (400 mg/m2 on day 1 then 250 mg/m2 weekly).

Main Outcomes And Measures: Overall survival (OS) was the primary endpoint, with a study designed to detect an increase in 2-year OS from 41% to 53%; 80% power and 1-sided α = .025.

Results: Between June 30, 2008, and February 8, 2013, 344 patients were enrolled. This analysis used all data received at NRG Oncology through April 12, 2015. Sixteen patients were ineligible, resulting in 328 evaluable patients, 159 in the experimental arm and 169 in the control arm. Patients were well matched between the treatment arms for patient and tumor characteristics: 263 (80%) with T3 or T4 disease, 215 (66%) N1, and 62 (19%) with celiac nodal involvement. Incidence of grade 3, 4, or 5 treatment-related adverse events at any time was 71 (46%), 35 (23%), or 6 (4%) in the experimental arm and 83 (50%), 28 (17%), or 2 (1%) in the control arm, respectively. A clinical complete response (cCR) rate of 81 (56%) was observed in the experimental arm vs 92 (58%) in the control arm (Fisher exact test, P = .66). No differences were seen in cCR between treatment arms for either histology (adenocarcinoma or squamous cell). Median follow-up for all patients was 18.6 months. The 24- and 36-month local failure for the experimental arm was 47% (95% CI, 38%-57%) and 49% (95% CI, 40%-59%) vs 49% (95% CI, 41%-58%) and 49% (95% CI, 41%-58%) for the control arm (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.66-1.28; P = .65). The 24- and 36-month OS rates for the experimental arm were 45% (95% CI, 37%-53%) and 34% (95% CI, 26%-41%) vs 44% (95% CI, 36%-51%) and 28% (95% CI, 21%-35%) for the control arm (HR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.70-1.16; P = .47).

Conclusions And Relevance: The addition of cetuximab to concurrent chemoradiation did not improve OS. These phase 3 trial results point to little benefit to current EGFR-targeted agents in an unselected patient population, and highlight the need for predictive biomarkers in the treatment of esophageal cancer.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00655876.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.1598DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5710193PMC
November 2017

Prognostic Factor Analysis of Overall Survival in Gastric Cancer from Two Phase III Studies of Second-line Ramucirumab (REGARD and RAINBOW) Using Pooled Patient Data.

J Gastric Cancer 2017 Jun 16;17(2):132-144. Epub 2017 Jun 16.

Departments of Oncology and Hematology with Integrated Palliative Care, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Essen, Germany.

Purpose: To identify baseline prognostic factors for survival in patients with disease progression, during or after chemotherapy for the treatment of advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer.

Materials And Methods: We pooled data from patients randomized between 2009 and 2012 in 2 phase III, global double-blind studies of ramucirumab for the treatment of advanced gastric or GEJ adenocarcinoma following disease progression on first-line platinum- and/or fluoropyrimidine-containing therapy (REGARD and RAINBOW). Forty-one key baseline clinical and laboratory factors common in both studies were examined. Model building started with covariate screening using univariate Cox models (significance level=0.05). A stepwise multivariable Cox model identified the final prognostic factors (entry+exit significance level=0.01). Cox models were stratified by treatment and geographic region. The process was repeated to identify baseline prognostic quality of life (QoL) parameters.

Results: Of 1,020 randomized patients, 953 (93%) patients without any missing covariates were included in the analysis. We identified 12 independent prognostic factors of poor survival: 1) peritoneal metastases; 2) Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance score 1; 3) the presence of a primary tumor; 4) time to progression since prior therapy <6 months; 5) poor/unknown tumor differentiation; abnormally low blood levels of 6) albumin, 7) sodium, and/or 8) lymphocytes; and abnormally high blood levels of 9) neutrophils, 10) aspartate aminotransferase (AST), 11) alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and/or 12) lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Factors were used to devise a 4-tier prognostic index (median overall survival [OS] by risk [months]: high=3.4, moderate=6.4, medium=9.9, and low=14.5; Harrell's C-index=0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64-0.68). Addition of QoL to the model identified patient-reported appetite loss as an independent prognostic factor.

Conclusions: The identified prognostic factors and the reported prognostic index may help clinical decision-making, patient stratification, and planning of future clinical studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5230/jgc.2017.17.e16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489542PMC
June 2017

Prognostic significance of IgG4+ plasma cell infiltrates following neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy for esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Hum Pathol 2017 08 28;66:126-135. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Department of Pathology, Rhode Island Hospital, and Alpert Medical School at Brown University, Providence, RI 02903.

Lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates in esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) tissue following chemoradiotherapy (CRT) reflect alterations in the tumor immunoenvironment. The presence and role of plasma cells in this process are poorly understood. Our aim was to characterize the IgG4+ plasma cell population in EAC following CRT. Seventy-one esophagectomy specimens post-CRT were compared with a surgery-only group of 31 EACs. The distribution, density, and ratio of IgG4+ and IgG+ plasma cells were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and correlated with clinicopathologic features, treatment response, and survival. In the CRT group, the presence of higher numbers of IgG4+ (≥ median of 94/high-power field) and IgG+ (≥ median of 225/high-power field) plasma cells and increased IgG4+/IgG+ ratio (≥ median of 41%) within ulcers was associated with complete or near-complete treatment response (P = .0077, P = .0503, and P = .0063, respectively). Lower tumor grade, smaller tumor size, and higher levels of IgG4+ plasma cells in posttherapy ulcers significantly correlated with better overall survival, whereas pretherapy clinical stage, posttherapy pathologic stage, smaller tumor size, and lower tumor grade were associated with longer recurrence-free survival. Multivariate analysis revealed that both posttherapy pathologic stage and high IgG4+ plasma cells in ulcers were independent predictors of overall survival (P = .05 and P = .01), whereas only posttherapy pathologic stage was associated with recurrence-free survival (P < .01). This is the first study describing a dense IgG4+ plasma cell infiltrate in EAC following CRT. The presence of increased IgG4+ plasma cells may be a novel reliable factor to predict prognosis of EAC patients following CRT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2017.06.009DOI Listing
August 2017

Mechanistic insights into ADXS11-001 human papillomavirus-associated cancer immunotherapy.

Gynecol Oncol Res Pract 2017 2;4. Epub 2017 Jun 2.

Brown University Oncology Research Group, Providence, RI USA.

Immune responses to the facultative intracellular bacterium () are robust and well characterized. Utilized for decades as a model of host-disease immunology, is well suited for use as an immunotherapeutic bacterial vector for the delivery of foreign antigen. Genetic modification of has been undertaken to create an attenuated organism that is deficient in its master transcriptional regulator, protein-related factor A, and incorporates a truncated, nonhemolytic version of the listeriolysin O (LLO) molecule to ensure its adjuvant properties while also preventing escape of the live organism from the phagolysosome. Delivery of a vaccine construct (-LLO-E7; axalimogene filolisbac [AXAL] or ADXS11-001) in which the modified LLO molecule is fused with the E7 oncoprotein of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) consistently stimulates strong innate and E7 antigen-specific adaptive immune responses, resulting in reduction of tumor burden in animal cancer models. In the clinical setting, AXAL has shown early promise in phase I/II trials of women with cervical cancer, and several more trials are currently underway to assess the efficacy and safety of this antitumor vaccine in patients with HPV-positive head and neck and anal cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40661-017-0046-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455112PMC
June 2017