Publications by authors named "Stefan Englert"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of budigalimab with rovalpituzumab tesirine in patients with small cell lung cancer.

Cancer Treat Res Commun 2021 25;28:100405. Epub 2021 May 25.

Cancer Care Center, Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Agents targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) have been approved as monotherapy for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). In preclinical models, the combined targeting of PD-1 and delta-like protein 3 resulted in enhanced antitumor activity. Herein, we report results from the expansion arm of study NCT03000257 evaluating the combination of the anti-PD-1 antibody budigalimab and the targeted antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) in patients with previously treated SCLC.

Materials And Methods: This expansion arm of a multicenter, open-label, multi-arm, first-in-human phase 1 clinical trial enrolled adult patients with progressive SCLC. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability. Patients received budigalimab 375 mg via intravenous infusion every 3 weeks, and Rova-T was administered as a dose of 0.3 mg/kg intravenously, on day 1 of the first and third 3-week cycle.

Results: As of October 2019, 31 patients with SCLC were enrolled and treated with budigalimab plus Rova-T. The combination was tolerated, with the most common treatment-emergent adverse events (in >30%) being pleural effusion, fatigue, and cough. The overall response rate was 24.1%, with one confirmed complete response and six confirmed partial responses. The overall response rate in patients with high delta-like protein 3 expression was similar (21.1%). The median progression-free survival was 3.48 months.

Conclusion: Combination therapy with budigalimab and Rova-T had promising efficacy and appeared to be tolerated in patients with SCLC. Although Rova-T development has been discontinued, development of budigalimab combined with other anticancer agents is ongoing.

Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT03000257 Statement on originality of the work The manuscript represents original work and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere nor previously published. Statement of prior presentation Data from this study were previously presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctarc.2021.100405DOI Listing
May 2021

First-in-human phase 1 study of budigalimab, an anti-PD-1 inhibitor, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2021 Jul 3. Epub 2021 Jul 3.

START Madrid-FJD, Hospital Universitario Fundacion Jimenez Diaz, Madrid, Spain.

Background: Budigalimab is a humanized, recombinant immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). We present the safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetic (PK), and pharmacodynamic data from patients enrolled in the head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) expansion cohorts of the phase 1 first-in-human study of budigalimab monotherapy (NCT03000257; registered 15 December 2016).

Patients And Methods: Patients with recurrent/metastatic HNSCC or locally advanced/metastatic NSCLC naive to PD-1/PD-1-ligand inhibitors were enrolled; patients were not selected on the basis of oncogene driver mutations or PD-L1 status. Budigalimab was administered at 250 mg intravenously Q2W or 500 mg intravenously Q4W until disease progression/unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoints were safety and PK; the secondary endpoint was efficacy. Exploratory endpoints included biomarker assessments.

Results: In total, 81 patients were enrolled (HNSCC: N = 41 [PD-L1 positive: n = 19]; NSCLC: N = 40 [PD-L1 positive: n = 16]); median treatment duration was 72 days (range, 1-617) and 71 days (range, 1-490) for the HNSCC and NSCLC cohorts, respectively. The most frequent grade ≥ 3 treatment-emergent adverse event was anemia (HNSCC: n = 9, 22%; NSCLC: n = 5, 13%). Both dosing regimens had comparable drug exposure and increased interferon gamma-induced chemokines, monokine induced by gamma interferon, and interferon-gamma-inducible protein 10. Objective response rates were 13% (90% CI, 5.1-24.5) in the HNSCC cohort and 19% (90% CI, 9.2-32.6) in the NSCLC cohort. Median progression-free survival was 3.6 months (95% CI, 1.7-4.7) and 1.9 months (95% CI, 1.7-3.7) in the HNSCC and NSCLC cohorts.

Conclusions: The safety, efficacy and biomarker profiles of budigalimab are similar to other PD-1 inhibitors. Development of budigalimab in combination with novel anticancer agents is ongoing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-02973-wDOI Listing
July 2021

Mismatch of Subjective and Objective Risk of Falling in Patients with Dementia.

J Alzheimers Dis 2020 ;78(2):557-572

AGAPLESION Bethanien Hospital / Geriatric Centre at the University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Match or mismatch of objective physiological and subjectively perceived fall risk may have serious consequences in patients with dementia (PwD) while research is lacking.

Objective: To analyze mismatch of objective and subjective fall risk and associated factors in PwD.

Method: Cohort study in a geriatric rehabilitation center. Objective and subjective risk of falling were operationalized by Tinetti's Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment and the Falls Efficacy Scale-International. Four sub-groups according to objective and subjective fall risk were classified. Subgroups were compared for differences in clinical, cognitive, psychological, and behavioral variables.

Results: In geriatric rehab patients with mild to moderate dementia (n = 173), two-thirds showed a mismatch of subjective versus objective risk of falling, independently associated with previous falls. Underestimation of objective fall risk (37.6%) was determined by lower activity avoidance (OR 0.39), less concerns about falling due to previous falls (OR 0.25), and higher quality of life (OR 1.10), while overestimation (28.9%) was determined by higher rate of support seeking strategies (OR 50.3), activity avoidance (OR 15.2), better executive (OR 21.0) and memory functions (OR 21.5), and lower quality of life (OR.75) in multivariate logistic regression.

Conclusion: The majority of patients showed a mismatch between objective and subjective falls risk. Underestimation as well as overestimation of fall risk was associated with specific profiles based on cognitive- and psychological status, falls and fall-related behavioral consequences which should be included in the comprehensive assessment of fall risk, and planning of individualized fall prevention programs for this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-200572DOI Listing
May 2021

Model Informed Dosing Regimen and Phase I Results of the Anti-PD-1 Antibody Budigalimab (ABBV-181).

Clin Transl Sci 2021 01 26;14(1):277-287. Epub 2020 Dec 26.

Next Oncology, San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Budigalimab is a humanized, recombinant, Fc mutated IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) receptor, currently in phase I clinical trials. The safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetics (PKs), pharmacodynamics (PDs), and budigalimab dose selection from monotherapy dose escalation and multihistology expansion cohorts were evaluated in patients with previously treated advanced solid tumors who received budigalimab at 1, 3, or 10 mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks (Q2W) in dose escalation, including Japanese patients that received 3 and 10 mg/kg Q2W. PK modeling and PK/PD assessments informed the dosing regimen in expansion phase using data from body-weight-based dosing in the escalation phase, based on which patients in the multihistology expansion cohort received flat doses of 250 mg Q2W or 500 mg every four weeks (Q4W). Immune-related adverse events (AEs) were reported in 11 of 59 patients (18.6%), of which 1 of 59 (1.7%) was considered grade ≥ 3 and the safety profile of budigalimab was consistent with other PD-1 targeting agents. No treatment-related grade 5 AEs were reported. Four responses per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) version 1.1 were reported in the dose escalation cohort and none in the multihistology expansion cohort. PK of budigalimab was approximately dose proportional and sustained > 99% peripheral PD-1 receptor saturation was observed by 2 hours postdosing, across doses. PK/PD and safety profiles were comparable between Japanese and Western patients, and exposure-safety analyses did not indicate any trends. Observed PK and PD-1 receptor saturation were consistent with model predictions for flat doses and less frequent regimens, validating the early application of PK modeling and PK/PD assessments to inform the recommended dose and regimen, following dose escalation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cts.12855DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7877859PMC
January 2021

Comments on 'Hypothesis testing for two-stage designs with over or under enrollment'.

Stat Med 2016 Apr;35(9):1558-9

Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, INF 305, Heidelberg, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sim.6802DOI Listing
April 2016

Disseminated Tumor Cells in the Bone Marrow of Patients with Operable Primary Breast Cancer: Prognostic Impact in Immunophenotypic Subgroups and Clinical Implication for Bisphosphonate Treatment.

Ann Surg Oncol 2016 Mar 14;23(3):757-66. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Breast Unit, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Disseminated tumor cells (DTC) in the bone marrow (BM) of primary breast cancer (BC) patients are a promising surrogate marker of micrometastatic spread and an independent predictor of poor prognosis for disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). The present study aims to analyze DTCs as an independent prognostic factor for DFS/OS in tumor biology and bisphosphonate treatment.

Methods: A total of 504 patients with operable primary BC and a median observation time of 72.3 months [lower quartile (LQ) 58.1; upper quartile (UQ) 82.8] have been included. DTCs were detected via immunohistochemistry as MUC-1 positive cells in the BM of 59.13 % (298 of 504) of the patients. The immunophenotyping of cancer cells was achieved immunohistochemically as well.

Results: For luminal A/B carcinoma patients, we observed a significant benefit of BM DTC negativity with respect to DFS (luminal A, P = 0.0498; luminal B, P = 0.0224). In triple-negative patients, DTC-negative BM was associated with a longer OS (P = 0.0326). In a multivariate Cox survival analysis relating to DFS and OS, the DTC status was identified as an independent prognostic factor for DFS in luminal A/B BC (P = 0.0071). A multivariate Cox survival analysis among DTC-positive patients with luminal immunophenotype showed bisphosphonate application (P = 0.0326) to be an independent prognostic factor for DFS.

Conclusions: The findings of our multivariate analyses reveal BM DTC positivity as an independent risk factor for DFS particularly in luminal A/B BC patients. This might be a novel criterion for the identification of candidates most likely to benefit from additional adjuvant therapy possibly including bisphosphonates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1245/s10434-015-4895-3DOI Listing
March 2016

Inflammation-adapted liver stiffness values for improved fibrosis staging in patients with hepatitis C virus and alcoholic liver disease.

Liver Int 2015 Dec 30;35(12):2514-21. Epub 2015 Jul 30.

Department of Ultrasonography, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Regional Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology "Prof. Dr. Octavian Fodor", Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Background & Aims: It is well known that inflammation increases liver stiffness (LS) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD) independent of fibrosis stage, but no inflammation-adapted cut-off values have been settled so far. An early identification of rapid fibrosers, however, is essential to decide whom to treat first with the novel but expensive antiviral drugs.

Methods: Liver stiffness, biopsy-proven fibrosis stages F0-F4 (METAVIR or Kleiner score) and routine laboratory parameters were studied in 2068 patients with HCV (n = 1391) and ALD (n = 677).

Results: Among the routine parameters for liver damage, AST correlated best with LS (HCV: r = 0.54, P < 0.0001 and ALD: r = 0.34, P < 0.0001). In the absence of elevated transaminases, cut-off values were almost identical between HCV and ALD for F1-2, F3 and F4 (HCV: 5.1, 9.0 and 11.9 kPa vs ALD: 4.9, 8.1 and 10.5 kPa). These cut-off values increased exponentially as a function of median AST level. The impact of AST on LS was higher in lobular-pronounced ALD as compared to portal tract-localized HCV. Most notably, Cohen's weighted Kappa displayed an improved agreement of the novel AST-dependent cut-off values with histological fibrosis stage both for HCV (0.68 vs 0.65) and ALD (0.80 vs 0.76).

Conclusions: The novel AST-adapted cut-off values improve non-invasive fibrosis staging in HCV and ALD and may be also applied to other liver diseases. Especially in HCV, they could help to decide whom to treat first with the novel but expensive antiviral drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/liv.12904DOI Listing
December 2015

Methods for proper handling of overrunning and underrunning in phase II designs for oncology trials.

Stat Med 2015 Jun 17;34(13):2128-37. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 305, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

Phase II studies in oncology are frequently conducted as two-stage single-arm trials with a binary endpoint indicating tumor response. As a common feature of these designs, the sample sizes of the two stages and the decision rules for the interim and the final analysis have to be pre-specified and adhered to strictly during the course of the trial in order to assure control of the type I error rate. In practice, however, the attained sample sizes often deviate from the planned ones leading to the situation of overrunning or underrunning. The currently available approaches to deal with this problem are either based on assumptions that are rarely met in practice or do not guarantee that the significance level is kept. However, strict control of the type I error rate plays an important role also for single-arm cancer trials, as they are frequently a fundamental part of the registration information. We propose a general methodology that allows handling both unintentional and intentional overrunning and underrunning while strictly controlling the type I error rate. Application of the proposed procedure and some of its characteristics are illustrated with a real phase II oncology trial.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sim.6479DOI Listing
June 2015

Influence of insulin and glargine on outgrowth and number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells in type 2 diabetes patients: a partially double-blind, randomized, three-arm unicenter study.

Cardiovasc Diabetol 2014 Oct 11;13:137. Epub 2014 Oct 11.

Department of Medicine I and Clinical Chemistry, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, Heidelberg, 69120, Germany.

Background: Endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) are bone marrow-derived cells which can undergo differentiation into endothelial cells and participate in endothelial repair and angiogenesis. Insulin facilitates this in vitro mediated by the IGF-1 receptor. Clinical trials showed that the number of circulating EPCs is influenced by glucose control and EPC are a predictor of cardiovascular death. To study direct effects of insulin treatment on EPCs in type 2 diabetes patients, add-on basal insulin treatment was compared to an escalation of oral medication aiming at similar glucose control between the groups.

Methods: 55 patients with type 2 diabetes (61.6±5.9 years) on oral diabetes medication were randomized in a 2:2:1 ratio in 3 groups. Patients were treated additionally with insulin glargine (n=20), NPH insulin (n=22) or escalated with oral medication (n=13). Number of circulating EPC, EPC-outgrowth, intima media thickness, skin microvascular function and HbA1c were documented at baseline and/or after 4 weeks and 4 months.

Results: HbA1c at baseline was, 7.3+/-0.7% in the oral group, 7.3+/-0.9% and 7.5+/-0.7% in the glargine and NPH insulin respectively (p=0.713). HbA1c after 4 months decreased to 6.8+/-0.8%, 6.6+/-0.7% and 6.7+/-0.6%, in the oral, glargine and NPH insulin group respectively (p=0.61). FACS analysis showed no difference in number of circulating EPC between the groups after 4 weeks and 4 months. However, the outgrowth of EPCs as detected by colony forming assay was increased in the NPH insulin and glargine groups (29.2+/-6.4 and 29.4+/- 6.7 units respectively) compared to the group on oral medication (23.2+/-6.3, p=0.013) after 4 months of treatment. A significant decrease of IMT from 0.80mm (+/-0.14) at baseline to 0.76mm (+/-0.12) after 4 months could be observed in all patients only (p=0.03) with a trend towards a reduction of IMT after 4 months when all patients on insulin treatment were compared to the oral treatment group (p=0.06). Skin microvascular function revealed no differences between the groups (p=0.74).

Conclusion: The study shows that a 4-month treatment with add-on insulin significantly increases the outgrowth of EPC in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Trial Registration: (Clinical Trials Identifier: NCT00523393).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12933-014-0137-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4195950PMC
October 2014

Sensor-derived physical activity parameters can predict future falls in people with dementia.

Gerontology 2014 28;60(6):483-92. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP), Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Tucson, Ariz., USA.

Background: There is a need for simple clinical tools that can objectively assess the fall risk in people with dementia. Wearable sensors seem to have the potential for fall prediction; however, there has been limited work performed in this important area.

Objective: To explore the validity of sensor-derived physical activity (PA) parameters for predicting future falls in people with dementia. To compare sensor-based fall risk assessment with conventional fall risk measures.

Methods: This was a cohort study of people with confirmed dementia discharged from a geriatric rehabilitation ward. PA was quantified using 24-hour motion-sensor monitoring at the beginning of the study. PA parameters (percentage of walking, standing, sitting, and lying; duration of single walking, standing, and sitting bouts) were extracted using specific algorithms. Conventional assessment included performance-based tests (Timed Up and Go Test, Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment, 5-chair stand) and questionnaires (cognition, ADL status, fear of falling, depression, previous faller). Outcome measures were fallers (at least one fall in the 3-month follow-up period) versus non-fallers.

Results: 77 people were included in the study (age 81.8 ± 6.3; community-dwelling 88%, institutionalized 12%). Surprisingly, fallers and non-fallers did not differ on any conventional assessment (p = 0.069-0.991), except for 'previous faller' (p = 0.006). Interestingly, several PA parameters discriminated between the groups. The 'walking bout average duration', 'longest walking bout duration' and 'walking bout duration variability' were lower in fallers, compared to non-fallers (p = 0.008-0.027). The 'standing bout average duration' was higher in fallers (p = 0.050). Two variables, 'walking bout average duration' [odds ratio (OR) 0.79, p = 0.012] and 'previous faller' (OR 4.44, p = 0.007) were identified as independent predictors for falls. The OR for a 'walking bout average duration' <15 s for predicting fallers was 6.30 (p = 0.020). Combining 'walking bout average duration' and 'previous faller' improved fall prediction (OR 7.71, p < 0.001, sensitivity/specificity 72%/76%).

Discussion: RESULTS demonstrate that sensor-derived PA parameters are independent predictors of the fall risk and may have higher diagnostic accuracy in persons with dementia compared to conventional fall risk measures. Our findings highlight the potential of telemonitoring technology for estimating the fall risk. RESULTS should be confirmed in a larger study and by measuring PA over a longer period of time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000363136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225487PMC
June 2015

Improvements in gait characteristics after intensive resistance and functional training in people with dementia: a randomised controlled trial.

BMC Geriatr 2014 Jun 12;14:73. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Department of Geriatric Research, Bethanien-Hospital/ Geriatric Center at the University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Preventing and rehabilitating gait disorders in people with dementia during early disease stage is of high importance for staying independent and ambulating safely. However, the evidence gathered in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of exercise training for improving spatio-temporal gait parameters in people with dementia is scarce. The aim of the present study was to determine whether a specific, standardized training regimen can improve gait characteristics in people with dementia.

Methods: Sixty-one individuals (mean age: 81.9 years) with confirmed mild to moderate stage dementia took part in a 3-month double-blinded outpatient RCT. Subjects in the intervention group (IG) received supervised, progressive resistance and functional group training for 3 months (2 times per week for two hours) specifically developed for people with dementia. Subjects in the control group (CG) conducted a low-intensity motor placebo activity program. Gait characteristics were measured before and after the intervention period using a computerized gait analysis system (GAITRite®).

Results: Adherence to the intervention was excellent, averaging 91.9% in the IG and 94.4% in the CG. The exercise training significantly improved gait speed (P < 0.001), cadence (P = 0.002), stride length (P = 0.008), stride time (P = 0.001), and double support (P = 0.001) in the IG compared to the CG. Effect sizes were large for all gait parameters that improved significantly (Cohen's d: 0.80-1.27). No improvements were found for step width (P = 0.999), step time variability (P = 0.425) and Walk-Ratio (P = 0.554). Interestingly, low baseline motor status, but not cognitive status, predicted positive training response (relative change in gait speed from baseline).

Conclusion: The intensive, dementia-adjusted training was feasible and improved clinically meaningful gait variables in people with dementia. The exercise program may represent a model for preventing and rehabilitating gait deficits in the target group. Further research is required for improving specific gait characteristics such as gait variability in people with dementia.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN49243245.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2318-14-73DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4062767PMC
June 2014

Performance of adaptive designs for single-armed phase II oncology trials.

J Biopharm Stat 2015 ;25(3):602-15

a Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics , University of Heidelberg , Heidelberg , Germany.

When planning a single-armed clinical trial with binary endpoint, the sample size is determined such that the desired power is achieved for a single value of the target rate. However, there is usually some uncertainty with respect to the true treatment effect. It is therefore more realistic to specify an interval for the possible true rate to accommodate this uncertainty. For this situation, we examine comprehensively the overall performance of various Phase II oncology designs and sample size recalculation strategies. The methods and results of our investigations can be used to identify the most appropriate approach for a specific clinical trial situation at hand. Application is illustrated with a clinical trial in rectal cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10543406.2014.920863DOI Listing
January 2016

An intensive exercise program improves motor performances in patients with dementia: translational model of geriatric rehabilitation.

J Alzheimers Dis 2014 ;39(3):487-98

Department of Geriatric Research, Bethanien-Hospital/Geriatric Centre at the University of Heidelberg, BW, Germany.

Background: Translation of intensive exercise programs developed specifically for patients with dementia into clinical settings is lacking.

Objective: To determine if a progressive resistance and functional training program, previously evaluated in dementia outpatients, can be implemented in a geriatric inpatient setting in order to improve motor performances in patients with dementia.

Methods: Eligible patients in one ward of a German geriatric hospital were assigned to the intervention group (IG, n = 74) and received intensive exercise training specifically designed for patients with dementia. Patients in the second ward were observed as a control group (CG, n = 74). All patients received usual care treatment. Primary endpoints were maximal lower extremity strength measured by a leg-press device and duration of the 5-chair-stand test for functional performance. Secondary outcomes included a number of parameters for strength and function.

Results: The rehabilitation period averaged 18.1 ± 6.8 days. The IG significantly improved in both primary endpoints (change: maximal strength, IG: +51.9 ± 42.3% versus CG: +13.5 ± 51.8%, p < 0.001; functional performance, IG: -19.2 ± 22.3% versus CG: -3.8 ± 32.2% s, p = 0.037). Secondary outcomes confirmed effects for strength and some, but not all, functional parameters. Interestingly, low baseline motor status, but not cognitive status, predicted positive training response.

Conclusion: An intensive exercise program can be implemented in a geriatric rehabilitation setting to improve motor performances in patients with dementia. Results suggest that an intensification of training is feasible in the target group and substantially increases the benefits in comparison to receiving usual care exercise only.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-130470DOI Listing
October 2014

Stress mediators and immune dysfunction in patients with acute cerebrovascular diseases.

PLoS One 2013 19;8(9):e74839. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Department of Neurology, University Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Post-stroke immune depression contributes to the development of infections which are major complications after stroke. Previous experimental and clinical studies suggested that humoral stress mediators induce immune dysfunction. However, prospective clinical studies testing this concept are missing and no data exists for other cerebrovascular diseases including intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and TIA.

Methods: We performed a prospective clinical study investigating 166 patients with TIA, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. We measured a broad panel of stress mediators, leukocyte subpopulations, cytokines and infection markers from hospital admission to day 7 and on follow-up after 2-3 months. Multivariate regression analyses detected independent predictors of immune dysfunction and bacterial infections. ROC curves were used to test the diagnostic value of these parameters.

Results: Only severe ischemic strokes and ICH increased some catecholamine metabolites, ACTH and cortisol levels. Immunodysfunction was eminent already on hospital admission after large brain lesions with lymphocytopenia as a key feature. None of the stress mediators was an independent predictor of lymphocytopenia or infections. However, lymphocytopenia on hospital admission was detected as an independent explanatory variable of later infections. NIHSSS and lymphocytopenia on admission were excellent predictors of infection.

Conclusions: Our results question the present pathophysiological concept of stress-hormone mediated immunodysfunction after stroke. Early lymphocytopenia was identified as an early independent predictor of post-stroke infections. Absence of lymphocytopenia may serve as a negative predictive marker for stratification for early antibiotic treatment.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0074839PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777986PMC
June 2014

Optimal adaptive two-stage designs for phase II cancer clinical trials.

Biom J 2013 Nov 19;55(6):955-68. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 305, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

In oncology, single-arm two-stage designs with binary endpoint are widely applied in phase II for the development of cytotoxic cancer therapies. Simon's optimal design with prefixed sample sizes in both stages minimizes the expected sample size under the null hypothesis and is one of the most popular designs. The search algorithms that are currently used to identify phase II designs showing prespecified characteristics are computationally intensive. For this reason, most authors impose restrictions on their search procedure. However, it remains unclear to what extent this approach influences the optimality of the resulting designs. This article describes an extension to fixed sample size phase II designs by allowing the sample size of stage two to depend on the number of responses observed in the first stage. Furthermore, we present a more efficient numerical algorithm that allows for an exhaustive search of designs. Comparisons between designs presented in the literature and the proposed optimal adaptive designs show that while the improvements are generally moderate, notable reductions in the average sample size can be achieved for specific parameter constellations when applying the new method and search strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bimj.201200220DOI Listing
November 2013

Prognostic value of disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow of patients with operable primary breast cancer: a long-term follow-up study.

Ann Surg Oncol 2013 Jun 21;20(6):1865-71. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Breast Unit, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Detection of disseminated tumor cells (DTC) in primary breast cancer (BC) patients' bone marrow (BM) seems to be a surrogate marker of tumor spread and an independent prognostic factor for disease-free and overall survival.

Methods: Here we present the largest single-center cohort of patients (n = 1378) with the longest observation time (median 82.0 months). Immunocytochemical staining was performed using murine monoclonal antibody 2E11 with the avidin-biotin complex technique.

Results: At primary surgery, 49 % of patients showed MUC-1 positive cells inside their BM. Patients without BM DTC had significantly more often T1-tumors (P = 0.007) with less often affected axillary lymph nodes (P < 0.001). We observed a significantly higher incidence of distant metastases in DTC positive patients (P < 0.001). This leads to a reduced disease-free survival (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, in DTC positive patients there was a higher mortality rate and, accordingly, a reduced overall survival (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Due to the presence of BM DTC, patients with a clinically poorer outcome can be identified at primary surgery. We therefore suggest that DTC analysis can be used as a prognostic factor and monitoring tool in clinical trials. Future study concepts relating to DTC should aim at identification of BC patients who may profit from adjuvant systemic therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1245/s10434-012-2814-4DOI Listing
June 2013

Expression of haematogenous and lymphogenous chemokine receptors and their ligands on uveal melanoma in association with liver metastasis.

Acta Ophthalmol 2012 Dec 20;90(8):e638-44. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Purpose: Chemokine receptors and their ligands are involved in a number of cell processes, including normal cell trafficking as well as metastasis in cancer. During metastasis, they are thought to play a role in determining cancer cell distribution and target organs. The aim of this study was to examine the expression of the chemokine receptors CXCR4, CCR7 and CCR10 as well as their respective chemokine ligands (CXCL12, CCL19, CCL27) in human uveal melanomas.

Methods: Seventy formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded uveal melanoma specimens from patients treated in 1996-1997 were examined using immunohistochemistry and evaluated using an immune reactive score (IRS).

Results: The chemokine receptors CXCR4, CCR7 and CCR10 were primarily expressed in the cytoplasm of uveal melanoma cells, with CXCR4 (average IRS 8.2) and CCR7 (average IRS 5.7) showing the strongest expression, respectively. The chemokine ligand CCL19 demonstrated a moderate expression (average IRS 5.3), whereas the expression of receptor CCR10 (average IRS of 3.4), ligand CCL27 (average IRS 2.5) and ligand CXCL12 (average IRS 0.6) by uveal melanoma cells was low. A significant association between liver metastases and chemokine expression was found for CCR7 expression (p = 0.037) only. Comparison of liver metastasis and choroid uveal melanoma (35.3%, n = 12 of 34) versus ciliary body involvement (72.7%, n = 8 of 11) was significant (p = 0.030).

Conclusion: Chemokine receptors are more strongly expressed on uveal melanoma cells than their ligands. Our results show new aspects of the metastatic process in uveal melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-3768.2012.02515.xDOI Listing
December 2012

Resection of the primary tumour versus no resection prior to systemic therapy in patients with colon cancer and synchronous unresectable metastases (UICC stage IV): SYNCHRONOUS--a randomised controlled multicentre trial (ISRCTN30964555).

BMC Cancer 2012 Apr 5;12:142. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Department of General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Currently, it remains unclear, if patients with colon cancer and synchronous unresectable metastases who present without severe symptoms should undergo resection of the primary tumour prior to systemic chemotherapy. Resection of the primary tumour may be associated with significant morbidity and delays the beginning of chemotherapy. However, it may prevent local symptoms and may, moreover, prolong survival as has been demonstrated in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. It is the aim of the present randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of primary tumour resection prior to systemic chemotherapy to prolong survival in patients with newly diagnosed colon cancer who are not amenable to curative therapy.

Methods/design: The SYNCHRONOUS trial is a multicentre, randomised, controlled, superiority trial with a two-group parallel design. Colon cancer patients with synchronous unresectable metastases are eligible for inclusion. Exclusion criteria are primary tumour-related symptoms, inability to tolerate surgery and/or systemic chemotherapy and history of another primary cancer. Resection of the primary tumour as well as systemic chemotherapy is provided according to the standards of the participating institution. The primary endpoint is overall survival that is assessed with a minimum follow-up of 36 months. Furthermore, it is the objective of the trial to assess the safety of both treatment strategies as well as quality of life.

Discussion: The SYNCHRONOUS trial is a multicentre, randomised, controlled trial to assess the efficacy and safety of primary tumour resection before beginning of systemic chemotherapy in patients with metastatic colon cancer not amenable to curative therapy.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN30964555.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-12-142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3348093PMC
April 2012

Adaptive designs for single-arm phase II trials in oncology.

Pharm Stat 2012 May-Jun;11(3):241-9. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Clinical phase II trials in oncology are conducted to determine whether the activity of a new anticancer treatment is promising enough to merit further investigation. Two-stage designs are commonly used for this situation to allow for early termination. Designs proposed in the literature so far have the common drawback that the sample sizes for the two stages have to be specified in the protocol and have to be adhered to strictly during the course of the trial. As a consequence, designs that allow a higher extent of flexibility are desirable. In this article, we propose a new adaptive method that allows an arbitrary modification of the sample size of the second stage using the results of the interim analysis or external information while controlling the type I error rate. If the sample size is not changed during the trial, the proposed design shows very similar characteristics to the optimal two-stage design proposed by Chang et al. (Biometrics 1987; 43:865-874). However, the new design allows the use of mid-course information for the planning of the second stage, thus meeting practical requirements when performing clinical phase II trials in oncology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pst.541DOI Listing
July 2015

Improving the flexibility and efficiency of phase II designs for oncology trials.

Biometrics 2012 Sep 7;68(3):886-92. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, University of Heidelberg, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

Phase II trials in oncology are usually conducted as single-arm two-stage designs with binary endpoints. Currently available adaptive design methods are tailored to comparative studies with continuous test statistics. Direct transfer of these methods to discrete test statistics results in conservative procedures and, therefore, in a loss in power. We propose a method based on the conditional error function principle that directly accounts for the discreteness of the outcome. It is shown how application of the method can be used to construct new phase II designs that are more efficient as compared to currently applied designs and that allow flexible mid-course design modifications. The proposed method is illustrated with a variety of frequently used phase II designs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0420.2011.01720.xDOI Listing
September 2012
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