In the lab and clinic, researchers develop a new therapy for blood cancers

June 2, 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University

Clinical researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have successfully completed a Phase I clinical trial evaluating a combination of the drugs Bortezomib and Alvocidib in patients with relapsed or refractory blood cancers, paving the way for a Phase II clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the new therapy.

Reported in the journal , the study determined the maximum tolerated dose with acceptable side effects for this novel drug combination. The trial represented the first time a proteasome inhibitor such as Bortezomib was combined with a cell cycle inhibitor such as Alvocidib to treat patients with cancer.

Proteasome inhibitors work by blocking the action of proteasomes, which are large protein complexes that help destroy proteins that are no longer needed by the cell. Cell cycle inhibitors disrupt the sequence of events that allow cells to undergo cell division and duplication. They also have the ability to block .

The trial included 16 patients who had either indolent (non-aggressive) , mantle cell lymphoma or . After they received the treatments over a 21-day cycle, there were two complete responses, meaning that all detectable traces of the cancer were gone, and five partial responses.

"Therapeutic responses tend to be rare in Phase I trials, but 44 percent of our patient sample responded to the therapy. Interestingly, some patients who previously had no response to Bortezomib, or progressed after Bortezomib therapy, responded to the combination," says Beata Holkova, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist at VCU Massey and co-investigator on this clinical trial. "Because of the small patient sample size, we can't draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of the therapy, but we were quite encouraged by the results."

The patients received intravenously on days 1, 4, 8 and 11 and Alvocidib on days 1 and 8. Bortezomib's therapeutic dose alone was not tested because it has already been established and approved to treat certain blood cancers. However, for Alvocidib, the researchers escalated the dose until the maximum tolerated dose was identified. The same researchers are also currently completing a second Phase I clinical trial testing a different delivery schedule of Alvocidib. Although not yet completed, the initial results of this trial appear comparable to the present study.

"This is one of the first trials of its type in which two targeted agents which interfere with two very different biological processes are being combined to treat patients with ," says co-investigator Steven Grant, M.D., associate director for translational research, co-program leader of Developmental Therapeutics and professor of internal medicine at VCU Massey.

The rationale for this study was developed in Grant's laboratory when synergistic interactions between proteasome and inhibitors in malignant blood cancer cells were discovered by Yun Dai, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine at VCU Massey. This laboratory research established the basis for a V Foundation Translational Research Award, which with additional funding from the National Institutes of Health provided the resources necessary to translate the laboratory findings into .

Moving forward, the researchers are working with the NCI to develop a Phase II clinical trial to test the effectiveness of this drug therapy. The trial will be conducted in collaboration with multiple institutions to compare the effectiveness of fixed doses of the drug combination in a larger patient population.

More information: The full manuscript is available online at: clincancerres.aacrjournals.org … CCR-10-2876.abstract

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.