New breast cancer drug may be effective against other types of cancer

Palbociclib, a new oral drug whose efficacy in combating breast cancer has been demonstrated alone and in combination with endocrine therapy, also has potential to combat other types of cancer, according to a literature review and additional original research conducted by experts at the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) in the University of Pennsylvania published this month in JAMA Oncology.

Palbociclib targets the rapid division of tumor cells by inhibiting the activity of the enzymes CDK4 and CDK6, which propel cell division and increase in number in most cancers. It is the first CDK4/6 inhibitor to be approved for the treatment of breast cancer.

"All living cells undergo cell division and palbociclib's unique capacity to halt the cell division process (also known as the 'cell cycle') therefore has potentially broad applicability," said the study's lead author Amy S. Clark, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and ACC. "Pairing palbociclib with other anti-cancer therapies such as endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy can create a powerful combinatorial effect with real promise for addressing a variety of cancers." For example, amplification of CDK4 is reported in a high percentage of melanomas and esophageal cancers.

Targeted therapy uses medication and other interventions to more accurately identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing no or little damage to normal cells.

"This drug has minor effects on normal cells other than neutrophils (white blood cells)," said the study's senior author, Peter J. O'Dwyer, MD, a professor of Hematology/Oncology at Penn and director of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at the ACC. "In tumors, it can cause shrinkage, or more commonly, arrest of growth. As we discover new functions for the CDK4/6 target of this medicine, we are likely to use it in combinations to make other anti-cancer agents work better."

In addition to inhibiting the cell cycle, palbociclib has been shown, for example to alter several recently described non-cell cycle functions of CDK4/6, a finding expected to expand its therapeutic role, O'Dwyer added.

Assessing 130 relevant publications in the literature, as well as interpreting their own continuing studies, the all-Penn team found that in addition to its safety and effectiveness in fighting certain types of breast cancer, early trials of palbociclib have shown promise of effectiveness in cases of lymphoma, sarcoma, and teratoma, tumors that while rare, often afflict younger patients.

A phase 2 trial showed that, among 17 patients with previously treated mantle-cell lymphoma, palbociclib resulted in one complete response and two partial responses. Although, median progression-free survival was four months, five patients had progression-free survival greater than one year. Another phase 2 trial with 29 sarcoma patients treated with palbociclib showed a progression-free survival of 66 percent at 12 weeks.

Also, combining palbociclib with other anti-cancer agents is feasible, and early results in myeloma and some solid tumors have led to more definitive studies.

In both breast and other cancer trials, palbociclib has been shown to be safe with once-daily dosing, and its main adverse effect is reversible neutropenia, an abnormally low count of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections. The lower their neutrophil count, the more vulnerable patients are to infectious diseases. In such cases the drug is temporarily discontinued and reintroduced at a lower dose. Other side effects included fatigue (33 percent), nausea (30 percent), diarrhea (18 percent), constipation (12 percent), and rash (12 percent).

At the recommended doses, evidence of the desired drug effect in tumors has been obtained using novel PET imaging at Penn. These tools can help to individualize patient therapy going forward.

Other Penn co-authors are Thomas B. Karasic, MD; Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE; David J.Vaughn, MD; Mark O'Hara, MD; Rodolfo Perini, MD; Paul Zhang, MD; Priti Lal, MD; Michael Feldman, MD, PhD; and Maryann Gallagher, RN.

The study was funded by Pfizer Inc and the National Institutes of Health (5P30 CA16520-25).

Most Popular Now

Novartis confirms 5 year data for first and only f…

Novartis, a global leader in Immunology & Dermatology, confirmed today positive 5 year efficacy and safety results for Cosentyx® from a Phase III long-term extension stud...

FDA approves Rituxan Hycela (rituximab and hyaluro…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Rituxan Hycela™ (rituximab and hyaluronidase human) for subcuta...

Merck Foundation established

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced the establishment of the Merck Foundation. Through this foundation Merck combines many of its corporate r...

Researchers develop microneedle patch for flu vacc…

A National Institutes of Health-funded study led by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University has shown that an influenza vaccine can produce rob...

Novartis Phase III study shows ACZ885 (canakinumab…

Novartis today announced topline results from the global Phase III CANTOS study investigating the efficacy, safety and tolerability of ACZ885 (canakinumab) in combination...

Jardiance® (empagliflozin) analysis reinforces est…

An analysis of pooled safety data from 15 studies plus 4 extension studies involving more than 12,500 adults with type 2 diabetes demonstrated treatment with Jardiance® (...

Systems pharmacology modelers accelerate drug disc…

Alzheimer's is a chronic neurodegenerative disease which leads to the senile cognitive impairment and memory loss. Every third person older than 70 years suffers from it...

Does the emperor have clothes?

Discovered more than two decades ago, the hormone leptin has been widely hailed as the key regulator of leanness. Yet, the pivotal experiments that probe the function of ...

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's spurred by same enzyme

Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are not the same. They affect different regions of the brain and have distinct genetic and environmental risk factors. But at ...

Merck awards €1.25 million to research projects th…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced its commitment to award €1.25 million to research projects in the field of fertility, supporting the adva...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma t…

A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma. The Mo...

Researchers publish new findings on influence of h…

Poor diet is associated with 80% of colorectal cancer cases, but the exact pathways by which diet leads to cancer are not known. In a newly published study, Cleveland Cli...

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]