The vast majority of all agents used to directly kill cancer cells (ionizing radiation, most chemotherapeutic agents and some targeted therapies) work through either directly or indirectly generating reactive oxygen species that block key steps in the cell cycle. As mesenchymal cancers evolve from their epithelial cell progenitors, they almost inevitably possess much-heightened amounts of antioxidants that effectively block otherwise highly effective oxidant therapies. Also key to better understanding is why and how the anti-diabetic drug metformin (the world’s most prescribed pharmaceutical product) preferentially kills oxidant-deficient mesenchymal p53(- -)cells. A much faster timetable should be adopted towards developing more new drugs effective against p53(- -) cancers.
Polybia-MP1 (MP1) is a bioactive host-defense peptide with known anticancer properties. Its activity is attributed to excess serine (phosphatidylserine (PS)) on the outer leaflet of cancer cells. Recently, higher quantities of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) were also found at these cells' surface. We investigate the interaction of MP1 with model membranes in the presence and absence of POPS (PS) and DOPE (PE) to understand the role of lipid composition in MP1’s anticancer characteristics. Indeed we find that PS lipids significantly enhance the bound concentration of peptide on the membrane by a factor of 7-8. However, through a combination of membrane permeability assays and imaging techniques we find that PE significantly increases the susceptibility of the membrane to disruption by these peptides and causes an order-of-magnitude increase in membrane permeability by facilitating the formation of larger transmembrane pores. Significantly, atomic-force microscopy imaging reveals differences in the pore formation mechanism with and without the presence of PE. Therefore, PS and PE lipids synergistically combine to enhance membrane poration by MP1, implying that the combined enrichment of both these lipids in the outer leaflet of cancer cells is highly significant for MP1’s anticancer action. These mechanistic insights could aid development of novel chemotherapeutics that target pathological changes in the lipid composition of cancerous cells.
Background Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) primarily affects older persons who often have coexisting conditions in addition to disease-related immunosuppression and myelosuppression. We conducted an international, open-label, randomized phase 3 trial to compare two oral agents, ibrutinib and chlorambucil, in previously untreated older patients with CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma. Methods We randomly assigned 269 previously untreated patients who were 65 years of age or older and had CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma to receive ibrutinib or chlorambucil. The primary end point was progression-free survival as assessed by an independent review committee. Results The median age of the patients was 73 years. During a median follow-up period of 18.4 months, ibrutinib resulted in significantly longer progression-free survival than did chlorambucil (median, not reached vs. 18.9 months), with a risk of progression or death that was 84% lower with ibrutinib than that with chlorambucil (hazard ratio, 0.16; P<0.001). Ibrutinib significantly prolonged overall survival; the estimated survival rate at 24 months was 98% with ibrutinib versus 85% with chlorambucil, with a relative risk of death that was 84% lower in the ibrutinib group than in the chlorambucil group (hazard ratio, 0.16; P=0.001). The overall response rate was higher with ibrutinib than with chlorambucil (86% vs. 35%, P<0.001). The rates of sustained increases from baseline values in the hemoglobin and platelet levels were higher with ibrutinib. Adverse events of any grade that occurred in at least 20% of the patients receiving ibrutinib included diarrhea, fatigue, cough, and nausea; adverse events occurring in at least 20% of those receiving chlorambucil included nausea, fatigue, neutropenia, anemia, and vomiting. In the ibrutinib group, four patients had a grade 3 hemorrhage and one had a grade 4 hemorrhage. A total of 87% of the patients in the ibrutinib group are continuing to take ibrutinib. Conclusions Ibrutinib was superior to chlorambucil in previously untreated patients with CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma, as assessed by progression-free survival, overall survival, response rate, and improvement in hematologic variables. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; RESONATE-2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01722487 .).
Increasing knowledge concerning the biology of hematologic malignancies as well as the role of the immune system in the control of these diseases has led to the development and approval of immunotherapies that are resulting in impressive clinical responses. Therefore, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened a hematologic malignancy Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines panel consisting of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and patients to develop consensus recommendations for the clinical application of immunotherapy for patients with multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and acute leukemia. These recommendations were developed following the previously established process based on the Institute of Medicine’s clinical practice guidelines. In doing so, a systematic literature search was performed for high-impact studies from 2004 to 2014 and was supplemented with further literature as identified by the panel. The consensus panel met in December of 2014 with the goal to generate consensus recommendations for the clinical use of immunotherapy in patients with hematologic malignancies. During this meeting, consensus panel voting along with discussion were used to rate and review the strength of the supporting evidence from the literature search. These consensus recommendations focus on issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical endpoints, and the sequencing or combination of therapies. Overall, immunotherapy is rapidly emerging as an effective therapeutic strategy for the management of hematologic malignances. Evidence-based consensus recommendations for its clinical application are provided and will be updated as the field evolves.
Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease of unknown etiology. We previously reported a pilot case series followed by a small, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II study, suggesting that B-cell depletion using the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab can yield clinical benefit in ME/CFS.
Background The treatment of relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has resulted in few durable remissions. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK), an essential component of B-cell-receptor signaling, mediates interactions with the tumor microenvironment and promotes the survival and proliferation of CLL cells. Methods We conducted a phase 1b-2 multicenter study to assess the safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of ibrutinib (PCI-32765), a first-in-class, oral covalent inhibitor of BTK designed for treatment of B-cell cancers, in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma. A total of 85 patients, the majority of whom were considered to have high-risk disease, received ibrutinib orally once daily; 51 received 420 mg, and 34 received 840 mg. Results Toxic effects were predominantly grade 1 or 2 and included transient diarrhea, fatigue, and upper respiratory tract infection; thus, patients could receive extended treatment with minimal hematologic toxic effects. The overall response rate was the same in the group that received 420 mg and the group that received 840 mg (71%), and an additional 20% and 15% of patients in the respective groups had a partial response with lymphocytosis. The response was independent of clinical and genomic risk factors present before treatment, including advanced-stage disease, the number of previous therapies, and the 17p13.1 deletion. At 26 months, the estimated progression-free survival rate was 75% and the rate of overall survival was 83%. Conclusions Ibrutinib was associated with a high frequency of durable remissions in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma, including patients with high-risk genetic lesions. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01105247 .).
Background Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and a FLT3 mutation have poor outcomes. We conducted a phase 3 trial to determine whether the addition of midostaurin - an oral multitargeted kinase inhibitor that is active in patients with a FLT3 mutation - to standard chemotherapy would prolong overall survival in this population. Methods We screened 3277 patients, 18 to 59 years of age, who had newly diagnosed AML for FLT3 mutations. Patients were randomly assigned to receive standard chemotherapy (induction therapy with daunorubicin and cytarabine and consolidation therapy with high-dose cytarabine) plus either midostaurin or placebo; those who were in remission after consolidation therapy entered a maintenance phase in which they received either midostaurin or placebo. Randomization was stratified according to subtype of FLT3 mutation: point mutation in the tyrosine kinase domain (TKD) or internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutation with either a high ratio (>0.7) or a low ratio (0.05 to 0.7) of mutant to wild-type alleles (ITD [high] and ITD [low], respectively). Allogeneic transplantation was allowed. The primary end point was overall survival. Results A total of 717 patients underwent randomization; 360 were assigned to the midostaurin group, and 357 to the placebo group. The FLT3 subtype was ITD (high) in 214 patients, ITD (low) in 341 patients, and TKD in 162 patients. The treatment groups were well balanced with respect to age, race, FLT3 subtype, cytogenetic risk, and blood counts but not with respect to sex (51.7% in the midostaurin group vs. 59.4% in the placebo group were women, P=0.04). Overall survival was significantly longer in the midostaurin group than in the placebo group (hazard ratio for death, 0.78; one-sided P=0.009), as was event-free survival (hazard ratio for event or death, 0.78; one-sided P=0.002). In both the primary analysis and an analysis in which data for patients who underwent transplantation were censored, the benefit of midostaurin was consistent across all FLT3 subtypes. The rate of severe adverse events was similar in the two groups. Conclusions The addition of the multitargeted kinase inhibitor midostaurin to standard chemotherapy significantly prolonged overall and event-free survival among patients with AML and a FLT3 mutation. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute and Novartis; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00651261 .).
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.
A 63-year-old man presented with a 6-month history of fatigue, weight loss, and gingival bleeding. Physical examination suggested the presence of a massively enlarged spleen, a finding confirmed on a reconstructed coronal CT image of the abdomen.
Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are predisposed to juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), an aggressive myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) that is refractory to conventional chemotherapy. Conditional inactivation of the Nf1 tumor suppressor in hematopoietic cells of mice causes a progressive MPN that accurately models JMML and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). We characterized the effects of Nf1 loss on immature hematopoietic populations and investigated treatment with the MEK inhibitor PD0325901 (hereafter called 901). Somatic Nf1 inactivation resulted in a marked expansion of immature and lineage-committed myelo-erythroid progenitors and ineffective erythropoiesis. Treatment with 901 induced a durable drop in leukocyte counts, enhanced erythropoietic function, and markedly reduced spleen sizes in mice with MPN. MEK inhibition also restored a normal pattern of erythroid differentiation and greatly reduced extramedullary hematopoiesis. Remarkably, genetic analysis revealed the persistence of Nf1-deficient hematopoietic cells, indicating that MEK inhibition modulates the proliferation and differentiation of Nf1 mutant cells in vivo rather than eliminating them. These data provide a rationale for performing clinical trials of MEK inhibitors in patients with JMML and CMML.