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Concept: Vincristine


BackgroundCharcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A disease (CMT1A) is a rare orphan inherited neuropathy caused by an autosomal dominant duplication of a gene encoding for the structural myelin protein PMP22, which induces abnormal Schwann cell differentiation and dysmyelination, eventually leading to axonal suffering then loss and muscle wasting. We favour the idea that diseases can be more efficiently treated when targeting multiple disease-relevant pathways. In CMT1A patients, we therefore tested the potential of PXT3003, a low-dose combination of three already approved compounds (baclofen, naltrexone and sorbitol). Our study conceptually builds on preclinical experiments highlighting a pleiotropic mechanism of action that includes downregulation of PMP22. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability of PXT3003. The secondary objective aimed at an exploratory analysis of efficacy of PXT3003 in CMT1A, to be used for designing next clinical development stages (Phase 2b/3).Methods80 adult patients with mild-to-moderate CMT1A received in double-blind for 1 year Placebo or one of the three increasing doses of PXT3003 tested, in four equal groups. Safety and tolerability were assessed with the incidence of related adverse events. Efficacy was assessed using the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Neuropathy Score (CMTNS) and the Overall Neuropathy Limitations Scale (ONLS) as main endpoints, as well as various clinical and electrophysiological outcomes.ResultsThis trial confirmed the safety and tolerability of PXT3003. The highest dose (HD) showed consistent evidence of improvement beyond stabilization. CMTNS and ONLS, with a significant improvement of respectively of 8% (0.4% - 16.2%) and 12.1% (2% - 23.2%) in the HD group versus the pool of all other groups, appear to be the most sensitive clinical endpoints to treatment despite their quasi-stability over one year under Placebo. Patients who did not deteriorate over one year were significantly more frequent in the HD group.ConclusionsThese results confirm that PXT3003 deserves further investigation in adults and could greatly benefit CMT1A-diagnosed children, usually less affected than adults.Trial registrationEudraCT Number: 2010-023097-40. Identifier: NCT01401257. The Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products issued in February 2014 a positive opinion on the application for orphan designation for PXT3003 (EMA/OD/193/13).

Concepts: Action potential, Jean-Martin Charcot, Vincristine, Electromyography, Clinical trial, Schwann cell, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Myelin


Background Brentuximab vedotin is an anti-CD30 antibody-drug conjugate that has been approved for relapsed and refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Methods We conducted an open-label, multicenter, randomized phase 3 trial involving patients with previously untreated stage III or IV classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in which 664 were assigned to receive brentuximab vedotin, doxorubicin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (A+AVD) and 670 were assigned to receive doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD). The primary end point was modified progression-free survival (the time to progression, death, or noncomplete response and use of subsequent anticancer therapy) as adjudicated by an independent review committee. The key secondary end point was overall survival. Results At a median follow-up of 24.9 months, 2-year modified progression-free survival rates in the A+AVD and ABVD groups were 82.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 78.7 to 85.0) and 77.2% (95% CI, 73.7 to 80.4), respectively, a difference of 4.9 percentage points (hazard ratio for an event of progression, death, or modified progression, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.98; P=0.03). There were 28 deaths with A+AVD and 39 with ABVD (hazard ratio for interim overall survival, 0.72 [95% CI, 0.44 to 1.17]; P=0.19). All secondary efficacy end points trended in favor of A+AVD. Neutropenia occurred in 58% of the patients receiving A+AVD and in 45% of those receiving ABVD; in the A+AVD group, the rate of febrile neutropenia was lower among the 83 patients who received primary prophylaxis with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor than among those who did not (11% vs. 21%). Peripheral neuropathy occurred in 67% of patients in the A+AVD group and in 43% of patients in the ABVD group; 67% of patients in the A+AVD group who had peripheral neuropathy had resolution or improvement at the last follow-up visit. Pulmonary toxicity of grade 3 or higher was reported in less than 1% of patients receiving A+AVD and in 3% of those receiving ABVD. Among the deaths that occurred during treatment, 7 of 9 in the A+AVD group were associated with neutropenia and 11 of 13 in the ABVD group were associated with pulmonary-related toxicity. Conclusions A+AVD had superior efficacy to ABVD in the treatment of patients with advanced-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with a 4.9 percentage-point lower combined risk of progression, death, or noncomplete response and of subsequent anticancer therapy at 2 years. (Funded by Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Seattle Genetics; ECHELON-1 number, NCT01712490 ; EudraCT number, 2011-005450-60 .).

Concepts: Lymphoma, Fever, Vincristine, Vinblastine, Doxorubicin, ABVD, Hodgkin's lymphoma, Chemotherapy


Survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated with CNS-directed chemotherapy are at risk for neurocognitive deficits. Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the neurodevelopmental trajectory in this vulnerable population.

Concepts: Lymphoblast, Chemotherapy regimens, Longitudinal study, Sociology, Chemotherapy, Leukemia, Vincristine, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Childhood leukemia may be associated with traffic-related environmental exposure to benzene, and additional data are needed. The Géolocalisation des Cancers Pédiatriques (GEOCAP) Study, a nationwide French case-control study, was designed to avoid selection bias due to differential participation and misclassification. The study compared the 2,760 childhood leukemia cases diagnosed in France between 2002 and 2007 (including 2,275 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 418 cases of acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML)) with 30,000 contemporaneous child population controls. The residence addresses were precisely geocoded, and 3 indicators of residential proximity to traffic were considered. Estimates of benzene concentrations were also available for the Île-de-France region (including Paris). A 300-m increase in major road length within 150 m of the geocoded address was significantly associated with AML (odds ratio = 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 1.4) but not with ALL (odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.9, 1.1), and the association was reinforced in the Île-de-France region when this indicator was combined with benzene estimates. These results, which were free from any participation bias and based on objectively determined indices of exposure, showed an increased incidence of AML associated with heavy-traffic road density near a child’s home. The results support a role for traffic-related benzene exposure in the etiology of childhood AML.

Concepts: Vincristine, Cancer, Lymphoblast, Benzene, Epidemiology, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Microtubule-stabilizing agents (MSAs) are efficacious chemotherapeutic drugs widely used for the treatment of cancer. Despite the importance of MSAs for medical applications and basic research, their molecular mechanisms of action on tubulin and microtubules remain elusive. Here, we determined high-resolution crystal structures of αβ-tubulin in complex with two unrelated MSAs, zampanolide and epothilone A. Both compounds were bound to the taxane-pocket of β-tubulin and used their respective side chain to induce structuring of the M-loop into a short helix. Because the M-loop establishes lateral tubulin contacts in microtubules, these findings explain how taxane-site MSAs promote microtubule assembly and stability. They further offer fundamental structural insights into the control mechanisms of microtubule dynamics.

Concepts: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Vincristine, Taxane, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Paclitaxel, Microtubule


Purpose: Paclitaxel, a widely-used chemotherapeutic drug, can cause peripheral neuropathies leading to dose reductions and treatment suspensions and decreasing the quality of life of patients. It has been suggested that genetic variants altering paclitaxel pharmacokinetics increase neuropathy risk, but the major causes of inter-individual differences in susceptibility to paclitaxel toxicity remain unexplained. We carried out a whole-exome sequencing (WES) study to identify genetic susceptibility variants associated with paclitaxel neuropathy. Experimental Design: Blood samples from eight patients with severe paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy were selected for WES. An independent cohort of 228 cancer patients with complete paclitaxel neuropathy data was used for variant screening by DHPLC and association analysis. HEK293 cells were used for heterologous expression and characterization of two novel CYP3A4 enzymes. Results: WES revealed two patients with rare CYP3A4 variants, a premature stop codon (CYP3A4*20 allele) and a novel missense variant (CYP3A4*25, p.P389S) causing reduced enzyme expression. Screening for CYP3A4 variants in the independent cohort revealed three additional CYP3A4*20 carriers, and two missense variants exhibiting diminished enzyme activity (CYP3A4*8 and the novel CYP3A4*27 allele, p.L475V). Relative to CYP3A4 wild-type patients, those carrying CYP3A4 variants had more severe neuropathy (2- and 1.3-fold higher risk of neuropathy for loss-of-function and missense variants, respectively, P=0.045) and higher probability of neuropathy-induced paclitaxel treatment modifications (7- and 3-fold higher risk for loss-of-function and missense variants, respectively, P=5.9x10-5). Conclusion: This is the first description of a genetic marker associated with paclitaxel treatment modifications caused by neuropathy. CYP3A4 defective variants may provide a basis for paclitaxel treatment individualization.

Concepts: Nonsense mutation, Pain, Vincristine, Gene, Neuropathy, Genetics, Peripheral neuropathy, DNA


There is a lack of contemporary prospective data examining the adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine (ABVD) and Stanford V (SV; doxorubicin, vinblastine, mechlorethamine, vincristine, bleomycin, etoposide, prednisone) regimens in older Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients. Forty-four advanced-stage, older HL patients (aged ≥60 years) were treated on the randomized study, E2496. Toxicities were mostly similar between chemotherapy regimens, although 24% of older patients developed bleomycin lung toxicity (BLT), which occurred mainly with ABVD (91%). Further, the BLT-related mortality rate was 18%. The overall treatment-related mortality for older HL patients was 9% vs. 0·3% for patients aged <60 years (P < 0·001). Among older patients, there were no survival differences between ABVD and SV. According to age, outcomes were significantly inferior for older versus younger patients (5-year failure-free survival: 48% vs. 74%, respectively, P = 0·002; 5-year overall survival: 58% and 90%, respectively, P < 0·0001), although time-to-progression (TTP) was not significantly different (5-year TTP: 68% vs. 78%, respectively, P = 0·37). Furthermore, considering progression and death without progression as competing risks, the risk of progression was not different between older and younger HL patients (5 years: 30% and 23%, respectively, P = 0·30); however, the incidence of death without progression was significantly increased for older HL patients (22% vs. 9%, respectively, P < 0·0001). Altogether, the marked HL age-dependent survival differences appeared attributable primarily to non-HL events.

Concepts: Stanford V, Antineoplastic drugs, Vincristine, Doxorubicin, Chemotherapy, Chemotherapy regimens, ABVD, Hodgkin's lymphoma


Catharanthus roseus is one of the most studied medicinal plants due to the interest of their dimeric terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs) vinblastine and vincristine, used in cancer chemotherapy. These TIAs are produced in very low levels in the leaves of the plant from the monomeric precursors vindoline and catharanthine. Although TIA biosynthesis is reasonably well understood, much less is known about TIA membrane transport mechanisms. Such knowledge is extremely important to understand TIA metabolic fluxes and to develop strategies aiming at increasing TIA production. In the present study, the vacuolar transport mechanism of the main TIAs accumulated in C. roseus leaves, vindoline, catharanthine and α-3',4'-anhydrovinblastine, was characterized using a tonoplast vesicle system. Vindoline uptake was ATP-dependent and this transport activity was strongly inhibited by NH4(+) and CCCP, and insensitive to the ABC transporter inhibitor vanadate. Spectrofluorimetry assays with a pH-sensitive fluorescent probe showed that vindoline and other TIAs indeed were able to dissipate a H+ gradient pre-established across the tonoplast by either V-H(+)-ATPase or V-H(+)-PPase. The initial rates of H+gradient dissipation followed a Michaelis-Menten kinetics, suggesting the involvement of mediated transport, and this activity was species and alkaloid specific. Altogether, results strongly support that TIAs are actively uptaken by C. roseus mesophyll vacuoles through a specific H(+) antiport system, and not by an ion trap mechanism or ABC transporters.

Concepts: Catharanthus roseus, Transport, Vacuole, Active transport, Alkaloids, Alkaloid, Cell, Vincristine


Anticancer drugs directed against the microtubule, including taxanes and vinca alkaloids, have been the backbone of many chemotherapy regimes for decades. These drugs have, however, significant limitations, which have prompted the development of novel microtubule targeting agents (MTAs). This article will discuss MTAs for anticancer therapies and recent debates regarding their mechanisms of action. Furthermore, the limitations of taxanes, including hypersensitivity reactions, neurotoxicity, drug resistance and lack of validated biomarkers to guide therapy will be discussed, all of which have driven the development of novel agents. The mechanisms of action and drug development of new generations of MTAs will also be outlined. Agents demonstrating utility in Phase III clinical trials, including eribulin, ixabepilone, cabazitaxel and trastuzumab-DM1 will be highlighted, as well as novel agents currently in development and future directions for MTAs.

Concepts: Chemotherapeutic agents, Vincristine, Oncology, Taxane, Clinical trial, Chemotherapy, Paclitaxel, Pharmacology


Background Treatment with rituximab has improved the outcome for patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Patients with B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may also have the CD20 antigen, which is targeted by rituximab. Although single-group studies suggest that adding rituximab to chemotherapy could improve the outcome in such patients, this hypothesis has not been tested in a randomized trial. Methods We randomly assigned adults (18 to 59 years of age) with CD20-positive, Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-negative ALL to receive chemotherapy with or without rituximab, with event-free survival as the primary end point. Rituximab was given during all treatment phases, for a total of 16 to 18 infusions. Results From May 2006 through April 2014, a total of 209 patients were enrolled: 105 in the rituximab group and 104 in the control group. After a median follow-up of 30 months, event-free survival was longer in the rituximab group than in the control group (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.98; P=0.04); the estimated 2-year event-free survival rates were 65% (95% CI, 56 to 75) and 52% (95% CI, 43 to 63), respectively. Treatment with rituximab remained associated with longer event-free survival in a multivariate analysis. The overall incidence rate of severe adverse events did not differ significantly between the two groups, but fewer allergic reactions to asparaginase were observed in the rituximab group. Conclusions Adding rituximab to the ALL chemotherapy protocol improved the outcome for younger adults with CD20-positive, Ph-negative ALL. (Funded by the Regional Clinical Research Office, Paris, and others; number, NCT00327678 .).

Concepts: Vincristine, Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Clinical trial, Chemotherapy, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia