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The Lancet Oncology

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BSI-201, an Investigational Drug, plus Chemotherapy May Offer New Treatment Option for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

A randomized Phase II study, featured during the plenary session of the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) , shows that women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer who received the investigational PARP inhibitor BSI-201, in combination with conventional chemotherapy, lived significantly longer and experienced significantly better progression-free survival than women who received standard chemotherapy alone.

The results of this study provide early evidence that BSI-201, a potent inhibitor of PARP1, or poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1, is a promising treatment for women with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease for which we need new, more effective therapies,” said Joyce O’Shaughnessy, MD, co-director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Baylor-Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas.

Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are particularly hard to treat since they lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2, which are targeted by widely available and effective drugs. African American women are 3 times more likely than white or Hispanic women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

In this study, clinical benefit rate (defined by complete and partial responses and stable disease of at least 6 months), response rate, progression-free survival (the time it takes for cancer to progress), and overall survival were compared among 116 women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer who were randomly assigned to receive a standard chemotherapy treatment (gemcitabine and carboplatin) plus BSI-201, or standard treatment alone.

Approximately 62 percent of patients receiving BSI-201 showed clinical benefit, compared with 21 percent in the chemotherapy only group. The overall response rate to treatment with the drug combination containing BSI-201 was significantly greater (48 percent) than in the group receiving only standard chemotherapy (16 percent). Women who received BSI-201 had a median survival of 9.2 months and median progression-free survival of 6.9 months compared with 5.7 months and 3.3 months, respectively, in women who received standard treatment alone.

Efficacy and Safety
BiPar Sciences Inc, a California-based subsidiary of French drug maker Sanofi–Aventis involved in the development of novel cancer therapies, reported interim safety data from this trial during the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in December 2008, showing that the drug was well tolerated with no added toxicities compared with chemotherapy alone.

While inhibition of PARP has demonstrated significant anti-tumor effects in several cancers, its activity does not appear to be critical for normal, non-cancerous cells. Thus, PARP inhibition has the potential to impair a fundamental mechanism of tumor growth without rendering damage to normal cells, implying a lower risk for side effects in patients who receive PARP-inhibitor-based therapies

In general, BSI-201 has shown a strong safety profile and no significant toxicities attributable to drug in studies of more than 200 patients treated to date with monotherapy, as well as in combination with chemotherapeutic regimens.

In the trial, the incidence of side effects was similar between the two groups. BSI-201 itself was well-tolerated and did not contribute any new side effects nor add to the known side effects of gemcitabine and carboplatin.

Future research
The researchers believe that BSI-201 has first-in-class and best-in-class potential as targeted therapy for several types of cancer. The trial drug is a leading candidate in the field of PARP inhibitors and is the furthest along in clinical development of this novel therapeutic approach.

Based on the results of the Phase II trial, California based BiPar Sciences Inc will be initiating a Phase III clinical trial in triple negative metastatic breast cancer in the second half of 2009. This Phase III program has been guided by preliminary safety and efficacy data from a Phase II study in the same patient population.

ASCO 2009 abstract:

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Photo courtesy of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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