Background: Romidepsin is a bicyclic peptide that inhibits Class I and II HDACs. Piekarz et al noted responses to romidepsin in CTCL (ASCO, 2004). This pivotal phase II study sought to confirm the activity.

Methods: This single arm, open label study enrolled CTCL (Stages 1B–1VA), including MF and Sézary syndrome (SS) patients (pts) from ∼40 sites in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and the US. Pts with biopsy-proven CTCL (centrally reviewed) who failed ≥1 prior systemic therapy received romidepsin at 14 mg/m2 as a 4-hour IV infusion on Days 1, 8, and 15 q 28 days for up to 6 cycles but could continue if deriving benefit. Eligibility criteria included adequate organ function and ECOG PS ≤ 1. Exclusions included significant CV abnormality or treatment with QTc-prolonging or CYP3A4-inhibiting drugs. The primary endpoint is response rate measured by a combination of imaging, circulating malignant T-cell counts and a weighted scoring instrument to determine skin involvement (confirmed by photography). Target accrual of 64 evaluable pts (i.e. received 2 courses) has been reached and the study will close.

Results: 92 pts were eligible with 68 evaluable for efficacy per protocol. Responses in evaluable pts are 1 CR, 3 CCRs, 20 PRs, 40 SD and 4 PD for an ORR of 35% (duration 2–21 months). Of pts who received ≥1 dose, the ORR is 26% (24/92) but includes 5 too early to be assessed. Median time to response is 8 weeks (range 4 – 20). Responses by stage at entry in evaluable pts, as available: Stage IB-IIA 7/23 (30%); Stage IIB-IVA 15/37 (41%). In pts with pruritus at baseline i.e. score of ≥ 30 mm on a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS), relief of ≥ 30 mm from baseline or a VAS score of 0 (no itching) for at least 2 cycles, was seen in 18/38 pts (47%). In those pts with severe pruritus (VAS score ≥70 mm), 14/24 (58%) experienced relief of itching. Adverse event (AE) data are available for 75 pts. AEs were reported in 54/75 (72%) of dosed pts but Grade (G) 3/4 events in only 12/75 (16%). Most frequent AEs are nausea/vomiting (G2) fatigue (G2/3), myelosuppression (G2/3), and asymptomatic ECG changes (transient mild QTc prolongation and nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities). Thirteen pts withdrew due to AEs but there were no treatment-related deaths although 4 pts died of PD and 1 from right ventricular failure. Serious AEs considered possibly, probably or likely related to treatment were reported in 12 pts. Of these, 8 had ≥G3 events: tumor lysis, cardiac tamponade, sepsis, constipation, oral candidiasis, dermatitis, hyperglycemia/vomiting/nausea and bradyarrhythmia/atrial fibrillation.

Conclusions: This study confirms the efficacy of romidepsin in treatment-refractory CTCL including relief of pruritus and an encouraging response rate with 4 CCR (1 pathology-confirmed). The low rate of discontinuation due to AEs and prolonged treatment duration of some patients illustrate that toxicity has been manageable.

Author notes

Disclosure:Employment: Dr. William McCulloch is an employee of Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the developer of romidepsin. Ownership Interests: Dr. William McCulloch owns stock in Gloucester Pharmaceuticals. Membership Information: Dr. Mariefrance Demierre has been on an Advisory Board for Gloucester Pharmaceuticals.