Tipifarnib is an orally bioavailable farnesyltransferase inhibitor with well-established antileukemic activity in a minority of unselected patients with AML. Seeking to identify patients most likely to have tipifarnib-responsive AML, we applied a PCR-based quantitative 2 gene expression signature ratio (RASGRP1:APTX), which had been tested and validated retrospectively as a predictor of response and survival in previous large studies of tipifarnib, as a molecular screening tool for selection of patients to this pilot trial.
1) primary: to determine the complete response (CR +CRi) rate in AML patients prospectively selected for tipifarnib treatment on the basis of a 2-gene signature (RASGRP1:APTX ratio) in bone marrow aspirates. 2) secondary: to assess safety, overall survival, and immunophenotypic expression of RASGRP1 on baseline bone marrow blasts for correlation with PCR-based detection.
This was a multicenter, open-label, phase 2 study. Key eligibility criteria included 1) patients with previously untreated AML, age ≥65 years and deemed unsuitable for or refusing traditional induction chemotherapy, and 2) RASGRP1: APTX ratio of ≥5.0 (measured in bone marrow aspirate) based upon qRT-PCR. Other inclusion criteria included: ECOG PS 0–2, adequate end-organ function, and WBC < 30,000/microliter. Treatment consisted of Tipifarnib 300 mg BID × 21 days, with 7 days off. Dose escalation to 600 mg BID following cycle 1 was permitted for patients who had stable disease (SD) after cycle 1. Patients who achieved CR/CRi or PR after 2 cycles were eligible to continue treatment for up to 6 cycles maximum.
A total of 62 patients were consented to the trial. Of these, 21 (34%) were eligible based upon the required 2-gene ratio. Assay results were reported within 72 hours for all patients. Median age was 75 years. Fourteen (67%) patients had adverse karyotype and 14 (67%) had secondary AML (including 7 patients who received prior therapy for MDS). Three patients were replaced during cycle 1, due to withdrawal of consent or early unrelated death, such that 18 patients were considered evaluable for response. Median RASGRP1:APTX was 14.8. Two patients (11%) achieved CR and 6 (33%) additional patients had both SD and achievement of ≥50% reduction in bone marrow blasts by completion of cycle 2. Two of these 6 patients also had ≥50% increase in peripheral blood neutrophils or platelets. All 8 patients with CR or SD received at least 2 cycles of therapy. There was no correlation between baseline RASGRP1:APTX ratio and response. Overall, tipifarnib was well tolerated. Early death (≤ 30 days) was observed in only 1 patient (5%). The most common therapy-related non-hematologic toxicities (mainly grade 1–2) included: anorexia (33%), nausea (33%), fatigue (28%), febrile neutropenia (23%) and diarrhea (23%). Due to the trial not meeting its primary endpoint of at least 3 CR/CRi after 2 cycles, accrual to the trial was suspended.
Monotherapy with tipifarnib in preselected elderly patients with AML and a RASGRP1:APTX ratio of ≥5 was associated with significant antileukemic activity and good tolerance. Although the primary endpoints during the first stage of the trial were not met, this study demonstrated the ability to rapidly and efficiently execute a biomarker-driven trial in an aggressive malignancy. Given the observed antileukemic activity in this selected population, along with a favorable toxicity and bioavailability profile for chronic dosing, further study of tipifarnib with less rigid endpoints than CR/CRi is warranted. Updated survival and RASGRP1 protein expression data will also be presented.
Off Label Use: Tipifarnib in AML. Knoblauch:Johnson & Johnson: Employment. Karkera:Johnson & Johnson: Employment.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.