Objective: This study reports the findings of a Phase I/II, cohort, dose-escalation trial of amrubicin and irinotecan with the support of granulocyte colony-stimulation factor. This study aimed to determine the dose-limiting toxicity of the combination and to define the maximum-tolerated dose, as a recommended dose for Phase II trials. We also sought to obtain preliminary data on the efficacy of this combination as a frontline therapy for extensive-disease small-cell lung cancer. Methods: We included 23 chemo-naïve patients with extensive-disease small-cell lung cancer in the trial. The amrubicin dose was escalated from 35 to 40 mg/m2 (Levels 1 and 2, respectively) to determine the dose-limiting toxicity, with an unchanged dose of irinotecan at 50 mg/m2. Results: Of nine patients, three experienced dose-limiting toxicities at Level 1 of prolonged Grade 4 neutropenia, Grade 3 febrile neutropenia and Grade 3 febrile neutropenia with Grade 3 diarrhea. At Level 2, two patients experienced dose-limiting toxicities of Grade 4 neutropenia and Grade 3 neutropenia with Grade 4 diarrhea. The maximum-tolerated doses and recommended doses for amrubicin and irinotecan were therefore determined to be 35 and 50 mg/m2, respectively. The Level 1 trial was then expanded to 21 patients, 14 (70%) of whom showed partial responses to the recommended dose. The median progression-free and overall survival times were 6.37 and 15.21 months, respectively. Conclusions: The combination of amrubicin and irinotecan with the support of granulocyte colony-stimulation factor produced a potent effect in chemo-naïve extensive-disease small-cell lung cancer patients. The use of biomarkers for this regimen may identify patients who are likely to suffer from treatment-ending severe adverse effects.
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