PURPOSE: In a preclinical model of neuroblastoma, administration of irinotecan daily 5 days per week for 2 consecutive weeks ([qd x 5] x 2) resulted in greater antitumor activity than did a single 5-day course with the same total dose. We evaluated this protracted schedule in children. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twenty-three children with refractory solid tumors were enrolled onto a phase I study. Cohorts received irinotecan by 1-hour intravenous infusion at 20, 24, or 29 mg/m(2) (qd x 5) x 2 every 21 days. RESULTS: The 23 children (median age, 14.1 years; median prior regimens, two) received 84 courses. Predominant diagnoses were neuroblastoma (n = 5), osteosarcoma (n = 5), and rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 4). The dose-limiting toxicity was grade 3/4 diarrhea and/or abdominal cramps in six of 12 patients treated at 24 mg/m(2), despite aggressive use of loperamide. The maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) on this schedule was 20 mg/m(2)/d. Five patients had partial responses and 16 had disease stabilization. On day 1, the median systemic exposure to SN-38 (the active metabolite of irinotecan) at the MTD was 106 ng-h/mL (range, 41 to 421 ng-h/mL). CONCLUSION: This protracted schedule is well tolerated in children. The absence of significant myelosuppression and encouraging clinical responses suggest compellingly that irinotecan be further evaluated in children using the (qd x 5) x 2 schedule, beginning at a dose of 20 mg/m(2). These results imply that data obtained from xenograft models can be effectively integrated into the design of clinical trials.
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