An interesting trial from Provectus Biopharmaceuticals Inc. Phase 1 results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2019 Annual Meeting, held in Chicago, IL from May 31-June 4, 2019
In an ogoing Phase 1 clinical trial of single agent PV-10 for the treatment of symptomatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET) metastatic to the liver. Intralesional injection of oncolytic immunotherapy PV-10 can yield immunogenic cell death in solid tumor cancers that results in tumor-specific reactivity in circulating T cells. PV-10 clinical development includes cutaneous melanoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and metastatic liver cancers such as uveal melanoma in single-agent and combination therapy settings.
What is PV-10?
Described above as “Oncolytic Immunotherapy” but elsewhere as “Ablative Immunotherapy”, the latter indicates the method of administering the therapy i.e. tumour ablation. It’s more well known for trials in treating Melanoma where tumour ablation (albeit subcutaneous) is more common as a treatment.
Scientific Description: PV-10 causes acute oncolytic destruction of injected tumors, releasing damage associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) and tumor antigens that initiate an immunologic cascade where local response by the innate immune system facilitates systemic anti-tumor immunity by the adaptive immune system. The DAMP release-mediated adaptive immune response activates lymphocytes, including CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, and NKT cells, based on clinical and preclinical experience in multiple tumor types. T cell function can be further augmented by combining PV-10 with immune checkpoint inhibition. Sometimes it’s known as its short name “Rose Bengal“.
What is ‘Rose Bengal’?
It’s actually a 135 year old chemical stain, originally discovered in 1882, and for more than half a century used as a dye in cancer diagnosis.
Rose Bengal, in a 10% solution known as PV-10, has displayed greatest promise in the treatment of melanoma, where it was shown in an 80-patient Phase II trial to achieve a complete response rate in 50% of patients’ tumours and an overall response in 71%. A bystander effect was also seen in untreated lesions, suggesting a positive immune response, although it was more effective when all lesions were injected with PV-10.
Scientific Description: PV-10’s active pharmaceutical ingredient is rose bengal disodium (RB) (4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2’,4’,5’,7’-tetraiodofluorescein disodium salt), a small molecule halogenated xanthene. PV-10 drug product is a bright rose red solution containing 10% w/v RB in 0.9% saline for injection, which is supplied in single-use glass vials containing 5 mL (to deliver) of solution and administered without dilution to solid tumors via intratumoral injection.
What is the trial doing and where is the trial located?
This single-center Phase 1 study is being conducted at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia to evaluate the potential safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of PV-10 in metastatic NET patients (NCT02693067). The primary endpoint for the trial is safety, and secondary endpoints include objective response rate (ORR) of injected target and measurable bystander lesions, target lesion somatostatin receptor expression, and biochemical response. Six patients in the first cohort each received one percutaneously-administered injection of PV-10 to one target lesion per treatment cycle. Patients in the second cohort can receive PV-10 injection of multiple lesions per cycle (2 of 6 patients in the second cohort have received at least one cycle of PV-10 thus far).
Results of Cohort 1 as follows:
Cohort 1 has fully enrolled, with 4 of 6 subjects male, median age 65yrs, range 47-72. Primary sites were: small bowel 3, pancreas 2, caecal 1; grade: Gd1 = 5, Gd2 = 1. All patients received prior Somatostatin Analogues (SSA) and PRRT. Median CgA was 645 (range 30-2819). To date 1 subject has received 4 PV-10 treatment cycles, 1 has received 2 cycles, and 4 have received a single cycle. Toxicity has been acceptable, including pain post procedure, carcinoid flare and nausea. LFT’s have remained stable. Overall QOL score was stable for 5 of 6 subjects. ORR in injected lesions is 50% (progression in 1 subject), with overall disease control of 84%. CgA response: 5 stable, 1 progression. One subject with “carcinoid pellagra” had rash resolution. Response follow-up is ongoing and additional efficacy and functional data will be presented. Hepatic IL PV-10 elicited no safety concerns with encouraging evidence of both local and systemic disease control. Enrolment to Cohort 2 is underway
New radiotracer can identify nearly 30 types of cancer (including NETs). Future potential for therapeutic application. This is a different type of radiotracer being currently being used in the approved market for NETs. It’s availability and timeline is not yet known.
Date: June 7, 2019
Source: Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Summary: A novel class of radiopharmaceuticals has proven effective in non-invasively identifying nearly 30 types of malignant tumors. Using 68Ga-FAPI PET/CT, researchers were able to image the tumors with very high uptake and image contrast, paving the way for new applications in tumor characterization, staging and therapy.
FIGURE: 68Ga-FAPI PET/CT in patients reﬂecting 15 different tumor entities. Maximum-intensity projections of 68Ga-FAPI PET/CT in patients reﬂecting 15 different histologically proven tumor entities (sorted by uptake in descending order). Ca = cancer; CCC = cholangiocellular carcinoma; CUP = carcinoma of unknown primary; MTC = medullary thyroid cancer; NET = neuroendocrine tumor.
The authors of “68Ga-FAPI PET/CT: Tracer Uptake in 28 Different Kinds of Cancer” include Clemens Kratochwil, Thomas Lindner, Labidi Abderrahim, Walter Mier, Hendrik Rathke, Manuel Röhrich and Frederik L. Giesel, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Paul Flechsig, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg, German Center for Lung Research, Heidelberg, Germany; Annette Altmann, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Clinical Cooperation Unit Nuclear Medicine, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany; Sebastian Adeberg, Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Heidelberg Institute for Radiation Oncology, Heidelberg, Germany; Hauke Winter, Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg, German Center for Lung Research, Heidelberg, Germany, and Department of Surgery, Thoraxklinik at University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Peter K. Plinkert, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Frederik Marme, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany; Matthias Lang, Department of Surgery, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Hans Ulrich Kauczor, Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg, German Center for Lung Research, Heidelberg, Germany, and Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Dirk Jäger, Department of Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine VI, National Center for Tumor Diseases, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, and Clinical Cooperation Unit Applied Tumor Immunity, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany; Jürgen Debus, Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, Heidelberg Institute for Radiation Oncology, Heidelberg, Germany, and Clinical Cooperation Unit Radiation Oncology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany; and Uwe Haberkorn, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg, German Center for Lung Research, Heidelberg, Germany, and Clinical Cooperation Unit Nuclear Medicine, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.
About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, vital elements of precision medicine that allow diagnosis and treatment to be tailored to individual patients in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
SNMMI’s more than 17,000 members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings, and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit www.snmmi.org.
The NETTER-1 trials led to the approval of Lu177 (or Lutathera), more commonly known in the community as Peptide Receptor Radio Therapy (PRRT). This led to an explosion of availability across the world but many gaps in service remain.
Many PRRT spin off trials are in the pipeline looking at different types of PRRT, mainly using slightly different radionuclides and techniques. However, NETTER-2 builds on the success of the approved version formally known as Lutathera.
The aim of NETTER-2 is to determine if Lutathera in combination with long-acting octreotide prolongs PFS in GEP-NET patients with high proliferation rate tumors (G2 and G3), when given as a first line treatment compared to treatment with high dose (60 mg) long-acting octreotide. Somatostatin analog (SSA) naive patients are eligible, as well as patients previously treated with SSAs in the absence of progression.
This is a phase 3 trial that will be hoping for 222 participants at multiple locations.
This article will be fleshed out in due course. No locations listed yet. Not recruiting yet. Criteria listed – important section if this trial interests you. Clinical Trials document here.
In the meantime, read more about Lutathera (PRRT) by clicking here.
Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: CRNX), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutics for endocrine diseases and endocrine-related tumors, today announced the initiation of a Phase 1, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, single and multiple-dose study to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of CRN01941 in healthy volunteers.
What is CRN01941?
It’s an oral nonpeptide somatostatin receptor subtype 2 (sst2) biased agonist* designed for the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) that originate from neuroendocrine cells commonly found in the gut, lung, or pancreas. From the detail contained in the clinical trials document (see below), it appears to involve a capsule. I’m guessing that the use of terms such as ‘non-peptide’ means that it may not be the same as a somatostatin analogue, but the method of operation appear to be similar in that it wants to bind to somatostatin receptor 2 (SST2). I will bring more technical detail once I have it. * chemical that binds to a receptor and activates the receptor to produce a biological response.
This trial launch follows other products including a similar capsule based somatostatin receptor product for treating Acromegaly called CRN00808, currently undergoing two Phase 2 clinical trials. The company is also developing oral nonpeptide somatostatin agonists for hyperinsulinism, as well as oral nonpeptide ACTH antagonists for the treatment of Cushing’s disease.
On the basis that the CRN00808 Phase 2 trial for Acromegaly is using patients previously treated with somatostatin analog based treatment regimens, I suspect this drug is designed for the same market as Sandostatin LAR/Octreotide and Somatuline (Lanreotide). For more information, please visit www.crinetics.com.
The Phase 1 Clinical Trial of CRN01941 for NETs
The trial is initially only based in Perth Western Australia, it is not yet known if there are any plans to expand locations in subsequent phases or parts of the trial. It also appears they are trialling the use of a capsule based drug and another delivery method as yet unknown, the clinical trial only mentions “Oral Solution” so it isn’t an injection. Read more at ClinicalTrials.gov using the identifier NCT03936166.
This is not the first somatostatin receptor based product in the pipeline, please also check out my article about Somatostatin Analogues and Delivery Mechanisms in the pipeline – click here.
I was never diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) but sometimes I feel like I now have it. I know many others feel the same way. But when I look at the alternatives, I can’t help thinking it’s a small price to pay given that one of them might be a slow degrading quality of life until shuffling off this mortal coil. If I had the choice again, I would still take the surgery.
Before the article continues, let me be clear – I’m not suggesting this is a potential treatment for NET patients with post abdominal surgery side effects or side effects of any other treatment, nor am I suggesting it’s a potential treatment for those with carcinoid syndrome diarrhea. I publish it because there is a connection to serotonin and it may be a useful read for the more curious amongst us. In fact, since publishing I’ve been contacted by several people telling me they are aware of the drug having been treated with it for nausea.
I once wrote about IBS in an article entitled “Were you irritated by your misdiagnosis” (click the link to read). This was written after I completed an online IBS course. I wrote the article in a balanced way in an effort to explain why many patients are misdiagnosed with IBS in the lead up to the correct diagnosis some time later. This is an issue with other conditions, not just NETs. It was also designed to capture IBS readers and offer them a chance to review their diagnosis to ensure there wasn’t anything else they might try to double-check (markers and scans mainly).
A new drug on trial for IBS
Given the connection between NETs and IBS, I was really interested to see this in a UK national newspaper and I subsequently researched for some formal papers to back up the headline. What I found most interesting was the suggestion that a drug designed to inhibit serotonin was involved (…… but read on rather than get too excited).
Diarrhea – the IBS and NET Effect
Diarrhea is a big feature of IBS although there are several types including diarrhea mainly, constipation mainly and a mixed of both – you can read more in my IBS article linked above. Diarrhea is also a big feature of several of the NET Syndromes, in particular Carcinoid Syndrome. It is known that the cause of carcinoid syndrome diarrhea is the oversecretion of serotonin. This makes is quite distinct from other reasons for diarrhea, including but not limited to side effects of intestinal surgery (as one example).
Clinical Trial: Treatment of IBS with diarrhoea – titrated ondansetron (TRITON)
What is ‘ondansetron’. It’s actually a powerful anti-sickness drug given to cancer patients and some of you may recognise it as ZOFRON. Interestingly it’s a serotonin receptor (5-HT3) antagonist (5HT3-RA) for antineoplastic chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Ondansetron is a drug which blocks the 5-HT receptor, which is used to treat nausea and sickness, and has an excellent safety record. Other 5HT3-RAs include Tropisetron, Granisetron, Dolasetron, Palonosetron, Ramosetron (the group of drugs in the class known as 5HT3-RAs are known a ‘setrons’).
It is being offered to those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), helping to ease the most embarrassing and painful symptoms of the condition. According to the Daily Mail, if the trial is successful, it could throw open the doors to the first targeted treatment for the millions of IBS patients with bloating, abdominal discomfort and urgent bowel movements. Two people on the trial are featured in the newspaper article reporting good outcomes.
Information on the Trial. Researchers are hoping to recruit 400 volunteers in the UK aged over 18 who have IBS to take part in the 12-week study. You can read more about the trial in the reference documents below.
I guess many of you will now be thinking that but I advise not to get too excited as things are never that straightforward. However, if I was a pharmaceutical involved in NET research, I would certainly be watching this trial carefully. None of us know the interaction between NETs, NET treatments and titrated ondansetron and its mechanism of action. It may be more directed at brain and central nervous serotonin rather than gut serotonin which is mainly the issue with carcinoid syndrome diarrhea, i.e. it may not work in the same way and/or have the same effect as other approved NET drugs such as somatostatin analogues (Octreotide/Lanreotide) and tryptophan 5-hydroxylase (TPH) inhibitors such as XERMELO.
Still, it’s an exciting trial.
I will keep this article live for any developments. Finally please note this is not in any way medical advice and not a recommendation to try these drugs to control your diarrhea.
Lenvatinib has just completed a Phase 2 trial in Gastrointestinal (GI) and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours. The trial was sponsored by Grupo Espanol de Tumores Neuroendocrinos (Spanish NET scientific organisation) and the manufacturers. A European venture with sites in Austria, Italy, Spain, UK. Headline: The responses are better than Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent).
What is Lenvatinib?
It is a type of targeted therapy known as a multikinase inhibitor. The brand name is ‘LENVIMA‘. These work by inhibiting multiple intracellular and cell surface kinases, some of which are implicated in tumour growth and metastatic progression of cancer, thus decreasing tumour growth and replication. A range of receptor kinases are involved in these processes, including vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), stem cell factor (c-KIT), Flt3, fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR), which can be hyperactivated during tumour formation and progression. Tumour growth may be prevented by inhibiting the action of these hyperactivated receptor kinases, and as tumour progression usually involves the action of multiple kinases rather than just one, it is logical to target multiple kinases.
The Lenvantinib mechanism of action is similar to targeted therapy drugs already in use (or in trial) for Neuroendocrine Tumours:
Sunitinib (Sutent) – a targeted therapy receptor protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It inhibits the actions of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and is an angiogenesis inhibitor (i.e. the development of blood vessels to supply the tumour with nutrients, which they need to grow). It is a mutlikinase in inhibitor.
Everolimus (Afinitor) – a targeted therapy kinase inhibitor that inhibits mammalian target of rapamycin (mTor) kinase, an enzyme required for cell growth and survival. By blocking this enzyme, the medication prevents cell division and, in turn, tumor growth. The medication can also interrupt angiogenesis.
Cabozantinib, an oral potent inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, MET, and AXL, and currently on trial for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Click here.
Multikinase inhibitors such as Lenvatinib, may be used to treat advanced kidney cancer as well as other specific types of cancer (in my research I also noted that in addition to kidney cancer, the drug is already approved for liver and thyroid cancers). Worth also noting that the 3 examples of targeted therapy above are not just in use/in trial for Neuroendocrine Cancer, they are also in use/in trial for others including Renal (Kidney) Cancer, Breast Cancer. Often more than one single kinase inhibitor can be given as a combo treatment, perhaps in sequence, to tackle multi kinases.
Anything special about Lenvatinib for Neuroendocrine Cancer?
Recent reports from oncology conferences indicate that Lenvatinib showed significant antitumor activity and a favourable toxicity profile in progressive advanced NETs. This is the highest reported ORR with a targeted agent, confirmed by central radiology assessment in pancreatic NETs and Gastrointestinal (GI) NETs with promising progression free survival (PFS) in a pre-treated population; further evaluation is warranted.
Adverse events were mild to moderate in 90% of patients, the most frequent being fatigue, diarrhea and hypertension.
Lenvatinib showed the highest reported overall response rate (ORR) by central radiology assessment with a targeted agent in advanced NETs:
pNETs: 40.4% (95% CI 27.3-54.9),
GI NETs: 18.5% (95% CI 9.7-31.9.
Worth noting that Everolimus and Sunitinib were approved with ORRs much less than these figures.
Given the responses in comparison to other approved targeted agents, a phase 3 trial should be anticipated. Studies are “currently ongoing” and “further evaluation warranted”. I will keep this article live to provide updates.
New Trial using Lenvatinib and Everolimus in Treating Patients With Advanced, Unresectable Neuroendocrine Tumors
Under ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03950609, there is a trial being setup at MD Anderson in Texas USA. Use of a combo of Lenvatinib along with Everolimus (Afinitor) in treating patients with advanced, unresectable Neuroendocrine Tumors (the word ‘Carcinoid’ is used in the trial documentation).
Reference material used in the compilation of this article:
1. Annals of Oncology – Efficacy of Lenvatinib in patients with advanced pancreatic (panNETs) and gastrointestinal (giNETs) grade 1/2 (G1/G2) neuroendocrine tumors: Results of the international phase II TALENT trial (GETNE 1509) 23 Oct 2018 – click here.
2. ESMO Congress 2018 – Efficacy of Lenvatinib in patients with advanced pancreatic (panNETs) and gastrointestinal (giNETs) grade 1/2 (G1/G2) neuroendocrine tumors – click here
3. Prime Oncology Slide Show – click here (useful)
4. Clinical Trials Document NCT02678780 – click here
6. Clinical Trials Document NCT03950609 for the trial of combo treatment Lenvatinib and Everolimus. Click here. As at 15 May 2019, the trial was not recruiting but see document for contact details, quite often these documents can be behind in updating. Trial start date recorded as 30 June 2019.
The treatment of liver metastasis is a common approach following a metastatic diagnosis or discovery of liver metastasis downstream via re-staging. In addition to surgery, there are several liver directed therapies available via embolization techniques. This comes in several flavours:
1. Bland liver embolization – a minimally invasive technique which simply blocks the blood supply to the liver tumours in an attempt to reduce or kill those tumours. Sometimes called Hepatic Arterial Embolization or HAE.
2. Chemotherapy liver embolization – as above but adds in some cytotoxic chemo to the mix. Sometimes called Trans Arterial Chemo Embolization or TACE.
3. Radioembolization is a minimally invasive procedure that combines embolization and radiation therapy to treat liver cancer. Tiny glass or resin beads filled with the radioactive isotope yttrium Y-90 are placed inside the blood vessels that feed a tumour. Often known as Sirtex or SIR-Spheres.
Of course systemic treatment is body-wide and so includes the liver as a target. Systemic treatment includes (but is not limited to) Lu177 (PRRT), Chemotherapy, Targeted Therapies such as Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent). Also included are somatostatin analogues such as Lanreotide and Octreotide.
Sometimes systemic treatment is not fully effective on all metastases and although PRRT response rates are good, often patients still live with the burden of remnant liver tumours once therapy is finished.
Doctors in the Netherlands are looking at a trial using Lu177 (PRRT) as a liver directed therapy. The trial is based at 3 sites in the Netherlands and is titled: Intra-arterial Lutetium-177-dotatate for Treatment of Patients With Neuro-endocrine Tumor Liver Metastases (LUTIA). You can read more about the trial by clicking here.
In a clinical trial in USA, the NET Research Foundation is funding similar research at the UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center led by Dr Tom Hope using Y90 intra-arterial for liver metastasis. See the NET RF’s information here and read more about the clinical trial by clicking here
PDR001 (anti-PD-1) is an investigational immunotherapy being developed by Novartis to treat both solid tumors and lymphomas (cancers of the blood). It is currently being trialled on many cancers including Neuroendocrine. It’s brand name is SPARTLIZUMAB.
How PDR001 works
PDR001 is a type of immunotherapy, meaning that it acts by activating the body’s own immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells. Normally, an immune system cell called T-cells recognizes and kills infected or abnormal cells, including those that are cancerous. To prevent T-cells from accidentally damaging healthy and essential tissues, however several immune system checkpoints exist to inhibit, or block, them from going about this work. One example is the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) pathway. Healthy cells produce and display a protein called programmed cell death ligand-1 or ligand-2 (PD-L1 or PD-L2) on their surface. These proteins bind to and activate a receptor called PD-1 that is produced by T-cells. When activated, PD-1 sends a message to the T-cells that prevents them from attacking that particular cell. Cancer cells can hijack this system by producing PD-L1 or PD-L2, effectively hiding from T-cells and evade destruction.
PDR001 is an antibody, a protein designed to interact with and block a specific target. It acts by binding to PD-1, blocking it from interacting with both PD-L1 and PD-L2. This binding blocks the PD-1-mediated inactivation of the T-cells, so that they are able to recognize and target cancer cells. This should result in a reduction in tumor growth and size.
Novartis presented results from an ongoing first-in-human Phase 1/2 clinical trial (NCT02404441) of PDR001 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in 2016. Preliminary trial results suggested that the drug is well-tolerated and safe, with a similar profile to other anti-PD-1 drugs currently being developed. The trial is still recruiting patients with various types of advanced cancer at 43 sites across North America, Europe, and Asia; more information is available by clicking on its identification number.
Novartis then initiated several dozen other Phase 1, 2 and 3 trials, all registered on clinicaltrials.gov, to continue investigating the safety and anti-tumor activity of PDR001 in a wide range of cancer types, and in combination with other investigational and approved therapies. For example, a Phase 3 trial (NCT02967692) is comparing the safety and efficacy of PDR001 to a placebo, in combination with Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib), as a treatment for advanced melanoma.
What about Neuroendocrine?
A phase 2, multi-center study assessed the efficacy and safety of PDR001 in patients with non-functional well and poorly-differentiated Neuroendocrine Neoplasms. According to the clinical trial document, the types of NENs covered are:
Well-differentiated Non-functional NET of Thoracic Origin
Well-differentiated Non-functional NET of Gastrointestinal Origin
Well-differentiated Non-functional NET of Pancreatic Origin
The clinical trial indicates the trial is active but not recruiting but it would look like they have all the patients needed and are currently analysing the trial data so far awaiting the next phase perhaps. In fact I have discovered two pieces of evidence from the trial sponsors:
In another analysis of the results: “Patients with well-differentiated advanced NETs were eligible if they had progressed on prior therapy, including everolimus, while the GEP-NEC patients were eligible if they had progressed on one line of chemotherapy. All patients in the trial received spartalizumab via a 30-minute infusion once every 4 weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.
In the full well-differentiated cohort, there were 7 partial responses (7%), and 55% had stable disease, while 31% had progressive disease. The confirmed objective response rate was 7%, and the disease control rate was 63%. In the GEP-NEC cohort, the objective response rate was 5%, and the disease control rate was 19%.
The thoracic NETs patients fared best with spartalizumab, with limited responses seen in the pancreatic and GI NETs groups; responses seemed to be associated with PD-L1 expression. In the thoracic NETs cohort, two of five PD-L1–positive patients had a partial response. PD-L1 positivity was more common in the GEP-NEC cohort; among 14 PD-L1–positive patients in that group, the partial response rate was 43%.
The most common adverse events regardless of cause included abdominal and back pain, anemia, dyspnea, and hypertension.
Kjell Öberg, MD, PhD, of Uppsala University in Sweden, discussed the study for ESMO. “We have hope,” he said. “We see that maybe there are some tumor types that might respond to immunotherapy.” In general, NETs are considered an “immunological desert.” There is usually very low infiltration of immune cells in these tumors, and there are a low number of genetic mutation events.”
You can also listen to two very well known NET experts (Simron Singh and Jonathan Strosberg) talk about this trial and the drug ……. “the highest response rate was seen in atypical lung neuroendocrine tumors. It was approximately 20%, but in most cases was not durable”. See the remainder of the discussion by clicking here.
Also watch Dr Lowell Anthony talking about this drug by clicking here.
While it’s a long way off becoming reality, this is quite an exciting clinical trial. I have no idea if it will pick up Neuroendocrine disease but initially, patients with suspected oesophageal and stomach cancers will be asked to try the test. Later it will be extended to include prostate, kidney, bladder, liver and pancreatic cancers. It’s possible that Neuroendcorine tumours in these locations might be picked up or at least show up some abnormality that triggers further checks.
The fact that Cancer Research UK is involved gives me some confidence as they tend to back the strong horses.
I will keep this article live and track developments.
This is a ‘next generation’ Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) or more specifically the radiopharmaceutical that binds to both activated and unactivated somatostatin receptors which are upregulated on these tumours. There is far higher binding via this mechanism than standard octreotate. The technical name of the radiopharmaceutical is Satoreotide tetraxetan lutetium-177 (author’s note, I’m guessing but it could be a variant of Lanreotide). It was once named JR11.
What’s the difference to the current approved therapy?
Conventional PRRT (e.g. Lutathera, Lu177 Dotatate) is based on a somatostatin receptor ‘agonist’ approach, whereas 177Lu Ops 201 Satoreotide is a receptor ‘Antagonist’. The differences are quite technical but in the most layman terms , the antagonist has the capability of attaching (binding) to more receptors, including those in a ‘resting’ or ‘inactive’ state, spends more time on the tumor than agonist based therapies. The result is a higher number of receptor binding sites and greater tumor uptake. In addition it is said to show an improved tumor-to-kidney dose ratio compared to 177Lu-DOTA-TATE.
This would also be reflected in the theranostic use of the drug in Ga68 imaging (i.e. Ga68 Satoreotide).
The clinical trial is named “Study to Evaluate the Safety and Preliminary Efficacy of 177Lu-OPSC001 in NETs”. The protocol involves 3 cycles 8 weeks apart of intravenous Lu-177 OPS-201. All patients will have baseline Ga-68 octreotate imaging performed.
The treatment is available for all NET patients with a histologically confirmed diagnosis of:
unresectable GEP NET (Grade I and Grade II according to WHO classification (2010, Annex 01), functioning and non-functioning).
unresectable “typical lung NET” or “atypical lung NET” are acceptable (with the exception of Large Cell Bronchial Neuroendocrine Neoplasms and Small Cell Lung Cancers).
malignant, unresectable pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma
Patients who have previously had Lu-177 octreotate (e.g. Lutathera) are not eligible. Patients may have had any other treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy or Somatostatin Analogues (e.g. octreotide, landreotide).
There are other inclusion and exclusion criteria to be found within the clinical trial document. The trial is due to compete in May 2022.
Where is the Trial based?
At the time of writing and according to the Clinical Trial document, Australia (Melbourne and Perth), Austria (Vienna), Denmark (Aarhus), Switzerland (Basel), UK (Royal Free London). Two sites are also listed in France (Nantes and Toulouse) but trial document currently marked as not yet recruiting.
I have anecdotal evidence to suggest one more UK site is possible in 2019, Windsor in UK, a private healthcare provider but it will be open to public and private patients.
What about USA?
I also found an additional trial based in Memorial Sloan Kettering New York designed to take a theranostic approach by using Satoreotide (JR11) for the pre-treatment imaging, e.g. Ga68 satoreotide (JR11) and the 177Lu version for treatment. The clinical trial document indicates this trial is active but NOT RECRUITING and is entitled “Theranostics of Radiolabeled Somatostatin Antagonists 68Ga-DOTA-JR11 and 177Lu-DOTA-JR11 in Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors”
Thanks for reading
You may also find these PRRT related articles useful:
I would love to go to a NANETS conference but I would need sponsorship or otherwise have to fund my own way there. Seattle sounds like a great place to visit. I would even have been their twitter correspondent had they asked!
I’ve been to the European equivalent twice, they always have theirs in Barcelona it would seem, at least NANETS uses different locations making it more interesting. It’s a scientific conference for the most part, but I guess some basic stuff is also covered.
However, in the world of instant contact and communications on the internet, together with twitter, one can keep up to speed on what is or has been discussed. One day, NANETS and ENETS will be sufficiently advanced that we can all watch the presentations from the comfort of our own homes (you heard it here!)
I’ve put together a collection of things I found interesting and offer them here for your perusal and selection via links.
One of the first issues to discuss was the confirmation of the new NANETS management team and board – you will recognise most names here:
Officers (2018 to 2020 Term):
Chair: James Howe, MD The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Vice Chair: Emily Bergsland, MD The University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
Secretary: Jonathan Strosberg, MD Moffitt Cancer Center
Treasurer: Pam Kunz, MD Stanford University Medical Center
Board of Directors:
Jennifer Chan, MD, MPH (2018-2020) Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Thorvardur Halfdanarson, MD (2018-2020) The Mayo Clinic
Daniel Halperin, MD (2015-2019) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Erik Nakakura, MD, Ph.D. Research Committee Board Representative (2018-2020) The University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
Rodney Pommier, MD (2018-2020) Oregon Health and Science University
Diane Reidy, MD (2015-2019) Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Simron Singh, MD, Conference Committee Board Representative (2018-2019) Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center
Michael Soulen, MD (2018-2020) The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
James Yao, MD (2018-2020) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
A selection of poster abstracts below. There was a lot more but these ones made output on twitter so I guess these were headline acts and probably of interest to patients. The extract texts/short videos I’ve included are probably all that most patients will need but when I have electronic access to the posters, I will update with links if possible and repost for those who would like to see the full detail.
Interesting summary of new stuff in trials. Plus some interesting bits on SI NETs and pNETs. Click on the title or click here. There’s also a short video of Dr Haldanasron (slightly different content) – click here.
As you will know from my staging and grading article, there is now a Grade 3 well differentiated tumour status (called a NET rather than a Neuroendocrine Carcinoma). However, there is not yet enough data to work out the optimum treatments, which may, in certain circumstances, be different from their poorly differentiated counterparts (Neuroendocrine Carcinoma). Click on the title above or click here.
You may be prompted for a login, if so, let me know, I will post you the content. The ‘misses’ is mainly the fact that Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) does not look good as a single agent treatment for high grade NEC. Headline is “Pembrolizumab, though generally well tolerated, showed limited activity as a single agent in high-grade neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) in this study,” Arvind Dasari, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues concluded.” Some other interesting points though. Click on the title above or click here.
Edit 10 Jan 2019: RadioMedix and Curium Announce FDA Fast Track Designation For 64Cu-Dotatate. Read more byclicking here.
Curium and RadioMedix Inc. announce an exclusive agreement to develop and commercialize 64Cu-Dotatate, an investigational positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic agent for patients with Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs). RadioMedix is currently engaged in Phase III clinical trials of the agent and expects to file a New Drug Application with the Food and Drug Administration in 2019. This partnership builds on the initial development work conducted by RadioMedix and will benefit from Curium’s regulatory, manufacturing, distribution, and commercial expertise. The radionuclide is not new, it’s been in use for some time, mainly in Denmark.
64Cu is a PET isotope that can be produced at a central location in quantities to meet the commercial needs of hospitals and imaging centers without the supply limitations of nuclear generator-based PET isotopes,” said Ebrahim Delpassand, MD, CEO of RadioMedix. “Once approved, 64Cu-Dotatate will be available to patients in medical centers with PET capability across the country. This will address the shortage or lack of availability of somatostatin analogue PET agents that we are currently experiencing in many parts of the U.S.”
Ga68 PET Shortages explained
This statement is in relation to the current shortage of Ga68 PET radionuclide. For those not aware, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) has written a letter to the FDA about ongoing shortages of generators that produce gallium-68 (Ga-68), a radioisotope used regularly in medical imaging. The letter—available here.
The letter explains that Ga-68 is currently used to produce NETSPOT from Advanced Accelerator Applications (a Novartis company), which was approved in June 2016 to help treat neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) in adult and pediatric patients using PET. NETSPOT, however, is only approved using specific generators. And those generators are only approved for either 400 uses or one year, whichever comes first. This has led to shortages throughout the United States.
SNMMI notes some possible remedies for this shortage. For instance, “a temporary exemption to the 400-elution limit would have a major impact on NETSPOT capacity for patients,” according to the letter. In addition, using a wider variety of generators to produce NETSPOT or using cyclotron-produced gallium chloride are two other methods that could improve production in a relatively short amount of time. “Further discussion with the manufacturers is necessary,” the authors added.
Read more about Ga68 PET and its use in Neuroendocrine Cancer – click here. Worth also noting that RadioMedix is also involved in a number of NET related initiatives including:
1. Trials for a new type of PRRT called ‘Targeted Alpha-emitter Therapy (TAT) – I’ve written about this previously. Read my article here.
2. An exclusive distributor for the TM Isotopen Technologien München AG (ITM) PRRT product currently in trial. I wrote about this here.
How does 64Cu-Dotatate compare with Ga68 PET and Octreotide Scans?
To learn more about previous studies on 64Cu-Dotatate, here’s 2 articles published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine which are a head to head comparison of 64Cu-Dotatate with Ga68 Dotatoc and with 111 Indium Octreotide (Octreoscan).
Conclusion: 64Cu-DOTATATE has advantages over 68Ga-DOTATOC in the detection of lesions in NET patients. Although patient-based sensitivity was the same for 64Cu-DOTATATE and 68Ga-DOTATOC in this cohort, significantly more lesions were detected by 64Cu-DOTATATE. Furthermore, the shelf life of more than 24 h and the scanning window of at least 3 h make 64Cu-DOTATATE favorable and easy to use in the clinical setting.
Conclusion: With these results, we demonstrate that 64Cu-DOTATATE is far superior to 111In-DTPA-OC in diagnostic performance in NET patients. Therefore, we do not hesitate to recommend implementation of 64Cu-DOTATATE as a replacement for 111In-DTPA-OC.
The shortage of Ga68 PET radionuclide caused by limitations of the generators in use is unfortunate. Reading the SNMMI letter, I think progress can be made downstream. However, the introduction of a new scanning agent could be useful as long as the trials prove its safety and efficiently and is comparable to current tools. There is no news of any plans to extend this potential new radionuclide outside the US but I suspect that would change following an FDA approval.
Researchers are testing the drug Sapanisertib to see if it can halt the progression of pancreatic NETs (pNETs) which cannot be surgically removed, have not responded to other treatment, and have spread to other parts of the body.
What is Sapanisertib?
Sapanisertib is one of a group of targeted therapy drugs that interferes with tumor progression by inhibiting an enzyme known as mTOR which a tumor cell needs for growth. In fact this is the same technique used in Afinitor (Everolimus), already approved for NETs.
It is also being tested in a number of different advanced cancers, including bladder, kidney, breast, liver, and certain types of lung cancers, among others.
The Clinical Trial
The primary goal of the phase II study is to evaluate how well pNET tumors respond to Sapanisertib. To qualify for this trial patients must have advanced pNET that cannot be surgically removed, and which have not responded to previous treatment with similar drugs. All participants will receive Sapanisertib, and will be checked periodically to see if their tumors are responding to the drug.
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided at this link which provides more details about the Sapanisertib pNET trial – click here and check the inclusion and exclusion criteria; and other data. There are 354 study locations across the USA.
Please also note this drug development was part funded by the NET Research Fundation – read more here.
I’ve posted extensively about Oncolytic virus trials, focused on the ongoing Neuroendocrine Cancer trial in Uppsala Sweden. I wanted to incorporate this information into a single article ready for future news, whilst at the same time updating you on further developments in the field of Oncolytic Viruses for Neuroendocrine Cancer. The excitement of the Uppsala work has dampened in recent years, not helped by the fact that one of the first patients unfortunately died. In the absence of any news, I suspect there has been no real progress and/or the funding has run out.
What exactly are Oncolytic Viruses?
Oncolytic Viruses infects and breaks down cancer cells but not normal cells. Oncolytic viruses can occur naturally or can be made in the laboratory by changing other viruses. Certain oncolytic viruses are being studied in the treatment of cancer. Some scientists say they are another type of immunotherapy whilst others say it’s too early to classify as such. The good news is that Neuroendocrine Cancer seems to figure in this work with two of these viruses apparently working on mice to date. Listed below are two active projects involving NETs, one directly and one indirectly.
I’ll briefly describe what’s happening and then you can link to my Facebook article if you need more background.
The trial is called AdVince after Vince Hamilton who funded it. Unfortunately he died before he saw any output but his forward thinking and benevolence lives on and might hopefully help NET patients in the longer term. It’s quite a small trial and is being conducted in Uppsala University Sweden, a famous European NET Centre of Excellence and where many people from across the world attend to take advantage of PRRT availability and experience and is home to famous NET specialist Kjell Öberg, MD, PhD, a professor of endocrine oncology.
A Swedish man (Jan-Erik Jannsson) was the first to get the virus to their cancer (NETs) using a genetically modified virus.
Unfortunately, I was given the news from a source close to the trial that Jan died last year of pneumonia. I have no evidence to suggest his death is in anyway connected to the trial but I’m told he was an ill man prior to the trial commencing. I have therefore dedicated this post to him. RIP Jan.
The initial data presented by the trial indicated that AdVince can be safely evaluated in a phase I/IIa clinical trial for patients with liver-dominant NET. The last I heard from the trial is that they are trying to recruit a further 12 patients to Phase IIa (the trial document allows for up to 36).
Read more background on my Facebook post here: Click here
The trial document on Clinical Trials Website: Click here
This is an oncolytic viral therapy currently in phase III and phase Ib/II clinical trials for use against primary liver (Hepatocellular Carcinoma) and Colorectal cancers, respectively. Pexa-Vec is a weakened (or attenuated) virus that is based on a vaccine used in the eradication of smallpox. The modified virus is injected directly into the cancer tumour, to grow inside these rapidly growing cancer cells and hopefully kill them.
According to the Colorectal Clinical Trial, the aim of the study is to evaluate whether the anti-tumor immunity induced by Pexa-Vec oncolytic viral therapy can be enhanced by immune checkpoint inhibition i.e. they are testing it in conjunction with Immunotherapy drugs (in the case of Colorectal, Durvalumab, and a combination of Durvalumab and Tremelimumab).
The Hepatocellular Carcinoma trial (Phocus) is at Phase III where the sponsors are evaluating Pexa-Vec to determine if it can slow the progression of advanced liver cancer and improve quality of life. I can other trials appearing such as this one for Colorectal Cancer and this one for any solid tumour type.
The work is a collaboration forged between University of California San Francisco (UCSF) vascular researcher Donald McDonald, MD, PhD, and researchers at San Francisco-based biotech SillaJen Biotherapeutics Inc. (formerly Jennerex Biotherapeutics, Inc.), a subsidiary of SillaJen, Inc., headquartered in Korea.
So what’s the Neuroendocrine Connection with Pexa-Vec?
As part of the research, McDonald’s lab injected it intravenously into mice genetically modified to develop pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. They found that the virus failed to infect healthy organs or make the animals ill, but succeeded in infecting blood vessels within tumors. These initial infections caused the vessels to leak and expose the tumor cells to the virus. In these experiments, the virus managed to infect and destroy only a small proportion of tumor cells directly, the researchers found, but within five days of the initial infection, the rest of the tumor began to be killed by a powerful immune reaction. Live human trials have commenced in 2018 and the “patient 1” is a pancreatic NET patient. Read more here. Interestingly they added Keytruda (an immunotherapy) to the mix. It’s only been four months since ‘Patient 1’ (Tamara) began the trial, but a mid-treatment CT scan was said to be “promising”. I will keep this article live and bring you updates as I receive them.
Clearly it’s still early days in the Oncolytic Virus field with minimum breakthrough in terms of success on humans. In terms of the Neuroendocrine connection, it is exciting that two programmes are showing results (albeit in mice). We wait to hear from Uppsala on how the human test of AdVince is coming along. My agents are scanning the internet every day looking for any comment.
If you want to learn more about Oncolytic Viruses in general – there’s a great summary here.
What is Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT)?
For those who are still not sure what it’s all about. This is a non-surgical treatment which is normally administered intravenously. It’s based on the use of somatostatin receptors to attract a ‘radiopeptide’. The radiopeptide is a combination of a somatostatin analogue and a radioactive material. As we already know, somatostatin analogues (i.e. Lanreotide/Octreotide) are a NET cell targeting drug, so when combined with radioactivity, it binds with the NET cells and delivers a high dose of targeted radiation to the cancer while preserving healthy tissue. In general, patients tend to receive up to 4 sessions spaced apart by at least 2 months.
PRRT will not work on all NETs and not everyone will suited to this treatment. In general, for this treatment to be more successful, you must have somatostatin receptors in your tumors. Success rates are not 100% – it should not be considered a cure or ‘magic bullet’. However, the results are said to be pretty good. The NETTER-1 trial data which has led to formal approval in Europe, USA and other areas, can be found here.
LATEST ON EXPANDED NETTER-1 TRIAL DATA. “Novartis has announced presentation of a new analysis of Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) NETTER-1 data at the 2018 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress examining the impact of Lutathera treatment on patients with low, medium or high liver tumor burden. The data show that Lutathera treatment results in significant improvement in progression free survival (PFS) regardless of the extent of baseline liver tumor burden (LTB), elevated alkaline phosphatase (ALP) liver enzyme or presence of large (>30mm diameter) lesion in patients with progressive midgut neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) compared to octreotide LAR alone.”
Read the latest news on the NETTER-2 trial here. This is designed to look at the benefits of using PRRT on Grade 2 and Grade 3 patients as a first line treatment.
Understanding the terminology is half the battle in understanding the latest developments. I’ve included Ga-68 PET scans within this section (or in more general terms Somatostatin Receptor PET (SSTR PET)) as the term ‘Theranostics‘ is becoming a commonly used theme. Theranostics is a joining of the words diagnostics and therapy.
LUTATHERA is the radionuclide ‘mix’ for use in Peptide Radio Therapy Treatment (PRRT). You may also see this drug called ‘Lutetium’ or ‘Lu-177 dotatate’, or just ‘Lu-177’ on its own. Yttrium 90 (Y-90) is a radionuclide also used in PRRT.
NETSPOT (USA) or SOMAKIT TOC (Europe) is not PRRT but it is the commercial names for the radiopeptide used in Gallium 68 (Ga-68) PET diagnostic scans.
Together they form a ‘theranostic pair’. Theranostics is apt as together (NETSPOT / SOMAKIT TOC and Lutathera), both target NETs expressing the same somatostatin receptor, with Lutathera intended to kill tumor cells by emitting a different kind of low-energy, short-range radiation than that of the diagnostic version.
Moreover, thanks to the theranostic approach that nuclear medicine allows, Novartis/AAA’s NETSPOT/SomaKit TOC products will be able to determine when Lutathera is the appropriate treatment.
Of course, this therapy has been in use in Europe and some other places for some time but to be honest, they have been on a limited scale and never formally approved by national drug agencies. Despite its extensive use, the EU approval in 2017 was actually the very first approval of PRRT anywhere in the world. For example, in UK, it was used for some time for those in need but was removed from routine availability through a ‘slush fund’ formally known as the Cancer Drugs Fund – to cut a long story short, the funding source was cut off, although there are still ways of obtaining the treatment pending formal acceptance by the NHS (certain criteria apply).
In the meantime, I constantly see stories of patients travelling to Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain and others; mostly at their own cost. However, it does indicate one thing, there is a huge unmet need in that many patients do not have access to the best treatments in their own country. I see this daily through many private messages.
What about Grade 3 (High Grade) Neoplasms?
The main treatment for Grade 3 is chemotherapy, particularly poorly differentiated. PRRT tends to work better with efficient somatostatin receptors (i.e. somatostatin receptor-positive tumors). The European approval wording only covers Grades 1 and 2. The US FDA approval indicates “somatostatin receptor-positive tumors”. It’s also worth noting that with Grade 3, are more likely to exist in Grade 3 well differentiated NETs, particularly in the lower Ki-67 readings. However, there’s an interesting study from Australia which might be useful to read – check out the abstracthere (note the full version is not available free).
Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Although not indicated for this type of Neuroendocrine Neoplasm, there is evidence to suggest that this skin Neuroendocrine Carcinoma does express somatostatin receptors. Read more here.
What about Pheochromoctyoma/Paraganglioma?
This article discusses the efficacy of PRRT in Pheo/para – click here. There’s actually still a trial for Pheochromocytoma/Paraganglioma (Pheo/Para). It is known that Pheo/Para can have somatostatin receptor tumors so a useful trial. The aim of the trial is to assess the safety and tolerability. You can read about the trial here.
Where can I get PRRT?
The aim of this section is to update on a regional basis in order to inform an international community of followers and readers.
I wanted a place to review what is happening globally given my following. In many countries, however, I’m dependent on feedback from patients in those countries. Please note this is not intended to be a 100% complete breakdown on everything about PRRT or PRRT centres – it’s a summary. It should be clear from below but please bear that in mind when reading.
This section of this article will cover each region, indicating where PRRT can be obtained (as far as I know). It is not designed to indicate whether this is through public or private facilities (this will depend to too many factors beyond the reach of this article). Please note this is not intended to be a 100% complete breakdown on every single PRRT centre – it’s a summary. This actually should be clear from below but please bear that in mind when reading.
On 29 August 2018. National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) England has formally published that Lutetium (177Lu) oxodotreotide, within its marketing authorisation, is an option for treating unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well-differentiated (grade 1 or grade 2), somatostatin receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) in adults. CLICK HERE to read the approval. Currently available in the following NHS locations:
London – at least 2 locations – Royal Free, Guys and St Thomas
Liverpool – The Royal
Manchester – The Christie
Sheffield – Weston Park
Bristol – Bristol Oncology Centre
Newcastle – Freeman Hospital
Coventry – University Hospital
Anecdotal mention of Leicester but waiting to hear confirmation.
On 9 July 2018. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (NICE equivalent) has approved lutetium 177Lu (Lutathera) for patients in NHS Scotland. Good news for Scotland once their hospitals have the capability to deliver. Scottish patients would then not need to travel to England for the NHS Scotland funded treatment. Read more here.
It is funded in Wales and Northern Ireland but is currently administered in England with inter NHS budget transfers.
On 7th Feb 2019, Health Canada approved Lutathera™ (lutetium (177Lu) oxodotreotide) for the treatment of unresectable (not removable by surgery) or metastatic, well-differentiated, somatostatin receptor-positive (expressing the somatostatin receptor) gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) in adults with progressive disease. The treatment was previously available on a trial basis. Read more here.
Site update to follow but the following trial locations may be up and running first:
Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton
PRRT was approved in USA on 26 Jan 2018.The approval is for the treatment of somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), including foregut, midgut, and hindgut neuroendocrine tumors in adults. CLICK HERE.
The extended access program (trial) is no longer offered but these locations should be ahead of the game in terms of provision, notwithstanding insurance and provision of sufficient nuclear material.
In the meantime, known USA sites offering routine “live site” insurance based PRRT treatment are as follows – please note information has been gleaned from US patients due to no other consolidated source of this information being readily available. It’s possible some patients got mixed up between trial locations and live locations so let me know of any omissions or additions/corrections – thanks in advance.
DRAFT – NOT YET COMPLETE – (as at 16 May 2019)
Due in Service?
Dr Boris Naraev
UCSF Medical Center Mission Bay San Francisco
California – Antioch
Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center
Cedars Sinai Medical Center LA
Stanford Medical Center
Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center
Hoag Hospital Newport Beach
Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center
City of Hope LA
Yale New Haven Medical Center
Salner, Andrew, MD
Rocky Mountain Cancer Center Denver
Dr Eric Liu
University of Colorado UC Health Denver
University of Miami
Winter Park, Florida Radiation Oncology Orlando
David Diamond MD
CCTA Newnan, Atlanta
Queen’s Medical Center
Dr. Marc Coel
Mountain States Tumor Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital, Boise
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Rush University Chicago
The University of Chicago Medicine
Xavier M. Keutgen, MD
Loyola University Medical Center Maywood
Indiana University Health
University of Iowa
Dr T O’Dorisio
University of Kansas Medical Center Fairway
University of Kentucky, Markey Cancer Center
John Hopkins Baltimore
Dana Farber Boston
Massachusetts General Hospital
Detroit – Karmanos Cancer Center
Dr. Thor Halfdanarson
University of Minnesota Health
Sara Canon Cancer Center Kansas City
Siteman Cancer Center St. Louis/Barnes Jewish Hospital St. Louis
Dr Samuel Mehr
Nebraska Cancer Specialists Omaha
Dr Samuel Mehr
Lenox Hill NYC
Stony Brook University Cancer Center Long Island
Nurse Navigator, Patty Zirpoli, RN
Roswell Park Buffalo
The James, Columbus
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
Fox Chase Philadelphia
Dr Paul Engstrom
Rhode Island Hospital Providence
Dr Paul Engstrom
Sanford in Sioux Falls
MD Anderson Houston
Excel Diagnostics Houston
CHI St Lukes Houston
Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City
University of Vermont Medical Center
Jay Kikut, MD, Director of Nuclear Medicine and PET
Carilion Clinic Roanoke
Virginia Mason Seattle
Dr. Hagen Kennecke
VMedStar Georgetown University Hospital
VMU Cancer Institute Morgantown
Shalu Pahuja, M.D
UW Health Madison, Carbone Cancer Center
Noelle K. LoConte, MD Specialty: Medical Oncology Primary Location: UW Carbone Cancer Center (608) 265-1700 (800) 323-8942
Europe (excluding UK which is listed above)
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) “market authorisation” received a positive indication on 20th July followed by EC approval on 29 Sep 2017. The positive indication reads “Lutathera is indicated for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP NETs) in adults”. Of Course, the decision to fund the drug will be with national approval organisations. Whilst I’m sure there are many more, these well-known centres have been making PRRT available for some years (but please note there are others):
Denmark – ‘Rigshospitalet’ since 2009. They have treated around 250 patients- and given 800 treatments.Netherlands – Rotterdam Treatment Centre – click here
Slovenia –Ljubljana, University medical Centre Ljubljana
Sweden – Department of Endocrine Oncology Uppsala University Hospital – click here
Switzerland – University Hospital Basel, Radiology & Nuclear Medicine Clinic – click here
I’d be interested to hear from countries in Europe with their full list of centres or a link to it.
Australia seems to be ahead of the game or that is what I sense when I read output from there. There’s a good section on the Australian effort – click here.
These guys have had to fight to get some progress on the provision of PRRT. Currently New Zealanders have to go to Melbourne Australia for treatment – almost 50 New Zealanders with NETs are currently raising tens of thousands of dollars to pay for treatment in Australia because the life-prolonging treatment isn’t available locally. But this could change in 2018. Unicorn Foundation New Zealand announced that Pharmac, the New Zealand government agency that decides which pharmaceuticals, have said that PRRT will be funded for patients with medium priority for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, well-differentiated NETs (irrespective of primary site) that express somatostatin receptors.
Lebanon – The American Hospital of Beirut – Dr Ali Shamseddine “We have started using Lu-177 here in Lebanon. So far, we have treated 3 patients, with good response. The operational cost is much less than in Europe”.
India – Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Visakhapatnam. Recently started radionuclide therapy. Although only currently available privately, some patients have been sponsored by the companies that they work for. Point of contact is Dr. K. Raghava Kashyap. I’ve been assured by CNETS India that many locations have PRRT capability – contact them direct please. Also – TATA Memorial Hospital Mumbai (waiting time is long, but cost is low: $200) and there are private clinics in Pune (cost is $1500) and Bengaluru (cost is around $6000). (Info from Russian patient group).
Kuwait – Kuwait Cancer Control Center (KCCC) – read article here.
Cabozantinib is an oral drug which works by blocking the growth of new blood vessels that feed a tumour. In addition to blocking the formation of new blood cells in tumours, Cabozantinib also blocks pathways that may be responsible for allowing cancers cells to become resistant to other “anti-angiogenic” drugs. It is a type of drug called a growth blocker. Cabozantinib has been studied or is already in research studies as a possible treatment for various types of cancer, including prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, brain cancer, thyroid cancer, lung cancer, and kidney cancer. During my research, I found that it has a connection to Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC) which is a type of Neuroendocrine Cancer, frequently associated with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN). Cabozantinib, under the brand name of ‘Cometriq’ was approved by the FDA in 2012 for use in MTC. Read more about Cometriq here. It’s also been approved by the FDA for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (branded as Cabometyx). I also discovered that there is an exclusive licensing Agreement with the manufacturers (Elelixis) and Ipsen (of Lanreotide fame) to commercialize and develop Cabozantinib in regions outside the United States, Canada and Japan
Growth blockers are a type of biological therapy and include tyrosine kinase inhibitors, proteasome inhibitors, mTOR inhibitors, PI3K inhibitors, histone deacetylase inhibitors and hedgehog pathway blockers. Cabozantinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). They block chemical messengers (enzymes) called tyrosine kinases. Tyrosine kinases help to send growth signals in cells so blocking them stop the cell growing and dividing. Some TKIs can block more than one tyrosine kinase and these are known as multi-TKIs.
So Capozantinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor and is therefore a biological therapy and growth blocker just like Everolimus (Afinitor) and Sunitinib (Sutent) – some texts describe thelattero two as chemotherapy but this is just not accurate.
Very technical process but in the simplest of terms, Cabozantinib is designed to disrupt the actions of VEGF (a growth factor) and MET (a growth factor receptor) which promote spread of cancerous cells through the growth of new blood vessels. Whilst we are on this subject, please note Everolimus (Afinitor) is an mTOR inhibitor and Sunitinib (Sutent) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Many people think these drugs are a type of chemo – that is incorrect, these are targeted biological therapies. See more on this by clicking here.
What is the current trial status of Capozantinib?
A Phase III trial is now recruiting entitled “Cabozantinib S-malate in Treating Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors Previously Treated With Everolimus That Are Locally Advanced, Metastatic, or Cannot Be Removed by Surgery”.
The trial has 172 locations across the US (see link below). The primary study (final data) is scheduled Jan 1st 2021.
A funded piece of research by the NET Research Foundation – check it out here – looks like they are trying to figure out what patients might benefit from Cabozantinib using biomarker data to predict response.
BOSTON — Cabozantinib (Cabometyx) may benefit patients with malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, according to results of a phase II trial presented here.
Patients receiving cabozantinib (Cometriq) treatment experienced notable tumor shrinkage in the lymph nodes, liver, and lung metastases, according to Camilo Jimenez, MD, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues.
Additionally, progression-free survival significantly increased after treated to 12.1 months (range 0.9-28) compared with just 3.2 months prior to treatment, they reported at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) annual meeting.
Cabozantinib treatment was also tied to an improvement in blood pressure and performance status, as well as remission of diabetes among these patients.
“Malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas are frequently characterized by an excessive secretion of catecholamines. [Patients] have a large tumor burden and they have a decreased overall survival,” explained Jimenez. “Tumors are frequently very vascular and frequently associated with bone metastases. In fact, up to 20% of patients who have malignancy of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas may have predominant bone metastases.”
He added that “an interesting aspect of this tumor is that C-MET receptor mutation have been found in occasional patients with malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.”
Cabozantinib is an anti-angiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which also targets RET, MET, and AXL. It is approved for metastatic medullary thyroid cancer, and was more recently approved for first-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma.
“MET pathway is also involved in the development of bone metastases. In fact, cabozantinib is a very effective medications for patients who have bone metastases in the context of cancer of different origins,” Jimenez said.
In order to be eligible for the trial, patients with confirmed pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma had to be ineligible for curative surgery, have ≥3 months life expectancy, no risk for perforation or fistula, and adequate organ functioning. Prior to cabozantinib initiation, patients could not receive chemotherapy or biologic agents within 6 weeks, radiation within 4 weeks, or MIBG within 6 months.
Following histological confirmation of disease progression >1 year according to RECIST 1.1, the trial included 14 patients with measurable disease and eight patients with predominant/exclusive bone metastases. Fifteen patients subsequently enrolled into the trial, six of whom had germline mutations of the SDHB gene.
All participants were all started at an initial daily dose of 60 mg of cabozantinib, which was subsequently reduced down to between 40 to 20 mg due to toxicity in 13 patients based on tolerance.
The majority of these patients with measurable disease experienced some level of disease response. Six patients reported a partial response, defined as over a 30% reduction, while three patients achieved moderate response, marked by a 15%-30% reduction. Five of the patients with predominant bone metastases reported disease stabilization, according to results of an FDG-PET scan. One patient experienced disease progression while on treatment.
Overall, cabozantinib was generally well-tolerated without any grade 4 or 5 treatment-related adverse events reported. Some of the most common adverse events reported included grade mild dysgeusia, hand and foot syndrome, mucositis, fatigue, weight loss, and hypertension, according to the authors.
Primary Source – American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists meeting – AACE 2018; Abstract 142. attended my Medscape writers
I generated this blog article to add value rather than just post the outputs for your own perusal. I hope you find it useful.
Please note that taking part in a clinical trial is a big decision and must be considered carefully in conjunction with your specialists if necessary. This article is not suggesting this trial is right for you. Please check the inclusion and exclusion criteria in the trials document carefully. (Pheo/Para patients see other clinical trial link above)
Theranostics is a joining of the words therapeutics and diagnostics. You may also see it conveyed as ‘Theragnostics’ and these terms are interchangeable. The basic aim of theranotistics is to find and then destroy the ‘bad guys‘. With Neuroendocrine Cancer, finding the tumours (the bad guys) can often be a challenge – they can be small and/or difficult to find – they are sometimes expert at camouflage. Moreover, once found, they can then be difficult to treat (destroy), as they can often prove resistant to conventional cancer drugs and many are inoperable due to sheer quantity, spread and positioning. When they are found and identified, it’s also really helpful to know from the intelligence gathered, how successful the destroy (therapeutic) part of the mission might be.
The nuclear scan uses the same targetin agent as the therapy, therefore if you cancer lights up on the nuclear scan, then the therapy will find its way to the cancer and hopefully work well. That is the beauty of theranostic pairing, i.e. the use of the same agent in the diagnostics – the ability to find, estimate likely success criteria and then hopefully destroy – or at least reduce the capability of the tumours and extend life.
A great example of an approved Theranostic Pairin Neuroendocrine Cancer, is the combination of the Somatostatin Receptor based Ga68 PET scan using NETSPOT or SomaKit TOC™ (US/Europe respectively) and Peptide Receptor Radiotherapy (PRRT) using Lutathera which both target NETs expressing the same somatostatin receptor, with PRRT intended to kill tumor cells by emitting a different kind of low-energy, short-range radiation than that of the diagnostic version. As mentioned above, the Ga68 PET scan can give a reasonably indication of therapeutic success using PRRT based on measurements taken during the scan (too complex for this article).
Nuclear medicine makes it possible by using the same molecular targeting compound to create diagnostic and therapeutic drugs, which work as theranostic pairings. Advanced Accelerator Applications’ theranostic platform is based on radiolabelling a single targeting molecule with either gallium Ga-68 for diagnostic use or lutetium Lu-177 for therapeutic use. AAA’s pipeline now includes several theranostic drug pairings for oncology indications including prostate and breast cancer; and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
THERANOSTICS – FIND
Newer imaging agents targeting somatostatin receptors (SSTR) labelled with 68 Ga have been developed, namely, DOTATATE, DOTATOC and DOTANOC. They are collectively referred to as SSTR PET.
The main difference among these three tracers (DOTA-TOC, DOTA-NOC, and DOTA-TATE) is their variable affinity to SSTR subtypes. All of them can bind to SSTR2 and SSTR5, while only DOTA-NOC shows good affinity for SSTR3.
These agents have several benefits over In111-pentetreotide (Octreotide scan), including improved detection sensitivity, improved patient convenience due to the 2 hour length of the study (compared to 2 or 3 days with Octreoscan), decreased radiation dose, decreased biliary excretion due to earlier imaging after radiotracer administration, and the ability to quantify uptake. The quantification of the uptake can help decide whether a patient is suitable for PRRT. Eventually, all Octreotide scans should be replaced with SSTR PET. To confirm the advantages of SSTR PET over Octreotide scans, a study comprising 1,561 patients reported a change in tumour management occurred in over a third of patients after SSTR PET/CT even when performed after an Octreotide scan. Worth pointing out that SSTR PET is replacing the ageing Octreotide scan and not conventional imaging (CI). You can see the recommended scenarios for use of SSTR PET in this article published by the Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Ga68 PET scans have been in many locations for some time. Current excitement is focused on USA locations with Ga68 PET (NETSPOT) only recently approved (DOTATATE). Other countries/scan centres may use one of the other types of imaging agent.
Read much more about this scan in my detailed article on Ga68 PET here.
So SSTR PETs above have the ability to find and estimate likely success criteria for therapy. We are now in a position to move on to ‘THERApy’ – e.g. Peptide Receptor Radiotherapy or PRRT.
THERANOSTICS – DESTROY
Lutathera® (note the ‘THERA’ which makes up the brand name)
Europe Approval: LUTATHERA®(lutetium (177Lu) Oxodotreotide) is indicated for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEPNETs) in adults.
USA Approval: LUTATHERA® (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) is indicated for the treatment of somatostatin receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), including foregut, midgut and hindgut neuroendocrine tumors in adults.
For commercial purposes, the drug may be slightly different on a regional basis. For all intents and purposes it does the same job.
PRRT with LUTATHERA®
LUTATHERA® solution for infusion is a ‘radiolabelled somatostatin analog (SSA)’ comprised of a radionuclide (Lutetium-177) and a peptide (differs between Europe and USA)
The relevant SSA binds with high affinity to the somatostatin receptors (SSTR) overexpressed in malignant neuroendocrine cells such as the ones found in GEP-NETs.
Lutetium-177 is a β particle emitting radionuclide, with a mean penetration range of 0.67 millimetres in tissue (maximum penetration range of 2.2 mm) which is sufficient to kill targeted tumour cells with a limited effect on neighbouring normal cells.
The affinity for SSTRs and the specificity of binding ensures a high level of specificity in the delivery of radiation to the tumour. Before starting treatment with LUTATHERA®, imaging must confirm the presence of these receptors in tumour tissues.
As an example of how the drug is administered, please watch this short video from the European site:
Video courtesy of Advanced Accelerator Applications Please see the following post for a summary of PRRT activity worldwide. Please note this linked article is not designed to contain a list of every single location or country available – please bear that in mind when you read it – CLICK HERE