Exploring Cancer Drugs In Vitro and In Vivo With Special Reference to Chemosensitivity Testing and Early Clinical Development

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The aims of this thesis were to investigate the utility of in vitro drug sensitivity testing to optimize the use of cancer chemotherapy and to assess the properties of a new cancer drug in a phase I clinical trial. Tumour cells from patients were analysed with the short-term Fluorometric Microculture Cytotoxicity Assay (FMCA). In samples from a wide spectrum of tumour types, the effect of the drug combination FEC (5Fu-epirubicin-cyclophosphamide) was generally appropriately predicted from the effect of the best component drug. However, of samples intermediately sensitive to the best single drug, 45% converted to sensitive when testing the combination. Thus, combination testing may identify advantageous interactions and improve in vitro test performance. In tumour samples from peritoneal carcinomatosis, significant differences in drug sensitivity between diagnoses were observed, cross-resistance between most drugs was modest or absent, and the concentration-effect relationships for two drugs in individual samples varied considerably. Thus, for optimal selection of drugs for intraperitoneal chemotherapy, differences in drug sensitivity at the diagnosis and individual patient level should be considered. In samples from patients with ovarian carcinoma, drug sensitivity was related to tumour grade, histologic subtype and patient treatment status. In a homogeneous subset of patients, the FMCA predicted individual patient tumour response with high sensitivity and specificity. Thus, if carefully interpreted in the context of important clinical variables, in vitro testing could be of value for individualizing chemotherapy in ovarian cancer. Employing a once weekly dosing schedule in a phase I trial, the mechanistically new and preclinically promising NAD depleting drug CHS 828 produced dose limiting thrombocytopenia and gastrointestinal toxicity without clear evidence of anti-tumour efficacy. It is concluded that in vitro drug sensitivity testing could be a way to optimize the use of chemotherapy and that successful development of new cancer drugs needs improved strategies.

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