Pharmacodynamic evaluation of CCI-779, an inhibitor of mTOR, in cancer patients
Protein Kinase Inhibitors
CCI-779 is an ester of rapamycin and inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) currently in Phase II clinical development for the treatment of patients with cancer. CCI-779 interacts with mTOR and inhibits its kinase activity, resulting in inhibition of the mTOR-regulated translational controllers p70(s6) kinase and 4E-BP1. Ultimately, CCI-779 decreases the translation of mRNAs involved in the control of the cell cycle, resulting in cell cycle arrest. The objective of this study was to develop a method to determine the pharmacodynamic effects of CCI-779 suitable for use in clinical trials. Exposure of Raji lymphoblastoid cells to increasing concentrations of rapamycin resulted in a linear concentration-dependent inhibition of p70(s6) kinase activity, suggesting that p70(s6) kinase activity could be an appropriate marker for mTOR-interacting agents. In subsequent experiments, treatment of nude mice bearing the CCI-779 susceptible breast cancer cell line MDA-468 with a single dose of 10 mg/kg CCI-779 resulted in a >80% inhibition of p70(s6) kinase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) 72 h after treatment. Importantly, the degree of p70(s6) kinase inhibition was identical in PBMCs and simultaneously collected tumor tissue, suggesting that the PBMCs are an adequate surrogate tissue for p70(s6) kinase activity in vivo. The intrasubject coefficient of variation of p70(s6) kinase activity measured in PBMCs collected from five healthy volunteers on days 1, 4, and 8 was 14%, indicating that p70(s6) kinase activity in PBMCs remains relatively stable over time. Finally, p70(s6) kinase activity was measured in PBMCs from nine patients with renal cell cancer treated with a single dose of 25, 75, or 250 mg of CCI-779 i.v. (three patients each). PBMCs were collected on days 2, 4, and 8 after CCI-779 treatment. In this small data set, eight of the nine patients had evidence of p70(s6) kinase activity inhibition after treatment that was independent of the administered dose. There was a significant linear association between time to disease progression and inhibition of p70(s6) kinase activity 24 h after treatment. In conclusion, these results indicate that the pharmacodynamic effects of CCI-779 can be determined using a p70(s6) kinase assay in PBMCs. This assay is currently being incorporated in Phase I and II studies with CCI-779 to determine its relationship with dose and plasma concentration of the agent and its value as a predictor of treatment efficacy.