Inoperable cancer of the exocrine pancreas responds poorly to most conventional anti-cancer agents, and new agents are required to palliate this disease. Seocalcitol (EB1089), a vitamin D analogue, can inhibit growth, induce differentiation and induce apoptosis of cancer cell lines in vitro and can also inhibit growth of pancreatic cancer xenografts in vivo. Thirty-six patients with advanced pancreatic cancer received once daily oral treatment with seocalcitol with dose escalation every 2 weeks until hypercalcaemia occurred, following which patients continued with maintenance therapy. The most frequent toxicity was the anticipated dose-dependent hypercalcaemia, with most patients tolerating a dose of 10-15 microg per day in chronic administration. Fourteen patients completed at least 8 weeks of treatment and were evaluable for efficacy, whereas 22 patients were withdrawn prior to completing 8 weeks' treatment and in 20 of these patients withdrawal was due to clinical deterioration as a result of disease progression. No objective responses were observed, with five of 14 patients having stable disease in whom the duration of stable disease was 82-532 days (median=168 days). The time to treatment failure (n=36) ranged from 22 to 847 days, and with a median survival of approximately 100 days. Seocalcitol is well tolerated in pancreatic cancer but has no objective anti-tumour activity in advanced disease. Further studies are necessary to determine if this agent has any cytostatic activity in this malignancy in minimal disease states.
Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK