Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of pemetrexed combined with bevacizumab as second-line therapy for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and to correlate allelic variants in pemetrexed-metabolizing genes with clinical outcome.
Patients and methods: Patients with previously treated NSCLC received pemetrexed (500 mg/m(2) intravenous) combined with bevacizumab (15 mg/kg intravenous) every 3 weeks. The primary end point, evaluated using a one-stage Fleming design for detecting a true success rate of at least 70%, was the proportion of patients who were progression free and on treatment at 3 months. Polymorphisms in genes responsible for pemetrexed transport (reduced folate carrier [SLC19A1]) and metabolism (folylpolyglutamate synthase [FPGS] and gamma-glutamyl hydrolase [GGH]) evaluated in germline DNA (blood) were correlated with treatment outcome.
Results: Forty-eight evaluable patients (14 females and 34 males) received a median of four cycles (range, one to 20 cycles). The most common grade 3 or 4 nonhematologic adverse events (AEs) were fatigue (13%), dyspnea (10%), and thrombosis (10%). Grade 3 or 4 hematologic AEs were neutropenia (19%) and lymphopenia (13%). Twenty-four (57%; 95% CI, 41% to 72%) of the first 42 patients met the success criteria. Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) times were 8.6 and 4.0 months, respectively. The exon 6 (2522)C-->T polymorphism in SLC19A1 correlated with 3-month progression-free status (P = .01) and with PFS (P = .05). The IVS1(1307)C-->T polymorphism in GGH correlated with OS (P = .04).
Conclusion: The study did not meet its primary end point. However, the median PFS time of 4 months is promising. Pharmacogenetic studies in larger cohorts are needed to definitively identify polymorphisms that predict for survival and toxicity of pemetrexed.