Background: Paclitaxel embedded in cationic liposomes (EndoTAG™-1; ET) is an innovative agent targeting tumor endothelial cells. This randomized controlled phase II trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of ET in combination with gemcitabine (GEM) in advanced pancreatic cancer (PDAC).
Patients and methods: Chemotherapy-naive patients with locally advanced or metastatic disease were randomly assigned to receive weekly GEM 1000 mg/m(2) or GEM plus twice-weekly ET 11, 22 or 44 mg/m(2) for 7 weeks. After a safety run-in of 100 patients, a second cohort continued treatment. End points included overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), tumor response and safety.
Results: Two hundred and twelve patients were randomly allocated to the study and 200 were treated (80% metastatic, 20% locally advanced). Adverse events were manageable and reversible. Transient thrombocytopenia and infusion reactions with chills and pyrexia mostly grade 1 or 2 occurred in the ET groups. Disease control rate after the first treatment cycle was 43% with GEM and 60%, 65% and 52% in the GEM + ET cohorts. Median PFS reached 2.7 compared with 4.1, 4.6 and 4.4 months, respectively. Median OS was 6.8 compared with 8.1, 8.7 and 9.3 months, respectively.
Conclusions: Treatment of advanced PDAC with GEM + ET was generally well tolerated. GEM + ET showed beneficial survival and efficacy. A randomized phase III trial should confirm this positive trend.