Efficacy of nelfinavir as monotherapy in refractory adenoid cystic carcinoma: Results of a phase II clinical trial

Head Neck. 2015 May;37(5):722-6. doi: 10.1002/hed.23664. Epub 2014 Jun 18.


Background: Adenoid cystic carcinomas (ACCs) are malignant salivary gland tumors noteworthy for high rates of late failure with limited salvage therapy options. We have previously shown increased Akt signaling is common in ACC and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) protease inhibitor nelfinavir (NFV) inhibits in vitro tumor growth by suppressing Akt signaling. This phase II trial was conducted to determine progression-free survival in response to NFV in patients with recurrent/endstage ACC who have failed standard therapies.

Methods: Eligible patients had recurrent or end-stage ACC and measureable disease per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) criteria. NFV was provided at 1250 mg twice daily.

Results: Among 15 trial participants, median progression-free survival was 5.5 months (lower 95% bound 4.4 months). No patient achieved a RECIST partial or complete response to therapy.

Conclusion: NFV monotherapy does not result in a meaningful improvement in clinical outcomes among patients with recurrent ACC.

Keywords: Akt; adenoid cystic carcinoma; head and neck cancer; nelfinavir; salivary gland cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Cause of Death
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Male
  • Maximum Tolerated Dose
  • Middle Aged
  • Nelfinavir / adverse effects
  • Nelfinavir / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Nelfinavir