Background: In the clinical development of oncology drugs, the recommended dose is usually determined using a 3 + 3 dose-escalation study design. However, this phase I design does not always adequately describe dose-toxicity relationships.
Methods: 125 patients, with either solid tumours or lymphoma, were included in the study and 1217 platelet counts were available over three treatment cycles. The data was used to build a population pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PKPD) model using a sequential modeling approach. Model-derived Recommended Doses (MDRD) of abexinostat (a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor) were determined from simulations of different administration schedules, and the higher bound for the probability of reaching these MDRD with a 3 + 3 design were obtained.
Results: The PKPD model developed adequately described platelet kinetics in both patient populations with the inclusion of two platelet baseline counts and a disease progression component for patients with lymphoma. Simulation results demonstrated that abexinostat administration during the first 4 days of each week in a 3-week cycle led to a higher MDRD compared to the other administration schedules tested, with a maximum probability of 40 % of reaching these MDRDs using a 3 + 3 design.
Conclusions: The PKPD model was able to predict thrombocytopenia following abexinostat administration in both patient populations. A model-based approach to determine the recommended dose in phase I trials is preferable due to the imprecision of the 3 + 3 design.