Revisiting Dosing Regimen Using Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Mathematical Modeling: Densification and Intensification of Combination Cancer Therapy

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2016 Aug;55(8):1015-25. doi: 10.1007/s40262-016-0374-7.


Controlling effects of drugs administered in combination is particularly challenging with a densified regimen because of life-threatening hematological toxicities. We have developed a mathematical model to optimize drug dosing regimens and to redesign the dose intensification-dose escalation process, using densified cycles of combined anticancer drugs. A generic mathematical model was developed to describe the main components of the real process, including pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy pharmacodynamics, and non-hematological toxicity risk. This model allowed for computing the distribution of the total drug amount of each drug in combination, for each escalation dose level, in order to minimize the average tumor mass for each cycle. This was achieved while complying with absolute neutrophil count clinical constraints and without exceeding a fixed risk of non-hematological dose-limiting toxicity. The innovative part of this work was the development of densifying and intensifying designs in a unified procedure. This model enabled us to determine the appropriate regimen in a pilot phase I/II study in metastatic breast patients for a 2-week-cycle treatment of docetaxel plus epirubicin doublet, and to propose a new dose-ranging process. In addition to the present application, this method can be further used to achieve optimization of any combination therapy, thus improving the efficacy versus toxicity balance of such a regimen.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods*
  • Docetaxel
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Epirubicin / administration & dosage
  • Epirubicin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage
  • Taxoids / pharmacokinetics*


  • Taxoids
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Docetaxel
  • Epirubicin