Background/objectives: Interplay between the Hedgehog (HH) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathways modulating the outcome of their signaling activity have been reported in various cancers including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Therefore, simultaneous targeting of these pathways may be clinically beneficial. This Phase I study combined HH and EGFR inhibition in metastatic PDAC patients.
Methods: Combined effects of HH and EGFR inhibition using Vismodegib and Erlotinib with or without gemcitabine in metastatic solid tumors were assessed by CT. Another cohort of patients with metastatic PDAC was evaluated by FDG-PET and tumor biopsies-derived biomarkers.
Results: Treatment was well tolerated with the maximum tolerated dose cohort experiencing no grade 4 toxicities though 25% experienced grade 3 adverse effects. Recommended phase II dose of Vismodegib and Erlotinib were each 150 mg daily. No tumor responses were observed although 16 patients achieved stable disease for 2-7 cycles. Paired biopsy analysis before and after first cycle of therapy in PDAC patients showed reduced GLI1 mRNA, phospho-GLI1 and associated HH target genes in all cases. However, only half of the cases showed reduced levels of desmoplasia or changes in fibroblast markers. Most patients had decreased phospho-EGFR levels.
Conclusions: Vismodegib and Erlotinib combination was well-tolerated although overall outcome in patients with metastatic PDAC was not significantly impacted by combination treatment. Biomarker analysis suggests direct targets inhibition without significantly affecting the stromal compartment. These findings conflict with pre-clinical mouse models, and thus warrant further investigation into how upstream inhibition of these pathways is circumvented in PDAC.
Keywords: EGFR; Erlotinib; GLI1; Hedgehog; Pancreatic cancer; Vismodegib.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.