Measuring Tumor Epichaperome Expression Using [124I] PU-H71 Positron Emission Tomography as a Biomarker of Response for PU-H71 Plus Nab-Paclitaxel in HER2-Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer

JCO Precis Oncol. 2020 Nov 17;4:PO.20.00273. doi: 10.1200/PO.20.00273. eCollection 2020.


Purpose: Epichaperome network maintenance is vital to survival of tumors that express it. PU-H71 is an epichaperome inhibitor that binds to the ATP-binding site of HSP90 and has demonstrated antitumor activity in breast cancer xenograft models and clinical safety in patients. PU-positron emission tomography (PET) is a theragnostic imaging tool that allows visualization of the epichaperome target. In this phase Ib trial, we present safety and tolerability for PU-H71 plus nab-paclitaxel in HER2-negative patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and the utility of PU-PET as a noninvasive predictive biomarker.

Methods: We performed a 3 + 3 dose-escalation study with escalating PU-H71 doses and standard nab-paclitaxel. The primary objective was to establish safety and determine maximum tolerated dose (MTD)/recommended phase 2 dose. Secondary objectives were to assess pharmacokinetics and clinical efficacy. Patients could enroll in a companion PU-PET protocol to measure epichaperome expression before treatment initiation to allow exploratory correlation with treatment benefit.

Results: Of the 12 patients enrolled, dose-limiting toxicity occurred in one patient (G3 neutropenic fever) at dose level 1; MTD of PU-H71 was 300 mg/m2 plus nab-paclitaxel 260 mg/m2 administered every 3 weeks. Common toxicities included diarrhea, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and nausea. PU-H71 systemic exposure was not altered by nab-paclitaxel administration. Two of 12 patients had partial response (overall response rate, 17%) and the clinical benefit rate was 42% (5 of 12). Time to progression was associated with baseline epichaperome positivity and PU-H71 peak standard uptake value (SUV), with more durable disease control observed with high epichaperome levels.

Conclusion: The combination of PU-H71 and nab-paclitaxel was well tolerated, with evidence of clinical activity. More durable disease control without progression was observed in patients with high baseline epichaperome expression. A phase II trial of this combination with PU-PET as a companion diagnostic for patient selection is currently planned.