Phase I study of suramin given by intermittent infusion without adaptive control in patients with advanced cancer

J Clin Oncol. 1995 Sep;13(9):2196-207. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1995.13.9.2196.


Purpose: Suramin is a promising agent for the treatment of hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer. However, questions about the relationship of severe neurotoxicity to sustained peak plasma concentrations greater than 300 micrograms/mL raised concerns that this drug could not be safely administered without adaptive control. To test the adaptive-control hypothesis, we designed a phase I study that relied on clinical end points, using a fixed dosing scheme that did not rely on adaptive control.

Patients and methods: In a phase I dose-escalation study using fixed dosing without adaptive control, gradually decreasing doses of suramin were administered to 63 patients on days 1 (loading dose), 2, 8, and 9 of a 28-day cycle. Fifty-four patients with hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer and nine patients with other solid tumors have been treated.

Results: Doses of 400 mg/m2 to 2,080 mg/m2 on the first day have been administered. The mean peak plasma concentration following the loading dose at a dose level of 1,730 mg/m2 was 933 micrograms/mL (26% coefficient of variation), and the mean trough concentration was 139 micrograms/mL (40% CV) on day 1 of cycle 2 [corrected]. At 1,730 mg/m2, five of 13 patients experienced dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), including malaise, neurotoxicity, pericardial effusion, and coagulopathy. At 2,080 mg/m2, three of five patients experienced DLT. Two patients treated at this dose level died while on study. One of these patients died of a subdural hematoma sustained after a fall and had a prolonged prothrombin time at the time of his death. One patient developed classic suramin neurotoxicity, which led to respiratory failure, for which the patient refused intubation. No significant associations were noted between peak or trough concentrations during either cycles 1 or 2 and the occurrence of neurotoxicity.

Conclusion: (1) Suramin can be safely administered without adaptive control, (2) suramin on this schedule may exhibit significant activity against hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer, and (3) based strictly on toxicity considerations, we recommended that a day-1 dose of 1,440 mg/m2 be used in subsequent clinical trials, with a maximum of three cycles. Further studies to establish the optimal empiric dosing regimen are needed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Life Tables
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Remission Induction
  • Suramin / administration & dosage*
  • Suramin / adverse effects
  • Suramin / pharmacokinetics
  • Survival Rate


  • Suramin