Neil Senzer

NovaRx Corporation, San Diego, California, United States

Are you Neil Senzer?

Claim your profile

Publications (90)413.21 Total impact

  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) represents a powerful, new tool for scientific investigation as well as a promising new form of targeted gene therapy, with applications currently in clinical trials. Bifunctional short hairpin RNA (shRNA) are synthetic RNAi molecules, engineered to utilize multiple endogenous RNAi pathways to specifically silence target genes. Pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX1) is a key regulator of pancreatic development, β-cell differentiation, normal β-cell function and pancreatic cancer. Our aim is to review the process of identifying PDX1 as a specific, potential RNAi target in pancreatic cancer, as well as the underlying mechanisms and various forms of RNAi, with subsequent testing and development of PDX1-targeted bifunctional shRNA therapy.Cancer Gene Therapy advance online publication, 24 January 2014; doi:10.1038/cgt.2013.84.
    Cancer gene therapy 01/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: PDX1 (pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1) is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer, and its reduction results in tumor regression. Bi-functional pbi-shRNA PDX1 nanoparticle (OFHIRNA-PDX1) utilizes the endogenous micro-RNA biogenesis pathway to effect cleavage- and non-cleavage-dependent degradation of PDX1 mRNA. We have shown that OFHIRNA-PDX1 reduces pancreatic tumor volume in xenograft models. Thus, we are now exploring biorelevant large animal safety of OFHIRNA-PDX1. Mini pigs were chosen as the biorelevant species based on the similarity of human and pig PDX1 target sequence. In the initial study, animals developed fever, lethargy, hyporexia and cutaneous hyperemia following administration of OFHIRNA-PDX1. Twenty-one days later, the same animals demonstrated less toxicity with a second OFHIRNA-PDX1 infusion in conjunction with a prophylactic regimen involving dexamethasone, diphenhydramine, Indocin and ranitidine. In a new group of animals, PDX1 protein (31 kDa) expression in the pancreas was significantly repressed at 48 and 72 h (85%, P=0.018 and 88%, P=0.013; respectively) following a single infusion of OFHIRNA-PDX1 but recovered to normal state within 7 days. In conclusion, a single intravenous infusion of OFHIRNA-PDX1 in conjunction with premedication in pigs was well tolerated and demonstrated significant PDX1 knockdown.Cancer Gene Therapy advance online publication, 29 November 2013; doi:10.1038/cgt.2013.68.
    Cancer gene therapy 11/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Selective delivery of therapeutic molecules to primary and metastatic tumors is optimal for effective cancer therapy. A liposomal nanodelivery complex (scL) for systemic, tumor-targeting delivery of anticancer therapeutics has been developed. scL employs an anti-transferrin receptor (TfR), scFv as the targeting molecule. Loss of p53 suppressor function, through mutations or inactivation of the p53 pathway, is present in most human cancers. Rather than being transiently permissive for tumor initiation, persistence of p53 dysfunction is a continuing requirement for maintaining tumor growth. Herein, we report results of a first-in-man Phase I clinical trial of restoration of the normal human tumor suppressor gene p53 using the scL nanocomplex (SGT-53). Minimal side effects were observed in this trial in patients with advanced solid tumors. Furthermore, the majority of patients demonstrated stable disease. One patient with adenoid cystic carcinoma had his status changed from unresectable to resectable after one treatment cycle. More significantly, we observed an accumulation of the transgene in metastatic tumors, but not in normal skin tissue, in a dose-related manner. These results show not only that systemically delivered SGT-53 is well tolerated and exhibits anticancer activity, but also supply evidence of targeted tumor delivery of SGT-53 to metastatic lesions.Molecular Therapy (2013); doi:10.1038/mt.2013.32.
    Molecular Therapy 04/2013; · 7.04 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: TAG vaccine is a novel 'triad vaccine' that involves transfection of autologous tumor with a dual plasmid, TGFβ2 antisense gene and GM-CSF gene. Patients with advanced cancer who failed standard therapy were treated. IFN-γ ELISPOT analysis (Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay for Interferon Gamma) using TAG autologous vaccine target cells was performed prior to vaccination and at week 12 after the third vaccination. The purpose of this assessment was to correlate the IFN-γ ELISPOT immune response with long-term survival of advanced cancer patients who received TAG vaccination. Twenty-three of 28 patients received 3 TAG vaccinations (two patients withdrew consent and three had disease progression prior to the third vaccination). Eleven patients demonstrated a positive ELISPOT response (>10 spots and 2 × baseline) at week 12 and 12 patients did not (P=0.002). Median survival from time of treatment between ELISPOT-positive and -negative groups was significantly different (550 vs 159 days, P=0.036), as was median survival from the time of procurement (627 vs 257 days, respectively, P=0.043). In conclusion, the IFN-γ ELISPOT assay may provide an effective measure of immune response following treatment with 'triad vaccines', but additional patient numbers and/or other immune modulatory parameters are necessary for future testing.Gene Therapy advance online publication, 7 March 2013; doi:10.1038/gt.2013.9.
    Gene therapy 03/2013; · 4.75 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite billions of dollars allocated to cancer research, cancer remains the number 2 cause of death in the United States with less than 50% of advanced cancer patients living one year following standard treatment. Cancer is a complex disease both intrinsically and in relation to its host environment. From a molecular standpoint no two cancers are the same despite histotypic similarity. As evidenced by the recent advances in molecular biology, treatment for advanced cancer is headed towards specific targeting of vulnerable signaling nodes within the reconfigured pathways created by "omic" rewiring. With advancements in proteo-genomics and the capacity of bioinformatics, complex tumor biology can now be more effectively and rapidly analyzed to discover the vulnerable high information transfer nodes within individual tumors. RNA interference (RNAi) technology, with its capability to knock down the expression of targeted genes (the vulnerable nodes), is moving into the clinic to target these nodes, which are integral to tumor maintenance, with a low risk of side-effects and to block intrinsic immunosuppressors thereby priming the tumor for immune attack. An RNAi based sequential approach, a so called "one-two punch," is being advocated comprising tumor volume reduction (ideally to minimal residual disease status) effected by integrated multi-target knockdown followed by immune activation. Examples and recent developments are provided to illustrate this highly powerful approach heralding the future of personalized cancer therapy.
    Discovery medicine 02/2013; 15(81):101-10. · 2.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background:The mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor (MET) receptor is dysregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and tivantinib (ARQ 197) is an oral, selective, MET inhibitor.Methods:This Phase-1b study assessed tivantinib safety as primary objective in patients with previously treated HCC and Child-Pugh A or B liver cirrhosis. Patients received oral tivantinib 360 mg twice daily until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.Results:Among 21 HCC patients, common drug-related adverse events (AEs) were neutropaenia, anaemia, asthenia, leucopaenia, anorexia, diarrhoea, and fatigue. No drug-related worsening of liver function or performance status occurred, but one Child-Pugh B patient experienced drug-related bilirubin increase. Four patients had drug-related serious AEs, including one neutropaenia-related death. Haematologic toxicities were more frequent than in previous tivantinib studies but were manageable with prompt therapy. Best response was stable disease (median, 5.3 months) in 9 of 16 evaluable patients (56%). Median time to progression was 3.3 months.Conclusion:Tivantinib demonstrated a manageable safety profile and preliminary antitumour activity in patients with HCC and Child-Pugh A or B cirrhosis.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 3 January 2013; doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.556
    British Journal of Cancer 01/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transcription factor pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1 (PDX-1) plays an essential role in pancreatic development, β-cell differentiation, maintenance of normal β-cell function and tumorigenesis. PDX-1 expression is tightly controlled through a variety of mechanisms under different cellular contexts. We report here that overexpression of Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD), an activated form of Notch1, enhanced PDX-1 expression in both PDX-1 stable HEK293 cells and mouse insulinoma β-TC-6 cells, while NICD shRNA inhibited the enhancing effect. NICD-enhanced PDX-1 expression was accompanied by increased insulin expression/secretion and cell proliferation in β-TC-6 cells, which was reversed by NICD shRNA. Cre activation-induced specific expression of NICD in islet β cells of transgenic βNICD+/+ mice induced increased expression of PDX-1, insulin and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and decreased expression of p27 with accompanied fasting hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia and altered responses to intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test. Systemically delivered NICD shRNA suppressed islet expression of PDX-1 and reversed the hypoglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Moreover, expression levels of NICD were correlated with those of PDX-1 in human pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Thus, Notch1 acts as a positive regulator for PDX-1 expression, cooperates with PDX-1 in the development of insulin overexpression and islet cell neoplasia and represents a potential therapeutic target for islet neoplasia.
    Genes. 01/2013; 4(3):358-74.
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) engendered great excitement and raised expectations regarding its potential applications in biomedical research and clinical usage. Over the ensuing years, expanded understanding of RNAi and preliminary results from early clinical trials tempered enthusiasm with realistic appraisal resulting in cautious optimism and a better understanding of necessary research and clinical directions. As a result, data from more recent trials are beginning to show encouraging positive clinical outcomes. The capability of delivering a pharmacologically effective dose to the target site while avoiding adverse host reactions still remains a challenge although the delivery technology continues to improve. We have developed a novel vector-driven bifunctional short hairpin RNA (bi-shRNA) technology that harnesses both cleavage-dependent and cleavage-independent RISC loading pathways to enhance knockdown potency. Consequent advantages provided by the bi-shRNA include a lower effective systemic dose than comparator siRNA/shRNA to minimize the potential for off-target side effects, due to its ability to induce both a rapid (inhibition of protein translation) and delayed (mRNA cleavage and degradation) targeting effect depending on protein and mRNA kinetics, and a longer duration of effectiveness for clinical applications. Here, we provide an overview of key molecular methods for the design, construction, quality control, and application of bi-shRNA that we believe will be useful for others interested in utilizing this technology.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2013; 942:259-78.
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Microphthalmia transcription factor (MITF)-associated (MiT) tumors are a family of rare malignancies, including alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS), clear cell sarcoma (CCS), and translocation-associated renal cell carcinoma (tRCC) that have dysregulated expression of oncogenic MITF family proteins. The MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene is transcriptionally activated by MITF family proteins, making MET a potential therapeutic target for MiT tumors. This study assessed the activity of tivantinib (ARQ 197), a selective MET inhibitor, in patients with MiT-associated tumors. METHODS: This multicenter, single-arm, phase 2 trial enrolled patients with advanced MiT tumors. Patients initially received tivantinib 120 mg orally twice daily, then 360 mg twice daily per protocol amendment. The primary endpoint was overall response rate. Secondary endpoints included safety, progression-free survival, pharmacokinetics, and correlative studies. RESULTS: A total of 47 patients (median age, 25 years; range, 11-73 years) with ASPS (n = 27), CCS (n = 11), tRCC (n = 6), or other tumor types (n = 3) were enrolled. Common grade 3/4 drug-related adverse events included anemia (4%) and neutropenia (4%). Three patients (6.4%) experienced 4 treatment-related serious adverse events (grade 3 febrile neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and deep vein thrombosis, and grade 4 thrombocytopenia). Best response was partial response in 1 CCS patient (2%) and stable disease in 28 patients (60%). Median progression-free survival was 3.6 months (overall), 5.5 months (ASPS), and 1.9 months (CCS and tRCC). Baseline MET expression was strongly or focally positive in tumor samples from 14 of 19 patients (74%). CONCLUSIONS: Tivantinib was safe and tolerable in patients with MiT tumors, but antitumor activity was modest. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.
    Cancer 05/2012; · 5.20 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery is the primary treatment option for patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer. This multicenter phase I trial examined intratumoral injection of TNFerade biologic, an adenoviral vector that expresses the human tumor necrosis factor-α gene, with chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced esophageal cancer. To assess pathologic complete response (pCR), time to disease progression, progression-free survival, survival, and safety and tolerance in patients treated with preoperative chemoradiation combined with endoscopy or EUS-guided intratumoral injection of TNFerade biologic. Five weekly injections of TNFerade biologic, dose-escalated logarithmically from 4 × 10(8) to 4 × 10(11) particle units (PU), were given in combination with cisplatin 75 mg/m(2) and intravenous 5-fluorouracil 1000 mg/m(2)/d for 96 hours on days 1 and 29, and concurrent radiation therapy to 45 Gy. Surgery was performed 9 to 15 weeks after treatment. U.S. multicenter study. Patients with stage II and III esophageal cancer were enrolled. Primary outcome measures were safety, feasibility, tolerability, and rate of pCR. Secondary outcome measures were overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival. Twenty-four patients with a median age of 61 years were enrolled; 88% of the patients were men, 21% were stage II, and 79% were stage III. Six (29%) had a pCR, observed among 21 patients (20 who underwent esophagectomy and 1 at autopsy). Dose-limiting toxicities were not observed. The most frequent potentially related adverse events were fatigue (54%), fever (38%), nausea (29%), vomiting (21%), esophagitis (21%), and chills (21%). At the top dose of 4 × 10(11) PU, thromboembolic events developed in 5 of 8 patients. The median OS was 47.8 months. The 3- and 5-year OS rates and disease-free survival rates were 54% and 41% and 38% and 38%, respectively. We included primarily adenocarcinoma. Preoperative TNFerade, in combination with chemoradiotherapy, is active and safe at doses up to 4 × 10(10) PU and is associated with long survival. This regimen warrants additional studies.
    Gastrointestinal endoscopy 04/2012; 75(6):1139-46.e2. · 6.71 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: TNFeradeBiologic (AdGVEGR.TNF.11D) is a replication-deficient adenoviral vector that expresses tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) under the control of the Egr-1 promoter, which is inducible by chemotherapy and radiation. This study was conducted to determine the maximal tolerated dose of TNFeradeBiologic with standard chemoradiotherapy and preliminary activity and safety of the combination in the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). TNFeradeBiologic was injected into locally advanced pancreatic carcinomas by using EUS or percutaneous administration once a week for 5 weeks together with 50.4 Gy radiation and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) 200 mg/m(2) daily over 5.5 weeks. Dose levels from 4 × 10(9) to 1 × 10(12) particle units (PU) were studied. Multicentered, academic institutions. Fifty patients with LAPC were treated. Doses of TNFerade Biologic were administered to patients. Toleration of TNFerade Biologic was measured through toxicity and tumor response, by using the criteria of the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors and the World Health Organization, and was reviewed by a central radiology facility. Overall survival and progression-free survival were also measured. Dose-limiting toxicities of pancreatitis and cholangitis were observed in 3 patients at the 1 × 10(12) PU dose, making 4 × 10(11) PU the maximum tolerated dose. One complete response, 3 partial responses, and 12 patients with stable disease were noted. Seven patients eventually went to surgery, 6 had clear margins, and 3 survived >24 months. This is a Phase 1/2 non-randomized study. Intratumoral delivery of TNFerade Biologic by EUS with fine-needle viral injection or percutaneously, combined with chemoradiation, shows promise in the treatment of LAPC. There appeared to be better clinical outcome at the maximal tolerated dose than at lower doses. The dose of 4 ×10(11) PU TNFerade Biologic was generally well tolerated, with encouraging indications of activity, and will be tested in the randomized phase of this study. Delivery of TNFerade Biologic did not interfere with subsequent surgical resection.
    Gastrointestinal endoscopy 02/2012; 75(2):332-8. · 6.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ewing's sarcoma tumors are associated with chromosomal translocation between the EWS gene and the ETS transcription factor gene. These unique target sequences provide opportunity for RNA interference(i)-based therapy. A summary of RNAi mechanism and therapeutically designed products including siRNA, shRNA and bi-shRNA are described. Comparison is made between each of these approaches. Systemic RNAi-based therapy, however, requires protected delivery to the Ewing's sarcoma tumor site for activity. Delivery systems which have been most effective in preclinical and clinical testing are reviewed, followed by preclinical assessment of various silencing strategies with demonstration of effectiveness to EWS/FLI-1 target sequences. It is concluded that RNAi-based therapeutics may have testable and achievable activity in management of Ewing's sarcoma.
    ISRN oncology. 01/2012; 2012:247657.
  • Source
    Nancy Smyth Templeton, Neil Senzer
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Intravenous injection of therapeutics is required to effectively treat or cure metastatic cancer, certain cardiovascular diseases, and other acquired or inherited diseases. Using this route of delivery allows potential uptake in all disease targets that are accessed by the bloodstream. However, normal tissues and organs also have the potential for uptake of therapeutic agents. Therefore, investigators have used targeted delivery to attempt delivery solely to the target cells; however, use of ligands on the surface of delivery vehicles to target specific cell surface receptors is not sufficient to avoid nonspecific uptake. PEGylation has been used for decades to try to avoid nonspecific uptake but suffers from many problems known as "The PEGylation Dilemma." We have solved this dilemma by replacing PEGylation with reversible masking using low-molecular-weight neutral lipids in order to achieve optimal-targeted delivery solely to target cells. Our paper will focus on this topic.
    Journal of drug delivery. 01/2012; 2012:173465.
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1 (PDX-1) is a transcription factor that regulates insulin expression and islet maintenance in the adult pancreas. Our recent studies demonstrate that PDX-1 is an oncogene for pancreatic cancer and is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that PDX-1 is a therapeutic target for both hormonal symptoms and tumor volume in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia. Immunohistochemistry of human pancreatic and islet neoplasia specimens revealed marked PDX-1 overexpression, suggesting PDX-1 as a "drugable" target within these diseases. To do so, a novel RNA interference effector platform, bifunctional shRNA(PDX-1), was developed and studied in mouse and human cell lines as well as in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia. Systemic delivery of bi-shRNA(humanPDX-1) lipoplexes resulted in marked reduction of tumor volume and improved survival in a human pancreatic cancer xenograft mouse model. bi-shRNA(mousePDX-1) lipoplexes prevented death from hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia in an insulinoma mouse model. shRNA(mousePDX-1) lipoplexes reversed hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia in an immune-competent mouse model of islet neoplasia. PDX-1 was overexpressed in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and nesidioblastosis. These data demonstrate that PDX-1 RNAi therapy controls hormonal symptoms and tumor volume in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia, therefore, PDX-1 is a potential therapeutic target for these pancreatic diseases.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e40452. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We performed a phase I trial of FANG vaccine, an autologous tumor-based product incorporating a plasmid encoding granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF) and a novel bifunctional short hairpin RNAi (bi-shRNAi) targeting furin convertase, thereby downregulating endogenous immunosuppressive transforming growth factors (TGF) β1 and β2. Patients with advanced cancer received up to 12 monthly intradermal injections of FANG vaccine (1 × 10(7) or 2.5 × 10(7) cells/ml injection). GMCSF, TGFβ1, TGFβ2, and furin proteins were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Safety and response were monitored. Vaccine manufacturing was successful in 42 of 46 patients of whom 27 received ≥1 vaccine. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events. Most common grade 1, 2 adverse events included local induration (n = 14) and local erythema (n = 11) at injection site. Post-transfection mean product expression GMCSF increased from 7.3 to 1,108 pg/10(6) cells/ml. Mean TGFβ1 and β2 effective target knockdown was 93.5 and 92.5% from baseline, respectively. Positive enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) response at month 4 was demonstrated in 9 of 18 patients serially assessed and correlated with survival duration from time of treatment (P = 0.025). Neither dose-adverse event nor dose-response relationship was noted. In conclusion, FANG vaccine was safe and elicited an immune response correlating with prolonged survival. Phase II assessment is justified.
    Molecular Therapy 12/2011; 20(3):679-86. · 7.04 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Nancy Smyth Templeton, Neil Senzer
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bilamellar invaginated vesicles (BIVs) are unique liposomal nanoparticles (NPs) that are highly efficient vehicles for intravenous (iv) delivery of encapsulated therapeutics including plasmid DNA. Systemic administration of therapeutics is required to effectively treat or cure metastatic cancer, certain cardiovascular diseases, and other acquired or inherited diseases. In addition to having extended half-life and stability in circulation, BIVs are nontoxic, nonimmunogenic, biodegradable and can be repeatedly administered without losing potency. Furthermore, BIVs encapsulating therapeutic agents can be modified to specifically enter the disease cells using small molecules that mimic beta turns incorporated on the surface of BIV complexes while focusing biodistribution by bypassing uptake in non-target organs and tissues using reversible masking. These modifications do not alter the unique properties of the BIV delivery system that provide for its robust treatment of disease demonstrated in small and large animal models and in Phase I clinical trials. This review will cover the unique properties of BIVs, including its fusogenic entry into cells and its ability to penetrate tight barriers in vivo. Methods to further improve the overall delivery-expression system including further purification of plasmid DNA to eliminate colanic acid from all current commercially produced preparations, and enhanced or prolonged expression provided by plasmid design will also be discussed.
    Journal of genetic syndrome & gene therapy. 12/2011;
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Tivantinib, an oral, non-ATP competitive, selective c-MET inhibitor, exhibited antitumor activity in preclinical models. This open-label, phase I, dose-escalation study evaluated the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of tivantinib in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors refractory to standard therapy. Thirteen dose levels of tivantinib ranging from 10 to 360 mg twice a day were administered to patient cohorts in 21-day cycles (14 days on/7 days off); three active pharmaceutical ingredient forms of tivantinib (amorphous, crystalline A, and crystalline B) were also investigated. Treatment was continued until the occurrence of unacceptable toxicity, tumor progression, patient withdrawal, or death. A total of 79 patients with advanced solid tumors were enrolled. A maximum tolerated dose was not determined. Tivantinib was well tolerated, with mild to moderate toxicities. Two patients discontinued the study drug due to treatment-emergent adverse events. Dose-limiting grade of 3 or more toxicities including leukopenia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, vomiting, and dehydration, were observed in 2 patients treated with tivantinib 360 mg twice a day. The rate of absorption of tivantinib peaked approximately 2 to 4 hours after initial dosing, followed by a linear decrease in plasma concentrations. Increases in tivantinib exposure were not dose proportional. There was significant interpatient pharmacokinetic variability; however the clinical safety of tivantinib seemed unaffected. Three patients (3.8%) achieved a partial response and 40 patients (50.6%) maintained stable disease for a median of 19.9 weeks. Tivantinib 360 mg twice a day was well tolerated in patients with refractory advanced solid tumors. The results of this trial warrant further clinical investigation. Clin Cancer Res; 17(24); 7754-64. ©2011 AACR.
    Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 17(24):7754-64. · 7.84 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Since its discovery in 1998, RNA interference (RNAi) has revolutionized basic and clinical research. Small RNAs, including small interfering RNA (siRNA), short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and microRNA (miRNA), mediate RNAi effects through either cleavage-dependent or cleavage-independent RNA inducible silencing complex (RISC) effector processes. As a result of its efficacy and potential, RNAi has been elevated to the status of "blockbuster therapeutic" alongside recombinant protein and monoclonal antibody. RNAi has already contributed to our understanding of neoplasia and has great promise for anti-cancer therapeutics, particularly so for personalized cancer therapy. Despite this potential, several hurdles have to be overcome for successful development of RNAi-based pharmaceuticals. This review will discuss the potential for, challenges to, and the current status of RNAi-based cancer therapeutics.
    Pharmaceutical Research 12/2011; 28(12):2983-95. · 4.74 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oncolytic virotherapy is an evolving but, as yet, unrealized treatment option for cancer. This approach harnesses the cancer-restricted replicative activity of engineered viruses to achieve tumor cell kill. Tumors that are resistant to chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be susceptible to viral oncolysis because of distinct cell kill mechanisms. There is now compelling evidence that collateral induction of anti-tumor immune responses contributes substantially to viral antitumor activities. In addition to the expected anti-viral immune clearance, the "danger" signal created by virus-infected cells can generate immune co-stimulation known to override immune suppression and reverse tolerance within the tumor microenvironment. Our recent findings indicate that immune activation augments the clinical outcomes of oncolytic virotherapy. Strikingly similar and robust clinical response rates ( > 25%) were observed among advanced cancer patients following intratumoral treatments with adenoviral (AdΔ24) and herpes simplex (JS1/34.5-/47) constructs armed with an integrated granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF) payload. Both agents produced regressions in injected as well as distant, uninjected lesions, demonstrating systemic effectiveness. We discuss the innate and adaptive immune activating events that may contribute to these clinical outcomes, and examine systemic delivery strategies to tilt the immunological balance from viral clearance to tumor elimination.
    Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 07/2011; 13(9):1750-60. · 3.40 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bifunctional small hairpin RNAs (bi-shRNAs) are functional miRNA/siRNA composites that are optimized for posttranscriptional gene silencing through concurrent mRNA cleavage-dependent and -independent mechanisms (Rao et al., 2010 ). We have generated a novel bi-shRNA using the miR30 scaffold that is highly effective for knockdown of human stathmin (STMN1) mRNA. STMN1 overexpression well documented in human solid cancers correlates with their poor prognosis. Transfection with the bi-shSTMN1-encoding expression plasmid (pbi-shSTMN1) markedly reduced CCL-247 human colorectal cancer and SK-Mel-28 melanoma cell growth in vitro (Rao et al., 2010 ). We now examine in vivo the antitumor efficacy of this RNA interference-based approach with human tumor xenografted athymic mice. A single intratumoral (IT) injection of pbi-shSTMN1 (8 μg) reduced CCL-247 tumor xenograft growth by 44% at 7 days when delivered as a 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethyl-ammoniopropane:cholesterol liposomal complex. Extended growth reductions (57% at day 15; p < 0.05) were achieved with three daily treatments of the same construct. STMN1 protein reduction was confirmed by immunoblot analysis. IT treatments with pbi-shSTMN1 similarly inhibited the growth of tumorgrafts derived from low-passage primary melanoma (≥70% reduction for 2 weeks) and abrogated osteosarcoma tumorgraft growth, with the mature bi-shRNA effector molecule detectable for up to 16 days after last injection. Antitumor efficacy was evident for up to 25 days posttreatment in the melanoma tumorgraft model. The maximum tolerated dose by IT injection of >92 μg (Human equivalent dose [HED] of >0.3 mg/kg) in CCL-247 tumor xenograft-bearing athymic mice was ∼10-fold higher than the extrapolated IC(50) of 9 μg (HED of 0.03 mg/kg). Healthy, immunocompetent rats were used as biorelevant models for systemic safety assessments. The observed maximum tolerated dose of <100 μg for intravenously injected pbi-shSTMN1 (mouse equivalent of <26.5 μg; HED of <0.09 mg/kg) confirmed systemic safety of the therapeutic dose, hence supporting early-phase assessments of clinical safety and preliminary efficacy.
    DNA and cell biology 05/2011; 30(9):715-26. · 2.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
413.21 Total Impact Points


  • 2011
    • NovaRx Corporation
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2004–2008
    • Baylor Health Care System
      Dallas, Texas, United States
    • The University of Chicago Medical Center
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2007
    • Columbia University
      • Department of Urology
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2006
    • Gibbs Cancer Center
      Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
      • Department of Surgery (Chicago)
      Chicago, IL, United States
  • 2004–2005
    • US Oncology
      The Woodlands, Texas, United States