Research Papers:

A phase I trial of riluzole and sorafenib in patients with advanced solid tumors: CTEP #8850

Kristen R. Spencer, Daniella E. Portal, Joseph Aisner, Mark N. Stein, Jyoti Malhotra, Weichung Shih, Nancy Chan, Ann W. Silk, Shridar Ganesan, Susan Goodin, Murugesan Gounder, Hongxia Lin, Jiadong Li, Robert Cerchio, Christina Marinaro, Suzie Chen and Janice M. Mehnert _

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Oncotarget. 2023; 14:302-315. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.28403

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Kristen R. Spencer1,2, Daniella E. Portal1,2, Joseph Aisner1,2, Mark N. Stein1,2, Jyoti Malhotra1,2, Weichung Shih1,3, Nancy Chan1,2, Ann W. Silk1,2,4, Shridar Ganesan1,2, Susan Goodin1,2, Murugesan Gounder1,6, Hongxia Lin1, Jiadong Li1, Robert Cerchio5, Christina Marinaro5, Suzie Chen1,5 and Janice M. Mehnert7

1 Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

4 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02215, USA

5 Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

6 Department of Pharmacology, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

7 Department of Medicine, New York University Grossman School of Medicine, Perlmutter Cancer Center of NYU Langone Health, NY 10016, USA

Correspondence to:

Janice M. Mehnert, email: [email protected]

Keywords: GRM1; riluzole; sorafenib; phase I; clinical trial

Received: December 17, 2022     Accepted: March 21, 2023     Published: April 10, 2023

Copyright: © 2023 Spencer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Background: Overexpression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple cancers. Riluzole, an inhibitor of glutamate release, showed synergistic antitumor activity in combination with the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib in preclinical models. This phase I trial identified the toxicity profile, dose-limiting toxicities, maximum tolerated dose (MTD), and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of riluzole combined with sorafenib in patients with advanced cancers.

Patients and Methods: Patients with refractory solid tumors were enrolled utilizing a 3+3 dose-escalation design. Riluzole was given at 100 mg PO BID in combination with sorafenib, beginning at 200 mg PO daily and escalating in 200 mg increments per level in 28-day cycles. Restaging evaluations were performed every 2 cycles.

Results: 35 patients were enrolled over 4 dose levels. The MTD was declared at dose level 3 (riluzole: 100 mg PO BID; sorafenib: 400 mg AM/200 mg PM). Pharmacokinetic analyses did not reveal definitive evidence of drug-drug interactions. Consistent decreases in phospho-forms of ERK and AKT in tumor tissue analyses with accompanying decrease in GRM1 expression and increase in pro-apoptotic BIM suggest target engagement by the combination. Best responses included a partial response in 1 (2.9%) patient with pancreatic acinar cell carcinoma with a KANK4-RAF1 fusion, and stable disease in 11 (36%) patients.

Conclusion: Combination therapy with riluzole and sorafenib was safe and tolerable in patients with advanced solid tumors. The partial response in a patient with a RAF1 fusion suggests that further exploration in a genomically selected cohort may be warranted.

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