Alpelisib Provides Promise in Treating Cetuximab-Resistant Head and Neck Cancers

The results of a phase 1b study, presented at the AACR special conference "Targeting the PI3K-mTOR Network in Cancer," found that Alpelisib could overcome resistance to the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab, and the two regimens together were quite beneficial.

The investigational drug alpelisib, previously known as BYL719, was able to overcome head and neck cancer resistance to the anti-EGFR treatment cetuximab, and combining alpelisib with cetuximab was found to be beneficial, according to data from a phase Ib/II trial presented at the AACR special conference Targeting the PI3K-mTOR Network in Cancer, held Sept. 14-17.

“Most of head and neck cancers are driven by activation of the EGFR pathway. Cetuximab is a drug that targets EGFR and is effective in this setting, but cancers often become resistant to this therapy,” said Pamela Munster, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Treatment resistance is often conveyed through activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, and alpelisib is an inhibitor of this pathway.”

“In this clinical trial, we treated patients with recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer with a combination of cetuximab and alpelisib, and about 25 percent of the patients benefited from this therapy. Further, the treatment was fairly well tolerated,” said Munster. “We are very encouraged by the study findings, and we are now conducting the phase II part of the trial.

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Source: AACR