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Leone A.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit | Di Gennaro E.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit | Bruzzese F.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit | Avallone A.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Budillon A.,Direttore U.O.C. Farmacologia Sperimentale
Cancer Treatment and Research | Year: 2014

Metformin, an inexpensive, well-tolerated oral agent that is commonly used in the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes, has become the focus of intense research as a potential anticancer agent. This research reflects a convergence of epidemiologic, clinical, and preclinical evidence, suggesting that metformin may lower cancer risk in diabetics and improve outcomes of many common cancers. Notably, metformin mediates an approximately 30% reduction in the lifetime risk of cancer in diabetic patients. There is growing recognition that metformin may act (1) directly on cancer cells, primarily by impacting mitochondrial respiration leading to the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which controls energy homeostasis in cells, but also through other mechanisms or (2) indirectly on the host metabolism, largely through AMPK-mediated reduction in hepatic gluconeogenesis, leading to reduced circulating insulin levels and decreased insulin/IGF-1 receptor-mediated activation of the PI3K pathway. Support for this comes from the observation that metformin inhibits cancer cell growth in vitro and delays the onset of tobacco carcinogen-induced lung cancer in mice and that metformin and its analog phenformin delay spontaneous tumor development cancer-prone transgenic mice. The potential for both direct antitumor effects and indirect hostmediated effects has sparked enormous interest, but has led to added challenges in translating preclinical findings to the clinical setting. Nonetheless, the accumulation of evidence has been sufficient to justify initiation of clinical trials of metformin as an anticancer agent in the clinical setting, including a large-scale adjuvant study in breast cancer, with additional studies planned. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014 Source

Avallone A.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Aloj L.,Nuclear Medicine Unit | Aprile G.,University of Udine | Rosati G.,Medical Oncology Unit | Budillon A.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit
International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology | Year: 2015

The introduction of total mesorectal excision (TME) and preoperative multimodality treatment have substantially improved the management of rectal cancer reducing local recurrence and increasing sphincter-saving surgery; distant metastases however remain a clinical challenge. Besides, although surgery remains the mainstay for cure of rectal cancer with the multimodality approach (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery) being the standard of care for the majority of rectal cancer patients, there is a need of individualized risk-adapted treatment schemes based on clinico-pathological features because of treatment-induced morbidity and quality of life deterioration. This short viewpoint describes the emerging strategies addressing all these issues. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Avallone A.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Pecori B.,Radiotherapy Unit | Bianco F.,Gastrointestinal Surgery | Aloj L.,Nuclear Medicine Unit | And 14 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2015

Background: We have previously shown that an intensified preoperative regimen including oxaliplatin plus raltitrexed and 5-fluorouracil/folinic acid (OXATOM/ FUFA) during preoperative pelvic radiotherapy produced promising results in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Preclinical evidence suggests that the scheduling of bevacizumab may be crucial to optimize its combination with chemo-radiotherapy. Patients and methods: This non-randomized, non-comparative, phase II study was conducted in MRI-defined high-risk LARC. Patients received three biweekly cycles of OXATOM/FUFA during RT. Bevacizumab was given 2 weeks before the start of chemoradiotherapy, and on the same day of chemotherapy for 3 cycles (concomitant-schedule A) or 4 days prior to the first and second cycle of chemotherapy (sequential-schedule B). Primary end point was pathological complete tumor regression (TRG1) rate. Results: The accrual for the concomitant-schedule was early terminated because the number of TRG1 (2 out of 16 patients) was statistically inconsistent with the hypothesis of activity (30%) to be tested. Conversely, the endpoint was reached with the sequential-schedule and the final TRG1 rate among 46 enrolled patients was 50% (95% CI 35%-65%). Neutropenia was the most common grade ≥3 toxicity with both schedules, but it was less pronounced with the sequential than concomitant-schedule (30% vs. 44%). Postoperative complications occurred in 8/15 (53%) and 13/46 (28%) patients in schedule A and B, respectively. At 5 year follow-up the probability of PFS and OS was 80% (95%CI, 66%-89%) and 85% (95%CI, 69%-93%), respectively, for the sequential-schedule. Conclusions: These results highlights the relevance of bevacizumab scheduling to optimize its combination with preoperative chemo-radiotherapy in the management of LARC. Source

Avallone A.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Gennaro E.D.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit | Silvestro L.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Iaffaioli V.R.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | Budillon A.,Experimental Pharmacology Unit
Expert Opinion on Drug Safety | Year: 2014

Introduction: 5-fluorouracil continues to be the cornerstone of treatment for colorectal cancer. Although fluoropyrimidines are generally considered as well-Tolerated drugs, severe toxicities can be a major clinical problem, and the recommended prolonged infusion of 5-fluorouracil provokes discomfort in patients. Raltitrexed (Tomudex), a quinazoline analogue of folinic acid, is a selective and direct thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor with a convenient 3-weekly schedule of administration. Areas covered: In this review, through critical insight into the mechanism of action and main clinical experiences, the authors suggest the necessity to reconsider raltitrexed as a valuable anticancer drug and as a suitable option for colorectal cancer. The authors highlight its emerging therapeutic role in clinical practice for patients with fluoropyrimidine-induced cardiotoxicity or a significant history of cardiac disease. Expert opinion: This review discusses if TS could still be a relevant target for colorectal cancer in the era of molecular therapy and if raltitrexed should still be considered a drug with a life-Threatening toxicity. Furthermore, this review discusses the principal combination clinical experiences of raltitrexed and its emerging therapeutic role in clinical practice as a suitable option for colorectal cancer patients with fluoropyrimidine-induced cardiotoxicity or a significant history of cardiac disease. © Informa UK, Ltd. Source

Avallone A.,Multidisciplinary Treatment Unit | Piccirillo M.C.,Clinical Trials Unit | Aloj L.,Nuclear Medicine Unit | Nasti G.,Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Unit | And 28 more authors.
BMC Cancer | Year: 2016

Background: Despite the improvements in diagnosis and treatment, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second cause of cancer deaths in both sexes. Therefore, research in this field remains of great interest. The approval of bevacizumab, a humanized anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) monoclonal antibody, in combination with a fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy in the treatment of metastatic CRC has changed the oncology practice in this disease. However, the efficacy of bevacizumab-based treatment, has thus far been rather modest. Efforts are ongoing to understand the better way to combine bevacizumab and chemotherapy, and to identify valid predictive biomarkers of benefit to avoid unnecessary and costly therapy to nonresponder patients. The BRANCH study in high-risk locally advanced rectal cancer patients showed that varying bevacizumab schedule may impact on the feasibility and efficacy of chemo-radiotherapy. Methods/Design: OBELICS is a multicentre, open-label, randomised phase 3 trial comparing in mCRC patients two treatment arms (1:1): standard concomitant administration of bevacizumab with chemotherapy (mFOLFOX/OXXEL regimen) vs experimental sequential bevacizumab given 4 days before chemotherapy, as first or second treatment line. Primary end point is the objective response rate (ORR) measured according to RECIST criteria. A sample size of 230 patients was calculated allowing reliable assessment in all plausible first-second line case-mix conditions, with a 80 % statistical power and 2-sided alpha error of 0.05. Secondary endpoints are progression free-survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), toxicity and quality of life. The evaluation of the potential predictive role of several circulating biomarkers (circulating endothelial cells and progenitors, VEGF and VEGF-R SNPs, cytokines, microRNAs, free circulating DNA) as well as the value of the early [18F]-Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) response, are the objectives of the traslational project. Discussion: Overall this study could optimize bevacizumab scheduling in combination with chemotherapy in mCRC patients. Moreover, correlative studies could improve the knowledge of the mechanisms by which bevacizumab enhance chemotherapy effect and could identify early predictors of response. EudraCT Number: 2011-004997-27 Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gove number, NCT01718873 © 2016 Avallone et al. Source

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