Purpose: Tipifarnib is a farnesyl transferase (FTase) inhibitor that has activity in metastatic breast cancer and enhances the efficacy of cytotoxic agents in preclinical models. We evaluated the biological effects of tipifarnib in primary breast cancers in vivo, whether addingtipifarnib to preoperative chemotherapy increased the pathologic complete response rate (pCR) at surgery, and determined whether biomarkers predictive of pCR could be identified. Experimental Design: Forty-four patients with stage IIB-IIIC breast cancer received up to four cycles of neoadjuvant doxorubicin-cyclophosphamide (AC) every 2 weeks plus tipifarnib and filgrastim followed by surgery. Enzymatic assays measuring FTase activity and Western blotting for phospho (p) -signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p-AKT, and p27 were done in 11 patients who agreed to optional tissue biopsies before therapy and 2 hours after the final dose of tipifarnib duringthe first cycle, and predictive biomarkers were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 33 patients. The trial was powered to detect an improvement in breast pCR rate of 10% or less expected for AC alone to 25% for AC-tipifarnib (a =0.05, b = 0.10). Results: Eleven patients had a breast pCR (25%; 95% confidence interval, 13-40%). FTase enzyme activity decreased in all patients (median, 91%; range, 24-100%) and p-STAT3 expression decreased in 7 of 9 (77%) patients. Low tumor Ki-67 expression (below the median of 60%) at baseline was significantly associated with resistance to therapy (P = 0.01). Conclusion: Tipifarnib inhibits FTase activity in human breast tumors in vivo, is associated with down-regulation of p-STAT3, and enhances the breast pCR rate, thus meriting further evaluation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research