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Prophylactic Treatment Reduces Neratinib-Related Toxicity in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Shannon Connelly
Published: Thursday, Jan 05, 2017

Carlos H. Barcenas, MD, MSc

Carlos H. Barcenas, MD, MSc

A prophylactic treatment of loperamide plus budesonide reduced the rate of grade 3 diarrhea associated with neratinib, according to the results of the phase II CONTROL trial, which were presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

The combination regimen reduced the rate of grade ≥3 diarrhea associated with neratinib to 15% compared with 39.9% observed in the ExteNET trial. The rate of all-grade diarrhea was 65% with the prophylactic regimen versus 95.4% in the ExteNET study.

“There is a benefit of neratinib given in the adjuvant setting, which is after 1 year of trastuzumab (Herceptin)—an additional year of neratinib,” said Carlos H. Barcenas, MD, MSc.

The problem with this drug, though, is the associated, heightened toxicity, he explained.

In an interview with OncLive, Barcenas, assistant professor, Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discussed the detailed findings of the interim analysis of the CONTROL trial, and future strategies for administering neratinib to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

OncLive: Can you give an overview of the study and the findings?

Barcenas: The importance of the study was because previously the ExteNET clinical trial had shown a benefit of the drug neratinib in patients with stage I-III HER2-positive breast cancer. Some of them are hormone receptor (HR)-positive and some of them are HR-negative.

There is a benefit of neratinib given in the adjuvant setting, which is after 1 year of trastuzumab (Herceptin)—an additional year of neratinib. The problem with this drug is that it gives a lot of diarrhea, and so the incidence of diarrhea in ExteNET of grade 3 was almost 40%. The idea of this study was to characterize the diarrhea and try to control it with prophylactic treatment with loperamide. There’s different cohorts that have been established and so we’re looking at how these different cohorts have improved the diarrhea.

What were the findings in each of the cohorts?

The loperamide cohort basically consists of 2 cohorts itself. It’s very detailed regarding how much loperamide they receive. It’s consistent for the first 1 and 2 cycles. The reduction of grade 3 diarrhea was around 25% with that cohort. The next cohort was treated with loperamide with the addition of budesonide, which is an anti-inflammatory and a kind of steroid. That one reduced the grade 3 diarrhea to about 15%.

Of course, everything comes with a cost. With this combination, there was actually an increase of constipation, nausea, and fatigue. It’s like a balancing act between decreasing diarrhea, but also trying to not increase constipation.

What are going to be the next steps following these findings?

So 15% is what we have seen so far with the loperamide/budesonide combination. That’s actually a good number, but the idea is to try to decrease it even more. Of course, the mechanism of action of the diarrhea, although we think it’s inflammatory, there may be other factorials, so the idea is to use other agents.

The next agent we will be testing is colestipol (Colestid), which is an acid bile sequestrant. It seems like in some of the phase I clinical trials in the metastatic setting it had a great response to diarrhea, so we want to see if it works in the adjuvant setting also. There’s going to be a cohort with colestipol, and then eventually there may be other cohorts down the line.

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