Axel R. Hanauske, MD, PhD

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Overview of Phase I/II Pemetrexed Studies

November 2nd 2004

Pemetrexed (Alimta) is an antifolate that is effective in the inhibitionof multiple enzyme targets including thymidylate synthase,dihydrofolate reductase, and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyl transferase.The compound has been evaluated in several phase I trials, bothas single agent and in combination with other cytotoxic agents. Theinitial schedule selected for further investigation in phase II trials waspemetrexed 600 mg/m2 as a 10-minute infusion on day 1 every 21 days.During the subsequent phase II development, the dose of pemetrexedwas adjusted to 500 mg/m2 due to bone marrow and gastrointestinaltoxicities. The adjusted dose of pemetrexed was well tolerated throughoutthe late-phase drug development program. Preclinical evidencesuggests that pemetrexed has additive or synergistic activity when combinedwith many other clinically important anticancer agents, includinggemcitabine (Gemzar), fluorouracil, carboplatin (Paraplatin),oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), paclitaxel, and vinorelbine (Navelbine). Doselimitingtoxicities in these studies were primarily hematologic, and therewas no evidence of cumulative hematologic toxicity. During the drugdevelopment program it was discovered that supplementation with folicacid and vitamin B12 profoundly increased the tolerability ofpemetrexed. The studies discussed in this review demonstrate thatpemetrexed is well tolerated as a single agent and will be an importantcontribution to combination chemotherapy regimens.