This podcast will discuss the findings from a phase II trial of gemcitabine, cisplatin and PARP inhibitor therapy in germline BRCA/PALB2 mutant pancreatic cancer and discuss an optimal treatment strategy in this setting.
This JCO Podcast provides observations and commentary on the JCO article “A Randomized, Multi-Center, Phase II Trial of Gemcitabine, Cisplatin with or without Veliparib in Patients with Pancreas Adenocarcinoma and a Germline BRCA/ PALB2 Mutation” by O'Reilly et al. My name is Daniel Renouf, and I am a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Vancouver Centre in Vancouver, Canada. My oncologic specialty is pancreatic cancer.
In this podcast, we will be discussing an important and evolving area that is changing our standard treatment strategies for pancreatic cancer. Progress has been slow for pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is now the third leading cause of cancer-related death in North America and is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death within the next decade. Modest gains in our treatments have been achieved with new chemotherapy combinations, including FOLFIRINOX and gemcitabine and nano-albumen bound-paclitaxel, yet still the majority of patients diagnosed with advanced disease will live for less than one year.
There is a critical need for improved treatment options as well as clinically relevant predictive markers to guide our therapeutic decision making. The first clinically important predictive marker in pancreatic cancer is germline BRCA/PALB2 mutation status, which is present in 5-9% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Multiple translational studies and case series have demonstrated distinct molecular features of these tumors, as well as unique clinical characteristics. Germline BRCA/PALB2 mutant pancreatic adenocarcinomas have been noted to be sensitive to platinum agents and be associated with a better prognosis. Despite this data, and a general acceptance within the community that platinum agents are the preferred therapies in this setting, there is minimal prospective trial data specifically assessing the activity of platinum combinations in germline BRCA/PALB2 mutant pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
At a plenary session at ASCO 2019 and its subsequent publication, the POLO trial assessed the role of maintenance therapy with a poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor (olaparib), compared to placebo, in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma and germline mutations in BRCA/PALB2 who had responded or had stable disease after initial therapy with FOLFIRINOX. This was a positive trial, demonstrating that maintenance olaparib significantly improved progression-free survival compared to placebo. There was no difference noted in overall survival, but this data was not yet mature. The role of combining a PARP inhibitor with platinum-based chemotherapy as upfront treatment in this patient population is yet to be defined. A previous Phase I trial of gemcitabine, cisplatin and the PARP inhibitor veliparib determined a recommended phase II dose for velipirib in this combination and demonstrated promising efficacy in germline BRCA-mutant pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
In the article that accompanies this podcast, Dr. O’Reilly and colleagues report on the results of a phase II prospective trial comparing gemcitabine and cisplatin versus gemcitabine, cisplatin and veliparib in patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma with germline aberrations in BRCA/PALB2. In the trial, patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer who had not received chemotherapy in the advanced setting, had a good performance status, and who harbored germline aberrations in BRCA/PALB2 were randomized.
A total of 50 patients were enrolled, and the results demonstrated good efficacy in both arms, with a response rate of 74.1% in the veliparib arm and 65.2% in the