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A randomized phase II study of the telomerase inhibitor imetelstat as maintenance therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

Authors: A A AA. Chiappori, T T. Kolevska, D R DR. Spigel, S S. Hager, M M. Rarick, S S. Gadgeel, N N. Blais, J J. Von Pawel, L L. Hart, M M. Reck, E E. Bassett, B B. Burington, J H JH. Schiller
Published: 12/02/2014, Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO


Continuation or 'switch' maintenance therapy is commonly used in patients with advancd non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we evaluated the efficacy of the telomerase inhibitor, imetelstat, as switch maintenance therapy in patients with advanced NSCLC.

Patients And Methods

The primary end point of this open-label, randomized phase II study was progression-free survival (PFS). Patients with non-progressive, advanced NSCLC after platinum-based doublet (first-line) chemotherapy (with or without bevacizumab), any histology, with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0-1 were eligible. Randomization was 2 : 1 in favor of imetelstat, administered at 9.4 mg/kg on days 1 and 8 of a 21-day cycle, or observation. Telomere length (TL) biomarker exploratory analysis was carried out in tumor tissue by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and telomerase fluorescence in situ hybridization.


Of 116 patients enrolled, 114 were evaluable. Grade 3/4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia were more frequent with imetelstat. Median PFS was 2.8 and 2.6 months for imetelstat-treated versus control [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.844; 95% CI 0.54-1.31; P = 0.446]. Median survival time favored imetelstat (14.3 versus 11.5 months), although not significantly (HR = 0.68; 95% CI 0.41-1.12; P = 0.129). Exploratory analysis demonstrated a trend toward longer median PFS (HR = 0.43; 95% CI 0.14-1.3; P = 0.124) and overall survival (OS; HR = 0.41; 95% CI 0.11-1.46; P = 0.155) in imetelstat-treated patients with short TL, but no improvement in median PFS and OS in patients with long TL (HR = 0.86; 95% CI 0.39-1.88; and HR = 0.51; 95% CI 0.2-1.28; P = 0.145).


Maintenance imetelstat failed to improve PFS in advanced NSCLC patients responding to first-line therapy. There was a trend toward a improvement in median PFS and OS in patients with short TL. Short TL as a predictive biomarker will require further investigation for the clinical development of imetelstat.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: [email protected].
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