Clinical Studies in Patients with Solid Tumors using a Second-Generation Antisense Oligonucleotide (GEM®231) Targeted against Protein Kinase A Type I

S. Mani, S. Goel, M. Nesterova, R. M. Martin, J. M. Grindel, M. L. Rothenberg, R. Zhang, G. Tortora, Y. S. Cho-Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


GEM®231 is a second-generation antisense oligonucleotide targeted against the RIα regulatory subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase type 1 (PKA-I). Excessive expression of PKA-I is associated with cell proliferation and transformation, and increased levels of secreted extracellular PKA (ECPKA) are found in the serum of cancer patients. Preclinical studies have demonstrated single-agent antitumor activity of GEM 231 in a variety of human cancer xenograft models, and additive or synergistic antitumor activity has been observed with taxane and/or camptothecin-based combinations. Based on prior safety (MTD) data demonstrating dose-dependent, reversible, and cumulative transaminitis, and high peak plasma concentration (C max)-dependent changes in activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) with GEM 231 2-h twice-weekly infusions, an alternative schedule of GEM 231 given as a single agent was evaluated in patients with advanced solid tumors. Fourteen patients (median age ∼ 60 yrs) with advanced solid malignancies received a total of 78 weeks of therapy. GEM 231 was infused via a CADD pump at 80 mg/m2/day (d) for 3 d/wk (n = 1), then for 5 d/wk at 80 (n = 3), 120 (n = 8), and 180 mg/m2/d (n = 2). One cycle was defined as 4 weeks of therapy. Apparent dose dependency for the occurrence of transaminitis was readily reversible. At 180 mg/m2/d, 2 of 2 patients had cycle 1 dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) transaminitis. One patient treated at 120 mg/m2/d experienced grade 3 transaminase elevations after 8 weeks of therapy, but when serum transaminase values rapidly improved he resumed treatment at 80 mg/m2/d for 6 weeks until tumor progression was documented. Another patient at 120 mg/m2/d developed grade 3 esophagitis after 3 weeks, limiting further dosing. One patient (lung cancer) demonstrated stable disease for 9 weeks. Overall, plasma aPTT was minimally prolonged and changes were transient, peaked at the end of each infusion, and were not associated with spontaneous bleeding. A constitutive symptom (e.g., low-grade fatigue) was common, cumulative, and reversible following discontinuation of therapy. Serum ECPKA was measured by enzymatic assay and Western blotting from blood drawn at the beginning and end of each infusion. Serum ECPKA levels demonstrated a trend to decline with the treatment. In addition to single agent schedules, combination trials were undertaken to assess safety and possible interaction of GEM 231 with taxanes (paclitaxel, docetaxel), given once every 3 weeks (one cycle). While trials using the 2-h twice-weekly GEM 231 infusions are ongoing, preliminary results from both studies show that it is safe to combine paclitaxel or docetaxel with GEM 231. Overall, it is also feasible to administer GEM 231 in combination with taxane or nontaxane chemotherapy (e.g., camptothecins). Phase I combination studies are currently underway to further explore the clinical, pharmacokinetic, and biologic profile of GEM 231 with chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-262
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 2003


  • Antisense
  • Mixed backbone
  • Oligonucleotide
  • PKA type I
  • Solid tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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