A phase I dose-escalation study of apatorsen (OGX-427), an antisense inhibitor targeting heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27), in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and other advanced cancers

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Heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) is a chaperone protein that regulates cell survival via androgen receptor and other signaling pathways, thereby mediating cancer progression. Apatorsen (OGX-427) is a 2′-methoxyethyl-modified antisense oligonucleotide that inhibits Hsp27 expression. This study evaluated the safety profile and recommended phase II dosing of apatorsen in patients with advanced cancer.

Patients and methods

Patients with castration-resistant prostate (CRPC), breast, ovary, lung, or bladder cancer were enrolled to this phase I dose-escalation study. Apatorsen was administered i.v. weekly in 21-day cycles following 3 loading doses and over 5 dose levels (200–1000 mg). Apatorsen plasma concentrations, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and CTC Hsp27 expression, and serum Hsp27 levels were evaluated.


Forty-two patients were accrued, of which 52% had CRPC. Patients were heavily pretreated, with 57% having had ≥3 prior chemotherapy regimens. During the loading dose/cycle 1 and overall study period, 93% and 100% of patients (N = 42) experienced treatment-related adverse events, respectively; most were grade 1–2 and included chills, pruritus, flushing, prolonged aPTT, lymphopenia, and anemia. One patient experienced a dose-limiting toxicity at the 600 mg dose level (intracranial hemorrhage in a previously undiagnosed brain metastasis). A maximum tolerated dose was not defined. Apatorsen Cmax increased proportionally with dose. Decreases in tumor markers and declines in CTCs were observed, with a prostate-specific antigen decline >%50% occurring in 10% of patients with CRPC; 29/39 assessable patients (74%) had reductions from ≥5 CTC/7.5 ml at baseline to <5 CTC/7.5 ml post-treatment. Twelve patients had stable measurable disease as best response.


Apatorsen was tolerated at the highest dose evaluated (1000 mg). Single-agent activity was suggested by changes in tumor markers, CTC, and stable measurable disease. Phase II studies evaluating apatorsen are underway.

ClinicalTrials.gov ID


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