New Drug Promising as Lymphoma Treatment

AUGUST 01, 2006
Susan Farley

A phase 2 trial of Merck's ZOLINZA (varinostat; suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid) showed a 30% response rate in patients with advanced refractory cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in which malignant T cells are drawn to the skin and deposited. The single-arm, nonrandomized study included 74 patients who had previously failed with an average of 3 other therapies. ZOLINZA is an investigational histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Patients received 400 mg daily until they reached the point of either disease progression or intolerable toxicity, at which time the dosage was changed to either 300 mg daily or 300 mg daily for 5 days per week. The duration of response was not determined definitively because patients continued to respond to the treatment throughout the study. Researchers, however, estimated it to be at least 4 months. The time to progression was estimated to be at least 5 months; the time to response was less than 2 months. ZOLINZA reduced itching in 32% of patients. Side effects included diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, anorexia, dysgeusia, and thrombocytopenia. The study was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.