A phase 2 trial of Merck's ZOLINZA(varinostat; suberoylanilide hydroxamicacid) showed a 30% response rate inpatients with advanced refractory cutaneousT-cell lymphoma (CTCL), a type ofnon-Hodgkin's lymphoma in whichmalignant T cells are drawn to the skinand deposited. The single-arm, nonrandomizedstudy included 74 patientswho had previously failed with an averageof 3 other therapies. ZOLINZA is aninvestigational histone deacetylase(HDAC) inhibitor. Patients received 400mg daily until they reached the point ofeither disease progression or intolerabletoxicity, at which time the dosage waschanged to either 300 mg daily or 300mg daily for 5 days per week. The durationof response was not determineddefinitively because patients continuedto respond to the treatment throughoutthe study. Researchers, however, estimatedit to be at least 4 months. Thetime to progression was estimated tobe at least 5 months; the time toresponse was less than 2 months.ZOLINZA reduced itching in 32% ofpatients. Side effects included diarrhea,fatigue, nausea, anorexia, dysgeusia,and thrombocytopenia. The study waspresented at the American Society ofClinical Oncology's annual meeting.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.