Pharmacodynamic study of the oral hedgehog pathway inhibitor, vismodegib, in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

Benjamin L. Maughan, Daniel L. Suzman, Brandon Luber, Hao Wang, Stephanie Glavaris, Robert Hughes, Rana Sullivan, Rana Harb, Karim Boudadi, Channing Paller, Mario Eisenberger, Angelo Demarzo, Ashely Ross, Emmanuel S. Antonarakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Hedgehog (Hh) pathway signaling has been implicated in prostate cancer tumorigenesis and metastatic development and may be upregulated even further in the castration-resistant state. We hypothesized that antagonism of the Hh pathway with vismodegib in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) would result in pathway engagement, inhibition and perhaps induce measurable clinical responses in patients. Methods: This is a single-arm study of oral daily vismodegib in men with mCRPC. All patients were required to have biopsies of the tumor and skin (a surrogate tissue) at baseline and after 4 weeks of therapy. Ten patients were planned for enrollment. The primary outcome was the pharmacodynamic assessment of Gli1 mRNA suppression with vismodegib in tumor tissue. Secondary outcomes included PSA response rates, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and safety. Results: Nine patients were enrolled. Gli1 mRNA was significantly suppressed by vismodegib in both tumor tissue (4/7 evaluable biopsies, 57%) and benign skin biopsies (6/8 evaluable biopsies, 75%). The median number of treatment cycles completed was three, with a median PFS of 1.9 months (95% CI 1.3, NA), and a median OS of 7.04 months (95% CI 3.4, NA). No patient achieved a PSA reduction or a measurable tumor response. Safety data were consistent with the known toxicities of vismodegib. Conclusions: Hh signaling, as measured by Gli1 mRNA expression in mCRPC tissues, was suppressed with vismodegib in the majority of patients. Despite this pharmacodynamic response that indicated target inhibition in some patients, there was no apparent signal of clinical activity. Vismodegib will not be developed further as monotherapy in mCRPC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1304
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Gli
  • Hedgehog
  • Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
  • Vismodegib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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