Phase i study of UCN-01 and perifosine in patients with relapsed and refractory acute leukemias and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome

Ivana Gojo, Alexander Perl, Selina Luger, Maria R. Baer, Kelly J. Norsworthy, Kenneth S. Bauer, Michael Tidwell, Stephanie Fleckinger, Martin Carroll, Edward A. Sausville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background The PI3K-Akt pathway is frequently activated in acute leukemias and represents an important therapeutic target. UCN-01 and perifosine are known to inhibit Akt activation. Methods The primary objective of this phase I study was to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of UCN-01 given in combination with perifosine in patients with advanced acute leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome. Secondary objectives included safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and efficacy. Perifosine 150 mg every 6 h was given orally on day 1 followed by 100 mg once a day continuously in 28-day cycles. UCN-01 was given intravenously over 3 h on day 4 at three dose levels (DL1 = 40 mg/m 2; DL2 = 65 mg/m2; DL3 = 90 mg/m2). Results Thirteen patients were treated (DL1, n = 6; DL2, n = 4; DL3, n = 3) according to a traditional "3 + 3" design. Two patients at the DL3 experienced dose-limiting toxicity including grade 3-4 pericardial effusion, hypotension, hyperglycemia, hyperkalemia, constitutional symptoms and grade 5 pneumonitis. Other frequent toxicities were grade 1-2 nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and hyperglycemia. The MTD was determined to be UCN-01 65 mg/m2 with perifosine 100 mg a day. No appreciable direct Akt inhibition could be demonstrated in patients' mononuclear cells using Western blot, however, reduced phosphorylation of the downstream target ribosomal protein S6 in leukemic blasts was noted by intracellular flow cytometry. No objective responses were observed on this study. Conclusion UCN-01 and perifosine can be safely administered, but this regimen lacked clinical efficacy. This approach may have failed because of insufficient Akt inhibition in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1227
Number of pages11
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Acute leukemia
  • Akt inhibition
  • Perifosine
  • UCN-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Phase i study of UCN-01 and perifosine in patients with relapsed and refractory acute leukemias and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this