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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A phase I dose escalation and bioavailability study of oral sodium phenylbutyrate in patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies.

PURPOSE: Phenylbutyrate (PB) is an aromatic fatty acid with multiple mechanisms of action including histone deacetylase inhibition. Preclinically, PB demonstrates both cytotoxic and differentiating effects at a concentration of 0.5 mM. We conducted a Phase I trial of p.o. PB patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies to evaluate toxicity, pharmacokinetic parameters, and feasibility of p.o. administration. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Twenty-eight patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies were enrolled on this dose-escalation to maximally tolerated dose trial. Five dose levels of PB were studied: 9 g/day (n = 4), 18 g/day (n = 4), 27 g/day (n = 4), 36 g/day (n = 12), and 45 g/day (n = 4). Pharmacokinetic studies were performed and included an p.o. bioavailability determination. Compliance data were also collected. RESULTS: The recommended Phase II dose is 27 g/day. Overall the drug was well tolerated with the most common toxicities being grade 1-2 dyspepsia and fatigue. Nonoverlapping dose-limiting toxicities of nausea/vomiting and hypocalcemia were seen at 36 g/day. The p.o. bioavailability of PB was 78% for all dose levels, and the biologically active concentration of 0.5 mM was achieved at all dose levels. Compliance was excellent with 93.5% of all possible doses taken. No partial remission or complete remission was seen, but 7 patients had stable disease for more than 6 months while on the drug. CONCLUSIONS: PB (p.o.) is well tolerated and achieves the concentration in vivo that has been shown to have biological activity in vitro. PB may have a role as a cytostatic agent and should be additionally explored in combination with cytotoxics and other novel drugs.[1]


  1. A phase I dose escalation and bioavailability study of oral sodium phenylbutyrate in patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies. Gilbert, J., Baker, S.D., Bowling, M.K., Grochow, L., Figg, W.D., Zabelina, Y., Donehower, R.C., Carducci, M.A. Clin. Cancer Res. (2001) [Pubmed]
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