Patients with multiple myeloma (MM) with mutated RAS are less likely to respond to chemotherapy and have a shortened survival. Therefore, targeting RAS farnesylation may be a novel approach to treatment of MM. We evaluated the activity and tolerability of the farnesyltransferase (FTase) inhibitor tipifarnib (Zarnestra) in a phase 2 trial as well as its ability to inhibit protein farnesylation and oncogenic pathways in patients with relapsed MM. Forty-three patients (median age, 62 years [range, 33-82 years]) with a median of 4 (range, 1-6) chemotherapy regimens entered the study. Tipifarnib, 300 mg orally twice daily, was administered for 3 weeks every 4 weeks. The most common toxicity was fatigue occurring in 66% of patients. Other toxicities included diarrhea, nausea, neuropathy, anemia, and thrombocytopenia. Sixty-four percent of the patients had disease stabilization. Treatment with tipifarnib suppressed FTase (but not geranylgeranyltransferase I) in bone marrow and peripheral blood mononuclear cells and also inhibited the farnesylation of HDJ-2 in unfractionated mononuclear cells and purified myeloma cells. Inhibition of farnesylation did not correlate with disease stabilization. Finally, tipifarnib decreased the levels of phosphorylated Akt and STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) but not Erk1/2 (extracellular signal regulated kinase 1 and 2) in bone marrow cells. We conclude that tipifarnib is tolerable, can induce disease stabilization, and can inhibit farnesylation and oncogenic/tumor survival pathways.
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