Background: Locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) is a heterogeneous group of tumors where a risk-adapted therapeutic strategy is needed. Short-course radiotherapy (SCRT) is a more convenient option for LARC patients than preoperative long-course RT plus capecitabine. Histone-deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have shown activity in combination with RT and chemotherapy in the treatment of solid tumors. Valproic acid (VPA) is an anti-epileptic drug with HDACi and anticancer activity. In preclinical studies, our group showed that the addition of HDACi, including VPA, to capecitabine produces synergistic antitumour effects by up-regulating thymidine phosphorylase (TP), the key enzyme converting capecitabine to 5-FU, and by downregulating thymidylate synthase (TS), the 5-FU target. Methods/Design: Two parallel phase-1 studies will assess the safety of preoperative SCRT (5 fractions each of 5 Gy, on days 1 to 5) combined with (a) capecitabine alone (increasing dose levels: 500-825 mg/m2/bid), on days 1-21, or (b) capecitabine as above plus VPA (oral daily day -14 to 21, with an intra-patient titration for a target serum level of 50-100 microg/ml) followed by surgery 8 weeks after the end of SCRT, in low-moderate risk RC patients. Also, a randomized phase-2 study will be performed to explore whether the addition of VPA and/or capecitabine to preoperative SCRT might increase pathologic complete tumor regression (TRG1) rate. A sample size of 86 patients (21-22/arm) was calculated under the hypothesis that the addition of capecitabine or VPA to SCRT can improve the TRG1 rate from 5% to 20%, with one-sided alpha = 0.10 and 80% power. Discussion: This project aims to improve the efficacy of preoperative treatment of LARC and to decrease the inconvenience and the cost of standard long-course RT. Correlative studies could identify both prognostic and predictive biomarkers and could add new insight in the mechanism of interaction between VPA, capecitabine and RT.
- HDAC inhibitors
- Preoperative chemo-radiotherapy
- Rectal cancer
- Short-course radiotherapy (SCRT)
- Valproic acid (VPA)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research