Palbociclib and One Researcher’s Resolve

Palbociclib is a selective CDK4/6 inhibitor approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with breast cancer. Currently it’s being tested in phase I trials for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma. The use of palbociclib as a cancer treatment was championed by Selina Chen-Kiang, PhD., professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology, and a key collaborator with the Lymphoma Program. Palbociclib is currently considered one of the next big things in cancer treatment. But:

“..it’s old news for Selina Chen-Kiang, Ph.D…who has been a cheerleader for palbociclib for the past decade. In fact, her relentless effort helped resurrect the drug after it was shelved by an uninterested pharmaceutical company, and her initial findings inspired the clinical trials that paved the path for its accelerated approval.”    

“Chen-Kiang is renowned for her research in immunology and hematological malignancies. A molecular biologist by training, she first got swept into myeloma and lymphoma research while studying how antibody-secreting plasma cells were generated from B cells. Unlike solid tissue, normal immune cells can be isolated at different stages from mice and humans, making them the perfect model to study her primary passion: cell cycle control of immunity.”

Today Dr. Chen-Kiang’s dogged inquiry into the potential of palbociclib has the potential to help cancer patients. Her resolve exemplifies the bench portion of our bench to bedside approach at the Meyer Cancer Center. Palbociclib is currently undergoing phase I investigator-initiated trials, sponsored by the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program at the National Cancer Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College. The principle investigator is Dr. Peter Martin. You can listen to him explain explain the benefits of this recently initiated trial:

Palbociclib Displays Promising Results

Palbociclib (PD 0332991) is generating significant excitement according to an April 6th online article from the New York Times. The article cites the results of a recently reported phase II trial in which women with metastatic breast cancer were randomized to receive letrozole plus palbociclib or letrozole alone. Women receiving the combination had their risk of progression cut in half compared to the group that received letrozole alone. These results come roughly one year after the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to palbociclib, which may help speed up the drug approval process.

Palbociclib is a highly specific oral drug that binds to and inhibits a specific subtype of enzymes called cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK). The same enzymes are critical to the development and progression of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College have been leading the evaluation of palbociclib in MCL. Within the next month, we will open a phase I trial evaluating the combination of palbociclib plus ibrutinib in patients with previously treated MCL. For additional information regarding the upcoming trial or other trials in lymphoma, call Amelyn Rodriguez, RN at (212) 746-1362 or e-mail Amelyn at amr2017@med.cornell.edu.