Smokers experience aberrant gene promoter methylation in their bronchial cells, which may predispose to the development of neoplasia. Hydralazine is a DNA demethylating agent, and valproic acid is a histone deacetylase inhibitor, and both have modest but synergistic anticancer activity in vitro. We conducted a phase I trial combining valproic acid and hydralazine to determine the maximally tolerated dose (MTD) of hydralazine in combination with a therapeutic dose of valproic acid in patients with advanced, unresectable, and previously treated solid cancers. Twenty females and nine males were enrolled, with a median age of 57 years and a median ECOG performance status of 0. Grade 1 lymphopenia and fatigue were the most common adverse effects. Three subjects withdrew for treatment-related toxicities occurring after the DLT observation period, including testicular edema, rash, and an increase in serum lipase accompanied by hyponatremia in one subject each. A true MTD of hydralazine in combination with therapeutic doses of valproic acid was not reached in this trial, and the planned upper limit of hydralazine investigated in this combination was 400 mg/day without grade 3 or 4 toxicities. A median number of two treatment cycles were delivered. One partial response by Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors criteria was observed, and five subjects experienced stable disease for 3 to 6 months. The combination of hydralazine and valproic acid is simple, nontoxic, and might be appropriate for chemoprevention or combination with other cancer treatments. This trial supports further investigation of epigenetic modification as a new therapeutic strategy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research