Background Treatment with doxorubicin is a present standard of care for patients with metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma and median overall survival for those treated is 12–16 months, but few, if any, novel treatments or chemotherapy combinations have been able to improve these poor outcomes. Olaratumab is a human antiplatelet-derived growth factor receptor α monoclonal antibody that has antitumour activity in human sarcoma xenografts. We aimed to assess the efficacy of olaratumab plus doxorubicin in patients with advanced or metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma. Methods We did an open-label phase 1b and randomised phase 2 study of doxorubicin plus olaratumab treatment in patients with unresectable or metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma at 16 clinical sites in the USA. For both the phase 1b and phase 2 parts of the study, eligible patients were aged 18 years or older and had a histologically confirmed diagnosis of locally advanced or metastatic soft-tissue sarcoma not previously treated with an anthracycline, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0–2, and available tumour tissue to determine PDGFRα expression by immunohistochemistry. In the phase 2 part of the study, patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either olaratumab (15 mg/kg) intravenously on day 1 and day 8 plus doxorubicin (75 mg/m2) or doxorubicin alone (75 mg/m2) on day 1 of each 21-day cycle for up to eight cycles. Randomisation was dynamic and used the minimisation randomisation technique. The phase 1b primary endpoint was safety and the phase 2 primary endpoint was progression-free survival using a two-sided α level of 0·2 and statistical power of 0·8. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01185964. Findings 15 patients were enrolled and treated with olaratumab plus doxorubicin in the phase 1b study, and 133 patients were randomised (66 to olaratumab plus doxorubicin; 67 to doxorubicin alone) in the phase 2 trial, 129 (97%) of whom received at least one dose of study treatment (64 received olaratumab plus doxorubicin, 65 received doxorubicin). Median progression-free survival in phase 2 was 6·6 months (95% CI 4·1–8·3) with olaratumab plus doxorubicin and 4·1 months (2·8–5·4) with doxorubicin (stratified hazard ratio [HR] 0·67; 0·44–1·02, p=0·0615). Median overall survival was 26·5 months (20·9–31·7) with olaratumab plus doxorubicin and 14·7 months (9·2–17·1) with doxorubicin (stratified HR 0·46, 0·30–0·71, p=0·0003). The objective response rate was 18·2% (9·8–29·6) with olaratumab plus doxorubicin and 11·9% (5·3–22·2) with doxorubicin (p=0·3421). Steady state olaratumab serum concentrations were reached during cycle 3 with mean maximum and trough concentrations ranging from 419 μg/mL (geometric coefficient of variation in percentage [CV%] 26·2) to 487 μg/mL (CV% 33·0) and from 123 μg/mL (CV% 31·2) to 156 μg/mL (CV% 38·0), respectively. Adverse events that were more frequent with olaratumab plus doxorubicin versus doxorubicin alone included neutropenia (37 [58%] vs 23 [35%]), mucositis (34 [53%] vs 23 [35%]), nausea (47 [73%] vs 34 [52%]), vomiting (29 [45%] vs 12 [18%]), and diarrhoea (22 [34%] vs 15 [23%]). Febrile neutropenia of grade 3 or higher was similar in both groups (olaratumab plus doxorubicin: eight [13%] of 64 patients vs doxorubicin: nine [14%] of 65 patients). Interpretation This study of olaratumab with doxorubicin in patients with advanced soft-tissue sarcoma met its predefined primary endpoint for progression-free survival and achieved a highly significant improvement of 11·8 months in median overall survival, suggesting a potential shift in the treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma. Funding Eli Lilly and Company.
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