A randomized, phase 1, placebo-controlled trial of APG-157 in oral cancer demonstrates systemic absorption and an inhibitory effect on cytokines and tumor-associated microbes.
Plain language summary
APG-157 is a botanical drug containing multiple polyphenols that delivers the active components to oromucosal tissues near the tumour target. APG-157 slowly disintegrates in the oral cavity over 15 to 20 minutes to release the drug substance. The drug substance is a precise, rational combination of multiple molecules derived from Curcuma longa wherein curcumin is the principal component. The main aim of this study was to determine the pharmacokinetics and safety of the orally delivered pastille (APG-157) when used by normal subjects and patients with cancer. This study is a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 32 subjects were enrolled, and 25 completed the study (13 normal individuals and 12 patients with oral cancer). Results demonstrated that transoral APG-157 treatment leads to systemic absorption of curcumin and its analogs. There was a statistically significant concentration reduction in inflammatory cytokines and Bacteroides species noted in the salivary cells. Pre-treatment and post-treatment tumour samples from patients with cancer demonstrated T-cell recruitment to the tumour microenvironment. Authors conclude that APG-157 is absorbed well, reduces inflammation, and attracts T-cells to the tumour thus, it can be potentially used in combination with immunotherapy drugs. Furthermore, a long-term evaluation of immune checkpoint blockade with and without APG-157 could provide a clear understanding of the usefulness of APG-157 as either an adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapeutic agent for patients with advanced or recurrent head and neck cancer.
BACKGROUND Although curcumin's effect on head and neck cancer has been studied in vitro and in vivo, to the authors' knowledge its efficacy is limited by poor systemic absorption from oral administration. APG-157 is a botanical drug containing multiple polyphenols, including curcumin, developed under the US Food and Drug Administration's Botanical Drug Development, that delivers the active components to oromucosal tissues near the tumor target. METHODS A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 1 clinical trial was conducted with APG-157 in 13 normal subjects and 12 patients with oral cancer. Two doses, 100 mg or 200 mg, were delivered transorally every hour for 3 hours. Blood and saliva were collected before and 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, and 24 hours after treatment. Electrocardiograms and blood tests did not demonstrate any toxicity. RESULTS Treatment with APG-157 resulted in circulating concentrations of curcumin and analogs peaking at 3 hours with reduced IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8 concentrations in the salivary supernatant fluid of patients with cancer. Salivary microbial flora analysis showed a reduction in Bacteroidetes species in cancer subjects. RNA and immunofluorescence analyses of tumor tissues of a subject demonstrated increased expression of genes associated with differentiation and T-cell recruitment to the tumor microenvironment. CONCLUSIONS The results of the current study suggested that APG-157 could serve as a therapeutic drug in combination with immunotherapy. LAY SUMMARY Curcumin has been shown to suppress tumor cells because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, its effectiveness has been limited by poor absorption when delivered orally. Subjects with oral cancer were given oral APG-157, a botanical drug containing multiple polyphenols, including curcumin. Curcumin was found in the blood and in tumor tissues. Inflammatory markers and Bacteroides species were found to be decreased in the saliva, and immune T cells were increased in the tumor tissue. APG-157 is absorbed well, reduces inflammation, and attracts T cells to the tumor, suggesting its potential use in combination with immunotherapy drugs.