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Invest New Drugs. 2013 Feb;31(1):99-107. doi: 10.1007/s10637-012-9807-9. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

A phase 1 dose-escalating study of pegylated recombinant human arginase 1 (Peg-rhArg1) in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China.



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells are auxotrophic for arginine, depletion of which leads to tumour regression. The current study evaluated safety, pharmacokinetics (PK)/ pharmacodynamics (PD) parameters, and potential anti-tumor activity of pegylated recombinant human arginase 1 (peg-rhArg1) in advanced HCC patients.


Eligibility criteria included advanced HCC with measurable lesions, Child-Pugh A or B, and adequate organ function. Initial single IV bolus was followed by weekly doses of peg-rhArgI escalated from 500 U/kg to 2500 U/kg in a 3 + 3 design.


Fifteen patients were enrolled at weekly doses of 500 U/kg (n = 3), 1000 U/kg (n = 3), 1600 U/kg (n = 3) and 2500 U/kg (n = 6). The median age was 57 years (33-74); 87% were hepatitis B carriers and 47% had prior systemic treatment. The most commonly reported drug-related non-haematological adverse events (AEs) were diarrhea (13.3%), abdominal discomfort (6.7%) and nausea (6.7%). No drug-related haematological AEs were seen. Only 1 of the six patients that received 2500U/kg peg-rhArg1 experienced DLT (grade 4 bilirubin elevation) and thus the maximum tolerated dose was 2500 U/kg. PK and PD analysis indicated that peg-rhArg1 was efficacious in inducing arginine depletion in a dose-dependent manner. Adequate arginine depletion dose was achieved in the 1,600-2,500 U/kg range and therefore the optimal biological dose was at 1600 U/kg, which was chosen as the recommended dose. The best response was stable disease for >8 weeks in 26.7% of the enrolled patients.


Peg-rhArg1 has manageable safety profile and preliminary evidence of activity in advanced HCC patients.

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