A phase II study of oral clofazimine in unresectable and metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma
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BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma is highly refractory to most chemotherapeutic agents. Clofazimine, a riminophenazine compound used to treat leprosy since 1962, inhibits various cancer cell lines, including hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, via phospholipase A2 dependant processes. Clofazimine also inhibits p170-glycoprotein, the mdr1 gene product. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty patients (26 males and four females) with unresectable (25) or metastatic (5) hepatocellular carcinoma received oral clofazimine 600 mg daily for two weeks, followed by 400 mg daily until progression or death. RESULTS: There were three responses (10%)--one of a soft tissue metastasis, and two of local disease, with 13 patients disease stabilizing for up to 20 months. The overall median survival was 13 weeks. Adverse events included hyperpigmentation, eczematous skin rashes and palpitations. CONCLUSIONS: Although only three patients had an objective response (10%), the 13 patients with stable disease for up to 20 months, and an overall median survival of 13 weeks, suggest that clofazimine, or other riminophenazine compounds may prove to be of value in hepatocellular carcinoma.
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