Method and Pharmaceutical Compositions for Treatment of Anti-Estrogen Resistant Breast Cancer Using RXR Modulators
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Methods and compositions for the treatment of anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer using retinoid compounds that are modulators of Retinoid X Receptors are provide.

Lamph, William W. (La Jolla, CA, US)
Bischoff, Eric D. (Encinitas, CA, US)
Heyman, Richard A. (Encinitas, CA, US)
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A61K31/192; A61K31/00; A61K45/00; A61K31/138; A61K31/19; A61K31/195; A61K31/455; A61P15/14; A61P35/00; A61P43/00
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We claim:

1. A method for treating a host having anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer, comprising administering to the host a composition comprising a pharmaceutically effective amount of a Retinoid X Receptor (RXR) modulator.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the RXR modulator is an RXR selective modulator.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the RXR selective modulator is selected from among LGD1069, LGD100268 and LGD100324 and pharmaceutically acceptable salts thereof.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the modulator selectively activates one or more RXRs in preference to all of RAR isoforms α, β and γ.

5. A method for inhibiting the growth of anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer in a tissue, comprising contacting the tissue with an effective amount of an RXR selective modulator.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the modulator selectively activates one or more RXRs in preference to all of RAR isoforms α, β and γ.

7. A method for treating a host having estrogen receptor negative status breast cancer, comprising administering to the host a composition comprising a pharmaceutically effective amount of an RXR selective modulator.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the estrogen receptor negative status is tamoxifen induced.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein the status is initially present in the cancer.

10. The method of claim 7, wherein the modulator selectively activates one or more RXRs in preference to all of RAR isoforms α, β and γ.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer is tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the RXR selective modulator is selected from among LGD1069, LGD100268, and LGD100324 and pharmaceutically acceptable salts thereof.



This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/818,139, filed Jun. 12, 2007, which is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/229,649, filed on Aug. 27, 2002, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/327,117, filed on Jun. 7, 1999, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/089,104, filed on Jun. 12, 1998. The disclosure of each of these applications is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.


The present invention relates generally to methods and pharmaceutical compositions for treating breast cancer. More particularly, the invention relates to methods and pharmaceutical compositions for treating anti-estrogen resistant breast cancers using retinoid compounds that are RXR modulators.


The vitamin A metabolite, retinoic acid, has long been recognized to induce a broad spectrum of biological effects. For example, retinoic acid-containing products, such as Retin-A® and Accutane®, have found utility as therapeutic agents for the treatment of various pathological conditions. In addition, a variety of structural analogues of retinoic acid (i.e., retinoids), have been synthesized that also have been found to be bioactive. Many of these synthetic retinoids have been found to mimic many of the pharmacological actions of retinoic acid, and thus have therapeutic potential for the treatment of numerous disease states.

Medical professionals have become very interested in the therapeutic applications of retinoids. Among their uses approved by the FDA is the treatment of severe forms of acne and psoriasis. A large body of evidence also exists that these compounds can be used to arrest and, to an extent, reverse the effects of skin damage arising from prolonged exposure to the sun. Other evidence exists that these compounds have clear effects on cellular proliferation, differentiation and programmed cell death (apoptosis), and thus, may be useful in the treatment and prevention of a variety of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions, such as acute promyleocytic leukemia (APL), epithelial cancers, squamous cell carcinomas, including cervical and skin cancers and renal cell carcinoma. Furthermore, retinoids may have beneficial activity in treating and preventing diseases of the eye, cardiovascular disease and other skin disorders. Major insight into the molecular mechanism of retinoic acid signal transduction was gained in 1988, when a member of the steroid/thyroid hormone intracellular receptor superfamily was shown to transduce a retinoic acid signal. Giguere et al., Nature, 330:624-29 (1987); Petkovich et al., Nature, 330: 444-50 (1987); for review, see Evans, Science, 240:889-95 (1988). It is now known that retinoids modulate the activity of two distinct intracellular receptor subfamilies; the Retinoic Acid Receptors (RARs) and the Retinoid X Receptors (RXRs), including their subtypes, RARα, β, γ, and RXRα, β, γ. Different retinoid compounds exhibit different activities with the retinoid reactor subtypes. For example, all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is an endogenous low-molecular-weight ligand which specifically modulates the transcriptional activity of the RARs, while 9-cis retinoic acid (9-cis) is the endogenous ligand for the RXRs, and activates both the RARs and RXRs. Heyman et al., Cell, 68:397-406 (1992); Levin et al., Nature, 355:359-61 (1992).

Although both the RARs and RXRs respond to ATRA in vivo due to the in vivo conversion of some of the ATRA to 9-cis, the receptors differ in several important aspects. First, the RARs and RXRs are significantly divergent in primary structure (e.g., the ligand binding domains of RARα and RXRα have only approximately 30% amino acid identity). These structural differences are reflected in the different relative degrees of responsiveness of RARs and RXRs to various vitamin A metabolites and synthetic retinoids. In addition, distinctly different patterns of tissue distribution are seen for RARs and RXRs. For example, RXRα mRNA is expressed at high levels in the visceral tissues, e.g. liver, kidney, lung, muscle and intestine, while RARα mRNA is not. Finally, the RARs and RXRs have different target gene specificity. In this regard, RARs and RXRs regulate transcription by binding to response elements in target genes that generally consist of two direct repeat half-sites of the consensus sequence AGGTCA. RAR:RXR heterodimers activate transcription by binding to direct repeats spaced by five base pairs (a DR5) or by two base pairs (a DR2). However, RXR:RXR homodimers bind to a direct repeat with a spacing of one nucleotide (a DR1). See Mangelsdorf et al., “The Retinoid Receptors” in The Retinoids: Biology, Chemistry and Medicine, M. B. Sporn, A. B. Roberts and D. S. Goodman, Eds., Raven Press, New York, N.Y., 2nd ed. (1994). For example, response elements have been identified in the cellular retinal binding protein type II (CRBPII), which consists of a DR1, and Apolipoprotein AI genes which confer responsiveness to RXR, but not RAR. Further, RAR has also been recently shown to repress RXR-mediated activation through the CRBPII RXR response element (Mangelsdorf et al., Cell, 66:555-61 (1991)). Also, RAR specific target genes have recently been identified, including target genes specific for RARβ (e.g., βRE), which consists of a DR5. These data indicate that the two retinoic acid responsive pathways are not simply redundant, but instead manifest a complex interplay and control distinct biological processes. For example, it has been demonstrated in leukemic cells that activation of RAR pathways regulates cell proliferation and differentiation, whereas activation of RXR pathways leads to the induction of apoptosis.

Retinoid compounds which are RAR and RXR modulators, including both RAR specific and RXR specific modulators, have been previously described. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,193,931, 4,801,733, 4,831,052, 4,833,240, 4,874,747, 4,877,805, 4,879,284, 4,888,342, 4,889,847, 4,898,864, 4,925,979, 5,004,730, 5,124,473, 5,198,567, 5,391,569, 5,455,265, 5,466,861, 5,552,271, 5, 801,253, 5,824,484, 5,837,725 and Re 33,533, and U.S. application Ser. Nos. 08/029,801, 872,707, 944,783, 08/003,223, 08/027,747 and 08/052,050; 60/004,897, 60/007,884, 60/018,318, 60/021,839. See also, WO93/03944, WO93/10094, WO94/20093, WO95/0436, WO97/12853, EP 0718285, Kagechika et al., J. Med. Chem., 32:834 (1989); Kagechika et al., J. Med. Chem., 32:1098 (1989); Kagechika et al., J. Med. Chem., 32:2292 (1989); Boehm et al., J. Med. Chem., 37:2930 (1994); Boelm et al., J. Med. Chem., 38:3146 (1995); Allegretto et al., J. Biol. Chem., 270:23906 (1995); Bissonnette et al., Mol. &Cellular Bio., 15:5576 (1995); Beard et al., J. Med. Chem., 38:2820 (1995); Dawson et al., J. Med. Chem., 32:1504 (1989).

Breast cancer, like other malignant disease states, is characterized by a loss of cellular growth control followed by invasion of malignant cells into surrounding tissue stroma ultimately leading to metastatic spread of the disease to distant sites within the body. In 1987, over 180,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States and there were 44,000 deaths due to breast cancer. Breast cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women and the leading cause of cancer deaths in women between the ages of 40 and 55. Population analysis on the incidence of breast cancer demonstrates that one-in-eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point during their life. The primary therapy for breast cancer is surgery, either a partial or modified radical mastectomy with or without radiotherapy. This is typically followed by some form of adjuvant therapy.

The type of adjuvant therapy utilized is often dependant upon the estrogen receptor status of the tumor. Analysis of the hormone status of breast cancers demonstrates that 75% of all breast tumors are estrogen receptor positive and the majority of estrogen receptor positive tumors are found in postmenopausal women.

The anti-estrogen, tamoxifen, is presently the most commonly used drug worldwide for the treatment of breast cancer and approximately 66% of estrogen receptor positive breast cancers will respond to tamoxifen treatment. Tamoxifen is currently the first-line treatment for postmenopausal, estrogen receptor positive women with advanced breast cancer. The mechanism of action of tamoxifen in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer is thought to be due to competitive antagonism at the estrogen receptor of the estrogen driven growth of the tumor. Hence tamoxifen is a cytostatic, not a cytotoxic, agent.

It has previously been shown that as a chemopreventive, the RXR-selective retinoid LGD1069 (Targretin®) is as effective as the anti-estrogen tamoxifen (TAM) at inhibiting mammary carcinoma development in the NMU-treated rat. Gottardis et al., Can. Res., 56:5566-70 (1996).

Clinical evaluation of the efficacy of tamoxifen shows that a significant proportion of patients who initially respond to tamoxifen therapy will acquire resistance, and some on adjuvant tamoxifen therapy will suffer relapses. All advanced breast cancer patients eventually tend to develop tamoxifen resistance. The actual mechanisms underlying the development of tamoxifen resistance are most likely many fold and may involve decreased intra-tumor drug concentration, development of tumor cell clones that are now stimulated to grow in the presence of tamoxifen, and the development of estrogen receptor mutants among others.

Once a tumor develops tamoxifen resistance it will begin to proliferate even in the continued presence of tamoxifen. For breast cancer patients who develop tamoxifen resistance, secondary therapies include second-line hormonal agents such as progestins, aromatase inhibitors and LHRH agonists or cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. These commonly utilized second-line agents are at best only effective in approximately 25% of advanced cases. Hence, acquired tamoxifen resistance is the major cause of treatment failure in all stages of breast cancer. Accordingly, a need exists for improved methods and pharmaceutical compositions for treating anti-estrogen or tamoxifen resistant breast cancers.


The present invention is based on the discovery that RXR modulators can be used to treat breast cancer which is resistant to conventional treatment with anti-estrogen compounds such as tamoxifen. The present invention provides methods for treating such anti-estrogen resistant breast cancers through the administration of retinoid compounds which are modulators of the Retinoid X Receptors (RXRs), including compounds which are selective modulators of RXRs such as LGD1069 (Targetin®), LGD100268, and LGD100324. The present invention also provides pharmaceutical compositions incorporating such RXR modulators that are effective for treating anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer.

These and various other advantages and features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages, and objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the accompanying figures and descriptive matter, in which there is illustrated and described preferred embodiments of the invention.


The present invention may be better understood and its advantages appreciated by those skilled in the art by referring to the accompanying Figures wherein:

FIG. 1 presents the percentage response of tamoxifen-resistant primary tumors that were continuously treated with tamoxifen and of these tamoxifen-resistant tumors treated with LGD1069/tamoxifen, scored by category.

FIG. 2 presents tumor progression and tumor response of the tamoxifen-resistant primary tumors treated with tamoxifen and of these tumors treated with the combination tamoxifen/LGD1069.


The present invention relates to methods and pharmaceutical compositions for treating a host having breast cancer which is resistant to conventional treatment with anti-estrogen compounds, such as tamoxifen, by administering to the host a composition containing a pharmaceutically effective amount of an RXR modulator. The host may be a human patient or an animal model of human anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. The methods and compositions of this invention are adapted to cure, improve or prevent one or more symptoms of anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer in the host. A preferred composition is highly potent and selective with low toxicity.

The term “RXR modulator” refers to a compound or composition which, when combined with a Retinoid X Receptor (RXR), modulates the transcriptional regulation activity of the RXR. RXR modulators include RXR agonists and partial agonists as well as those, which increase the transcriptional regulation activity of RXR homodimers and heterodimers. RXR modulators also include compounds and compositions that preferentially activate RXRs over RARs. Compounds that preferentially activate RXRs over RARs may be referred to as “selective RXR modulators.” Compounds and compositions that activate both RXRs and RARs are referred to as “pan agonists”, and compounds and compositions that activate RXRs in certain cellular contexts, such as in breast tissue, but not others are referred to as “RXR partial agonists”.

Representative RXR modulator compounds which may be used to treat anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer according to the present invention are described in the following U.S. patents and patent applications which are incorporated by reference herein: U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,399,586, 5,466,861, and 5,801,253; U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 07/809,980, 08/003,223, 08/027,747, 08/045,807, 08/052,050, 08/052,051, 08/179,750, 08/366,613, 08/480,127, 08/481,877, 08/872,707, and 08/944,783. See, also, WO93/11755, WO 93/21146, WO 94/15902, WO/94/23068, WO 95/04036, and WO 96/20913. Other RXR modulator compounds are also known to those skilled in the art, such as those described for example, in the following articles: Boehm et al. J. Med. Chem. 38:3146 (1994), Boehm et al. J. Med. Chem. 37:2930 (1994), Antras et al., J. Biol. Chem. 266:1157-61 (1991), Salazar-Olivo et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 204:157-263 (1994), and Safanova, Mol. Cell. Endocrin. 104:201 (1994). Such compounds may be prepared according to methods known in the art as described in the aforementioned references, as well as in M. I. Dawson and W. H. Okamura, Chemistry and Biology of Synthetic Retinoids, Chapters 3, 8, 14 and 16, CRC Press, Inc., Florida (1990); M. I. Dawson and P. D. Hobbs, The Retinoids, Biology, Chemistry and Medicine, M. B. Sporn et al., Eds. (2nd ed.), Raven Press, New York, N.Y., pp. 5-178 (1994); Liu et al., Tetrahedron, 40:1931 (1984); Cancer Res., 43:5268 (1983); Eur. J. Med. Chem. 15:9 (1980); Allegretto et al., J. Biol. Chem., 270:23906 (1995); Bissonette et al., Mol. Cell. Bio., 15:5576 (1995); Beard et al., J. Med. Chem., 38:2820 (1995), Koch et al., J. Med. Chem., 39:3229 (1996); and U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,326,055 and 4,578,498.

In a preferred embodiment, RXR modulators which preferentially activate RXRs over RARs, (i.e., selective RXR modulators) are used to treat anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer according to the present invention. For example, RXR selective modulators useful in the present invention include, but are not limited to, the retinoid compounds LGD1069 (Targretin®), LGD100268, and LGD100324, and the congeners, analogs, derivatives and pharmaceutically acceptable salts thereof. The structures of LGD1069, LGD100268, and LGD100324 are shown below, and the synthesis of these compounds is described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/141,496. The synthesis of compounds LGD1069, LGD100268, and LGD100324 is also described in, e.g. WO 94/15902 and Boehm et al., J. Med. Chem. 38(16):3146 (1994).

4-[1-(3,5,5,8,8-pentamethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-2-naphthyl)ethenyl]-benzoic acid

2-[1-(3,5,5,8,8-pentamethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-2-naphthyl)cyclopropyl]-pyridine-5-carboxylic acid

4-[1-(3,5,5,8,8-pentamethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-2-naphthyl)carbonyl]-benzoic acid oxime

The ability of a compound or composition to modulate the transcriptional ability of intracellular receptors including RXRs may be measured by assays known to those of skill in the art, including but not limited to the co-transfection (cis-trans) assays. Such assays are described in, e.g. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,981,784, 5,071,773, 5,298,429, 5,506,102 and U.S. application Ser. Nos. 128,331, 276,536, 426,894, 586,187, 801,562, 865,878, 07/464,837, 07/882,771, 07/939,246, 08/045,807, 08/177,740, and 08/179,750 which are incorporated by reference herein. See also, WO89/05355, WO91/06677, WO92/05447, WO93/11235, WO93/23431, WO94/23068, WO95/18380 and CA 2,034,220. For further reference, also see, Heyman et al., Cell, 68:397-406 (1992). Such assays may be used to evaluate retinoid compounds to determine activity with the retinoid receptor subtypes RARα, RARβ, RARγ, RXRα, RXRβ, and RXRγ.

Briefly, the co-transfection assay involves the introduction of two plasmids by transient transfection into a retinoid receptor-negative mammalian cell background. The first plasmid contains a retinoid receptor cDNA and directs constitutive expression of the encoded receptor. The second plasmid contains a cDNA that encodes for a readily quantifiable protein, e.g. firefly luciferase or chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT), under control of a promoter containing a retinoid acid response element, which confers retinoid dependence on the transcription of the reporter. In this co-transfection assay, all retinoid receptors respond to all-trans-retinoid acid in a similar fashion. This assay can be used to accurately measure efficacy and potency of retinoic acid and synthetic retinoids as ligands that interact with the individual retinoid receptor subtypes.

For example, the synthetic retinoid compound LGD1069 was evaluated for its ability to regulate gene expression mediated by retinoid receptors. As shown in Table 1, this compound is capable of activating members of the RXR subfamily, i.e., RARα, RARβ, and RARγ, but clearly has no significant activity for members of the RAR subfamily, i.e., RARα, RARβ, and RARγ. Potency and efficacy were calculated for the LGD1069 compound, as summarized in Table 1. Assays of 9-cis-retinoic acid were run for reference, and the results shown in Table 1 demonstrate that these retinoic acid isomers activate members of both the RAR and RXR subfamilies.

Potency (nM)Efficacy
9-cis-retinoic acid

As shown by the data in Table 1, LGD1069 readily and at low concentrations activates RXRs. Further, LGD1069 is more potent an activator of RXRs than RARs, and preferentially activates RXRs in comparison to RARs, in that much higher concentrations of the compound are required to activate the RARs. In contrast, 9-cis-retionic acid does not preferentially activate the RXRs, as also shown in Table 1. Rather, 9-cis-retinoic acid activates the RARβ and RARγ isoforms at lower concentrations and more readily than the RXRβ and RXRγ isoforms, and has substantially the same, within the accuracy of the measurement, activity for the RARα isoform in comparison to the RXRα isoform.

Potency (nM)Efficacy

As shown in Table 2 above, LGD100268 and LGD100324 (like LGD1069) readily and preferentially activate RXRs and are more potent an activator of RXRs than of RARs. In a preferred embodiment, the retinoid compounds and compositions of this invention preferentially activate RXRs in comparison to RARs, are preferably at least three times and more preferably five times more potent as activators of RXRs than RARs, and most preferably ten times more potent as activators of RXRs than RARs, and are more potent as an activator of an RXR than all of RAR isoforms α, β and γ.

Anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer has been demonstrated to be effectively treated using RXR selective modulators such as, e.g. LGD1069 (Targretin®), as shown in the following examples.


Mammary tumorigenesis was induced by administration of 50 mg/kg of N-nitroso-N-methylurea (NMU) (Sigma, St. Louis, Mo.) to 50 day old virgin female Sprague-Dawley rats (Harlan-SD, Indianapolis, Ind.). NMU was formulated as an aqueous solution of 10 mg/ml by wetting NMU powder with 3% acetic acid and dissolving it in sterile saline. Fresh solutions of NMU were injected within 30 minutes of preparation. The animals were injected in the tail vein with 5 mg NMU/100 g body weight. Rats were housed in a USDA registered facility in accordance with NIH guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals. All animals received food (Harlan Teklad LM485-7012, Indianapolis, Ind.) and acidified water ad libitum. Beginning five weeks after tumor induction, animals were examined for tumors twice a week. Tumors were measured with electronic calipers (Mitushoyo, Japan) and cross sectional areas were determined by multiplying the longest length of the tumor by the greatest perpendicular width of the tumor.

When tumors developed (at approximately 6 weeks after initiation) and reached an area of 75 mm2, animals were administered tamoxifen at 800 μg/kg subcutaneously daily for six weeks. After the six week tamoxifen treatment period, animals bearing mammary tumors that did not respond to tamoxifen therapy (tamoxifen resistant) were randomized into two groups. As a control, the first group of animals remained on tamoxifen, while the second group animals remained on tamoxifen and in addition were administered the RXR-agonist LGD1069 (Targretin®) at 100 mg/kg orally daily. Tumor response was monitored for an additional six weeks of therapy, and the following categories were used to score the tumor response:

progressive disease—the tumor grew over the course of treatment, and its final area was at least 40% greater than its initial area;

stable disease—the tumor did not fluctuate more than 40% from its initial area throughout the course of treatment;

partial regression—the tumor regressed more than 40% from its initial area or showed at least two consecutive decreases in area of more than 40% each; and

complete regression—the tumor was no longer measurable or no longer palpable.

FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 show the tumor response of the two groups. These figures show that the addition of LGD1069 to the experimental regimen significantly reduced the incidence of progressive disease from 44% to only 3%, reduced the incidence of stable, disease, and increased the incidence of partial and complete regression. As shown in FIG. 1, LGD1069 caused a complete regression of 56% of tumors compared to 16.7% of tumors remaining on tamoxifen alone (p<0.05). As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, LGD1069 caused a combined response of partial or complete regression in more than 90% of the tumors compared to a 44% response rate in tumors that remained on tamoxifen alone.


Mammary tumors were induced in Sprague-Dawley rats as in the previous example with NMU and then, beginning one week after carcinogen treatment, animals were treated with low-dose tamoxifen (50 μg/kg, SC) to prevent formation of tumors. Tumors that grew in the presence of the low-dose tamoxifen were evaluated for tamoxifen resistance by increasing the dose of tamoxifen (800 μg/kg, SC), or by adding in LGD1069 (100 mg/kg, PO) to the therapy. The addition of LGD1069 to the therapy significantly reduced the amount of progressive disease in this model, as compared to treatment with tamoxifen.


Mammary tumors were induced in Sprague-Dawley rats as in Example 1. When tumors developed and reached an area of 75 mm2, animals were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups and treated daily for six weeks with vehicle, LGD1069 (100 mg/kg), or tamoxifen (800 μg/kg).

After six weeks, in vehicle-treated control animals, 87% of the tumors continued to grow and progress, 8.7% were static, 4.3% partially regressed, and 0% completely regressed. In contrast, in LGD1069-treated animals, 11.1% of tumors continued to progress, 16.7% partially regressed, and 72.2% completely regressed. In tamoxifen-treated animals, 28.6% of tumors continued to progress, 4.8% remained static, 33.3% partially regressed, and 33.3% completely regressed. As shown, treatment with LGD1069 demonstrated significant anti-tumor efficacy on established mammary tumors and demonstrated greater efficacy than treatment with tamoxifen.


Mammary tumors were induced in Sprague-Dawley rats as in Example 1. Animals treated with LGD1069 at the submaximally efficacious dose of 10 mg/kg showed that 10.5% of primary mammary tumors regressed. Animals treated with tamoxifen at the submaximally efficacious dose of 150 mg/kg showed that 5.6% of primary mammary tumors regressed. However, when the two compounds where co-administered, a significantly greater effect was achieved, with 26.3% of the tumors completely regressing.

As shown by the above examples, the administration of RXR modulators such as LGD1069 has now been shown to demonstrate anti-tumor efficacy on mammary tumors that are tamoxifen resistant and that fail tamoxifen therapy. Accordingly, the use of RXR modulators such as, e.g., LGD1069, has been demonstrated to be useful as both an adjuvant treatment for breast cancer as well as a treatment for patients who have failed tamoxifen therapy.

Hormonal receptor status is a factor in determining whether a tumor is anti-estrogen resistant. Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen, is primarily effective in tumors that have estrogen receptor (ER) positive status. Tumors that have estrogen receptor negative (ER) status are generally unresponsive to tamoxifen. The hormonal status of a breast cancer may be determined by staining the tumor cells for ER receptors, or by other conventional techniques for detecting the presence of ER receptors. During disease progression, the tumor cell DNA becomes increasingly mutated. Highly mutated DNA often exhibits an advanced rate of tumor cell growth. Abnormal tumor cell DNA and a fast rate of tumor growth are often present in anti-estrogen resistant cells indicating that tamoxifen therapy may be ineffective.

Since RXR selective modulators have been shown as effective in adjuvant treatment of tamoxifen resistant breast tumors, treatment with RXR selective modulators is therefore useful for treatment of ER negative breast tumors. This includes those patients who have either failed tamoxifen therapy or have ER negative status tumors for which tamoxifen therapy would not be considered.

According to the invention, a host having anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer is treated with a pharmaceutically effective amount of an RXR modulator. By pharmaceutically effective amount is meant an amount of a pharmaceutical compound or composition having a therapeutically relevant effect on anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. A therapeutically relevant effect relieves to some extent one or more symptoms of anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer in a patient or returns to normal either partially or completely one or more physiological or biochemical parameters associated with or causative of anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer.

In another aspect, this invention features a pharmaceutical composition specially formulated for treating anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer containing a pharmaceutically effective amount of a RXR modulator and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier adapted for a host, particularly a human, having anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. A composition containing a pharmaceutically effective amount of an RXR modulator may be administered orally or systemically to a host. In a preferred embodiment, it is administered orally.

In a preferred embodiment, the composition is held within a container that includes a label stating to the effect that the composition is approved by the FDA in the United States (or an equivalent regulatory agency in a foreign country) for treating anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. Such a container provides a therapeutically effective amount of the active ingredient to be administered to a host.

In pharmaceutical compositions of the present invention, the RXR modulator is mixed with suitable carriers or excipient(s). In treating a patient exhibiting anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer, a therapeutically effective amount of an agent or agents such as these is administered. A therapeutically effective dose refers to that amount of the compound that results in amelioration of symptoms or a prolongation of survival in a patient.

The compounds also can be prepared as pharmaceutically acceptable salts. Examples of pharmaceutically acceptable salts include acid addition salts such as those containing hydrochloride, sulfate, phosphate, sulfamate, acetate, citrate, lactate, tartrate, methanesulfonate, ethanesulfonate, benzenesulfonate, p-toluenesulfonate, cyclohexyl-sulfamate and quinate. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,409,930, 5,656,643, and 5,710,158. See also, WO 92/20642 and WO 95/15758). Such salts can be derived using acids such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, sulfamic acid, acetic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, malonic acid, methanesulfonic acid, ethanesulfonic acid, benzenesulfonic acid, p-toluenesulfonic acid, cyclohexylsulfamic acid, and quinic acid.

Pharmaceutically acceptable salts can be prepared by standard techniques. For example, the free base form of the compound is first dissolved in a suitable solvent such as an aqueous or aqueous-alcohol solution, containing the appropriate acid. Evaporating the solution then isolates the salt. In another example, the salt is prepared by a reaction of the free base and acid in an organic solvent.

Carriers or excipients can be used to facilitate administration of the compound, for example, to increase the solubility of the compound. Examples of carriers and excipients include calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, various sugars or types of starch, cellulose derivatives, gelatin, vegetable oils, polyethylene glycols and physiologically compatible solvents.

Toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of such compounds can be determined by standard pharmaceutical procedures in cell cultures or experimental animals, for example, for determining the LD50 (the dose lethal to 50% of the population) and the ED50 (the dose therapeutically effective in 50% of the population). The dose ratio between toxic and therapeutic effects, the therapeutic index, can be expressed as the ratio LD50/ED50. Compounds that exhibit large therapeutic indices are preferred. The data obtained from these cell culture assays and animal studies can be used in formulating a range of dosages for use in humans. The dosage of such compounds lies preferably within a range of circulating concentrations that include the ED50 with little or no toxicity. The dosage may vary within this range depending upon the dosage form employed and the route of administration utilized. Levels in plasma may be measured, for example, by HPLC.

The individual physician in view of the patient's condition can choose a route of administration, dosage, and exact formulation. (e.g., Fingl et al., The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, Ch. 1, (1975)). It should be noted that the attending physician would know how to and when to terminate, interrupt, or adjust administration due to toxicity, or to organ dysfunction. Conversely, the attending physician would also know to adjust treatment to higher levels if the clinical response were not adequate (precluding toxicity). The magnitude of an administrated dose in the management of the disorder of interest will vary with the severity of the condition to be treated and to the route of administration. The severity of the condition may, for example, be evaluated, in part, by standard prognostic evaluation methods. Further, the dose and perhaps dose frequency, will also vary according to the age, body weight, and response of the individual patient. A program comparable to that discussed above may be used in veterinary medicine.

Depending on the specific conditions being treated, such agents may be formulated and administered systemically or locally. Techniques for formulation and administration may be found in Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18th ed., Mack Publishing Co., Easton, Pa. (1990). Suitable routes may include oral, rectal, transdermal, vaginal, transmucosal, or intestinal administration; parenteral delivery, including intramuscular, subcutaneous, intramedullary injections, as well as intrathecal, direct intraventricular, intravenous, intraperitoneal, intranasal, or intraocular injections.

For injection, the agents of the invention may be formulated in aqueous solutions, preferably in physiologically compatible buffers such as Hanks's solution, Ringer's solution, or physiological saline buffer. For such transmucosal administration, penetrants appropriate to the barrier to be permeated are used in the formulation. Such penetrants are generally known in the art.

Use of pharmaceutically acceptable carriers to formulate the compounds herein disclosed for the practice of the invention into dosages suitable for systemic administration is within the scope of the invention. With proper choice of carrier and suitable manufacturing practice, the compositions of the present invention, in particular, those formulated as solutions, may be administered parenterally, such as by intravenous injection. The compounds can be formulated readily using pharmaceutically acceptable carriers well known in the art into dosages suitable for oral administration. Such carriers enable the compounds of the invention to be formulated as tablets, pills, capsules, liquids, gels, syrups, slurries, suspensions and the like, for oral ingestion by a patient to be treated.

Agents intended to be administered intracellularly may be administered using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, such agents may be encapsulated into liposomes, then administered as described above. Liposomes are spherical lipid bilayers with aqueous interiors. All molecules present in an aqueous solution at the time of liposome formation are incorporated into the aqueous interior. The liposomal contents are both protected from the external microenvironment and, because liposomes fuse with cell membranes, are efficiently delivered into the cell cytoplasm. Additionally, due to their hydrophobicity, small organic molecules may be directly administered intracellularly.

Pharmaceutical compositions suitable for use in the present invention include compositions wherein the active ingredients are contained in an effective amount to achieve its intended purpose. Determination of the effective amounts is well within the capability of those skilled in the art, especially in light of the disclosure provided herein. In addition to the active ingredients, these pharmaceutical compositions may contain suitable pharmaceutically acceptable carriers comprising excipients and auxiliaries that facilitate processing of the active compounds into preparations that can be used pharmaceutically. The preparations formulated for oral administration may be in the form of tablets, dragees, capsules, or solutions. The pharmaceutical compositions of the present invention may be manufactured in a manner that is itself known, for example, by means of conventional mixing, dissolving, granulating, dragee-making, levitating, emulsifying, encapsulating, entrapping or lyophilizing processes.

Pharmaceutical formulations for parenteral administration include aqueous solutions of the active compounds in water-soluble form. Additionally, suspensions of the active compounds may be prepared as appropriate oily injection suspensions. Suitable lipophilic solvents or vehicles include fatty oils such as sesame oil, or synthetic fatty acid esters, such as ethyl oleate or triglycerides, or liposomes. Aqueous injection suspensions may contain substances that increase the viscosity of the suspension, such as sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, sorbitol, or dextran. Optionally, the suspension may also contain suitable stabilizers or agents that increase the solubility of the compounds to allow for the preparation of highly concentrated solutions.

Pharmaceutical preparations for oral use can be obtained by combining the active compounds with solid excipient, optionally grinding a resulting mixture, and processing the mixture of granules, after adding suitable auxiliaries, if desired, to obtain tablets or dragee cores. Suitable excipients are, in particular, fillers such as sugars, including lactose, sucrose, mannitol, or sorbitol; cellulose preparations such as, for example, maize starch, wheat starch, rice starch, potato starch, gelatin, gum tragacanth, methyl cellulose, hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, and/or polyvinyl-pyrrolidone (PVP). If desired, disintegrating agents may be added, such as the cross-linked polyvinyl pyrrolidone, agar, or alginic acid or a salt thereof such as sodium alginate.

Dragee cores are provided with suitable coatings. For this purpose, concentrated sugar solutions may be used, which may optionally contain gum arabic, talc, polyvinyl pyrrolidone, carbopol gel, polyethylene glycol, and/or titanium dioxide, lacquer solutions, and suitable organic solvents or solvent mixtures. Dye stuffs or pigments may be added to the tablets or dragee coatings for identification or to characterize different combinations of active compound doses.

Pharmaceutical preparations that can be used orally include push-fit capsules made of gelatin, as well as soft, sealed capsules made of gelatin and a plasticizer, such as glycerol or sorbitol. The push-fit capsules can contain the active ingredients in admixture with filler such as lactose, binders such as starches, and/or lubricants such as talc or magnesium stearate and, optionally, stabilizers. In soft capsules, the active compounds may be dissolved or suspended in suitable liquids, such as fatty oils, liquid paraffin, or liquid polyethylene glycols. In addition, stabilizers may be added. Liposomes may be used for encapsulated delivery.

Pharmaceutical formulations also are disclosed or described in Boehm et al., U.S. application Ser. Nos. 08/003,223; 08/027,747; 08/052,051, incorporated by reference herein. See also, WO94/15902 for further reference.

All publications referenced are incorporated by reference herein, including the nucleic acid sequences and amino acid sequences listed in each publication. All the compounds disclosed and referred to in the publications mentioned above are incorporated by reference herein, including those compounds disclosed and referred to in articles cited by the publications mentioned above.