Selective Inhibitor of the c-Met Receptor Tyrosine Kinase in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma: No Beneficial Effect With the Use of Tivantinib?

Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a formidable health challenge worldwide, with a 5-year survival rate of 2.4% in patients with distant metastases. The hepatocyte growth factor/cellular-mesenchymal-epithelial transition (HGF/c-Met) signaling pathway represents an encouraging therapeutic target for progressive HCC. Tivantinib, a non-adenosine triphosphate-competitive c-Met inhibitor, showed an attractive therapeutic effect on advanced HCC patients with high MET-expression in phase 2 study but failed to meet its primary endpoint of prolonging the overall survival (OS) in two phase 3 HCC clinical trials.
Seven clinical trials have been registered in the “” for investigating the safety and efficacy of tivantinib in treating advanced or unresectable HCC. Eight relevant studies have been published with results. The sample size ranged from 20 to 340 patients. The methods of tivantinib administration and dosage were orally 120/240/360 mg twice daily. MET overexpression was recorded at 34.6% to 100%. Two large sample phase 3 studies (the METIV-HCC study of Australia and European population and the JET-HCC study of the Japanese population) revealed that tivantinib failed to show survival benefits in advanced HCC.
Common adverse events with tivantinib treatment include neutropenia, ascites, rash, and anemia, etc. Several factors may contribute to the inconsistency between the phase 2 and phase 3 studies of tivantinib, including the sample size, drug dosing, study design, and the rate of MET-High. In the future, high selective MET inhibitors combined with a biomarker-driven patient selection may provide a potentially viable therapeutic strategy for patients with advanced HCC.

Combination therapy with pazopanib and tivantinib modulates VEGF and c-MET levels in refractory advanced solid tumors

The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGFR and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/c-MET signaling pathways act synergistically to promote angiogenesis. Studies indicate VEGF inhibition leads to increased levels of phosphorylated c-MET, bypassing VEGF-mediated angiogenesis and leading to chemoresistance. We conducted a phase 1 clinical trial with 32 patients with refractory solid tumors to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of combinations of VEGF-targeting pazopanib and the putative c-MET inhibitor ARQ197 (tivantinib) at 5 dose levels (DLs). Patients either took pazopanib and tivantinib from treatment initiation (escalation phase) or pazopanib alone for 7 days, with paired tumor sampling, prior to starting combination treatment (expansion phase). Hypertension was the most common adverse event.
No more than 1 dose limiting toxicity (DLT) occurred at any DL, so the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was not determined; DL5 (800 mg pazopanib daily and 360 mg tivantinib BID) was used during the expansion phase. Twenty of 31 evaluable patients achieved stable disease lasting up to 22 cycles. Circulating VEGF, VEGFR2, HGF, and c-MET levels were assessed, and only VEGF levels increased. Tumor c-MET levels (total and phosphorylated) were determined in paired biopsies before and after 7 days of pazopanib treatment. Total intact c-MET decreased in 6 of 7 biopsy pairs, in contrast to previously reported c-MET elevation in response to VEGF inhibition. These results are discussed in the context of our previously reported analysis of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in these tumors.

Phase 1 study of safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of tivantinib in combination with bevacizumab in adult patients with advanced solid tumors

Purpose: We investigated the combination of tivantinib, a c-MET tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), and bevacizumab, an anti-VEGF-A antibody.
Methods: Patients with advanced solid tumors received bevacizumab (10 mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks) and escalating doses of tivantinib (120-360 mg orally twice daily). In addition to safety and preliminary efficacy, we evaluated pharmacokinetics of tivantinib and its metabolites, as well as pharmacodynamic biomarkers in peripheral blood and skin.
Results: Eleven patients received the combination treatment, which was generally well tolerated. The main dose-limiting toxicity was grade 3 hypertension, which was observed in four patients. Other toxicities included lymphopenia and electrolyte disturbances. No exposure-toxicity relationship was observed for tivantinib or metabolites. No clinical responses were observed. Mean levels of the serum cytokine bFGF increased (p = 0.008) after the bevacizumab-only lead-in and decreased back to baseline (p = 0.047) after addition of tivantinib. Tivantinib reduced levels of both phospho-MET (7/11 patients) and tubulin (4/11 patients) in skin.
Conclusions: The combination of tivantinib and bevacizumab produced toxicities that were largely consistent with the safety profiles of the individual drugs. The study was terminated prior to establishment of the recommended phase II dose (RP2D) due to concerns regarding the mechanism of tivantinib, as well as lack of clinical efficacy seen in this and other studies. Tivantinib reversed the upregulation of bFGF caused by bevacizumab, which has been considered a potential mechanism of resistance to therapies targeting the VEGF pathway. The findings from this study suggest that the mechanism of action of tivantinib in humans may involve inhibition of both c-MET and tubulin expression.

Tivantinib Decreases Hepatocyte Growth Factor-Induced BCRP Expression in Hepatocellular Carcinoma HepG2 Cells

  • Tivantinib, a mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor (cMET) inhibitor, is a molecular targeting drug that kills hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. Tivantinib alone does not affect the overall survival of patients with HCC, and combination treatment with tivantinib and other therapies has not been evaluated. This study was conducted to clarify the effect of the tivantinib in regulating breast cancer therapy-resistant protein (BCRP), a key transporter of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and dihydropyridine dehydrogenase (DPYD), a major metabolic enzyme of 5-FU. To this end, cMET gene expression was determined by RT-PCR in HepG2 (human hepatoma) cells.
  • The transcriptional start sites of BCRP were determined by 5′-rapid amplification of cDNA ends (5′-RACE). BCRP and DPYD mRNA levels were determined by real-time RT-PCR, and promoter activities were measured by dual-luciferase assays. Results show that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) upregulated the mRNA level of BCRP, but not DPYD, in HepG2 cells. The upregulation of BCRP expression by HGF was down-regulated by tivantinib. We also identified two transcriptional start sites (E1α, E1β) in BCRP by 5′-RACE.
  • The transcriptional activity of the region -287 to E1α of BCRP was upregulated by HGF, which was decreased by tivantinib, whereas activity of the region -297 to E1βo f BCRP was not affected by tivantinib. Therefore, tivantinib regulates BCRP expression upstream of exon 1α. Combination treatment of tivantinib and 5-FU should be further evaluated for HCC therapy.


B1546-25 Biovision 496.8 EUR


B1546-5 Biovision 170.4 EUR


HY-50686 MedChemExpress 5mg 159.6 EUR

Tivantinib (ARQ 197)

A8325-100 ApexBio 100 mg 588 EUR

Tivantinib (ARQ 197)

A8325-20 ApexBio 20 mg 226.8 EUR

Tivantinib (ARQ 197)

A8325-5 ApexBio 5 mg 135.6 EUR

Tivantinib (ARQ 197)

A8325-5.1 ApexBio 10 mM (in 1mL DMSO) 150 EUR

Tivantinib (ARQ 197)

A8325-S ApexBio Evaluation Sample 97.2 EUR

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 3 of Tivantinib in Japanese Patients with MET-high Hepatocellular Carcinoma

A previous randomized phase 2 study of hepatocellular carcinoma revealed that the c-Met inhibitor tivantinib as second-line treatment significantly prolonged progression-free survival in a subpopulation whose tumor samples highly expressed c-Met (MET-high). Accordingly, this phase 3 study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of tivantinib as a second-line treatment for Japanese patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at 60 centers in Japan. Hepatocellular carcinoma patients with one prior sorafenib treatment and those with MET-high tumor samples were eligible for inclusion.
Registered patients were randomly assigned to either the tivantinib or placebo group at a 2:1 ratio and were treated with twice-a-day oral tivantinib (120 mg bid) or placebo until the discontinuation criteria were met. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival while the secondary endpoints included overall survival and safety. Between January 2014 and June 2016, 386 patients provided consent, and 195 patients were randomized to the tivantinib (n=134) or placebo (n=61) group. Median progression-free survival was 2.8 (95% confidence interval: 2.7-2.9) and 2.3 (1.5-2.8) months in the tivantinib and placebo groups, respectively (hazard ratio=0.74, 95% confidence interval: 0.52-1.04, p=0.082).
Median overall survival was 10.3 (95% confidence interval: 8.1-11.6) and 8.5 (6.2-11.4) months in the tivantinib and placebo group, respectively (hazard ratio=0.82, 95% confidence interval: 0.58-1.15). The most common tivantinib-related grade ≥3 adverse events were neutropenia (31.6%), leukocytopenia (24.8%), and anemia (12.0%). This study did not confirm the significant efficacy of tivantinib as a second-line treatment for Japanese patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.