Piritrexim, a new nonclassical antifolate, was evaluated in a multiinstitutional phase I trial in children. The starting dose was 290 mg/m2/day, administered p.o. every 12 h for 5 consecutive days, with courses repeated every 21 days. Dose reduction, initially to 200 mg/m2/day and subsequently to 140 mg/m2/day, was required because dose limiting myelosuppression and mucositis were encountered at the 290- and 200-mg/m2/day dose levels. Non-dose limiting toxicities included transient elevations in liver function tests, mild nausea, and skin rashes. The maximum tolerated dose was 140 mg/m2/day for 5 days. Pharmacokinetic monitoring was performed at steady state during the first course. For the 140-, 200-, and 290-mg/m2/day dose groups, the mean ± SE peak plasma concentrations were 5.3 ± 0.84, 9.3 ± 1.7, and 10.2 ± 2.3 µm, respectively, and occurred at a median of 1.5 h following the p.o. dose. The mean area under the plasma concentration-time curves were 18.1 ± 2.3, 45.4 ± 8.9, and 56.9 ± 16.3 µm·h, respectively. Absolute bioavailability in two patients who were also monitored following a single i.v. dose of 140 and 200 mg/m2/day of piritrexim was 35 and 93%, respectively. Dose limiting toxicities were observed in 9 of 10 patients with 12-h trough piritrexim concentrations >0.5 µm, whereas only 2 of 7 patients with trough concentrations <0.5 µm experienced dose limiting toxicities. A limited pharmacokinetic sampling strategy that allowed the area under the plasma concentration-time curve to be accurately predicted from the 3- and 6-h plasma drug concentration was developed. The recommended dose for future phase II trials is 140 mg/m2/day administered p.o. every 12 h for 5 consecutive days. Pharmacokinetic monitoring at 3, 6, and 12 h postdose may be useful for estimating bioavailability and for predicting which patients are at greatest risk for developing toxicity.

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