Scientists from the Abramson Cancer Center in the University of Pennsylvania reported that palbociclib, a breast cancer treatment, has the potential to be effective against other types of cancer. Findings from the study are published in JAMA Oncology

Palbociclib (Ibrance; Pfizer) is a kinase inhibitor currently indicated in combination with letrozole, for the treatment of postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced breast cancer as initial endocrine-based therapy for metastatic disease. It targets the rapid division of tumor cells by inhibiting CDK4 and CDK6, which are responsible for propelling cell division and growth in most cancers.

RELATED: New Tx Granted Priority Review for Expanded Breast CA Indication

Amy S. Clark, MD, MSCE, the study’s lead author, explained that palbociclib’s ability to halt the cell cycle has potentially broad applications. “Pairing palbociclib with other anticancer therapies such as endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy can create a powerful combinatorial effect with real promise for addressing a variety of cancers.” Some melanomas and esophageal cancers, for example, report amplification of CDK4. Study authors also pointed out that palbociclib exerts minor effects on normal cells other than neutrophils. Palbociclib has been shown to also modify several non-cell cycle functions of CDK4/6. 

Researchers assessed 130 publications in literature and found that early trials of palbociclib showed promise of efficacy in cases of lymphoma, sarcoma, and teratoma.  A Phase 2 trial (n=17) in patients with previously treated mantle-cell lymphoma showed that treatment with palbociclib led to 1 complete response and 2 partial responses. A separate Phase 2 trial (n=29) demonstrated a progression-free survival of 66% at 12 weeks with palbociclib treatment in patients with sarcoma. 

For more information visit