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Elizabeth Grubbs, Daniel Halperin, Steven G Waguespack, and Robert F Gagel

The multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) workshops had their beginnings at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in June 1984. This initial meeting brought clinicians and scientists together to focus on mapping the gene for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2). These efforts culminated in the identification of the RET protooncogene as the causative gene a decade later. Over the next 35 years there were a total of 16 international workshops focused on the several MEN syndromes. Importantly, these workshops were instrumental in efforts to define the molecular basis for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), MEN2, von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL), Carney Complex, hereditary pheochromocytoma and hyperparathyroidism. In this same spirit some 150 scientists and clinicians met at MD Anderson Cancer Center, 27–29 March 2019, for the 16th International Workshop on Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN2019). Appropriate to its location in a cancer centre, the workshop focused on important issues in the causation and treatment of malignant aspects of the MEN syndromes: medullary thyroid carcinoma, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, malignant pheochromocytoma and parathyroid carcinoma. Workshops at the meeting focused on a better understanding of how the identified molecular defects in these genetic syndromes lead to transformation, how to apply targeted kinase inhibitors and immunotherapy to treat these tumours and important clinical management issues. This issue of Endocrine-Related Cancer describes these discussions and recommendations.

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Arvind Dasari, Alexandria Phan, Sanjay Gupta, Asif Rashid, Sai-Ching Jim Yeung, Kenneth Hess, Helen Chen, Emily Tarco, Huiqin Chen, Caimiao Wei, Kim Anh-Do, Daniel Halperin, Funda Meric-Bernstam, and James Yao

Preclinical data suggest multiple roles for the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) in neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), including mediating resistance to mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors. Everolimus, an oral mTOR inhibitor, and octreotide long-acting repeatable (LAR) are approved for subgroups of well-differentiated NET. The primary objective of the present study was to establish the safety and recommended phase II dose (RP2D) of cixutumumab, a monoclonal antibody (MAB) against IGF1R, with everolimus and octreotide LAR. Patients with well-differentiated NET were treated with 10 mg everolimus p.o. daily, 20 mg octreotide LAR i.m. every 21 days, and escalating doses of cixutumumab. An expansion cohort was enrolled at RP2D. Correlative studies included the evaluation of mTOR pathway inhibition in paired tumor biopsies and the effects of this combination on metabolism via indirect calorimetry. Nineteen patients with progressive disease were enrolled, including nine to the expansion portion. Two patients had dose-limiting toxicities of grade 3 mucositis at 15 mg/kg cixutumumab. Long-term tolerance at RP2D was problematic, and the most common ≥grade 3 adverse event was fatigue. One patient with metastatic insulinoma had a confirmed partial response, whereas 17 had stable disease. The median progression-free survival was 43.6 weeks, and the median overall survival was 25.5 months. The RP2D of this combination per the predefined study protocol of 10 mg/kg cixutumumab i.v., 20 mg octreotide LAR i.m. every 21 days plus 10 mg everolimus p.o. daily is associated with non-dose-limiting toxicities that limit long-term tolerance. Although a signal of activity was noted in the present study, this will need to be reconciled with limited tolerance of the combination and data from larger studies of anti-IGF1R MABs in NET that have been disappointing.

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James C Yao, Jonathan Strosberg, Nicola Fazio, Marianne E Pavel, Emily Bergsland, Philippe Ruszniewski, Daniel M Halperin, Daneng Li, Salvatore Tafuto, Nitya Raj, Davide Campana, Susumu Hijioka, Markus Raderer, Rosine Guimbaud, Pablo Gajate, Sara Pusceddu, Albert Reising, Evgeny Degtyarev, Mark Shilkrut, Simantini Eddy, and Simron Singh

Spartalizumab, a humanized anti-programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody, was evaluated in patients with well-differentiated metastatic grade 1/2 neuroendocrine tumors (NET) and poorly-differentiated gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas (GEP-NEC). In this phase II, multicenter, single-arm study, patients received spartalizumab 400 mg every 4 weeks until confirmed disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoint was confirmed overall response rate (ORR) according to blinded independent review committee using response evaluation criteria in solid tumors 1.1. The study enrolled 95 patients in the NET group (30, 32 and 33 in the thoracic, gastrointestinal, and pancreatic cohorts, respectively), and 21 patients in the GEP-NEC group. The ORR was 7.4% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.0, 14.6) in the NET group (thoracic, 16.7%; gastrointestinal, 3.1%; pancreatic, 3.0%), which was below the predefined success criterion of ≥10%, and 4.8% (95% CI: 0.1, 23.8) in the GEP-NEC group. In the NET and GEP-NEC groups, the 12-month progression-free survival was 19.5% and 0%, respectively, and the 12-month overall survival was 73.5% and 19.1%, respectively. The ORR was higher in patients with ≥1% PD-L1 expression in immune/tumor cells or ≥1% CD8+ cells at baseline. The most common adverse events considered as spartalizumab-related included fatigue (29.5%) and nausea (10.5%) in the NET group, and increased aspartate and alanine aminotransferases (each 14.3%) in the GEP-NEC group. The efficacy of spartalizumab was limited in this heterogeneous and heavily pre-treated population; however, the results in the thoracic cohort is encouraging and warrants further investigation. Adverse events were manageable and consistent with previous experience.