Background: Initial systemic therapy for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is usually based on two- or three-drug chemotherapy regimens with fluoropyrimidine (5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or capecitabine), oxaliplatin and/or irinotecan, combined with either anti-VEGF (bevacizumab) or, for RAS wild-type (WT) tumors, anti-EGFR antibodies (panitumumab or cetuximab). Recommendations for patients who are not eligible for intensive combination therapies are limited and include fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab or single agent anti-EGFR antibody treatment. The use of a monochemotherapy concept of trifluridine/ tipiracil in combination with monoclonal antibodies is not approved for first-line therapy, yet. Results from the phase II TASCO trial evaluating trifluridine/tipiracil plus bevacicumab in first-line treatment of mCRC patients and from the phase I/II APOLLON trial investigating trifluridine/tipiracil plus panitumumab in pre-treated mCRC patients suggest favourable activity and tolerability of these new therapeutic approaches.
Methods: FIRE-8 (NCT05007132) is a prospective, randomized, open-label, multicenter phase II study which aims to evaluate the efficacy of first-line treatment with trifluridine/tipiracil (35 mg/m(2) body surface area (BSA), orally twice daily on days 1-5 and 8-12, q28 days) plus either the anti-EGFR antibody panitumumab (6 mg/kg body weight, intravenously on day 1 and 15, q28 days) [arm A] or (as control arm) the anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab (5 mg/kg body weight, intravenously on day 1 and 15, q28 days) [arm B] in RAS WT mCRC patients. The primary objective is to demonstrate an improved objective response rate (ORR) according to RECIST 1.1 from 30% (control arm) to 55% with panitumumab. With a power of 80% and a two-sided significance level of 0.05, 138 evaluable patients are needed. Given an estimated drop-out rate of 10%, 153 patients will be enrolled.
Discussion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first phase II trial to evaluate the efficacy of trifluridine/tipiracil plus panitumumab in first-line treatment of RAS WT mCRC patients. The administration of anti-EGFR antibodies rather than anti-VEGF antibodies in combination with trifluridine/tipiracil may result in an increased initial efficacy.