Background: This multicenter, randomized phase II trial was conducted to compare the efficacy and safety of nimotuzumab plus irinotecan (N-IRI) versus irinotecan alone (IRI) in patients with advanced gastric cancer (AGC) showing disease progression after previous 5-fluorouracil-based therapy. Methods: Irinotecan-naive patients (n = 82) received N-IRI (nimotuzumab 400 mg weekly plus irinotecan 150 mg/m2 biweekly) or IRI (irinotecan 150 mg/m2 biweekly) until disease progression. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS), and the secondary endpoints were overall survival (OS), response rate (RR), safety, tolerability, and the correlation between efficacy and tumor epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression. Results: Of 83 patients, 40 and 43 patients were randomly assigned to the N-IRI and IRI groups, respectively. In the N-IRI/IRI treatment group, median PFS was 73.0/85.0 days (P = 0.5668), and median OS and RR at 18 months were 250.5/232.0 days (P = 0.9778) and 18.4/10.3 %, respectively. Median PFS and OS in the EGFR 2+/3+ subgroups were 118.5/59.0 and 358.5/229.5 days, respectively. The RR was 33.3/0.0 % in the N-IRI/IRI treatment group. The incidence of grade 3 or higher adverse events was 77.5/64.3 %. No adverse events of grade 3 or higher skin rash or grade 3 or higher infusion-related reaction were reported. Conclusions: There was no superiority of N-IRI over IRI alone in terms of PFS in 5-fluorouracil-refractory AGC patients. However, N-IRI showed potential improvement in the EGFR 2+/3+ subgroup based on improved RR, PFS, and OS.
- Advanced gastric cancer
- Second-line therapy