PURPOSE: The mainstay of treatment for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is surgical excision, which can result in significant associated morbidity, particularly for patients with recurrent tumors. We previously conducted a drug repositioning screen using molecular data from human BCCs and identified histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as a potential treatment for BCC. Here we conduct the first proof-of-principle study of a topical pan-HDAC inhibitor, remetinostat, in human BCC.PATIENTS AND METHODS: We conducted a phase II, open-label, single-arm, single-institution trial of a topical HDAC inhibitor. Participants with at least one BCC were recruited. All participants applied 1% remetinostat gel three times daily for 6 weeks, with measurements of tumor diameter conducted at baseline and week 8. Surgical excision of the remaining tumor was conducted at the end of the study and microscopic evaluation was performed.RESULTS: Thirty-three per-protocol tumors from 25 participants were included in the analysis. The overall response rate, defined as the proportion of tumors achieving more than 30% decrease in the longest diameter from baseline to week 8, was 69.7% [90% confidence interval (CI), 54%-82.5%]. On pathologic examination, 54.8% of tumors demonstrated complete resolution. Pharmacodynamic analysis demonstrated similar levels of acetylated histone H3 in skin tissue before and after treatment, however, phosphorylation was increased. No systemic adverse events were reported.CONCLUSIONS: The HDAC inhibitor remetinostat is a well-tolerated and effective topical treatment for reducing BCC disease burden in a clinically significant manner. This provides in-human validation of HDAC inhibitors as a therapy for BCC.
View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-0560
View details for PubMedID 34362809