Ponatinib for Squamous Cell Lung and Head and Neck Cancers

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Status and phase

Phase 3
Phase 2


Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer


Drug: ponatinib

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


This research study is a Phase II clinical trial, which tests the safety and effectiveness of an investigational drug to learn whether the drug works in treating a specific cancer. "Investigational" means that the drug is being studied. It also means that the FDA has not yet approved ponatinib for use in patients, including people with your type of cancer. In order to participate on this study, it must first be determined whether or not a patient's lung or head and neck squamous cell cancer (SCC) has an alteration in FGFR kinase is made from an experimental test on your squamous cell cancer tissue sample. This experimental test is a "genetic test" or "genotyping test", which is a method used to study a tumor's genes. The results are for research purposes only and are not considered "genetic testing" for the purpose of diagnosing medical conditions. Cancers develop as a result of changes that occur in human genetic material (DNA); these changes are called mutations or alterations. This experimental test gives no information about any of the genes in the normal cells of the patient's body, but it helps identify abnormal genes (like FGFR kinase mutations or alterations) usually found only in cancer cells. We will use this experimental test to determine whether or not a tumor contains a required alteration/mutation and thus may respond to ponatinib. Ponatinib is an investigational, oral anti-cancer drug designed to inhibit abnormal proteins found in cancer cells and may cause those cancer cells to die. In laboratory testing, ponatinib has been shown to inhibit a family of proteins called FGFR kinases, and this genetic alteration/mutation has been found in some squamous cell lung cancers. There is laboratory evidence that alterations/mutations in FGFR kinases in squamous cell lung cancers may be driving the growth of these tumors and that inhibiting these FGFR kinases with ponatinib may decrease or stop the growth of lung SCC. In this research study, we are looking to see if the study drug, ponatinib, can keep cancer from growing.

Full description

Patients will be asked to undergo some screening tests or procedures to find out if they can be in the research study. Many of these tests and procedures are likely to be part of regular cancer care and may be done even if it turns out that an individual does not take part in the research study. If a patient has had some of these tests or procedures recently, they may or may not have to be repeated. These screening tests include: medical history, physical examination, vital signs, performance status, assessment of tumor(s), CT scan or MRI scan of brain, routine blood tests, urine pregnancy test for women of childbearing potential and electrocardiogram. Additionally at the time of screening patients will undergo collection of an archival tumor tissue sample for tumor mutation testing. If a patient takes part in this research study, he or she will be given a study drug-dosing calendar for each treatment cycle. Each treatment cycle lasts 4 weeks during which time the patient will be taking the study drug by mouth daily. The number of cycles the patient will receive will depend on how the patient is tolerating the ponatinib and if your cancer has worsened. There is a possibility that the following tests or procedures may need to be done at times other than those listed below. These may be done if the research doctors determine they are medically necessary to monitor illness or any side effects a patient may be experiencing. It is important that patients call their research doctor if at any time they are experiencing side effects they cannot tolerate. During all cycles patients will have a physical exam and be asked questions about their general health and specific questions about any problems that they might be having and any medications they might be taking. If the patient's disease progresses while you are on this study, they will be given the option of consenting to a new biopsy for research purposes at no financial cost to the patient. The investigators would like to keep track of your medical condition for the rest of each patient's life. The investigators would like to do this by calling every six months to see how the patients are doing. Keeping in touch with checking their condition helps the investigators look at the long-term effects of the research study.


3 patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Measurable disease
  • Documented evidence of disease progression following most recent therapy
  • Estimated life expectancy greater than 12 weeks

Exclusion criteria

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Prior chemotherapy or brain radiotherapy within 4 weeks of entering study
  • Receiving other investigational agents
  • Untreated or progressive brain metastases
  • Prior treatment with or allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to ponatinib
  • Known HIV positive on combination antiretroviral therapy
  • Clinically uncontrolled hypertension
  • Previous or concurrent malignancy except adequately treated basal or squamous cell skin cancer, in situ carcinoma of the cervix, or other solid tumor treated curatively and without evidence of recurrence for at least 5 years
  • Active or uncontrolled clinically significant infection
  • Chronic GI disease that may affect bioavailability of ponatinib
  • History of significant bleeding disorder unrelated to cancer
  • Uncontrolled intercurrent illness
  • Clinically significant ventricular arrythmia
  • History of chronic pancreatitis, alcohol abuse or uncontrolled hypertriglyceridemia

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Single Group Assignment


None (Open label)

3 participants in 1 patient group

Ponatinib Treatment Arm
Experimental group
Ponatinib taken by mouth daily
Drug: ponatinib

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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