PURPOSEOblimersen is an 18-base oligodeoxynucleotide encoding antisense to the gene for bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein that is upregulated in renal and other cancers. This study was designed to evaluate the combination of oblimersen with alpha-Interferon in advanced renal cancer. Trial endpoints were antitumor efficacy and toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and evidence of apoptosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.METHODSPatients with measurable advanced renal cancer and 0-1 prior therapy were eligible. Treatment consisted of oblimersen, 7 mg/kg/day, as a continuous intravenous infusion 7 days of every 14 day cycle, plus alpha-IFN, 5 million units/m(2) subcutaneously, days 4 and 6 of the first oblimersen infusion, then thrice weekly. Blood for laboratory correlates was collected before treatment, during oblimersen, and during therapy with both agents.RESULTSTwenty-three patients were enrolled, five of whom had prior systemic therapy (three with prior high-dose interleukin-2). The median number of treatment cycles was 4 (range 1-12). One patient had a partial response lasting 2.5 months. The Grade 3-4 toxicities were fatigue, fever, myelosuppression, hepatic enzyme and metabolic abnormalities. Laboratory analyses of CD3+ lymphocyte apoptotic markers demonstrated no change between pre-treatment and on-treatment levels of bcl-2 or Annexin/PI positivity by flow cytometry. Mean oblimersen steady-state plasma concentration and clearance was 2.3 +/- 0.9 microg/ml and 0.15 +/- 0.07 l/h/kg, respectively.CONCLUSIONSOblimersen given in this dose and schedule with alpha-IFN does not appear sufficiently active to warrant further study in advanced renal cancer. Combinations with newer targeted agents may show greater promise.