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Randomised phase III trial of the hypoxia modifier nimorazole added to radiotherapy with benefit assessed in hypoxic head and neck cancers determined using a gene signature (NIMRAD)

Thomson, David, Slevin, Nick, Baines, Helen, Betts, Guy, Bolton, Steve, Evans, Mererid, Garcez, Kate, Irlam, Joely, Lee, Lip, Melillo, Nicola, Mistry, Hitesh, More, Elisabet, Nutting, Christopher, Price, James, Schipani, Stefano, Sen, Mehmet, Yang, Huiqi and West, Catharine 2023. Randomised phase III trial of the hypoxia modifier nimorazole added to radiotherapy with benefit assessed in hypoxic head and neck cancers determined using a gene signature (NIMRAD). International Journal of Radiation Oncology - Biology - Physics 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2023.11.055
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Background Tumour hypoxia is an adverse prognostic factor in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We assessed whether patients with hypoxic HNSCC benefited from the addition of nimorazole to definitive intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Methods NIMRAD was a phase III, multi-centre, placebo controlled, double-anonymized trial in patients with HNSCC unsuitable for concurrent platinum chemotherapy or cetuximab with definitive IMRT (NCT01950689). Patients were randomized 1:1 to receive IMRT (65 Gy in 30 fractions over 6 weeks) plus nimorazole (1.2 g/m2 daily, prior to IMRT) or placebo. The primary endpoint was freedom from loco-regional progression (FFLRP) in patients with hypoxic tumours, defined as greater than or equal to the median tumour hypoxia score of the first 50 patients analysed (≥0.079), using a validated 26-gene signature. The planned sample size was 340 patients allowing for signature generation in 85%, assumed HR 0.50 for nimorazole effectiveness in the hypoxic group, and requiring 66 loco-regional failures to have 80% power in a two-tail log-rank test at the 5% significance level. Results 338 patients were randomised by 19 UK centres from May 2014 to May 2019, with a median follow-up of 3.1 years (95%CI 2.9-3.4). Hypoxia scores were available for 286 (85%). The median patient age was 73 years (range: 44-88, IQR: 70-76). There were 36 (25.9%) loco-regional failures in the hypoxic group, where nimorazole + IMRT did not improve FFLRP (adjusted HR 0.72; 95% CI 0.36-1.44; p=0.35), or overall survival (adjusted HR 0.96; 0.53-1.72; p=0.88) compared with placebo + IMRT. Similarly, nimorazole + IMRT did not improve FFLRP or OS in the whole population. In total (n=338), 73% of patients allocated nimorazole adhered to the drug for ≥50% of IMRT fractions. Nimorazole + IMRT caused more acute nausea compared with placebo + IMRT (CTCAE v4.0 G1+2: 56.6% vs 42.4%, G3: 10.1% vs 5.3%, respectively; p<0.05). Conclusions Addition of the hypoxia modifier nimorazole to IMRT for locally advanced HNSCC in older and less fit patients did not improve loco-regional control or survival.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Start Date: 2023-12-06
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0360-3016
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 24 November 2023
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 13:30

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