PurposeAurora Kinase A (AKA) inhibition with gemcitabine represents a potentially synergistic cancer treatment strategy via mitotic catastrophe. The feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy of alisertib (MLN8237), an oral AKA inhibitor, with gemcitabine was evaluated in this open-label phase I trial with dose escalation and expansion.MethodsKey inclusion criteria included advanced solid tumor with any number of prior chemotherapy regimens in the dose escalation phase, and advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma with up to two prior chemotherapy regimens. Four dose levels (DLs 1-4) of alisertib (20, 30, 40, or 50 mg) were evaluated in 3 + 3 design with gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on days 1, 8, and 15 in 28-day cycles.ResultsIn total, 21 subjects were treated in dose escalation and 5 subjects were treated in dose expansion at DL4. Dose-limiting toxicities were observed in 1 of 6 subjects each in DL3 and DL4. All subjects experienced treatment-related adverse events. Grade ≥ 3 treatment-related adverse events were observed in 73% of subjects, with neutropenia observed in 54%. Out of 22 subjects evaluable for response, 2 subjects (9%) had partial response and 14 subjects (64%) had stable disease. Median PFS was 4.1 months (95% CI 2.1-4.5). No significant changes in pharmacokinetic parameters for gemcitabine or its metabolite dFdU were observed with alisertib co-administration.ConclusionsThis trial established the recommended phase 2 dose of alisertib 50 mg to be combined with gemcitabine. Gemcitabine and alisertib are a feasible strategy with potential for disease control in multiple heavily pre-treated tumors, though gastrointestinal and hematologic toxicity was apparent.