Optimal, minimax, and Bayesian two-stage designs in two-dose phase II clinical trials

Hong Zhang, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: For most cytotoxic and biologic anti-cancer agents, the response rate of the drug is commonly assumed to be non-decreasing with an increasing dose. However, an increasing dose does not always result in an appreciable increase in the response rate. This may especially be true at high doses for a biologic agent. Therefore, in a phase II trial the investigators may be interested in testing the anti-tumor activity of a drug at more than one (often two) doses, instead of only at the maximum tolerated dose (MTD). This way, when the lower dose appears equally effective, this dose can be recommended for further confirmatory testing in a phase III trial under potential long-term toxicity and cost considerations. A common approach to designing such a phase II trial has been to use an independent (e.g., Simon's two-stage) design at each dose ignoring the prior knowledge about the ordering of the response probabilities at the different doses. However, failure to account for this ordering constraint in estimating the response probabilities may result in an inefficient design. In this dissertation, we developed extensions of Simon's optimal and minimax two-stage designs, including both frequentist and Bayesian methods, for two doses that assume ordered response rates between doses. ^ Methods: Optimal and minimax two-stage designs are proposed for phase II clinical trials in settings where the true response rates at two dose levels are ordered. We borrow strength between doses using isotonic regression and control the joint and/or marginal error probabilities. Bayesian two-stage designs are also proposed under a stochastic ordering constraint. ^ Results: Compared to Simon's designs, when controlling the power and type I error at the same levels, the proposed frequentist and Bayesian designs reduce the maximum and expected sample sizes. Most of the proposed designs also increase the probability of early termination when the true response rates are poor. ^ Conclusion: Proposed frequentist and Bayesian designs are superior to Simon's designs in terms of operating characteristics (expected sample size and probability of early termination, when the response rates are poor) Thus, the proposed designs lead to more cost-efficient and ethical trials, and may consequently improve and expedite the drug discovery process. The proposed designs may be extended to designs of multiple group trials and drug combination trials.^

Subject Area

Biology, Biostatistics|Health Sciences, Pharmacy

Recommended Citation

Zhang, Hong, "Optimal, minimax, and Bayesian two-stage designs in two-dose phase II clinical trials" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3587394.