Two-stage Subgroup-specific Time-to-event (2s-sub-tite): An Adaptive Two-stage Time-to-toxicity Design For Subgroup-specific Dose Finding In Phase I Oncology Trials

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Pharmaceutical Statistics


For phase I trials, the subgroup-specific time-to-event (Sub-TITE) design identifies the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) separately in 2+ heterogeneous patient subgroups. Sub-TITE allows borrowing strength and dynamic clustering across subgroups from the trial's start, but delaying the initiation of borrowing and clustering may improve trial accuracy. We propose the 2-stage Sub-TITE (2S-Sub-TITE) design in which the trial starts by estimating separate models per subgroup, and then initiates the Sub-TITE design at some pre-specified point of patient accrual. We evaluate the operating characteristics of the 2S-Sub-TITE design using simulations. Nine configurations of the 2S-Sub-TITE design (varying in timing of initiation of borrowing/clustering and prior probability of subgroup heterogeneity, p_hetero) and three control methods were compared across 1000 randomly-generated true toxicity probability scenarios. Effects of priors, sample size, escalation rules, target toxicity probability, accrual rate, and number of subgroups were evaluated. Metrics included: proportion of correct selection (PCS) of the true MTD, and average number of toxicities incurred. Among the 5 2S-Sub-TITE configurations (out of 9 total) with the highest PCS (45%) when the subgroup heterogeneity assumption is correct (all of which out-perform the control methods by 2%–6%), the configuration which enables borrowing and clustering allowance with p_hetero = 0.7 starting at 75% patient accrual best minimizes toxicities as well as losses in accuracy if the heterogeneity assumption is incorrect. For trials with high confidence in subgroup heterogeneity, the 2S-Sub-TITE configuration enabling borrowing/clustering with p_hetero = 0.7 starting at 75% patient accrual exhibits superior dose-finding accuracy compared to existing methods.

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