How to design a dose-finding study on combined agents: Choice of design and development of R functions

Autoři: Monia Ezzalfani aff001
Působiště autorů: Institut Curie, PSL Research University, Biometry Unit, Paris, France aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224940



In oncology, the aim of dose-finding phase I studies is to find the maximum tolerated dose for further studies. The use of combinations of two or more agents is increasing. Several dose-finding designs have been proposed for this situation. Numerous publications have however pointed out the complexity of evaluating therapies in combination due to difficulties in choosing between different designs for an actual trial, as well as complications related to their implementation and application in practice.


In this work, we propose R functions for Wang and Ivanova’s approach. These functions compute the dose for the next patients enrolled and provide a simulation study in order to calibrate the design before it is applied and to assess the performance of the design in different scenarios of dose-toxicity relationships. This choice of the method was supported by a simulation study which the aim was to compare two designs in the context of an actual phase I trial: i) in 2005, Wang and Ivanova developed an empirical three-parameter model-based method in Bayesian inference, ii) in 2008, Yuan and Yin proposed a simple, adaptive two-dimensional dose-finding design. In particular, they converted the two-dimensional dose-finding trial to a series of one-dimensional dose-finding sub-trials by setting the dose of one drug at a fixed level. The performance assessment of Wang’s design was then compared with those of designs presented in the paper by Hirakawa et al. (2015) in their simulation context.

Results and conclusion

It is recommended to assess the performances of the designs in the context of the clinical trial before beginning the trial. The two-dimensional dose-finding design proposed by Wang and Ivanova is a comprehensive approach that yields good performances. The two R functions that we propose can facilitate the use of this design in practice.

Klíčová slova:

Agent-based modeling – Algorithms – Probability density – Probability distribution – Simulation and modeling – Toxic agents – Toxicity – Phase I clinical investigation


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11