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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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J Clin Oncol 2013 May 10;31(14):1785-91

Modified Toxicity Probability Interval Design: A Safer and More Reliable Method Than the 3 + 3 Design for Practical Phase I Trials.

Ji Y, Wang SJ


The 3 + 3 design is the most common choice among clinicians for phase I dose-escalation oncology trials. In recent reviews, more than 95% of phase I trials have been based on the 3 + 3 design. Given that it is intuitive and its implementation does not require a computer program, clinicians can conduct 3 + 3 dose escalations in practice with virtually no logistic cost, and trial protocols based on the 3 + 3 design pass institutional review board and biostatistics reviews quickly. However, the performance of the 3 + 3 design has rarely been compared with model-based designs in simulation studies with matched sample sizes. In the vast majority of statistical literature, the 3 + 3 design has been shown to be inferior in identifying true maximum-tolerated doses (MTDs), although the sample size required by the 3 + 3 design is often orders-of-magnitude smaller than model-based designs. In this article, through comparative simulation studies with matched sample sizes, we demonstrate that the 3 + 3 design has higher risks of exposing patients to toxic doses above the MTD than the modified toxicity probability interval (mTPI) design, a newly developed adaptive method. In addition, compared with the mTPI design, the 3 + 3 design does not yield higher probabilities in identifying the correct MTD, even when the sample size is matched. Given that the mTPI design is equally transparent, costless to implement with free software, and more flexible in practical situations, we highly encourage its adoption in early dose-escalation studies whenever the 3 + 3 design is also considered. We provide free software to allow direct comparisons of the 3 + 3 design with other model-based designs in simulation studies with matched sample sizes.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #23569307 DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2012.45.7903
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Drugs
Entry Created: 2013-04-10 Entry Last Modified: 2013-06-15