Novel Combinations Mark Next Step for Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Immunotherapy has led a transformation for melanoma care but combinations of anti–PD-1 and CTLA-4 agents are toxic and biomarkers are not available to help personalized treatment, calling for further research into less toxic and more effective options, according to a presentation by Caroline Robert, MD, PhD, at the 2017 World Congress of Melanoma.

“At this point, the only approved immunotherapy combination remains the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) and the CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy). However, research into combination approaches is now focusing on triplets of anti–PD-1 therapies and new checkpoints, such as IDO. Additionally, ongoing research continues to search of a biomarker of response for immunotherapy in melanoma.”

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Immune-Stimulator Boosts Pembrolizumab in Melanoma Patients With “Cold” Tumors

Excerpt:

“Adding the immune stimulator ImmunoPulse IL-12 to pembrolizumab (Keytruda) produced promising activity among patients with melanoma identified as unlikely responders to anti–PD-1 therapies.

“Data from the phase II OMS-I102 trial presented at the 2017 World Congress of Melanoma showed that the combination induced an overall response rate (ORR) of 50% (n = 11) among 22 patients with baseline biomarker data suggesting they would not respond to anti–PD-1 therapy.”

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Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) More Than Doubled Median Overall Survival Compared to Chemotherapy After Two Years of Follow Up in First-Line Treatment of Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with High Levels of PD-L1

Excerpt:

“Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of updated overall survival (OS) findings, a secondary endpoint, from the phase 3 KEYNOTE-024 trial evaluating KEYTRUDA®(pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as a first-line monotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express high levels of PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] of 50 percent or more). The study included patients with squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. Findings – which are based on more than two years of follow-up – will be presented in an oral presentation at the 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan (Abstract OA 17.06).”

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Addition of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy to Nivolumab Improves Lung Cancer Survival

Excerpt:

“The combination of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy plus anti-PD-1 therapy improved survival among patients with advanced lung cancer, according to a retrospective analysis presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology.

“Immune checkpoint inhibitors have improved outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer. However, the absolute improvement over docetaxel is only 3 to 5 months for median OS and 15% to 20% for overall response rate.”

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Relatlimab/Nivolumab Combo Active in Melanoma After PD-1/PD-L1 Therapy

Excerpt:

“Half of patients with melanoma who progressed on anti–PD-1/PD-L1 therapy benefited from the combination of nivolumab (Opdivo) and the LAG-3 inhibitor relatlimab (BMS-986016), data from a dose-expansion study showed.

“The combination led to objective responses in 7 of 61 evaluable patients, increasing to 18% in a subgroup of patients LAG-3–positive tumors. Half of all patients treated and two-thirds of those patients with LAG-3–positive tumors derived clinical benefit, as reported at the 2017 ESMO Congress.”

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New Trends in Pre-Surgery Treatments for Breast Cancer


Non-metastatic breast cancers are most often treated with surgery, but if the tumors are fairly large, or involve nearby lymph nodes, neoadjuvant (pre-operative) treatments with chemotherapy (NAC) are done first. NAC often reduces the tumor size and kills cancer cells in lymph nodes, if present, prior to surgery, improving the outcome. The best possible result of neoadjuvant treatment is pCR (pathologic compete response), when the tumor is no longer visible in imaging studies. Here, I review the new directions in which neoadjuvant treatments are evolving.

Today, treatments for metastatic breast cancers are tailored for specific subtypes. Starting with the introduction of the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) for HER2-positive cancers, new, more specific treatment options were eventually developed and approved for other types as well. Estrogen deprivation endocrine therapies, lately prescribed in combination with CDK4/6 inhibitors, are used in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive cancers. Triple negative cancers (TNBC) are still treated mostly with chemotherapy, but immune checkpoint drugs and PARP inhibitors are explored in clinical trials, with some successes reported.

However, neoadjuvant treatments (except for HER2+ cancers) remain largely limited to chemotherapy regimens. This is starting to change now, with new approaches tailored to the cancer type being investigated in clinical trials.

In this regard, it is important to mention the I-SPY2 trial, NCT01042379, which started in 2010 and is for women with stage II-III breast cancer. It offers about a dozen drugs that are chosen based on particular features of the newly diagnosed cancers. This trial has a unique design and has produced some important results. Additional treatments and trials for various types of breast cancer are discussed below. Continue reading…


Immune Checkpoint Agents Advance in Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“With the prospect of phase III data that could confirm their efficacy, checkpoint inhibitors against PD-1 and PD-L1 have shown promise, both as monotherapies and in combination with chemotherapy for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), Sylvia Adams, MD, said during a presentation at the 16th Annual International Congress on the Future of Breast Cancer East.

” ‘We think there is definitely value for immune checkpoint blockade in triple-negative disease. When you look at the metastatic trials, while the response rates are relatively low, most of the responses are durable,’ said Adams, from the NYU Langone Medical Center. ‘For patient selection, it is important to consider the line of therapy. The earlier the better.’ ”

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Immune-Cell Numbers Predict Response to Combination Immunotherapy in Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco researchers joined by physicians from UCSF Health. The findings provide a novel predictive biomarker to identify patients who are most likely to respond well to a combination of immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors—and to protect those who won’t respond from potentially adverse side effects of combination treatment.

” ‘Combination immunotherapy is super-expensive and very toxic,’ said Adil Daud, MD, director of Melanoma Clinical Research at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the new study. ‘You’re putting patients at a lot of extra risk if they don’t need it, and you can adjust for that risk by knowing in advance who can benefit.’ ”

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Melanoma News at ASCO 2017: Combination Treatments


There are many hopes that combining immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs, or combining them with drugs of other types (immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy) is the future of treatment for many kinds of cancer. Literally hundreds of clinical trials are actively exploring these combinations, and melanoma is the cancer for which trials of this type abound. Last month, the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago featured just a few presentations in this area, apparently because it is too early to report results from the many ongoing trials with drug combinations. Continue reading…