“The addition of the PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq) to the MEK inhibitor cobimetinib (Cotellic) and the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib (Zelboraf) induced a high response rate for patients with BRAF-mutant unresectable melanoma, according to findings from a phase Ib study presented at the 2016 Society for Melanoma Research Annual Meeting.
“At the data cutoff of June 15, 2016, 30 patients had received ≥1 dose of atezolizumab. The response rate with the triplet was 83%, which included 3 complete responses (10%) and 21 partial responses. Overall, 29 of the 30 patients were evaluable for response, with just 1 patient experiencing primary progressive disease. At the time of the analysis, median duration of response and progression-free survival were not yet reached.”
“The FDA has approved atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for the treatment of patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have progressed after a platinum-containing regimen and an FDA-approved targeted therapy for those patients harboring EGFR or ALK abnormalities.
“The approval is based on multiple clinical trials, the largest being the phase III OAK trial, which was presented at the 2016 ESMO Congress. In the study, atezolizumab reduced the risk of death by 26% compared with docetaxel in patients with advanced NSCLC following the failure of platinum-based chemotherapy. The median overall survival (OS) was improved by 4.2 months with the PD-L1 inhibitor versus chemotherapy. The survival benefit with atezolizumab was observed regardless of PD-L1 status or histology.”
“A slightly different immunotherapy has shown benefit in the second-line treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
“New data are the first to show that the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) atezolizumab (Tecentriq, Genentech/Roche) outperforms chemotherapy in this setting. Hence, it looks set to soon join the two PD inhibitors nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck & Co) that are already approved for second-line use in NSCLC.”
“The first phase III study of PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab in previously-treated non-small-cell lung cancer has seen significant improvements in survival compared to standard chemotherapy, researchers reported at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen.
“PD-L1 inhibitors are of a class of cancer immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors, and work by inhibiting one of the mechanisms of resistance developed by cancer cells in order to evade the immune system.”
New targeted and immunotherapy drugs have changed the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma from a death sentence into a disease that can potentially be managed and even cured. Nevertheless, these new drugs do not work in all patients, or they may stop working after a transient response. This post (part one of two) will describe ongoing efforts to find drug combinations with higher efficacy than single drugs and decipher the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. Continue reading…
Written by Emma Shtivelman, PhD and Dov Shiffman, PhD
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting of 2016 is behind us, but oncologists, patients, and journalists are still analyzing the most interesting presentations made there. Below, we describe some of the more prominent results in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), both promising and disappointing.
“Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company’s Biologics License Application (BLA) and granted Priority Review for atezolizumab (anti-PDL1; MPDL3280A) for the treatment of people with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease expresses the protein PD-L1 (programmed death ligand-1), as determined by an FDA-approved test, and who have progressed on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.
“ ‘In a study of atezolizumab in people with previously treated advanced lung cancer, PD-L1 expression correlated with how well they responded to the medicine,’ said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. ‘The goal of PD-L1 as a biomarker is to identify people most likely to benefit from atezolizumab alone.’ ”
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TNBC has long been considered to be more amenable to immune system-based treatments than other types of breast cancer because it is more immunogenic; that is, relatively high levels of immune cells accumulate within or adjacent to TNBC tumors. These immune cells could be triggered to attack tumors if properly activated. TNBC tumors are also likely to have a higher mutational burden (number of genetic mutations). This is one of the predictors of sensitivity to a type of treatment called immune checkpoint blockade. Drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors block the proteins PD-1 or PD-L1. In cancer, PD-L1 proteins on tumor cells bind to PD-1 proteins on immune T cells and inhibit their tumor-killing activity. Immune checkpoint drugs disable this interaction and enable activation of T cells. These drugs are actively being explored in TNBC in clinical trials.
“With atezolizumab (MPDL3280A) showing great potential as a treatment for patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in two particlar studies, we sat down with Chandra P. Belani, MD, to talk more about the treatment.
“The PD-L1 inhibitor received a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA based on early-stage studies as a potential treatment for patients with PD-L1–positive NSCLC, post-progression on prior therapies such as chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Belani, Miriam Beckner Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, deputy director, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, said in an interview with Targeted Oncology, that the acitivity the treatment shows is impressive.”