DNA Mutations Shed in Blood Predicts Response to Immunotherapy in Patients With Cancer

Excerpt:

“In a first-of-its-kind study, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that a blood sample, or liquid biopsy, can reveal which patients will respond to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies.

” ‘We can help predict response to immunotherapy by measuring the number of mutations in circulating tumor DNA using a simple blood test,’ said Yulian Khagi, MD, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center fellow and first author. ‘Immunotherapy can result in serious side effects, and therefore being able to predict who will respond is important to mitigating potential risk to each patient.’ ”

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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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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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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…


Flu Vaccine in Lung Cancer Patients Could Increase Immunotherapy Toxicities

Excerpt:

“Seasonal influenza vaccination resulted in increased risk of immune-related adverse events (AEs) in lung cancer patients treated with PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in a small study. However, the risks of the flu itself may still outweigh the risks associated with vaccination.

” ‘Use of immune checkpoint inhibitors is now standard clinical practice for many oncology patients, and these same patients—particularly those with lung cancer—also face increased risk for complications from influenza,’ said Sacha Rothschild, MD, PhD, of University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, in a press release. ‘Although routine influenza vaccination has long been recommended for cancer patients, there are concerns that it might trigger an exaggerated immune response in this subgroup receiving checkpoint inhibitors.’ ”

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White Blood Cell Count Predicts Response to Lung Cancer Immunotherapy

Excerpt:

“White blood cell counts can predict whether or not lung cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy, according to research presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC).

” ‘Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as and pembrolizumab significantly improve overall survival in some – but not all – patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),’ said lead author Dr Marcello Tiseo, Coordinator of DMT Thoracic Oncology, University Hospital of Parma, Italy. ‘Researchers are looking for a predictive biomarker to select patients that will benefit from this treatment to avoid unnecessary toxicity and a waste of resources in patients who will not respond.’ ”

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PD-1 Drug Exceeds Survival History in NSCLC

Excerpt:

“Long-term survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) exceeded historical standards among patients treated with the immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo), according to a study reported here.

“The 129 patients in the study had an estimated 5-year overall survival of 16%. Among those with measurable levels of PD-L1 expression, 5-year survival ranged as high as 43%.”

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Five-year Survival Rate For Nivolumab-treated Advanced Lung Cancer Patients Much Higher Than Historical Rate

Excerpt:

“Treatment with the immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) yielded durable responses in some patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with a five-year survival rate of 16 percent, according to data from a phase I clincal trial presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2017, April 1-5.

“According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER data, five-year survival rate for patients with advanced lung and bronchus cancer is 4.3 percent, and for those with advanced NSCLC, it is 4.9 percent.

” ‘This is the first report of the long-term survival rate in patients with metastatic NSCLC treated with an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Our study results show that for a small subset of patients, immunotherapy can work for a very long time,’ said Julie Brahmer, MD, associate professor of oncology at the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins.”

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