"Radiation Combined With Immune-Stimulating Drugs Could Pack a Powerful Punch Against Cancer Cells"

Excerpt:

“In his final State of the Union address, President Obama tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading a new National Cancer Moonshot initiative. The hope is that this will put America on course to be ‘the country that cures cancer once and for all.’ Listed among the cutting-edge research areas of the initiative is a class of treatments called cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy.

“Cancer immunotherapies are treatments that stimulate the immune system to target and attack cancer. Researchers now believe that combining immunotherapy with traditional therapies could open up new possibilities for cancer treatment.

“For instance, radiation is one of the oldest and most commonly used forms of cancer treatment out there. But there are limits to how much radiation a person can receive, and it can’t kill every cancer cell. However, in combination therapy, radiation could be paired with immunotherapy to pack a one-two punch against .”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Talimogene Laherparepvec, Pembrolizumab Combination Safely Treats Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Patients with advanced unresectable melanoma can safely receive combination therapy with full doses of talimogene laherparepvec and pembrolizumab, according to study results presented at HemOnc TodayMelanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies.

“In previous studies, talimogene laherparepvec (Imlygic, Amgen) — a herpes simplex virus-1-based oncolytic immunotherapy — significantly improved durable response rate in patients with advanced melanoma. Also, pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck) — an anti–PD-1 antibody — showed superiority over ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol Meyers Squibb) in patients with stage III or IV melanoma.

“Both drugs appeared tolerable and demonstrated nonoverlapping adverse event profiles…”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Single Dose of Trastuzumab Kick Starts Immune Response in Certain Breast Cancers

“A tumor’s immune response to a single dose of the HER2 inhibitor trastuzumab predicted which patients with HER2-positive breast cancer would respond to the drug on a more long-term basis, according to the results of a study published recently in Clinical Cancer Research.

“In addition, Vinay Varadan, PhD, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and his colleagues found that women with the HER2-enriched subtype of HER2-positive breast cancer—a subtype that is estrogen and progesterone receptor negative—had the highest rate of immune response to treatment with trastuzumab, with significant increases in immune response after a single dose of the drug.

“ ‘Our study showed, for the first time, that the immune-cell–activating properties of trastuzumab are likely related to the subtypes of breast cancer,’ Varadan said. ‘Knowing this can inform future trials studying the usefulness of adding immunotherapy drugs to trastuzumab.’ “


Immunotherapies Could Open the Door for Additional Treatments in Mucosal Melanoma

“Despite limited information on treatment options for mucosal melanoma, Richard Joseph, MD, says immunotherapies could be a rewarding challenge for oncologists to undertake in the field.

“Joseph, a medical oncologist at Mayo Clinic, says one recent study investigating the immunotherapy nivolumab in the treatment of mucosal melanoma resulted in response rates that could possibly warrant further investigation.

” ‘What they found was that the response rates tended to be slightly lower than what we typically see in cutaneous melanoma, but still a relatively good response rate,’ he said.

” ‘This gives us, for the time being, some quality data for when we are treating patients with mucosal melanoma. We can now give our patients some good numbers regarding if we should treat them with immunotherapy. Before, we were treating them with immunotherapy without really knowing the efficacy.’ “


Novel Checkpoints Offer Hope After Standard Melanoma Immunotherapies Fail

“Determining the next step for a patient with melanoma who has failed or is not a candidate for existing targeted therapies or immunotherapies can be a challenge.

“However, there is hope, says Omid Hamid, MD, chief of Translational Research and Immunotherapy, and director of Melanoma Therapeutics at The Angeles Clinic.

“ ‘There are times when you throw your hands in the air and say, “I’ve run out of options,” ‘ he says. ‘But, all you need to do is look in another direction, open another cabinet, and realize that there are a ton of new options for our patients. These are nontraditional agents that maybe would not come to mind, but can be very effective in first-line, second-line, or any line.’

“Currently, several new checkpoint inhibitors and costimulatory molecules are being explored. These include those that target glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor (GITR)—which is expressed on CD4- and CD8-positive T cells—in addition to T-regulatory cells, NK cells, and dendritic cells.”


After Decades of Research, Potential for TILs in Melanoma Is Higher Than Ever

“Tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) technology represents an intriguing way of overcoming the immunosuppressive power of cancer, according to Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD.

“Weber provided an overview of the technology and discussed its potential benefit to oncologists and oncology professionals in a lecture presented by Targeted Oncology on February 19, 2016.

“ ‘It’s yet another way of inducing remissions of long duration using an immunotherapeutic approach that’s different than ipilimumab and different than nivolumab or pembrolizumab,’ said Weber, the deputy director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, co-director of the Melanoma Program, and head of Experimental Therapeutics at NYU Langone Medical Center. ‘It’s got its own toxicity, but you can fail this therapy and respond to ipilimumab or respond to nivolumab or pembrolizumab. You can fail nivolumab or pembrolizumab or ipilimumab and respond to this—they’re not cross-reactive.’ “


Relevancy of PD-L1 as a Biomarker for Immunotherapies in NSCLC

“Despite its initial running start, the continuing development of immunotherapies in the field of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) won’t be slowing down anytime soon, according to Naiyer Rizvi, MD.

“ ‘The field is changing so fast,’ said Rizvi, director of Thoracic Oncology and Immunotherapeutics, Columbia University Medical Center, in an exclusive interview with Targeted Oncology. ‘Soon, we will have a better understanding of the first-line use of PD-1 agents, Then, maybe a year later, the data on the combination of PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 will come out. It is going to be a busy year. The NCCN [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] is going to be busy rewriting their guidelines every 6 months at this rate.’

“One immunotherapy currently being investigated is the anti–PD-1 agent pembrolizumab (Keytruda), in the KEYNOTE-024 study. The study is looking at pembrolizumab in the first-line setting for patients with stage IV metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD-L1.”


Immunotherapy Continues Rapid Advance in NSCLC

“Immunotherapy in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is rapidly progressing—and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon, says Naiyer Rizvi, MD.

“ ‘The field is changing so fast,’ says Rizvi, director of Thoracic Oncology and Immunotherapeutics at Columbia University Medical Center. ‘Soon, we will have a better understanding of the first-line use of PD-1 agents, Then, maybe a year later, the data on the combination of PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4 will come out. It is going to be a busy year. The NCCN is going to be busy rewriting their guidelines every 6 months at this rate.’ ”

“Several immunotherapeutic agents are also being investigated in new combinations and earlier settings.”


ASCO Names Advance of the Year: Cancer Immunotherapy

At a Capitol Hill briefing today, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced immunotherapy as the top cancer advance of the year. Recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy – along with almost 60 other important cancer research advances – are described in ASCO’s just-released report, Clinical Cancer Advances 2016: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer. ASCO’s report also calls for sustained robust federal funding for cancer research, asserting its pivotal role in driving progress.

“ ‘No recent cancer advance has been more transformative than immunotherapy. These new therapies are not only transforming patient lives, they are also opening intriguing avenues for further research,’ said ASCO President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO. ‘Advances like these require bold ideas, dedication and investment in research. If we are to conquer cancer, we need to invest more as a nation to support a strong biomedical research enterprise.’ “