“Results from a long-term clinical trial conducted by cancer researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital show that combining radiation treatment with “suicide gene therapy,” a technique in which prostate cancer cells are genetically modified so they signal a patient’s immune system to attack them, provides a safe and effective one-two punch against the disease.
“Pamela L. Kunz, MD, assistant professor of Medicine (Oncology), Stanford University School of Medicine, discusses the potential of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).
“There are currently some clinical trials under development looking at immunotherapy in NETs both at Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania, Kunz explains. One phase I/II trial will examine the safety and efficacy of intratumoral injection of ipilimumab combined with an anti—PD-L1 agent in these patients.”
“It is possible that immunotherapy agents could be agnostic to disease sites, Kunz says. Though it was originally believed that PD-1/PD-L1 expression is a requirement to be a predictive biomarker, additional research could show that it may not be necessary.”
“Immunotherapy options are expanding in the field of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with the recent FDA approval of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for patients with pretreated advanced NSCLC across all histologies whose tumors express PD-L1.
“Pembrolizumab is the second PD-1 inhibitor approved for treatment of this disease. The approval was based on findings from the phase I KEYNOTE-001 trial. In this study, a subgroup of patients treated with pembrolizumab had an overall response rate (ORR) of 41%. In the entire study population, the ORR was nearly 20%.
“The anti–PD-1 agent nivolumab (Opdivo) was previously approved by the FDA in March 2015 for patients with squamous NSCLC who have progressed on or after platinum-based chemotherapy. Nivolumab also recently received an FDA priority review designation in the nonsquamous NSCLC setting, with a decision deadline of January 2, 2016.”
“Main Finding(s): In a phase Ia clinical trial, immune cells called Tregs, which can inhibit anticancer immune responses, were efficiently eliminated from the blood of patients with lung or esophageal cancer by treatment with the investigational therapeutic antibody KW-0761…
“Background: Tregs, which are characterized by expression of the proteins FoxP3 and CD4, have several important roles in the immune system, one of which is to prevent the immune system from attacking the body and causing autoimmune diseases. However, they also suppress the immune response against cancer, Ueda explained, leading to the hypothesis that depleting Tregs in patientswith cancer may augment the natural anticancer immune response.”
“Among patients with clinically stage I or stage II melanoma, those treated with the immune system–boosting agent CpG-B were less likely to experience recurrence of their disease than those who received placebo, according to results from two randomized, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trials presented at the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference (Abstract A050), held September 16–19 in New York.
“ ‘Even though stage 1 and stage 2 melanomas can be removed surgically, in a considerable proportion of patients, cells from the tumor have already spread and eventually lead to tumor recurrence,’ said Tanja D. de Gruijl, PhD, Professor and Head of the Immunotherapy Laboratory in the Department of Medical Oncology at the VU University Medical Center Cancer Center Amsterdam. ‘We set out to investigate whether intradermal injection of the immune-stimulatory compound CpG-B around the site of surgical removal of the primary tumor could boost patients’ antimelanoma immune responses and provide local and systemic protection against early metastatic events that could otherwise lead to tumor recurrence.’ “