Does Gut Flora Impact the Response to Cancer Immunotherapy?

Excerpt:

“Gut microbes can help or hinder cancer patients’ response to immunotherapy, two new studies suggested.

“In 112 melanoma patients undergoing anti-PD-1 immunotherapy, those with a high diversity of gut microbes had not yet reached median progression-free survival (PFS) after nearly 2 years, because less than half of them had progressed, while median PFS in the low-diversity group was 188 days (hazard ratio 3.57, 95% CI 1.02-12.52, P<0.05), said Jennifer Wargo, MD, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues.”

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Initiates Immuno-Oncology Clinical Study for Glioblastoma in Combination with Regeneron’s PD-1 Inhibitor

Excerpt:

“Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) today initiated a phase 1b/2a immuno-oncology trial in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) designed to evaluate cemiplimab (also known as REGN2810), a PD-1 inhibitor developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(NASDAQ:REGN), in combination with Inovio’s INO-5401 T cell activating immunotherapy encoding multiple antigens and INO-9012, an immune activator encoding IL-12.”

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Immune-Related Adverse Events Predict Efficacy of Nivolumab in NSCLC

Excerpt:

“While immunotherapy with programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibiting antibodies has revolutionized the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), use of these agents comes at the cost of potential serious immune-related adverse events (irAEs). In melanoma, development of cutaneous irAEs, such as rash and vitiligo, during treatment with PD-1 inhibitors has been shown to be associated with survival benefit, suggesting that early onset of irAEs may predict treatment outcomes. However, in NSCLC, the predictive value of immunotherapy-related toxicity as a clinical marker for efficacy to PD-1 inhibition is unknown.  A multi-institution retrospective study investigated the relation between the development of irAEs and efficacy of PD-1 inhibitors in 134 patients with advanced or recurrent NSCLC who received second-line treatment with nivolumab. The primary outcome for this analysis was progression-free survival (PFS) according to the development of irAEs in a 6-week landmark analysis.”

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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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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…


Combination of Standard-Dose Pembrolizumab With Reduced-Dose Ipilimumab Tolerable and Effective in Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“The combination of the programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibitor nivolumab at a reduced dose (1 mg/kg) with the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) inhibitor ipilimumab at standard dose (3 mg/kg) for four doses followed by standard-dose nivolumab alone is a standard of care for patients with advanced, previously untreated melanoma. This is based on results from the phase III CheckMate-067 trial that confirmed combination therapy is significantly more effective than single-agent nivolumab or ipilimumab. However, improvement in efficacy is associated with increased treatment-related grade 3/4 adverse events and treatment discontinuation in nearly 40% of patients.”

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