“Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco researchers joined by physicians from UCSF Health. The findings provide a novel predictive biomarker to identify patients who are most likely to respond well to a combination of immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors—and to protect those who won’t respond from potentially adverse side effects of combination treatment.
” ‘Combination immunotherapy is super-expensive and very toxic,’ said Adil Daud, MD, director of Melanoma Clinical Research at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the new study. ‘You’re putting patients at a lot of extra risk if they don’t need it, and you can adjust for that risk by knowing in advance who can benefit.’ ”
“Improvements in OS, but not PFS, indicate that maintenance treatment with pembrolizumab may benefit a subset of patients with small cell lung cancer, and biomarkers are needed to identify individuals in whom pembrolizumab may be effective, according to findings presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
” ‘The standard of care for these patients – 4 to 6 cycles of platinum plus etoposide – has not changed in the United States in the last 30 years,’ Shirish Gadgeel, MD, of the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, said during a presentation. ‘Despite a high response rate with this therapy, overall outcomes for these patients are quite poor. There is a need to identify other agents that can provide benefit in these patients.’ ”
“Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) monotherapy produced substantial response rates as first-line or subsequent treatment in patients who had advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with confirmed programmed cell death ligand 1(PD-L1) expression, reported the phase II BIRCH trial.
“Atezolizumab therapy produced a 22% objective response rate in first-line treatment, 19% in second-line, and 18% in third-line or higher in patients with PD-L1 expression on ≥ 5% of tumor cells (TC) or tumor-infiltrating immune cells (IC), according to Enriqueta Felip, MD, PhD, of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues. Patients with the highest levels of PD-L1 expression — TC3 or IC3 — had better objective response rates: 31% in first-line, 26% in second-line, and 27% third-line or higher.”
Last month, the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting took place in Chicago. Thousands of oncologists, patients, and journalists gathered to learn about the most recent developments in cancer research and treatment. Here are some breast cancer highlights from the meeting:
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is considered more responsive to treatment with immune checkpoint drugs than any other type of breast cancer. So far, these drugs have primarily been explored in metastatic TNBC, in combination with chemotherapy. The combination of “anti-PD-L1” and “anti-PD-1” immune checkpoint drugs with chemotherapy has now been examined in early-stage TNBC, in which a breast tumor can be surgically removed after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Continue reading…
“Findings from a phase III clinical trial for advanced lung cancer patients could help oncologists better predict which patients are likely to receive the most benefit from immunotherapy as a first-line treatment based on the unique molecular characteristics of their tumor, according to a new study reported by a global team led by David Carbone, MD, PhD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
“In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab (pronounced ‘nye VOL ue mab,’ marketed at Opdivo), with standard-of-care chemotherapy in 541 patients with previously untreated or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that expressed PDL-1 antibodies.”
“Updates to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for the management of advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) stress the importance of multiplexed biomarker testing at diagnosis to aid in the selection of appropriate first-line and subsequent lines of therapy, said presenters at the 2017 NCCN Annual Conference.
“The latest version of the guidelines recommends that PD-L1, in addition to molecular analysis, be employed as a biomarker to direct initial therapy, with ≥50% expression established as the threshold for a positive result. The PD-L1 test ‘decides whether a patient has enough of the marker to warrant initial immunotherapy,’ said presenter Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD.”
“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.’ ”
“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%.”
“Treatment with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) could elicit long-term survival (LTS) rates of 21% to 25% for previously-treated patients with PD-L1–positive non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) compared with 3% to 4% for docetaxel, according to a statistical analysis of findings from the KEYNOTE-010 and -001 trials presented at the 2017 ASCO-SITC Symposium.
“Findings from the analysis shed light on the number of patients with advanced NSCLC expected to benefit for up to 70 months from pembrolizumab. According to survival statistics from the SEER database for 2006 to 2012, the 5-year survival rate was 4.3% for those with lung or bronchus cancer with distant metastases.”