Immune-Related Adverse Events Predict Efficacy of Nivolumab in NSCLC


“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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Clovis Oncology (CLVS) Says First Patient Enrolled in Phase 2 TIGER-1 Study

The gist: In a clinical trial, the first patient has been given a new drug called rociletinib to treat their non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). All volunteer patients in the trial have tumors with mutations in the EGFR gene, including a mutation called T790M that makes them resistant to treatment with other EGFR-targeted drugs. It is hoped that rociletinib will prove to be a good option, in terms of survival and side effects, for these patients.

“Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ: CLVS) announced today that the Phase 2 portion of the seamless Phase 2/3 TIGER-1 (Third-Generation Inhibitor of Mutant EGFR in Lung Cancer) study has commenced with the dosing of the first patient at a U.S. study site. Rociletinib is the Company’s novel, oral, targeted covalent (irreversible) mutant-selective inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients with initial activating EGFR mutations as well as the primary resistance mutation T790M.

“ ‘I am pleased to lead the US trial of first-line rociletinib in patients with EGFR-mutant NSCLC,’ said Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Colorado School of Medicine and the lead investigator for the TIGER-1 study in the United States. ‘The rociletinib clinical data observed to date in the second-line EGFR-mutant population after failure of drugs like erlotinib have been highly encouraging and consistent, really making the case to try this drug in these patients from the outset. The absence of side effects associated with wild-type EGFR inhibition from this drug is also likely to be welcomed by patients.’ “

Rash from Tarceva May Herald Drug Effectiveness

Skin rash is a common side effect of the lung cancer drug erlotinib (Tarceva). However, a clinical trial suggests that this rash can be a good sign and can be used to guide dosing. One hundred twenty-four patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received first-line treatment with Tarceva. The drug dose was gradually increased until patients developed a skin rash or other side effects that prevented further dose increases. Seventy percent of patients developed a skin rash. Patients who developed a skin rash survived longer than those who did not (6.8 months longer on average), even though they did not differ in how much the treatment reduced the growth of their tumors.

Epidermal EGFR Controls Cutaneous Host Defense and Prevents Inflammation

“The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays an important role in tissue homeostasis and tumor progression. However, cancer patients treated with EGFR inhibitors (EGFRIs) frequently develop acneiform skin toxicities, which are a strong predictor of a patient’s treatment response. We show that the early inflammatory infiltrate of the skin rash induced by EGFRI is dominated by dendritic cells, macrophages, granulocytes, mast cells, and T cells. EGFRIs induce the expression of chemokines (CCL2, CCL5, CCL27, and CXCL14) in epidermal keratinocytes and impair the production of antimicrobial peptides and skin barrier proteins. Correspondingly, EGFRI-treated keratinocytes facilitate lymphocyte recruitment but show a considerably reduced cytotoxic activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Mice lacking epidermal EGFR (EGFRΔep) show a similar phenotype, which is accompanied by chemokine-driven skin inflammation, hair follicle degeneration, decreased host defense, and deficient skin barrier function, as well as early lethality. Skin toxicities were not ameliorated in a Rag2-, MyD88-, and CCL2-deficient background or in mice lacking epidermal Langerhans cells. The skin phenotype was also not rescued in a hairless (hr/hr) background, demonstrating that skin inflammation is not induced by hair follicle degeneration. Treatment with mast cell inhibitors reduced the immigration of T cells, suggesting that mast cells play a role in the EGFRI-mediated skin pathology. Our findings demonstrate that EGFR signaling in keratinocytes regulates key factors involved in skin inflammation, barrier function, and innate host defense, providing insights into the mechanisms underlying EGFRI-induced skin pathologies.”

Genetic Ablation of Epidermal EGFR Reveals the Dynamic Origin of Adverse Effects of Anti-EGFR Therapy

“Cancer patients treated with anti-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) drugs often develop a dose-limiting pruritic rash of unknown etiology. The aims of our study were to define causal associations from a clinical study of cutaneous and systemic changes in patients treated with gefitinib and use these to develop and characterize a mouse model that recapitulates the human skin rash syndrome caused by anti-EGFR therapy. We examined the patients’ plasma before and after treatment with gefitinib and documented changes in chemokines and leukocyte counts associated with the extent of rash or the presence of pruritus. We established a parallel mouse model by ablating EGFR in the epidermis. These mice developed skin lesions similar to the human rash. Before lesion development, we detected increased mRNA expression of chemokines in the skin associated with early infiltration of macrophages and mast cells and later infiltration of eosinophils, T cells, and neutrophils.”