Treatment with checkpoint blockade has undoubtedly improved the lives of some people with advanced cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer, however the number who do achieve complete remission with single agent therapy is low (typically <20%).
In addition, not all people will respond up front while others achieve an objective response then relapse as acquired resistance or immune escape hits.
One challenge facing the field is identifying these mechanisms of resistance and finding the optimal combination approaches that lead to improved outcomes.
This weekend at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting, there were quite a few interesting new combination developments with early data.
Here, we take a look at one such combination to explore the data, the biomarker research that is ongoing and also some of the challenges associated with finding needles in the proverbial haystack…
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As we all wearily trawl through the huge mountain of data for ASCO 2017, what stands out – and more importantly – what matters and why?
Before we get into our in-depth coverage based on the tumour type, target and modality landscapes, I wanted to take a moment to highlight five key abstracts that stood out for me as worthy of checking out in more detail once we get to Chicago.
Interestingly, only one of them is from big Pharma!
At least one had some negatives associated with it as we’re not all happy clappy everything is great enthusiasts here at BSB. We do try to be fair minded and objective as possible about data.
So what’s in store and why do these five matter?
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Recently, Merck have been on a roll in the immuno-oncology space, with the announcement that their anti-PD–1 antibody, pembrolizumab (Keytruda), beat out BMS’s anti-CTLA4 antibody, ipilimumab (Yervoy) in a Phase 3 head-to-head frontline trial in metastatic melanoma. The two primary endpoints of OS and PFS were met and the trial will therefore be stopped early based on the IDMC recommendation. No further details are available until the presentation.
The data from the KEYNOTE–006 study is being presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) next month in the opening plenary session by Dr Antoni Ribas (UCLA).
While it’s nice to see evidence that one checkpoint inhibitor is potentially superior to another, in the long run, combinations are likely to be the best way forward. This approach is more likely to yield improved responses in immunogenic tumours, but also to make non-immunogenic tumours more responsive, thereby improving patient outcomes further.
This begs the all important question – what hints from new emerging data can we glean that will help us figure out novel combination approaches with checkpoint inhibitors?
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