The OBR Blog

May 31, 2020 - 08:05 pm Posted in ASCO and ASH Posted in ASCO Conference Coverage Posted in Breast Posted in Lymphoma (includes NHL, HL, CNS Lymphoma) Posted in Melanoma (includes BCC) Posted in Multiple Myeloma comments0 Comments

Sunday’s live broadcast of the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting featured late-breaking data from a phase 3 trial evaluating early local therapy in metastatic breast cancer and the results of the phase 3 ENDURANCE trial.

Other important studies from the meeting were the ALPHA trial, which is evaluating an off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, and the C-144-01 trial, which is evaluating an autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy.

Early local therapy offers no survival benefit in patients with de novo metastatic breast cancer and an intact primary tumor, according to the results of a phase 3 trial by the ECOG-ACRIN Research Group (Abstract LBA2).

The trial included 256 patients who received optimal systemic therapy before being randomly assigned to either continue optimal systemic therapy (n=131) or receive optimal systemic therapy with locoregional therapy (n=125).

The 3-year overall survival (OS) rate was not different for the locoregional therapy arm compared with the optimal systemic therapy alone arm (68.4% vs 67.9%; P=0.63) and neither was the risk of death (HR=1.09; 90% CI, 0.80 – 1.49).

Although the locoregional therapy arm had a reduced risk of locoregional recurrences/progression compared with the optimal systemic therapy alone arm (HR=0.37; 95% CI, 0.19 – 0.73), no improvements were seen for health-related quality of life (HRQOL). At one timepoint (18 months), HRQOL was significantly worse for the locoregional therapy arm (P=0.001).

“For de novo stage metastatic breast cancer, existing data supports that locoregional therapy does not improve survival and should not be routinely applied in this population,” said study discussant Julia White, MD, professor of radiation oncology at The Ohio State University.

Carfilzomib and Bortezomib Tie for First

The replacement of carfilzomib for bortezomib in a regimen of bortezomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone (VRd) did not improve outcomes for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, results showed in the second interim analysis of the phase 3 ENDURANCE trial (Abstract LBA3).

Patients who received carfilzomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone (KRd; n=545) had a similar progression-free survival (PFS; HR=1.04; 95% CI, 0.8 – 1.3; P=0.74) and OS (HR=0.98; 95% CI, 0.71 – 1.36; P=0.92) to those who received VRd (n=542). A higher proportion of particularly good partial responses was seen with KRd compared with VRd (55.5% vs 49.9%).

KRd had a significantly higher rate of cardiac, pulmonary, and renal treatment-related adverse events (16.1% vs 4.8%; P<0.001), while VRd had a significantly higher rate of peripheral neuropathy (53.4% vs 24.4%; P<0.001). No difference in frequency of secondary primary cancers was seen.

Study discussant Jesus Berdeja, MD, director of myeloma research at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, pointed out that KRd costs nearly $16,000 more per cycle than VRd, which totals to a nearly $100,000-difference for 12 cycles.

“In newly diagnosed multiple myeloma without high-risk features, VRd and KRd appear to be equivalent options for frontline treatment,” Dr Berdeja said. “Comorbidities and toxicity profiles should guide the choice between the two regimens in any individual patient.”

ALPHA Trial Debuts Off-the-Shelf CAR T

An off-the-self allogeneic CAR T-cell therapy known as ALLO-501 appeared safe and showed clinical activity in a small group of patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell or follicular lymphoma, according to data from the single-arm phase 1 ALPHA trial (Abstract 8002).

“Allogeneic CAR T-cell therapy may provide the benefits of autologous CAR T-cell therapy, while also addressing its challenges,” said study presenter Sattva Neelapu, MD, MD Anderson Cancer Center. “It has the potential to treat all eligible patients, the convenience of repeat dosing, and simplifies the logistics of manufacturing.”

Patients received CD19-targeted ALLO-501 at one of three dose levels and, during lymphodepleting chemotherapy, an investigational monoclonal antibody called ALLO-647, which targets CD52. Patients were heavily pretreated (median of 4 prior therapies), and 4 patients previously received autologous CAR T-cell therapy.

About one-third of patients (7 of 22) had cytokine release syndrome, which included only one grade 3 event and no grade 4. Half of patients developed infection, most of which was grade 1 (23%) or 2 (18%). There were no reports of graft-versus-host disease.

At a median follow-up of 3.8 months, 12 of 19 patients (63%) available for efficacy analysis achieved a response, which included 7 complete responses (37%). Nine patients who achieved a response continue to have a response.

Dr. Neelapu said these results suggest that the safety and the short-term efficacy, in terms of the response rates, for this product is “comparable” to autologous CAR-T products that are currently in clinic. “Further follow-up is necessary to determine the durability of those responses.”

C-144-01 Trial Shows Potential of TILs

Autologous TIL therapy lifileucel appeared safe and to have clinical activity in patients with unresectable metastatic melanoma, according to the results of cohort 2 from the phase 2 C-144-01 trial (Abstract 10006).

Lifileucel is an autologous adoptive cell transfer therapy that involves surgically resecting a patient’s tumor and sending it to the manufacturing facility. Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are then obtained from the tumor, expanded, shipped back to clinical sites, and infused into the patient. Patients in cohort 2 (n=66) received lifileucel that was cryopreserved before shipment. Patients also received up to 6 doses of interleukin-2 after infusion to promote expansion of the TILs.

Most patients (97.0%) had grade 3 or 4 treatment-emergent adverse events, with thrombocytopenia (81.8%), anemia (56.1%), febrile neutropenia (54.5%), and neutropenia (39.4%) being the most common. The number of adverse events decreased over time.

Overall, 24 (36.4%) patients achieved a response, which included 2 complete and 22 partial responses. The disease control rate was 80.3%. At a median follow-up of 18.7 months, the median duration of response had not yet been reached (range, 2.2 – 26.9+ months). Responses were seen across subgroups, which include age, PD-L1 status, and BRAF mutation status.

“Notable, observed responses tended to deepen over time,” said study presenter Amod Sarnaik, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center. “These data therefore demonstrate potential efficacy and durability of response in a patient population with severely limited treatment options.”

By Christina Bennett, MS


May 30, 2020 - 09:05 pm Posted in ASCO and ASH Posted in ASCO Conference Coverage Posted in Breast Posted in Liver (includes HCC, Billiary Tract) comments0 Comments

The live broadcast of the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting kicked off this morning with highlights sessions that captured some of the most important studies.

The gastrointestinal cancer session featured four studies, one of which was a phase 2/3 trial that compared donafenib to sorafenib in liver cancer. HER2CLIMB and MINDACT were both discussed during the breast cancer session. Although not discussed this morning, the results of PHERGAIN dropped at this meeting and offer a de-escalation strategy for patients with early breast cancer.

Another Blow to Sorafenib

Patients with unresectable or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma who received donafenib in the first-line setting lived a median of nearly two months longer than patients who received standard of care sorafenib (12.1 months vs 10.3 months), results showed in the open-label, randomized phase 2/3 trial (Abstract 4506).

Patients in the donafenib arm (n=334) also had a 17% reduced risk of death compared with the sorafenib arm (n=334; HR=0.831; 95% CI, 0.699 – 0.988; P=0.0363). However, no difference was seen between the donafenib arm and sorafenib arm for progression-free survival (PFS; 3.7 vs 3.6 months; P=0.2824), objective response rate (4.6% vs 2.7%; P=0.2448), and disease control rate (30.8% vs 28.7%; P=0.5532).

Donafenib appeared to have a better safety profile, with a significantly lower rate of drug-related adverse events that led to treatment interruption compared with sorafenib (25.2% vs 36.1%; P=0.0025). The donafenib arm also had a significantly lower rate of drug-related adverse events of grade 3 or higher (37.5% vs 49.7%; P=0.0018).

Marcus Noel, MD, associate professor of medicine, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, cautioned that this study was conducted in China and is not an international study.

“Not sure if this is going to be able to extrapolate across the globe, but certainly donafenib has a place in first-line therapy, further pushing sorafenib to the side,” he said.

Tucatinib Shows Promise for Brain Mets

Tucatinib in combination with trastuzumab and capecitabine extended overall survival (OS) and delayed disease progression in the central nervous system (CNS) for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and brain metastases, results showed from an exploratory efficacy analysis of the phase 2 HER2CLIMB trial (Abstract 1005).

Trial participants were randomly assigned to receive tucatinib in combination with trastuzumab and capecitabine (n=410) or placebo in combination with trastuzumab and capecitabine (n=202). The exploratory analysis included only patients with brain metastases at baseline, of which 291 of 612 (48%) randomized to treatment had.

Patients with brain metastases in the tucatinib arm had a 68% reduced risk of disease progression in the CNS compared with the placebo arm (HR=0.32; 95% CI, 0.22 – 0.48; P<0.0001) and a nearly 6-month gain in median CNS PFS (9.9 vs 4.2 months).

Patients in the tucatinib arm also had a 42% reduced risk of death compared with the placebo arm (HR=0.58; 95% CI, 0.40 – 0.85; P=0.005), and an approximately 6-months gain in overall survival (OS; 18.1 vs 12.0 months). The intracranial response rate more than doubled with tucatinib compared with placebo (47% vs 20%; P=0.03).

“HER2CLIMB serves as a wonderful story for the liberalization of clinical trial entry criteria and inclusion of patients that we need in clinical trials and who need novel therapeutics as well,” said Erika Hamilton, MD, Sarah Cannon.

MINDACT Confirms Clinical Utility of MammaPrint

A long-term analysis of the phase 3 MINDACT trial confirmed that the 70-gene signature MammaPrint assay can identify which breast cancer patients with a high clinical-pathological risk do not need adjuvant chemotherapy (Abstract 506).

Among the intention to treat population with a median follow-up of 8.7 years, patients with high clinical risk but low genomic risk who received adjuvant chemotherapy (n=749) had a small gain in distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) compared with patients who did not receive chemotherapy (n=748; 92.0%; 95% CI, 89.6 – 93.8% vs 89.4%; 95% CI, 86.8 – 91.5).

A subgroup analysis among hormone-receptor positive and HER2-negative patients revealed no difference in DMFS between treatment groups for patients over the age of 50, yet a 5% difference for patients 50 years or younger, favoring treatment with chemotherapy (93.6%; 95% CI, 89.3% – 96.3% vs 88.6%; 95% CI, 83.5 – 92.3%).

“MINDACT showed us that patients with clinical high, genomic low disease continue to do well without chemotherapy at 8 years of follow-up,” said Angela de Michele, MD, University of Pennsylvania. She cautioned that the DMFS gain seen with chemotherapy for premenopausal patients “may be due to a lack of ovarian function suppressant in the non-chemotherapy arm.”

PHERGAIN Showcases De-escalation Strategy

A PET/CT scan with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) tracer helped identify which patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer were most likely to benefit from trastuzumab and pertuzumab with endocrine therapy, according to the results of the PHERGAIN trial (Abstract 503).

Patients with HER2-positive disease were randomized to receive either trastuzumab and pertuzumab with chemotherapy (n=71) or trastuzumab and pertuzumab with endocrine therapy (n=285).

A PET/CT scan was used to guide treatment for patients in the chemotherapy-free arm by having patients undergo imaging after 6 weeks of treatment. If the scan showed a response, patients continued on the chemotherapy-free regimen. If not, patients switched to trastuzumab and pertuzumab with chemotherapy. Patients in the chemotherapy-containing arm also underwent imaging but the results were not used to guide treatment.

For the chemotherapy-free arm, patients who had a PET response achieved a higher pathologic complete response rate compared with patients who did not have a PET response (37.9% vs 25.9% P=0.069).

Study presenter Javier Cortes, MD, PhD, IOB Institute of Oncology, Hospital Quirónsalud, Medica Scientia Innovation Research, and Vall d’Hebron University of Oncology, said the chemotherapy-free strategy did not “jeopardize” breast conserving surgery and was also associated with a “more favorable” toxicity profile.

By Christina Bennett, MS

June 01, 2019 - 06:06 pm Posted in ASCO Conference Coverage Posted in Breast Posted in Lung (includes NSCLC, SCLC, Mesothelioma) Posted in Ovarian Posted in Stomach (Gastric) Cancer comments0 Comments

Several late-breaking studies made a splash today at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. During the press conference this morning, results from the phase III MONALEESA-7 and KEYNOTE-062 trials were presented as well as long-term survival data from the KEYNOTE-001 trial. In the afternoon, a poster session featured a late-breaking study about the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in ovarian cancer.

Adding Ribociclib to Endocrine Therapy Improves Survival (Abstract LBA1008)

The addition of ribociclib, an oral CDK 4/6 inhibitor, to frontline endocrine therapy significantly extended overall survival (OS) for premenopausal women with advanced hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer, according to data from the phase III MONALEESA-7 trial.

Participants (N=672) were randomly assigned to received endocrine therapy plus ribociclib or endocrine therapy plus placebo. At a median follow-up of 34.6 months, 35% of patients in the ribociclib arm and 17% in the placebo arm were still receiving the assigned treatment.

The median OS was not yet reached for the ribociclib arm and 40.9 months for the placebo arm, resulting in a 29% relative reduction in risk of death for the ribociclib arm (HR=0.712; 95% CI, 0.535 – 0.948; P=0.00973). At 42 months of follow-up, the estimated OS rate was higher for the ribociclib arm compared with the placebo arm (70.2% vs 46.0%).

“This is the first time a statistically significant improvement in overall survival has been observed with a CDK 4/6 inhibitor in combination with endocrine therapy in patients with hormone receptor-positive advanced disease,” said study presenter Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Pembrolizumab in Gastric Cancer May be Safer Than Chemo (Abstract LBA4007)

Compared with chemotherapy, pembrolizumab alone had similar survival and less toxicity in the first-line setting for patients with PD-L1−positive, HER2-negative, advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction (G/GEJ) cancer in the phase III KEYNOTE-062 trial. A survival benefit with pembrolizumab was seen in patients with tumors that had high PD-L1 expression—defined as a combined positive score of at least 10.

In terms of toxicity, 54.3% of patients who received pembrolizumab had a treatment-related adverse event and 16.9% had a grade 3 or higher adverse event. In contrast, 91.8% of patients who received chemotherapy had a treatment-related adverse event and 69.3% had a grade 3 or higher adverse event.

“For patients with advanced gastric or gastroesophageal cancer, pembrolizumab should really, in many cases, replace chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for this population,” said ASCO Expert Richard L. Schilsky, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of ASCO.

5-Year Survival Rates for NSCLC Leap Forward with Pembrolizumab (Abstract LBA9015)

Pembrolizumab improved 5-year survival rates for advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients (NSCLC), according to long-term data from the multicohort phase Ib KEYNOTE-001 trial. At 5 years of follow-up, 18% of trial participants (100 of 550) were still alive. By comparison, before the advent of pembrolizumab, the average 5-year survival rate for advanced NSCLC was 5.5%.

Higher PD-L1 tumor proportion score (TPS) was linked to better survival, particularly among treatment-naïve patients—29.6% with a PD-L1 TPS of 50% or greater were still alive 5 years later compared with 15.7% with a PD-L1 TPS between 1% and 49%.

Among patients who received at least 2 years of pembrolizumab treatment and were still alive at data cutoff (n=46), the 5-year OS rate was 78.6% for treatment-naïve patients and 75.8% for previously treated patients. The objective response rate was 86% for treatment-naïve patients and 91% for previously treated patients.

ACA Linked to Better Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer (Abstract LBA5563)

After the implementation of the ACA in 2010, women with ovarian cancer had an increased likelihood of being diagnosed at an early stage and receiving treatment within 30 days of diagnosis, a poster reported.

The study researchers used data from the National Cancer Database and assessed early stage at diagnosis (I/II vs III/IV) and time to treatment (<30 days vs ≥30 days) in women aged 21 to 64 with ovarian cancer (n=72,987) and compared that to women aged 65 or older with ovarian cancer (N=59,499). The study time period defined 2006 to 2009 as before the ACA and 2011 to 2014 as after the ACA.

A difference-in-differences (DD) approach showed a trend toward increased diagnosis among younger women (DD=1.7%; 95% CI, 0.7 – 2.7; P=0.001) and reduction in delays in treatment of 30 days or greater (DD=−1.6%; 95% CI, −0.7 to −2.7; P=0.001) after the ACA was implemented.

“As stage and treatment are major determinants of survival, these gains under the ACA may have long-term impacts on women with ovarian cancer,” concluded the investigators.

Christina Bennett, MS


One of biggest challenges in attending an annual ASCO meeting is time management. With over 2,000 abstracts submitted this year and a wide variety of new drugs and therapeutic targets, ASCO 2019 will be no different.

During a webinar last week sponsored by E-Squared Communications (a Conisus company), OBR and three renowned cancer experts helped identify some of the “high impact studies” that are sure to gain a lot of attention at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting. For those of you who missed this increasingly popular annual webinar, the experts not only covered the important data but also provided some suggestions on where to go if you happen to play hooky for a day at ASCO. Don Sharpe, President and Founder of OBR, moderated the session, and the primary areas of focus included cervical, prostate, pancreatic, breast, lung, and advanced gastric/gastroesophageal junction cancers as well as multiple myeloma and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Pending its final outcome, the first trial highlighted in the webinar could well be a practice-changing study. This phase 3 Intergroup trial (E3A06) in patients with asymptomatic intermediate- or high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma is the largest randomized trial in this setting to date. The 182 patients who participated in this study were randomized to either receive lenalidomide alone or observation, with progression-free survival (PFS) being the primary endpoint. At a median of 28 months of follow-up, the 3-year PFS rate in the lenalidomide arm seems to be numerically trending in the right direction (91% vs. 66%). This data will be highlighted in an oral abstract (8001) session on Sunday, June 2nd.

Following an interesting review of a phase 2 study highlighting the use of LN-145 tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in patients with cervical cancer, the next phase 3 study highlighted by the experts was a late-breaking abstract. This Australian and New Zealand Urogenital (ANZUP) Cooperative Group trial (ENZAMET) evaluated enzalutamide as first-line androgen-deprivation therapy for metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. The abstract LBA2 will be presented at the plenary session on Sunday, June 2nd and is sure to draw comparisons to the earlier LATITUDE study of abiraterone in this setting.

Pancreatic cancer seems to be climbing into the spotlight as well this year, as the OBR experts identified the Adjuvant Treatment in Pancreatic Cancer Study (APACT) as an important one to watch. This study evaluated nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine versus gemcitabine alone for patients with surgically resected pancreatic cancer. With 866 patients enrolled, this large clinical trial had a primary endpoint of disease-free survival; however, the authors noted that the overall survival (OS) results seen in this study may better support the rationale of using this combination in the adjuvant setting, especially for patients who are ineligible for FOLFIRINOX.

The PARP inhibitor olaparib was also discussed in the webinar as a potentially new therapeutic option for patients with pancreatic cancer. The phase 3 POLO trial of olaparib versus placebo as maintenance therapy in patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer whose disease had not progressed following first-line platinum-based chemotherapy will be highlighted during the plenary session on Sunday, June 2nd (LBA4). This study is the first positive phase 3 trial of any PARP inhibitor in germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Pembrolizumab was highlighted as well in two studies looking at gastric cancer and GEJ adenocarcinoma (KEYNOTE-062) and advanced HCC (KEYNOTE-240). In KEYNOTE-062, pembrolizumab met its primary endpoint by demonstrating OS noninferiority compared to chemotherapy in the intent-to-treat population. In KEYNOTE-240, pembrolizumab showed positive numerical trends but did not meet statistical significance for its co-primary endpoints of OS and PFS; however, it did show an improved response rate versus placebo (ORR 16.9% vs. 2.2%), and it will be interesting to see what impact this might have going forward.

Another important KEYNOTE study is KEYNOTE-189: Updated OS and progression after the next line of therapy (PFS2) with pembrolizumab (pembro) plus chemo with pemetrexed and platinum vs placebo plus chemo for metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC. KEYNOTE-001 is also a late-breaking abstract looking at 5-year long-term OS for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer treated with pembrolizumab.

There are certainly other important abstracts at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, but at the very least, this review should help narrow down your choices.

By Adrian Barfield, President, Medallion Healthcare

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