AACR, Aging, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Melanoma / 21.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D. The Ira Brind professor and Co-program leader of the Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program The Wistar Institute Member of Wistar’s Melanoma Research Center Philadelphia  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response:  This study shows for the first time that older patients, especially those who have had prior MAPKi therapy fare better than younger patients when treated with anti-PD1. We found that tumors in younger patients and younger mice have higher levels of Tregulatory cells, the cells that regulate other immune cells. This is not true systemically, only within the tumor microenvironment. We were surprised because we expected that, as with targeted therapy, older patients would have a poorer response to immunotherapy, given what we perceive as a poorer immune system in older patients.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Lung Cancer / 14.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Noelia Rivera MD Dermatologist Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In the last few years some new therapies targeting immune checkpoints have been developed. The programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) are immune checkpoints that prevent the immune system to act against own tissues. By blocking these mediators it is possible to prevent tumors to escape from the immune system. About half of the patients receiving these therapies will develop mild to moderate cutaneous adverse events. In the pre-authorization studies for malignant melanoma these include rash, vitiligo, and pruritus. "Rash" has commonly been reported as an adverse event in many oncologic trials evaluating the drugs, without providing further information about the clinical or histological details. Lately, lichenoid eruptions associated to these therapies have been reported and it suggests that an important percentage of these reactions present lichenoid histological features. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Melanoma / 10.05.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yasuhiro Nakamura, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Skin Oncology/Dermatology Comprehensive Cancer Center Saitama Medical University International Medical Center Hidaka, Saitama MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Regressing nevi, which are frequently associated with halo phenomenon, occur in approximately 1% of the general population. In patients with melanoma, spontaneous or treatment-related depigmentation of the skin (vitiligo) is sometimes observed. Although humoral and cellular immune responses may play a crucial role in their development, immune reactions to benign melanocytic nevi (BMN) without a halo are extremely rare in both the general population and in patients with melanoma. This publication reports a rare case with multiple metastatic melanomas who showed a remarkable clinical response to nivolumab with a simultaneous prominent immune reaction to multiple BMN without halo phenomenon. This rare phenomenon may be associated with dramatic efficacy of nivolumab in melanoma patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Immunotherapy, NEJM, UCSD / 04.05.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: William J. Sandborn, MD Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Surgery Chief, Division of Gastroenterology Vice Chair for Clinical Operations, Department of Medicine Director, UCSD IBD Center University of California San Diego and UC San Diego Health System MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is still a substantial unmet need for new treatments for patients with ulcerative colitis. A previous Phase II study had suggested that tofacitinib might be effective for short term therapy of ulcerative colitis. The patients in that study for the most part had not failed anti-TNF therapy. Now we report the findings from 3 large Phase III trials, two short term trials and one long term trial, demonstrating that tofacitinib 10 mg twice daily is effective for short term therapy, and that both 5 mg and 10 mg twice daily is effective for long term therapy. We also demonstrated that tofacitinib is effective both in patients who have not failed anti-TNF therapy and patients who have failed anti-TNF therapy. The study demonstrated induction of clinical remission, clinical response and mucosal healing (flexible sigmoidoscopy improvement) over the short term, and maintenance of clinical remission, clinical response, and mucosal healing over the long term. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Neurology, Radiology / 01.05.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ben Larimer, PhD research fellow in lab of Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital Professor, Radiology, Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment, unfortunately they only work in a minority of patients. This means that most people who are put on a checkpoint inhibitor will not benefit but still have the increased risk of side effects. They also lose time they could have spent on other therapies. The ability to differentiate early in the course of treatment patients who are likely to benefit from immunotherapy from those who will not greatly improves individual patient care and helps accelerate the development of new therapies. The main purpose of our study was to find a way to separate immunotherapy responders from non-responders at the earliest time point possible, and develop an imaging probe that would allow us to distinguish this non-invasively. Granzyme B is a protein that immune cells use to actually kill their target. They keep it locked up in special compartments until they get the right signal to kill, after which they release it along with another protein called perforin that allows it to go inside of tumor cells and kill them. We designed a probe that only binds to granzyme B after it is released from immune cells, so that we could directly measure immune cell killing. We then attached it to a radioactive atom that quickly decays, so we could use PET scanning to noninvasively image the entire body to see where immune cells were actively releasing tumor-killing granzyme B. We took genetically identical mice and gave them identical cancer and then treated every mouse with checkpoint inhibitors, which we knew would result in roughly half of the mice responding, but we wouldn’t know which ones until their tumors began to shrink. A little over a week after giving therapy to the mice, and before any of the tumors started to shrink, we injected our imaging probe and performed PET scans. When we looked at the mice by PET imaging, they fell into two groups. One group had high PET uptake, meaning high levels of granzyme B in the tumors, the other group had low levels of PET signal in the tumors. When we then followed out the two groups, all of the mice with high granzyme B PET uptake ended up responding to the therapy and their tumors subsequently disappeared, whereas those with low uptake had their tumors continue to grow. We were very excited about this and so we expanded our collaboration with co-authors Keith Flaherty and Genevieve Boland to get patient samples from patients who were on checkpoint inhibitor therapy to see if the same pattern held true in humans. When we looked at the human melanoma tumor samples we saw the same pattern, high secreted granzyme levels in responders and much lower levels in non-responders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Boehringer Ingelheim, Immunotherapy, Pulmonary Disease / 27.04.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas Leonard, Ph.D. Executive director, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Specialty Care Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you tell us a little more about IPF? Response: Boehringer Ingelheim’s Phase III PF-ILD (progressive fibrosing interstitial lung disease) trial will investigate the safety and efficacy of nintedanib, in a range of progressive fibrosing lung conditions other than idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. The PF-ILD trial is the first time that patients with different fibrosing lung diseases will be included in one single clinical trial assessing the efficacy of nintedanib as a potential treatment, and the trial is the first in the field of fibrosing lung diseases to group patients based on the clinical characteristics of their disease, rather than the diagnosis. There are more than 200 conditions that affect the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs, or interstitium, and, collectively, these conditions are called interstitial lung diseases -- or ILDs. Based on clinical observations, there is a group of patients with ILD who, independent from the classification of the ILD, exhibit progressive fibrosis. The proposed terminology for describing this group of patients is PF-ILD. In these patients, the disease appears to follow a course similar to IPF with worsening of respiratory symptoms, lung function, quality of life and ability to perform daily activities, as well as early mortality despite treatment. There is currently no efficacious treatment available for PF-ILD. This trial is exploring how fibrosis in the lungs is treated and whether nintedanib is a potential treatment, based on the efficacy and safety of nintedanib in IPF, a rare and serious lung disease that causes permanent scarring of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. IPF affects as many as 132,000 Americans, typically men over the age of 65. On average, people with IPF live only three to five years after diagnosis, and approximately 40,000 people die from this disease every year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Boehringer Ingelheim, Dermatology, Eli Lilly, Immunotherapy, J&J-Janssen, Merck / 30.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Eric Hughes Global Development Franchise Head Immunology & Dermatology Novartis MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease that negatively impacts patients’ quality of life (QOL); therefore QOL outcomes are increasingly recognized as an important measure of efficacy in psoriasis, complementing traditional measures of severity such as the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI). Secukinumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that selectively neutralizes interleukin-17A (IL-17A), exhibits significant efficacy in the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, demonstrating a rapid onset of action and a favorable safety profile. Biologic therapies for psoriasis have previously been associated with a fall-off in efficacy over time; accordingly, extended follow-up is required to adequately evaluate novel therapeutic strategies like IL-17A inhibition. Recently, results from the extension of the SCULPTURE secukinumab trial showed that high responses initially achieved with secukinumab at year 1 in the SCULPTURE study were sustained over time up to 3 years with no new or unexpected safety concerns. In this analysis, we examined whether the sustained efficacy observed in SCULPTURE up to 3 years was translated into sustained effect of secukinumab on patient’s QOL measured by the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) questionnaire. SCULPTURE, a multi-center extension study, was conducted with subjects who completed 52 weeks of treatment. Subjects were randomized into two maintenance dosing regimens; a fixed-interval schedule of secukinumab 300 mg every 4 weeks (Fixed interval dosing regimen (FI) cohort), and secukinumab retreatment-as-needed (Retreatment as needed (RAN) cohort), in which subjects received placebo until start of relapse, at which time secukinumab 300 mg every 4 weeks was re-initiated. The analysis using as-observed data showed that at Year 3, improvements in the total score on DLQI was well sustained in both FI and RAN cohorts. Approximately two-thirds of the subjects in the FI cohort reported no impact of skin disease on QOL (corresponding to a score of 0 or 1 on DLQI). The proportion of patients in the RAN cohort reporting no impact of the disease on their QOL was well sustained through 3 years but remained consistently lower than those observed in the FI cohort. The results for each subscale of the DLQI questionnaire were consistent with those with DLQI total score i.e. showing high and sustained proportions of patients reporting no impact of the disease on different domains of health-related QOL in the two secukinumab cohorts with greater effect in the FI cohort compared to the RAN cohort. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Immunotherapy / 29.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emma Guttman, MD, PhD Professor, Dermatology, Medicine and Clinical Immunology Vice Chair of Research in the Dermatology Department Director of the center for Excellence Eczema in the Occupational/Contact Dermatitis clinic Director of the Laboratory of Inflammatory Skin Diseases Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center New York MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by atopic dermatitis? How many people are affected by this disorder? Response: Atopic dermatitis or eczema as most people know it is an itchy red scaly skin disorder characterized by a very severe itch, that disrupts daily activities, and sleep and severely impairs the quality of life of patients. In the US 30 million people are affected by it, and 1/3 of these we expect to be moderate to severe. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for Dupilumab therapy? How does it differ from emollients, steroids or topical immunomodulator treatments for eczema ie Protopic? Response: The background is that we currently do not have good treatments for long term use for our moderate to severe patients. The only approved drug by the FDA for atopic dermatitis in the US is oral prednisone, that has many long term side effects and causes disease rebound upon discontinuation. Other treatments with many side effects are broad immune suppressants--Cyclopsorin A, Mycophenolate mofetyl and phototherapy that is not feasible for most patients. Thus there is a large unmet need for safer and better treatments for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis patients. Dupilumab is different since it only targets one immune axis--Th2 axis, providing a safer alternative, with high efficacy, that is equal or even better than cyclosporin A, that is the current gold standard immune suppressant, and harbors many side effects including permanent effects on the kidneys after long term use. Topical treatments, while useful for mild patients, are often not adequate or sufficient to control moderate to severe patients that usually have more than 10% body surface area involved and need a systemic treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Boehringer Ingelheim, Dermatology, Immunotherapy / 29.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eric Hughes, Global Head of Development, Immunology & Dermatology Novartis Pharma AG Basel, Switzerland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is well established that psoriasis negatively affects quality of life and work productivity. However, how the treatments affect psoriasis severity (based on skin clearance, itch, pain and scaling symptoms), health-related quality of life (HRQOL), work productivity, and daily activity directly or indirectly (via other factors) are still largely unknown. Secukinumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that selectively neutralizes interleukin-17A (IL-17A), exhibits significant efficacy in the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis, demonstrating a rapid onset of action and a favorable safety profile. In CLEAR, a Phase 3b head-to-head study versus ustekinumab, secukinumab demonstrated sustained superior efficacy in clearing skin through Week 52, greater improvement in symptoms and HRQOL, greater relief of work and activity limitations, and a comparable safety profile. In this sub-analysis of the CLEAR study, Novartis was interested in examining the relationships among multiple variables that are thought to be important to patients with psoriasis. The direct and indirect (i.e. mediated) effects of treatment (secukinumab or ustekinumab) on psoriasis severity and patients’ HRQOL, work productivity, and daily activity were examined. The evaluation was conducted using structural equation modeling (or path analysis) and compared these relationships for secukinumab versus ustekinumab at 16 and 52 weeks. Structural equation modeling or path analysis is a statistical method that models the direct and indirect relationship between multiple patient-relevant outcomes simultaneously. Goodness-of-fit statistics for all models were excellent confirming the robustness of the results. Results at Week 16 and at Week 52 for different Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) response categories (e.g. PASI 75, PASI 90, PASI 100) indicated that psoriasis treatment indirectly affected HRQOL and work productivity and daily activity, measured with the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) and the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaires, respectively. Actually, greater effect of secukinumab over ustekinumab on DLQI was mediated by greater improvement of secukinumab in PASI response as well as by greater improvement in psoriasis-related symptoms (itch, pain and scaling). Greater effect of secukinumab over ustekinumab on work productivity and daily activity was mediated by greater improvement of secukinumab in psoriasis-related symptoms. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Cancer Research, Fertility, Immunotherapy / 27.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth S. K. Tung, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Microbiology Director of UVA Research Histology Core Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research University of Virginia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The immune system needs to see tissue antigens to avoid responding to them in order to prevent autoimmune disease development. The current dogma, stated in all Immunology and Reproductive Biology textbooks, considers the sperm antigens in the testis to be exempted from this process. They are considered totally hidden behind a tissue barrier, and are invisible to the immune system. Because sperm antigens are treated as foreign molecules, they should stimulate strong immune response when employed in cancer vaccines against antigens common to sperm and cancers. It is also believed that sperm molecules are protected by local factors that inhibit inflammation, whereas systemic mechanisms such as regulatory T cells would not exist. The paradigm has restrained ongoing research on systemic tolerance to sperm, and the need to understanding systemic regulation in infertility research (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Pulmonary Disease / 17.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Hossein-Ardeschir Ghofrani University of Giessen and Marburg Lung Center Giessen, Germany, and Member of the German Center of Lung Research and Department of Medicine Imperial College London London, UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterised by increased pulmonary vascular resistance (increased resistance to blood flow in the pulmonary circulation), which can lead to right heart failure and death. Riociguat is the first of a new class of drugs – the soluble guanylate cyclase stimulators. It has been approved for the treatment of PAH based on the impressive efficacy and safety results from two pivotal Phase III studies: PATENT-1 and its long-term extension phase, PATENT-2. PATENT-1 was a 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of riociguat in patients with PAH. Patients who completed PATENT-1 without ongoing riociguat-related serious adverse events (AEs) could enter PATENT-2, in which they received open-label riociguat. PATENT-1 admitted patients whether they were treatment-naïve or already receiving targeted PAH therapies, such as endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs) and prostanoids. This current analysis compared the safety and efficacy of riociguat between treatment-naïve and pretreated patients in the PATENT-2 long-term extension study. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Immunotherapy / 17.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brinda Emu MD Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases Yale University New Haven, CT  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Ibalizumab is a fully humanized monoclonal antibody that targets the CD4 receptor.  This Phase III registrational study enrolled individuals with HIV infection that harbor high levels of multi-drug resistance, with limited treatment options.  At IDWeek in October, 2016, data was presented that demonstrated patients experienced a significant decrease in viral load after receiving a single loading dose of ibalizumab 2,000 mg intravenously (IV) in addition to their failing antiretroviral therapies (ART) (or no therapy). Seven days after this loading dose, 83% of patients achieved a ≥ 0.5 log10 decrease from baseline compared with 3% during the seven-day control period .These results were statistically significant (p<0.0001). At CROI, additional data on the Week 24 results from this study are now presented. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Imperial College, JAMA / 16.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Stephen R. Durham, MD Imperial College, London, and Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust London, United Kingdom MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Allergic rhinitis affects 1 in 4 the UK population and may compromise sleep and work/school performance and be associated with bronchial asthma. When nasal steroids and antihistamines do not work or cause side effects, allergen immunotherapy is an alternative. Immunotherapy using high doses of grass pollen allergen as monthly injections or daily tablets under the tongue are highly effective. Treatment for 3 years not only gives sustained improvement on treatment but also long-term benefits and disease remission for at least 2-3 years after stopping treatment. This single centre study at Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital London included 106 adults with severe Hayfever followed up for 3 years, 2 years on treatment and 1 year after stopping treatment. In this double-blind trial, 3 randomised groups took sublingual immunotherapy, subcutaneous immunotherapy and placebo treatment. 92 completed the trial. Results showed that 2 years treatment with both modalities did not result in persistent benefit at year 3, although the researchers found that both treatments were effective compared to placebo during years 1 and 2. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Columbia, Heart Disease, Immunotherapy, Lipids / 13.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henry N. Ginsberg, MD Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research Columbia University Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons New York, NY MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies in mice and cells have identified increased hepatic low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors as the basis for LDL lowering by PCSK9 inhibitors, but there have been no human studies characterizing the effects of PCSK9 inhibitors on lipoprotein metabolism, particularly effects on very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL) or LDL metabolism. This study in 18 healthy subjects, found that alirocumab decreased the number of IDL and LDL particles in the circulation, and their associated cholesterol and apoB levels by increasing efficiency of the clearance of IDL and LDL. There were not effects on VLDL metabolism. The increased clearance of IDL meant that less LDL was produced from IDL, which is the precursor of LDL. Thus, the dramatic reductions in LDL cholesterol resulted from both less LDL being produced and more efficient clearance of LDL. These results are consistent with increases in LDL receptors available to clear IDL and LDL from blood during PCSK9 inhibition. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, JAMA / 12.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael C. Heinrich, MD Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology Oregon Health & Sciences University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior to 2000, there were no effective medical treatments for advanced GI stromal tumor and patients faced an average life expectancy of 18 months or less.  In our study of the  long-term treatment results using imatinib (Gleevec),  we found that approximately 7% of patients were still on front-line therapy at 10 years without any evidence of tumor progression.  More importantly, the estimated 10 year survival was 23%.   Progression-free and overall survival rates were significantly higher for patients with KIT exon 11-mutant GIST when compared with patients with KIT exon 9-mutant or “wild-type” GIST (no KIT/PDGFRA mutations). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, NEJM, Transplantation / 19.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenar D. Jhaveri, MD Professor of Medicine Division of Kidney Diseases and Hypertension Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, 100 Community Drive, Great Neck, NY 11021 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The immune check point inhibitors are novel anti cancer agents being used rapidly in various cancers. Many cancers don’t allow our natural immune system to attack the cancer. These immunotherapy agents “activate” the immune system to attack the cancer. These agents have been reported to cause multiple end organ side effects as noted by this recent NYT article. We also recently reported the known renal effects of immunotherapy. In the kidney transplant patient who is on immunosuppressive agents, the physicians need to keep the immune system suppressed to preserve the kidney. When one of these agents are used for a cancer in a kidney transplant patient, prior reports have suggested severe rejection episodes and loss of the transplanted kidney. Our case in the NEJM is the first report of a preventive strategy used to allow for simultaneous treatment of cancer and preventive rejection of the kidney. We used a regimen of steroids and sirolimus( an anti-proliferative agent that is used to treat cancer and also is an immunosuppresant) along with the immunotherapy. The cancer started regressing and the kidney did not reject. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Nature, Technology, University of Michigan / 27.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: James Moon, PhD John Gideon Searle Assistant Professor University of Michigan Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Biointerfaces Institute Ann Arbor, MI, 48109 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The field of cancer immunotherapy has recently made a breakthrough with the clinical success of immune checkpoint inhibitors, which work by removing the brakes on immunosuppressed T-cells. However, these approaches generally work by augmenting pre-existing T-cell immunity and benefit only a subset of patients. In addition, because the majority of somatic mutations in cancer cells are unique to each patient, cancer immunotherapy may benefit from a personalized approach. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Lancet, Lung Cancer / 23.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Kiyotaka Yoh Department of Thoracic Oncology National Cancer Center Hospital East Kashiwa, Japan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: LURET is multicenter, single-arm, phase II study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of vandetanib as RET inhibitor in patients with advanced RET-rearranged non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In 2012, RET rearrangements were identified as rare oncogenic alterations for NSCLC. Among 17 eligible patients included in primary analysis, the objective response rate was 53% (95% CI 28–77), which met the primary endpoint. At the data cutoff, median progression-free survival was 4.7 months (95% CI 2.8–8.5). Overall, vandetanib was tolerated, with an adverse event profile similar to those seen in previous large population studies of vandetanib in patients with unselected NSCLC. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Immunotherapy / 22.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joyce O'Shaughnessy, MD Co-Chair, Breast Cancer Research Texas Oncology-Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The MONALEESA-2 trial is a Phase III, randomized, double-blind, international study of LEE011 in combination with letrozole vs. letrozole alone, in postmenopausal women with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer who had received no prior systemic therapy for advanced disease. Because de novo disease has not been previously treated with systemic treatment for early-stage breast cancer, tumors may exhibit a different disease biology, which could result in varied responses compared to patients who experience recurrence of their initial breast cancer. We analyzed a pre-defined subgroup of women with de novo HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer to better understand the response of LEE011 plus letrozole in this patient population. In the de novo advanced breast cancer patient sub-group, progression free survival was significantly prolonged; LEE011 plus letrozole reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 55% over letrozole alone (HR=0.448 [95% CI: 0.267–0.750]). The 12-month PFS rate was 82% in the LEE011 plus letrozole arm compared to 66% with letrozole alone. Most adverse events were mild to moderate in severity, identified early through routine monitoring, and generally managed through dose interruption and reduction. The most common all-grade adverse events (≥30% of patients with de novo advanced breast cancer) in the LEE011 plus letrozole arm were neutropenia (70.2%), nausea (48.2%), fatigue (42.1%), alopecia (39.5%), and leukopenia (31.6%). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Immunotherapy, Melanoma, Pharmacology / 22.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Herbert H F Loong MBBS(HK), PDipMDPath(HK), MRCP(UK), FHKCP, FHKAM(Medicine) Specialist in Medical Oncology Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology Deputy Medical Director, Phase 1 Clinical Trials Centre The Chinese University of Hong Kong Prince of Wales Hospital Hong Kong SAR MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response: Advanced melanoma have previously been known to be a disease with a dismal prognosis. Over the last few years, clinical trials data and real-world clinical experience of checkpoint inhibitors have significantly changed the treatment landscape for advanced melanoma patients. This was first demonstrated with the Anti-CTLA4 Ab Ipilimumab, and more recently with the Anti-PD1 Ab pembrolizumab. Whilst we have seen dramatic improvements in disease control with the use of these agents, the high costs of these drugs may be prohibitive to the average patient who has to pay out-of-pocket and potentially may place significant burdens on healthcare systems. There is a need to rationally assess the cost-effectiveness of these new agents, specifically addressing the potential benefits to the individual patient and to society, whilst balancing the costs that such a treatment may entail. The assessment of cost-effectiveness of a particular treatment is extremely important in Hong Kong, as this has direct implications on drug reimbursement and accessibility of the particular drug in question at public hospitals in Hong Kong. The aim of the study is to assess the cost-effectiveness of pembrolizumab in patients with advanced melanoma used in the first-line setting in Hong Kong, and comparing it to (1) ipilimumab and (2) cytotoxic chemotherapy. Cytotoxic chemotherapy chosen for comparison were drugs commonly used in the first line setting in Hong Kong, which included dacarbazine, temozolomide and carboplatin+paclitaxel combination. It is important to note that whilst ipilimumab is registered for this indication in Hong Kong, there is no reimbursement of this drug by the Hospital Authority in Hong Kong and patients have to pay out-of-pocket. The cost of ipilimumab and the associated side effects has been prohibitive to most advanced melanoma patients in the public setting. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Multiple Sclerosis, NEJM, University Texas / 22.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jerry S. Wolinsky, MD Emeritus Professor in Neurology McGovern Medical School The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston’s Health University Department of Neurology Houston, Texas 77030 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Multiple sclerosis (MS) clinically is a very heterogeneous disease. It presents in considerably different ways and has a very poorly predictable clinical course. In an attempt to better communicate between experts in the field, there have been multiple attempts to categorize “typical” courses of the disease. How we think about the disease is in part driven by these somewhat artificial categories that lump our patients into those with relapsing forms of the disease (relapsing remitting with or without accumulating clinical disability, and secondary progressive with accumulating disability eventually occurring even in the absence of apparent clinical episodes of the disease), and primary progressive MS, where patients are slowly or sometimes rather rapidly accumulating disability in the absence of prior clinical relapses. However, the distinctions between multiple sclerosis patients are not always as clear as the definitions would suggest, and it is certain that patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis sometimes have clinical relapses after years of never having had relapses, and show MRI evidence of having accumulated many lesions in the brain over the course of their disease. Until now, none of the drugs that have shown benefit for relapsing disease have been able to convincingly show clinical benefit for patients with primary progressive disease, and for that matter have shown variable results when attempted in patients categorized as having secondary progressive courses. While some of our currently approved drugs have shown hints of benefit when tried in major clinical trials in primary progressive MS, the results were not been robust enough to seek regulatory approval. The Oratorio study design was based on lessons learned from prior trials in primary progressive and relapsing forms of MS, as well as the recognition that B cells might play an important role in the immunopathogenesis of disease based on a considerable amount of preclinical work and observations in patients with multiple sclerosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy / 09.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vince Giranda, M.D., PH.D. Project Director AbbVie Oncology Development MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this Phase 2 study, called BROCADE 2, veliparib combined with the platinum chemotherapy regimen carboplatin and paclitaxel showed positive trends in overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), although these were not statistically significant. Importantly there were no meaningful increase in side effects with the addition of veliparib to carboplatin and paclitaxel. The veliparib combination regimen also demonstrated a significantly higher objective response rate. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Leukemia, Transplantation, University of Pennsylvania / 05.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alex Ganetsky, PharmD, BCOP Clinical Pharmacy Specialist – Hematology/BMT Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? • Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) recipients with steroid-refractory gastrointestinal acute graft-versus-host disease (GI-GVHD) have poor outcomes. • There is no consensus for optimal treatment of these patients. • We retrospectively evaluated the efficacy of tocilizumab, an interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, for the treatment of steroid-refractory GI-GVHD. • 10/11 (91%) patients achieved a complete response after a median time of 11 days (range, 2 – 18) from tocilizumab initiation. • The median time to response onset, defined as improvement in GVHD stage by at least 1, was 1 day (range, 1 – 6). • At a median follow-up of 3 months (range, 1.1 – 12.8) from tocilizumab initiation, 8 of 11 patients are alive and free of the their underlying hematologic malignancy. • No associations between serum levels of IL-6 and tocilizumab response could be identified. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Immunotherapy, Rheumatology / 28.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Atul Deodhar, M.D., M.R.C.P. Rheumatology Oregon Health and Science University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Patients with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), or ankylosing spondylitis (AS) are at an increased risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) compared with the general population. It is important that we assess whether new therapies, including the recently approved interleukin-17A (IL-17A) inhibitor, secukinumab, have an acceptable profile in terms of the risk of IBD in patients with psoriasis, PsA, or AS. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Multiple Sclerosis / 22.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with Ralph Kern, M.D. Senior vice president, Worldwide Medical Biogen MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Previously reported clinical trials of daclizumab demonstrated significant efficacy across clinical and MRI measures, compared to placebo and interferon beta-1a 30 mcg intramuscular (IM) injection, and established the therapy’s safety profile for up to two to three years. These trials were the basis for approval by health authorities in the United States, European Union and Australia. Daclizumab is a once-monthly, self-administered, subcutaneous therapy for relapsing forms of MS (RMS). At ECTRIMS we presented the first interim results from EXTEND, a long-term extension study. EXTEND is an ongoing multicenter, open-label study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of daclizumab treatment in more than 1,500 patients with RMS. This interim ECTRIMS analysis includes up to five years of data from patients who were previously enrolled in DECIDE. DECIDE was a Phase 3 study evaluating the effects of daclizumab relative to interferon beta-1a IM. In the new analysis, patients who were treated with interferon beta-1a IM for two to three years in DECIDE switched to daclizumab when they enrolled in EXTEND, and were compared to daclizumab patients treated continuously in both DECIDE and EXTEND. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy / 19.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Edith Perez, MD Vice President and Head of U.S. Medical Affairs Genentech BioOncology MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: MARIANNE was designed to evaluate three HER2-targeted regimens in previously untreated (first-line) HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (Kadcyla alone, Kadcyla plus Perjeta, Herceptin plus chemotherapy). The study met its non-inferiority endpoint, showing similar progression-free survival (PFS) among the three treatment arms. However, neither Kadcyla-containing treatment arm significantly improved PFS compared to Herceptin and chemotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy / 17.11.2016

MEDICALRESEARCH.COM INTERVIEW WITH: THOMAS W. DUBENSKY, JR., PH.D. CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER ADURO BIOTECH, INC. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This presentation highlights findings from multiple preclinical models evaluating ADU-S100 (also known as MIW815), Aduro Biotech’s investigational STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) Pathway Activator immunotherapy. The company is developing ADU-S100 in partnership with Novartis. ADU-S100 is a synthetic ‘off-the-shelf’ small molecule immune modulator that is designed to generate a response against a patient’s own unique set of cancer antigens. It does this through the activation of human STING. STING is generally expressed at high levels in immune cells, including dendritic cells. Once activated, the STING receptor initiates a profound innate immune response through multiple pathways, inducing the expression of a broad profile of cytokines, including interferons and chemokines. This subsequently leads to the development of a systemic tumor antigen-specific T-cell adaptive immune response. We conducted preclinical studies in a variety of preclinical models to better understand the potential mechanism of action of ADU-S100 and its potential for treating a variety of cancer types, both within the immediate tumor environment, as well as throughout the body. Data from these preclinical studies suggest the following:
  • Intratumoral injection of ADU-S100 activates the STING Pathway and induces both a durable local and systemic anti-tumor immune response as evidenced by induction of type I interferons (IFNs) and a CD8+ T-cell response.
  • ADU-S100 is able to induce tumor-specific memory mediated by immune cells (e.g. T-cells and NK-cells) whereby the immune system is able to eliminate specific cancerous cells upon their reintroduction without further therapy.
  • Combination of STING activation in the tumor microenvironment and an anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor enhances antitumor efficacy activation of the STING pathway, resulting in the complete eradication of local and distal tumors.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Pediatrics, Rheumatology / 16.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Timothy Beukelman, MD, MSCE Associate Professor of Pediatrics Division of Rheumatology and Division of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology University of Alabama at Birmingham MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In 2009 the US FDA issued a boxed warning about malignancies reported in children treated with TNF inhibitors but their analysis did not account for a possible malignancy risk from other medications of from the Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) disease process itself. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Melanoma / 15.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Feng Xie, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Faculty of Health Sciences McMaster University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cutaneous melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, in early stages is often cured with surgery alone. Most patients presenting with advanced-stage disease, however, are not candidates for surgery and drug therapy is the main course of treatment. Around 40-60% of melanomas have a mutation in the BRAF protein. Multiple effective first-line treatment options are available for patients with advanced BRAF-mutated melanoma, which fall under two established classes of drug therapies: targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Presently, it remains uncertain which is the optimal first-line treatment. In our network meta-analysis we evaluated 15 randomized controlled trials published between 2011 and 2015 assessing the benefits and harms of targeted or immune checkpoint inhibitors in 6662 treatment naïve patients with lymph node metastasis not amenable to surgery or distant metastatic melanoma. We found that combined BRAF and MEK targeted therapy and PD-1 immunotherapy were both equally effective in improving overall survival. Combined BRAF and MEK inhibition was most effective in improving progression-free survival. PD-1 inhibition was associated with the lowest risk of serious adverse events. (more…)