Timing of Immunotherapy Crucial to Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tatiana Garcia-Bates, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Graduate School of Public Health University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Garcia-Bates

Tatiana Garcia-Bates, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is now a manageable disease with the advent and availability of highly effective, combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). Unfortunately, as soon as ART is interrupted, the virus quickly rebounds to high levels and again targets the immune system. Therefore, new immunotherapeutic treatments are sought to re-program the immune system to control the virus after ART interruption.

In many ways, chronic HIV infection, even when controlled, resembles cancer in how it impacts the immune system. Both conditions for example are associated with immune dysfunction, where the immune cells (specifically T cells) that are supposed to protect our bodies against invading microorganisms or cancers become exhausted and fail to respond effectively. In cancer, effective immunotherapies have been developed to reverse this immune exhaustion to extend the fighting capacity of the T cells.

An example of this is drugs that target immune checkpoints, or “shut down” proteins, expressed on activated T cells, such as the programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor. When engaged, PD-1 sends a negative signal to deactivate the T cell, and this contributes to the immune exhaustion seen in both cancer and in chronic infections. Some cancers express the ligand or the “trigger” for this shut down receptor, called PD-1 ligand (PD-L1). When this interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1 is interrupted, for example by using a blocking antibody, T cells can regain their killing capacity and destroy infected cells or cancer cells. This anti-PD-1 therapy has demonstrated high success against a variety of tumors.

Therefore, we tested this approach in the context of HIV infection using a well-characterized cohort of HIV-positive individuals to see if we could improve their T cell responses to HIV in a laboratory setting.

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Multiple Sclerosis: T Cell Immunotherapy Targeting EBV Infected Cells Shows Promise

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dietmar P. Berger, MD, PhD Head of Global R&D Atara Biotherapeutic

Dr. Berger

Dietmar P. Berger, MD, PhD
Head of Global R&D
Atara Biotherapeutic

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is present in B lymphocytes, plasma cells and epithelial cells of over 95% of individuals over the age of 40.  Multiple studies have shown that nearly all patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are EBV positive, including a recent presentation at the 2018 ECTRIMS Congress in Berlin that showed 100% of MS patients are positive for EBV (Ruprecht et. al). Current B cell directed therapies such as anti-CD20 therapies have demonstrated an effect on  Multiple Sclerosis activity. These therapies work by depleting B cells including those infected by EBV.

Our belief is that loss of EBV-specific T cell function (e.g., T cell exhaustion) occurs in patients who develop Multiple Sclerosis, which results in the accumulation of EBV infected B and plasma cells in the CNS leading to the autoreactive immune cycle seen in MS patients. The increasing evidence of a link between EBV infection and the development of MS led to the initiation of a Phase 1 study to investigate the use of an autologous T-cell immunotherapy (ATA190) to selectively target and deplete EBV infected cells in patients with progressive MS.

As T cell immunotherapies (like ATA190) are designed to penetrate the central nervous system, this approach was felt to be particularly useful in  Multiple Sclerosis where the inflammatory response and infected B lymphocytes and plasma cells are inaccessible inside the CNS to the vast majority of classic targeted agents.

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Novel Immunotherapy Combination Shows Promise in Some with Resistant Metastatic Colon Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr James Kuo, MBBS Medical oncologist and Deputy Medical Director Scientia Clinical Research Sydney, Australia 

Dr. Kuo

Dr James Kuo, MBBS
Medical oncologist and Deputy Medical Director
Scientia Clinical Research
Sydney, Australia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) that have seen success in the treatment of patients with various tumour types have not been as effective in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer and therefore immune-therapeutic agents of novel mechanism of action, in particular in combination with existing ICI, need to be investigated.

This study set out to test the safety and efficacy of pixatimod, a novel immunomodulatory agent, in combination with nivolumab, firstly in the dose escalation cohorts in patients with any solid tumour for the maximal tolerable dose, and then using this dose to further treat an expansion cohort of patients with pancreatic cancer. Altogether 16 patients had received the combination and in 10 patients in whom treatment response was evaluable, 4 patients experienced a clinical benefit and continued treatment in the trial, with 1 patient having a significant partial response now treated for 48 weeks. Interestingly, all these 4 patients had metastatic colorectal cancer. Side effect profile has been consistent with other immunotherapeutic agent combination and in the patients who had clinical benefit, no treatment related side effects were observed.  Continue reading

FDA Approves Dupixent: Only Self-Administered Biologic for Moderate-to-Severe Asthma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
RegeneronNeil Graham,  M.B.B.S., M.D., M.P.H
VP of Immunology & Inflammation
Regeneron

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement? 

Response: Patients with moderate-to-severe asthma often have uncontrolled, persistent symptoms despite standard-of-care therapy that may make them suitable for treatment with a biologic therapy. They live with coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, and are at risk of severe asthma attacks that may require emergency room visits or hospitalizations. [i],[ii] Oral corticosteroids can provide relief for severe, short-term symptoms. However, their chronic use is limited to the most severe patients due to the potential for serious side effects. [iii],[iv]

A particular type of inflammation contributes to the cause of uncontrolled symptoms in multiple inflammatory diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis.[v] Dupixent is a medicine that inhibits the overactive signaling of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13), two key proteins that contribute to this type of inflammation. This inhibits cytokine-induced inflammatory responses, including the release of proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, nitric oxide, and IgE; however, the mechanism of action of Dupixent in asthma has not been definitively established. Continue reading

Fatal Toxicities Rare With Checkpoint Inhibitors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas B. Johnson, M.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine Clinical Director, Melanoma Research Program Melanoma, clinical and translational studies Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Johnson

Douglas B. Johnson, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Clinical Director, Melanoma Research Program
Melanoma, clinical and translational studies
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Immune checkpoint inhibitors produce long-lasting responses in patients with many different types of cancer. However, they may cause serious autoimmune-like side effects that may affect any organ. We used several large databases to determine how often these side effects were fatal, when they occurred, and which types of side effects were responsible.

We found that overall, fatal side effects were uncommon, ranging from 0.3 – 1.3%. However, they tended to occur early on treatment (on average within the first 6 weeks), and affected a variety of organs, including the heart, lungs, colon, liver, and brain. There was a dramatic increase in reporting of fatal toxicities since 2017, likely reflecting the increased use of immune checkpoint inhibitors.  Continue reading

Humanized Antibody To Attack Resistant Multiple Myeloma Cells in Bone Marrow

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D. Executive vice president antibody research and site head Aduro Biotech Europe

Dr. van Eenennaam

Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D.
Executive vice president antibody research and site head
Aduro Biotech Europe

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A PRoliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor superfamily and has been shown to stimulate the proliferation and survival of healthy B-lymphocytes. Malignant B-lymphocytes, such as multiple myeloma, use APRIL primarily in the bone marrow to support its proliferation and survival. Studies have shown that APRIL is overproduced in patients with multiple myeloma and mediates primarily via binding to B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) to stimulate a wide variety of responses that promote multiple myeloma growth and survival, as well as suppressing the immune system so that the tumor cells are protected and sustained in the bone marrow and can escape current available treatments.

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Gastric Cancer: Gene Mutation Predictive of Response to Immunotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Wei Zhang, Ph.D. Hanes and Willis Family Professor in Cancer Director Cancer Genomics and Precision Oncology Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center Winston-Salem, NC  27157-1082

Prof. Zhang

Wei Zhang, Ph.D.
Hanes and Willis Family Professor in Cancer
Director
Cancer Genomics and Precision Oncology
Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center
Winston-Salem, NC  27157-1082

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Infection by the Helicobacter pylori is the major cause of gastric cancer, which accounts for more than 60% of cases. Despite progress in helicobacter pylori eradication and early cancer diagnosis, the five-year survival rate of gastric cancer remains less than 30%. Gastric cancer is one of the most common cancer types in Asia but the incidence for gastric cancer has seen a steadily increase in the United States in recent years.

Immunotherapy treatment has shown remarkable benefit for some cancer patients whereas others experience toxicities. It is important to identify markers that help oncologists decide which patient would benefit from this promising new treatment strategy. It has been suggested that gastric cancer that is positive for Epstein-Barr Virus is likely more responsive to immunotherapy but only about 10% of gastric cancer patients belong to this category. More potential markers are urgently needed for clinical practice.

There is accumulating evidence that high tumor mutation load, which means there are high numbers of gene mutations in the tumor, can provide a signal to activate immune response systems thus rendering tumors more sensitive to immunotherapy.

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Not All Pancreatic Cancers are the Same: Some Have Treatable Mutations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael J. Pishvaian, MD, PhD Phase I Program Director Assistant Professor Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Washington, DC 20007

Dr. Pishvaian

Michael J. Pishvaian, MD, PhD
Phase I Program Director
Assistant Professor
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Washington, DC 20007

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Response: Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease and will soon be the second leading cause of cancer-related death.

We have made some progress in the last few years….but despite this, patients with advanced, inoperable pancreatic cancer (which represents about 80% of pancreatic cancer patients) still only live 12 months, on average. We desperately need new therapies, AND to think “outside the box” for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

In that context, we have been learning that there are subgroups of patients with cancer whose tumors are particularly susceptible to certain therapies – either new therapies, or in some cases, approved therapies that would have not normally been used for that disease.  These specific patient subgroups with “actionable” findings have been identified through extensive genetic and molecular characterization of a patient’s tumor.

In the past there was a cynical perspective that pancreatic cancer did not harbor any “actionable” molecular abnormalities.

We have now demonstrated that:

1) There are clearly and undeniably patients with pancreatic cancer whose tumors do indeed harbor “actionable” findings.  This represents at least 27% of pancreatic cancer patients, but may represent up to 50% as new therapies evolve.  These percentages are also highly consistent with similar publications in the pancreatic cancer field over the last few years; and

2) Importantly, we have been following our patients longitudinally for outcomes, and while it is still early, there is a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival when a patient with a specific actionable molecular abnormality is treated with the appropriately “targeted” therapy.  This finding is also consistent with findings that have been observed in other cancer types.   Continue reading

Two Studies Evaluate Monoclonal Antibody Tralokinumab For Asthma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D. Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Vice Chancellor, Clinical & Translational Science Director, Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine & Science Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Child Health Institute of New Jersey Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ  08901

Dr. Panettieri

Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Vice Chancellor, Clinical & Translational Science
Director, Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine & Science
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Child Health Institute of New Jersey
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ  08901

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Severe asthma is characterized by Type 2 inflammation manifested by increases in IL-13, IL-4 and Il-5 levels in the airways that promotes airway hyperresponsiveness and in part irreversible airway obstruction.  These clinical manifestations profoundly increase asthma morbidity and mortality.

To address an unmet therapeutic need, Tralokinumab was developed as a monoclonal antibody targeting soluble IL-13 with the goal of improving lung function and patient reported outcomes while decreasing annual exacerbation rates.  Stratus 1 and 2 represent two identical randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 clinical trials in severe asthma.  These international trials enrolled approximately 2000 subjects with severe asthma and examined whether Tralokinumab decreased annualized exacerbation rates (AER) as compared with placebo (primary outcome).

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Recombinant Polio Vaccine Improved Survival Rate Among Some With Aggressive Recurrent Brain Tumor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Annick Desjardins, Assistant Professor of Medicine, photographed on October 2, 2013.

Dr. Desjardins

Annick Desjardins, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
Associate Professor of Neurology
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Director of Clinical Research
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke
Duke University School of Medicine
Durham, NC 27710

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The poliovirus receptor (CD155) is an onco-fetal cell adhesion molecule with widespread expression in all solid tumors and particularly in primary CNS tumors (adult and pediatric).

Recombinant nonpathogenic polio–rhinovirus chimera (PVSRIPO) was generated by replacing a critical piece of the genetic information from the Sabin type 1 polio vaccine, making PVSRIPO incapable of harming or killing normal brain cells, but toxic/lethal in cancer cells. In preclinical models, it has been demonstrated that the infection of tumor cells, leads to the release of danger signals, which triggers a recruitment of dendritic/CD4/CD8 T cells and a destruction of tumor cells by anti-tumor T cells.

The manuscript reports the results of the phase 1 trial of PVSRSIPO in recurrent WHO grade IV malignant glioma patients. Adult patients with recurrence of a single glioblastoma lesion, 1-5.5cm in dimension, in a non-eloquent area of the brain, were enrolled on study. PVSRIPO is injected slowly over 6.5 hours directly into the tumor via a small catheter inserted via a small bur hole. Once intratumoral injection is completed, the catheter is removed and patients are observed for localized tumor inflammation, followed by tumor contraction. A total of 61 patients were treated on study, 9 patients in a dose escalation phase and 52 in a dose expansion phase. Side effects observed were in relation to the localized inflammation of the tumor and depending on the cerebral functions in close proximity to the tumor: headaches, visual field changes, hemiparesis, etc.

One patient experienced a brain hemorrhage at the time of catheter removal, which triggered right sided weakness and aphasia. The patient remained alive 57.5 months after PVSRIPO infusion at data cutoff of March 20th, 2018. Two on-study death were observed, a patient died from cerebral edema and seizures, which was later found to be due to tumor progression, and one patient died from the complications of an intracranial hemorrhage while receiving anticoagulation and bevacizumab.

The median overall survival among all 61 patients who received PVSRIPO was 12.5 months (95% CI, 9.9 to 15.2), comparatively to 11.3 months (95% CI, 9.8 to 12.5) in a historical control group of patients treated at Duke and who would have met eligibility on trial, would have the trial been available to them.

At 24 months, the survival plateaued in patients treated with PVSRIPO with an overall survival rate of 21% (95% CI, 11 to 33) at 24 months and 36 months in PVSRIPO treated patients, while overall survival in the historical control group continued to decline, with an overall survival rates of 14% (95% CI, 8 to 21) at 24 months and 4% (95% CI, 1 to 9) at 36 months in the historical control group.  Continue reading

Anti-PD1 Immunotherapy May Work Better in Older Melanoma Patients

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 

Dr. Weeraratna

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.  Continue reading

Combination EGFR + TNF Inhibition May Knock Out Most Lung Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amyn Habib, M.D. Associate Professor, Neurology & Neurotherapeutics UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Amyn Habib

Amyn Habib, M.D.
Associate Professor, Neurology & Neurotherapeutics
UT Southwestern Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is expressed in most lung cancers and could play an important role in driving the growth of lung cancer.  Drugs are available that can block the activity of the EGFR. However, EGFR inhibitors are successful in only a small subset of lung cancers that have a mutant form of the EGFR, and do not work in the majority of lung cancers that have the normal form of the EGFR.  Continue reading

Combination Axitinib + Pembrolizumab Active Against Renal Cell Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Michael B. Atkins, MD Deputy Director, Georgetown-Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center William M. Scholl Professor and Vice-Chair Department of Oncology and  Professor of Medicine Georgetown University Medical Cente

Prof. Atkins

Prof. Michael B. Atkins, MD
Deputy Director, Georgetown-Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
William M. Scholl Professor and Vice-Chair Department of Oncology and
Professor of Medicine
Georgetown University Medical Center 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior studies combining programmed death-1 (PD-1) checkpoint inhibitors with tyrosine kinase inhibitors of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-pathway have been characterized by excess toxicity precluding further development. We hypothesized that axitinib, a more selective VEGF inhibitor would combine safely with pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1) and yield antitumour activity in treatment-naïve patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma.

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Melanoma: New Combination Therapy Targets Resistant Tumors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel S. Peeper, PhD Professor of Functional Oncogenomics (VUmc) Member of Oncode Institute Head, Division of Molecular Oncology & Immunology Chair, Scientific Faculty Council Chair, Translational Research Board The Netherlands Cancer Institute Amsterdam The Netherlands

Dr. Peeper

Daniel S. Peeper, PhD
Professor of Functional Oncogenomics (VUmc)
Member of Oncode Institute
Head, Division of Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Chair, Scientific Faculty Council
Chair, Translational Research Board
The Netherlands Cancer Institute
Amsterdam The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: BRAF mutant melanomas are now commonly treated with either immunotherapy or with the combination of BRAFi + MEKi. Recent clinical trials showed that combination checkpoint blockade gives 58% 3 year survival for advanced melanoma. For BRAF+MEKi these numbers are somewhat less impressive. Our study relates to the latter setting.

Clearly, most patients treated with this combination do not experience a durable clinical benefit. We showed previously that resistance to these inhibitors is commonly associated with a striking increase in the number of AXL+ cells; this is the rationale for the current study.  Continue reading

Multiple Sclerosis: Rituximab Had Better Short and Medium Term Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Fredrik Piehl MD PhD, prof. of Neurology

Neuroimmunology Unit. Dept Clinical Neuroscience
Neurology Dept.
Karolinska University Hospital (Solna)
Stockholm

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In recent years we have seen a drastic increase in treatment options for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). However, it is difficult to deduce long term performance of different drugs based only on data from randomized controlled trials, since such trials are performed in selected patients without major co-morbidities and perhaps also enriched for those with a milder disease course. In addition, most trials only last for two years and lack relevant comparators. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to predict if a drug will work or not for a given patient, in turn leading to frequent treatment switches but also different treatment practices across countries, regions or even between centers. This is also the case in Sweden, but with the additional aspect that some regions have opted to treat most newly diagnosed RRMS patients with rituximab (Rituxan/Mabthera), a drug not formally approved for RRMS, but with extensive safety data from other indications.

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Oral Immunotherapy With Omalizmuab Resulted in Faster Food Desensitization

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sandra Andorf PhD Kim and Ping Li Director of Computational Biology Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University Instructor, Nadeau Lab Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Andorf

Sandra Andorf PhD
Kim and Ping Li Director of Computational Biology
Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University
Instructor, Nadeau Lab
Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Food allergies are on the rise in the world. Approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies, which includes around 6 million children. Of people with food allergies, 30-40% are allergic to more than one food and therefore these people have a greater risk for an accidental ingestion resulting in an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.

Currently there is no FDA approved treatment for food allergies but oral immunotherapy, a treatment in which the patient eats small but slowly increasing doses of their allergen until they can tolerate a specified dose, was shown in research settings to be safe in children and adults for up to 5 foods in parallel.

In this trial, we studied the efficacy and safety of Omalizmuab (an anti-IgE drug) treatment with oral immunotherapy in multifood allergic participants versus placebo with oral immunotherapy for a total of 9 months. We found that 83% of the participants who received Omalizumab could tolerate at least 2 g of at least two different food allergens at the end of the trial compared to 33% of those who received placebo. The participants that received Omalizumab were also desensitized faster, meaning they were on average able to eat 2 g of each of their allergic foods earlier in the treatment. Furthermore, we could show that the use of Omalizumab and the fast updosing is safe.

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Ovarian Cancer Trial: Disappointing Results of Paclitaxel With/Without Pazopanib

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Debra Richardson, MD, FACOG, FACS
Associate Professor, Section of Gynecologic Oncology,
Oklahoma TSET Phase I Program
Stephensen Cancer Center
The University of Oklahoma

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths. Pazopanib is an oral multitarget tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF receptors 1, 2, and 3; platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors α and β and c-KIT. Weekly paclitaxel is an active agent for recurrent ovarian cancer.

This was a national, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled phase 2b trial of weekly paclitaxel with or without pazopanib for the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer. The primary objective was to estimate the progression-free survival (PFS) hazard ratio (HR) of the combination of weekly paclitaxel (80mg/m2 D1, 8, 15 every 28 days) and pazopanib (800mg PO daily) compared with weekly paclitaxel and placebo in women with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer. 106 women were enrolled. There was no difference in median PFS, overall survival (OS), or proportion responding. Severe hypertension was more common on the pazopanib plus paclitaxel arm. More patients discontinued treatment on the paclitaxel arm for disease progression, and more on the pazopanib plus paclitaxel arm for adverse events. Patients with VEGFA CC genotype may be more resistant to weekly paclitaxel than those with the AC or AA genotype.

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Multiple Myeloma: Phase 3 Study of DARZALEX + VMP Reduced Risk of Disease Progression and Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos MD Professor and Chairman Department of Clinical Therapeutics University Athens School of Medicine Athens, Greece

Dr. Dimopoulos

DrMeletios A. Dimopoulos MD
Professor and Chairman
Department of Clinical Therapeutics
University Athens School of Medicine
Athens, Greece

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Updated data from the Phase 3 POLLUX trials showed DARZALEX, in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56 percent, compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (Hazard Ratio [HR]=0.44; 95 percent CI [0.34-0.55], p<0.0001). After a median follow-up of 32.9 months, the median progression-free survival (PFS) in the DARZALEX arm has not been reached, compared with a median PFS of 17.5 months for patients who received lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone.

DARZALEX in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone also significantly increased the overall response rate (ORR) compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (93 percent vs. 76 percent, p<0.0001), including rates of complete response (CR) or better (55 percent vs. 23 percent, p<0.0001). DARZALEX also showed significantly higher (>3-fold) MRD-negative rates compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone. These data were featured as an oral presentation (Abstract #739) at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in early December.

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FDA Grants IND of ARTEMIS™ T cell Platform To Enhance CAR-T Cancer Therapies Without Cytokine Storm

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Cheng Liu PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer of Eureka Therapeutics.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

    • Eureka Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on improving the safety profile of T cell therapies and developing novel T cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumors.
    • ET190L1-ARTEMISTM utilizes Eureka’s proprietary ARTEMISTM T cell receptor platform and proprietary human anti- CD19 binder to target CD19-positive malignancies. In preclinical studies, ET190L1-ARTEMISTM matched the cancer killing potency of current CAR-T therapies but with a dramatic reduction in the levels of inflammatory cytokines released, a main cause of cytokine release syndrome. In addition, these studies have shown that ET190L1-ARTEMISTM T cells are less exhausted and more naive and therefore, expected to have improved persistence in vivo. If confirmed in the clinic, this could result in a longer term therapeutic benefit to patients with an improved safety profile.
    • Eureka is also focused on developing the next evolution of T cell therapies against solid tumors which represent 90% of all cancers. While CAR-T therapies have been successful with liquid tumors such as leukemia and lymphoma, they have not been successful in solid tumors because of a lack of specific cell surface antigens. Eureka has pioneered the use of TCR mimic antibodies to target intracellular antigens in solid tumors that were once considered undruggable. Using its proprietary human E-ALPHA® phage display library, Eureka has discovered highly-specific, high affinity TCR mimic antibodies that can target intracellular antigens in solid tumors when processed into peptides and presented onto the cell surface by the MHCI complex. Pre-clinical studies have shown that when these TCR mimic antibodies were engineered onto the ARTEMISTM or CAR-T cell receptor platform against hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells, the T cells launched a potent anti-tumor response.

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MedImmune’s MEDI9197 Activates Immune System To Fight Tumors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Koustubh Ranade, Vice President of Research & Development Translational Medicine MedImmune

Dr. Ranade

Dr. Koustubh Ranade, PhD
Vice President of Research & Development Translational Medicine
MedImmune

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In a healthy person, abnormal cells including cancer cells are typically detected and destroyed by the immune system in response to danger signals activated by the abnormal cells. However, some solid tumors avoid triggering danger signals, and thus the immune system cannot recognize and destroy cancer cells, permitting tumor growth. To help activate the patient’s immune system to fight these “hidden” cancer cells, MedImmune scientists have developed MEDI9197, a TLR 7/8 agonist, to trigger the needed danger signals.

Our latest data from the Phase 1 study of MEDI9197 demonstrated that through intratumor injection, the therapy binds to TLR7 and TLR8 receptors and activates dendritic cells, which call in other immune cells to fight the tumor.

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Treatment With Tremfya® (Guselkumab) Improved Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms Through One Year

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Atul A. Deodhar, MD, MRCP, FACP, FACR Professor of Medicine Division of Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases Medical Director, Rheumatology Clinics Medical Director, Immunology Infusion Center Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) 

Dr. Deodhar

Atul A. Deodhar, MD, MRCP, FACP, FACR
Professor of Medicine
Division of Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases
Medical Director, Rheumatology Clinics
Medical Director, Immunology Infusion Center
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo–controlled, multicenter trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of guselkumab (Tremfya®) compared with placebo in adults with active psoriatic arthritis, despite having received treatment with standard-of-care therapies, including anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha agents.

In an observed analysis presented at ACR 2017, more than 70 percent of patients receiving guselkumab achieved at least a 20 percent improvement in signs and symptoms of disease (ACR 20) at week 56.  Findings also showed that improvements in tender and swollen joints, skin clearance, pain and physical function, and patient-reported quality of life outcomes reported at week 24, were maintained through week 56 in patients receiving guselkumab maintenance therapy (subcutaneous injections every eight weeks).  Continue reading

IPF: Combination of Nintedanib and Pirfenidone May Have Added Benefit With Manageable Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Carlo Vancheri Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Catania, Italy and Director of the Regional Referral Centre for Rare Lung Diseases and the Laboratory of Experimental Respiratory Medicine.

Prof. Vancheri

Professor Carlo Vancheri
Professor of Respiratory Medicine,
University of Catania, Italy and Director of the Regional Referral Centre for Rare Lung Diseases and the Laboratory of Experimental Respiratory Medicine.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The aim of Boehringer Ingelheim’s INJOURNEY trial was to investigate the safety profile of Ofev (nintedanib) in combination with pirfenidone in treating patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Nintedanib and pirfenidone, the only two FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of IPF, are able to slow down the progression of the disease, reducing the forced vital capacity (FVC) decline of about 50%, but this is not a cure. The target for the future is to have even more effective treatments. In the meanwhile, it is necessary to optimize the use of the available drugs. The medical treatment of other pulmonary diseases such as COPD, asthma or pulmonary hypertension is already based on different combinations of drugs.

This 12-week, open-label, randomized study was designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of nintedanib with add-on pirfenidone, compared with nintedanib alone in patients with IPF. Change in FVC, the established efficacy endpoint in IPF trials, was evaluated as an exploratory endpoint.

The primary endpoint of the INJOURNEY trial was the percentage of patients with on-treatment gastrointestinal adverse events from baseline to week 12 of randomized treatment, and the results showed that the combination of nintedanib and add-on pirfenidone resulted in a manageable safety and tolerability profile, similar to the profile of each drug individually in the majority of patients. Results also indicated there may be a slower decline in FVC in patients treated with pirfenidone along with nintedanib compared with nintedanib alone, suggesting a potential benefit of the combination. However, further research will be necessary to fully evaluate the efficacy of the combination.

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Pembrolizumab Reduces Death Rate in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ezra Cohen, MD Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center Professor of Medicine Moores Cancer Center UC San Diego Health - La Jolla Moores Cancer Center La Jolla, CA  92093

Dr. Cohen

Ezra Cohen, MD
Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
Moores Cancer Center
UC San Diego Health – La Jolla
Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA  92093

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We have known for a couple of years that anti-PD1 therapy, and specifically pembrolizumab, is active in  head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The KN40 trial now tested pembrolizuamb against standard of care in patients whose cancers progressed on platinum containing regimens.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings really supported what we know about pembrolizumab in this disease – it is active and effective with a favorable side effect profile. Pembrolizumab reduced the risk of death by 19% and was associated with a 14% response rate. The effect was even greater in tumors that expressed PDL1 and, in the highest expressing group, the benefit in reduction of risk of death was 46% with a 27% response rate.

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Targeted Immunotherapy Can Prevent Some Melanomas From Spreading

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Alexander Menzies BSc(Med) MBBS (Hons) FRACP PhD Medical Oncologist and Senior Research Fellow at Melanoma Institute Australia The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore and Mater Hospital 

Dr. Menzies

Dr Alexander Menzies BSc(Med) MBBS (Hons) FRACP PhD
Medical Oncologist and Senior Research Fellow at Melanoma Institute Australia
The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore and Mater Hospital 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: For early-stage melanoma, surgical resection is the standard treatment and is associated with an excellent long-term prognosis. However until now, Stage III melanoma patients (where the disease has spread to the lymph nodes) who have had their tumours surgically removed have simply had to play the waiting game to see if their melanoma would metastasise, with many ultimately dying of the disease.

Checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies and drugs that target the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway have improved the outcome of patients with metastatic melanoma, but their role as adjuvant therapy is still being actively investigated.

Prior Phase III trials (COMBI-D and COMBI-V) have shown improved overall survival in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. At Melanoma Institute Australia, we were keen to see if this improvement would be seen in the adjuvant setting also. This clinical trial was the first in the world to give targeted therapy to melanoma patients at an earlier stage of the disease to prevent spread and recurrence.

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Nivolumab Is A Major Advance For Excised Melanoma At Risk of Relapse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeffrey Weber, M.D., Ph.D Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016

Dr. Weber

Jeffrey Weber, M.D., Ph.D
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
New York University Langone Medical Center
New York, NY 10016 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is a major unmet need for well tolerated and effective adjuvant therapy for high risk melanoma, that is, melanoma that has been removed but the patients have a 50%+ risk of relapse over 5 years, and a 50%+ risk of death over 10 years from melanoma. Since nivolumab is an active and well tolerated drug in metastatic disease, it seemed reasonable to test it after surgery to prevent recurrence. Since ipilimumab is approved for resected stage III melanoma in the US as adjuvant therapy, that was the control arm for comparison, and that is an active control, which prolongs relapse free and overall survival comared to placebo.

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