Late Breaking Abstract – ASCO 2022: Survival Benefit with TRODELVY® in Hormone Receptor Positive/HER2-Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer

SUMMARY: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US and about 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Approximately 290,560 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2022 and about 43,780 individuals will die of the disease, largely due to metastatic recurrence. Approximately 70% of breast tumors in patients with metastatic disease are Estrogen Receptor (ER) and/or Progesterone Receptor (PR) positive and HER2-negative. These patients are often treated with single agent endocrine therapy, endocrine therapy in combination with CDK4/6 inhibitor, or single agent chemotherapy. Resistance to hormonal therapy occurs in a majority of the patients and there is therefore an unmet need for agents with novel mechanisms of action.

TRODELVY® (Sacituzumab govitecan) is an Antibody-Drug Conjugate (ADC) in which SN-38, an active metabolite of Irinotecan, a Topoisomerase I inhibitor, is coupled to the humanized Anti-Trophoblast cell-surface antigen 2 (Trop-2) monoclonal antibody (hRS7 IgG1κ), through the cleavable CL2A linker. SN-38 cannot be given directly to patients because of its toxicity and poor solubility. Trop-2, a transmembrane calcium signal transducer, stimulates cancer-cell growth, and this cell surface receptor is overexpressed in several epithelial cancers including cancers of the breast, colon and lung, and has limited expression in normal human tissues. Trop-2 is expressed in more than 85% of breast tumors including Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Upon binding to Trop-2, the anti-TROP-2 monoclonal antibody is internalized and delivers SN-38 directly into the tumor cell, making it a suitable transporter for the delivery of cytotoxic drugs. Further, the cleavable linker enables SN-38 to be released both intracellularly into the tumor cells, as well as the tumor microenvironment, thereby allowing for the delivery of therapeutic concentrations of the active drug in bystander cells to which the conjugate has not bound. Thus, TRODELVY®-bound tumor cells are killed by intracellular uptake of SN-38, whereas the adjacent tumor cells are killed by the extracellular release of SN-38.

TRODELVY® was approved by the FDA in 2021 for patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer, who have received two or more prior systemic therapies, at least one of them for metastatic disease. In the IMMU-132 Phase I/II study, the Hormone Receptor positive (HR+)/HER2-negative cohort of patients with metastatic breast cancer patients had an Objective Response Rate (ORR) of 31.5%, median Progression Free Survival (PFS) of 5.5 months and median Overall Survival (OS) of 12 months, with manageable toxicities, when treated with TRODELVY®.

TROPiCS-02 is a global, open-label, randomized, Phase III study, conducted to confirm the benefit of TRODELVY® in HR+/HER2- negative advanced breast cancer. In this study, 543 patients with HR+/HER2-negative, unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer, were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive TRODELVY® 10 mg/kg IV on D1 and 8, every 21 days (N=272), or treatment of physician’s choice, which included single agent treatment with either Capecitabine, Eribulin, Vinorelbine, or Gemcitabine (N=271). Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Both treatment groups were well balanced. Eligible patients had 3 median prior chemotherapy regimens for metastatic breast cancer, and one prior therapy for metastatic breast cancer was allowed if disease progressed in 12 months or less after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Patients were required to have received endocrine therapy, a CDK4/6 inhibitor and at least one prior therapy with a Taxane in any setting. Majority of patients had visceral metastases (95%), 86% had prior endocrine therapy for metastatic breast cancer for at least 6 months, and 60% and 38% received prior CDK4/6 inhibitors for 12 months or less, and for more than 12 months, respectively. The Primary endpoint was Progression Free Survival (PFS) by blinded Independent Central Review (final analysis) and key Secondary endpoint was Overall Survival (OS) at the first planned interim analysis.

The median Progression Free Survival was 5.5 months with TRODELVY® versus 4 months with standard chemotherapy (HR=0.66; P=0.0003), representing a 34% improvement in PFS with TRODELVY®. This benefit was seen across all treatment subgroups including those who were 65 years or older, those who were heavily pretreated, as well as those with visceral metastases. The Objective Response Rate (ORR) was 21% with TRODELVY® versus 14% with standard chemotherapy. The Clinical Benefit Rate was also higher with TRODELVY® versus standard chemotherapy (34% versus 22%) and median duration of response was 7.4 months and 5.6 months respectively. Overall Survival data were immature, but there was a numerical, non-significant improvement in the median Overall Survival noted in the TRODELVY® group, compared to the standard chemotherapy group (13.9 months versus 12.3 months; HR=0.84; P=0.14), respectively. Treatment with TRODELVY® also resulted in an overall health-related Quality of Life benefit over chemotherapy, with delayed deterioration in fatigue and global health status/ Quality of Life scales, according to the researchers. Grade 3 or more adverse events were observed in 74% of patients receiving TRODELVY® and in 60% of those receiving chemotherapy, and the most common toxicities associated with TRODELVY® were diarrhea and neutropenia.

It was concluded from this landmark analysis that treatment with TRODELVY® resulted in a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in Progression Free Survival, compared to standard chemotherapy, in heavily pre-treated patients with HR+/HER2-negative, endocrine-resistant, unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer, and should therefore be considered as a new treatment option for this patient population.

Primary results from TROPiCS-02: A randomized phase 3 study of sacituzumab govitecan (SG) versus treatment of physician’s choice (TPC) in patients (Pts) with hormone receptor–positive/HER2-negative (HR+/HER2-) advanced breast cancer. Rugo HS, Bardia A, Marmé F, et al. J Clin Oncol 40, 2022 (suppl 17; abstr LBA1001)

Late Breaking Abstract – ASCO 2022: Adagrasib in KRAS G12C Mutated Non Small Cell Lung Cancer

SUMMARY: The American Cancer Society estimates that for 2022, about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and 135,360 patients will die of the disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers. Of the three main subtypes of NSCLC, 30% are Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC), 40% are Adenocarcinomas and 10% are Large Cell Carcinomas. With changes in the cigarette composition and decline in tobacco consumption over the past several decades, Adenocarcinoma now is the most frequent histologic subtype of lung cancer.

The KRAS (kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homologue) proto-oncogene encodes a protein that is a member of the small GTPase super family. The KRAS gene provides instructions for making the KRAS protein, which is a part of a signaling pathway known as the RAS/MAPK pathway. By relaying signals from outside the cell to the cell nucleus, the protein instructs the cell to grow, divide and differentiate. The KRAS protein is a GTPase, and converts GTP into GDP. To transmit signals, the KRAS protein must be turned on by binding to a molecule of GTP. When GTP is converted to GDP, the KRAS protein is turned off or inactivated, and when the KRAS protein is bound to GDP, it does not relay signals to the cell nucleus. The KRAS gene is in the Ras family of oncogenes, which also includes two other genes, HRAS and NRAS. When mutated, oncogenes have the potential to change normal cells cancerous.

KRAS is the most frequently mutated oncogene in human cancers and are often associated with resistance to targeted therapies and poor outcomes. The KRAS G12C mutation occurs in approximately 25% of Non Small Cell Lung Cancers (NSCLC) and in 3-5% of colorectal cancers and other solid cancers. KRAS G12C is one of the most prevalent driver mutations in NSCLC and accounts for a greater number of patients than those with ALK, ROS1, RET, and TRK 1/2/3 mutations combined. KRAS G12C cancers are genomically more heterogeneous and occur more frequently in current or former smokers, and are likely to be more complex genomically than EGFR mutant or ALK rearranged cancers. G12C is a single point mutation with a Glycine-to-Cysteine substitution at codon 12. This substitution favors the activated state of KRAS, resulting in a predominantly GTP-bound KRAS oncoprotein, amplifying signaling pathways that lead to oncogenesis.

Adagrasib is a potent, orally available, small molecule covalent inhibitor of KRAS G12C. This drug irreversibly and selectively binds KRAS G12C in its inactive, GDP-bound state. Unlike LUMAKRAS® (Sotorasib), which is also a selective covalent inhibitor of KRAS G12C, Adagrasib has a longer drug half-life of 23 hours, as compared to 5 hours for LUMAKRAS®, has dose-dependent extended exposure, and can penetrate the CNS. Approximately, 27-42% of patients with NSCLC harboring KRAS G12C mutations have CNS metastases, with poor outcomes.

KRYSTAL-1 is a Phase I/II multiple expansion cohort trial involving patients with advanced solid tumors harboring a KRAS G12C mutation. Adagrasib demonstrated clinical activity in patients with KRAS G12C-mutated solid tumors, including colorectal, pancreatic, and biliary tract cancers. Further, preliminary data from two patients with untreated CNS metastases from a Phase 1b cohort showed antitumor activity against CNS metastases, with satisfactory concentrations of Adagrasib in the CSF.

The researchers in this publication reported the results from Cohort A, a Phase 2 cohort of the KRYSTAL-1 study in which Adagrasib at a dose of 600 mg orally twice daily was evaluated in patients with KRAS G12C-mutated NSCLC, previously treated with chemotherapy and anti-Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) or Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) therapy. This registration study included a total of 116 unresectable or metastatic NSCLC patients, with histologically confirmed diagnosis, with KRAS G12C mutation (detected in tumor tissue at a local or central laboratory), who had previously received treatment with at least one platinum-containing chemotherapy regimen and checkpoint inhibitor therapy (in sequence or concurrently), and who had measurable tumor lesions. Enrolled patients received Adagrasib 600 mg capsule twice daily, and treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicities. The median patient age was 64 years, 97% had adenocarcinoma histology, 98% had both platinum based therapy and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, and 21% of patients had CNS metastases. Key exclusion criteria included active CNS metastases (patients were eligible if CNS metastases were adequately treated and neurologically stable), carcinomatous meningitis, and previous treatment with a KRAS G12C inhibitor. Exploratory Biomarker Analyses included candidate biomarkers (PD-L1 Tumor Proportion Score and mutational status of STK11, KEAP1, TP53, and CDKN2A on tumor-tissue specimens, blood specimens, or both, for their association with tumor response. The Primary end point was Objective Response Rate as assessed by blinded Independent Central Review. Secondary end points included the Duration of Response, Progression Free Survival, Overall Survival, and safety.

The median follow up was 12.9 months and the median duration of treatment was 5.7 months. The confirmed Objective Response Rate was 42.9% and the median Duration of Response was 8.5 months. The median Progression Free Survival was 6.5 months and the median Overall Survival was 12.6 months, at a median follow up of 15.6 months. Among 33 patients with previously treated, stable CNS metastases, the intracranial confirmed Objective Response Rate was 33.3%. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 97.4% of the patients and 53% were Grade 1 or 2 toxicities. Adagrasib was discontinued in 6.9% of patients due to adverse events.

It was concluded that among patients with previously treated KRAS G12C-mutated NSCLC, Adagrasib showed significant clinical efficacy without new safety signals, and encouraging intracranial activity. The researchers added that these are the first clinical data demonstrating CNS-specific activity of a KRAS G12C inhibitor in this patient population.

Adagrasib in Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer Harboring a KRASG12C Mutation. Jänne PA, Riely GJ, Gadgeel SM, et al. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2204619

Late Breaking Abstract – ASCO 2022: Adjuvant Radiotherapy May Be Omitted in Select Patients with Luminal A Breast Cancer

SUMMARY: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US and about 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Approximately 290,560 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2022 and about 43,780 individuals will die of the disease, largely due to metastatic recurrence.

Patient undergoing breast conserving surgery, often receive adjuvant breast radiation therapy to reduce the risk of local recurrence. Radiation therapy however is inconvenient, expensive and is associated with acute and late toxicities. Previously published study by Kunkler IH, et al. (Lancet Oncol. 2015;16:266-273) concluded that radiotherapy could be avoided in a subset of elderly patients with low risk breast cancer following breast conserving surgery.

Molecular-Subtypes-of-Breast-CancerConventional clinical pathological factors have limited ability to identify breast cancer patients with low risk disease, who could avoid radiation therapy. Molecular defined intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer can provide additional prognostic information. Breast cancer is heterogeneous malignancy and using global gene expression analyses, 5 breast cancer intrinsic subtypes have been established. They include Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-enriched, Basal-like, and Normal breast-like group. Luminal A breast cancer patients have the lowest risk of recurrence. In a retrospective analysis of women over age 60 years, with Luminal A, Grade 1-2, T1N0 breast cancer, treated with breast conserving surgery and endocrine therapy alone, the local recurrence rate was low (JCO 2015; 33:2035). However, the utility of combining molecular subtype (Luminal A subtype) with clinical pathological factors, to guide radiotherapy decision-making, has not been prospectively evaluated.

LUMINA is a prospective multicenter single-arm, cohort study, in which 501 women, 55 years and older, who had undergone breast conserving surgery for breast cancer, were enrolled. Eligible patients had invasive ductal T1N0, Grade 1-2, Luminal A breast cancer, had undergone breast conserving surgery, with excision margins of at least 1 mm and sentinel lymph node biopsy, omitted radiotherapy, and had received adjuvant endocrine therapy for at least 5 years. Luminal A subtype was defined as ER 1% or more, PR more than 20%, HER2 negative and Ki67 13.25% or less. Ki67 immunohistochemistry was performed centrally in one of three Canadian laboratories using International Ki67 Working Group methods. The median patient age was 67 years, 66% had Grade 1 tumors, 88% of patients were less than 75 years, and the median tumor size was 1.1 cm. Patients were followed every six months for the first two years and then yearly. The Primary outcome was local recurrence defined as time from enrollment to any invasive or non-invasive cancer in the ipsilateral breast. Secondary endpoints included contralateral breast cancer, Relapse Free Survival (RFS) based on any recurrence, Disease Free Survival, and Overall Survival.

At a median follow up of 5 years, the local recurrence rate was 2.3% and the rate of contralateral breast cancer was 1.9%. The 5-year Relapse Free Survival, Disease Free Survival and Survival rate was 97.3%, 89.9% and 97.2% respectively.

The authors concluded that among women 55 years of age and over, with low grade Luminal A breast cancer, omission of radiation therapy following breast conserving surgery and treatment with endocrine therapy alone for 5 years or more, resulted in very low rates of local recurrence at 5 years. The researchers added that approximately 30,000-40,000 women per year in North America, predominantly in the US, could avoid the morbidity, expense, and inconvenience of radiotherapy.

LUMINA: A prospective trial omitting radiotherapy (RT) following breast conserving surgery (BCS) in T1N0 luminal A breast cancer (BC). Whelan TJ, Smith S, Nielsen TO, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2022;40(suppl 17):LBA501. doi:10.1200/JCO.2022.40.17_suppl.LBA501

Late Breaking Abstract – ASCO 2022: Circulating Tumor DNA in the Peripheral Blood Can Guide Adjuvant Therapy Decision in Stage II Colon Cancer

SUMMARY: ColoRectal Cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 151,030 new cases of CRC will be diagnosed in the United States in 2022 and about 52,580 patients are expected to die of the disease. The lifetime risk of developing CRC is about 1 in 23.

Adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with resected, locally advanced, node-positive (Stage III) colon cancer has been the standard of care since the 1990s. Even though 80% of patients with Stage II colon cancer are cured with surgery alone, adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended for patients who have Stage II colon cancer with high-risk clinicopathological features, including tumor penetration of the serosa (T4 disease). However, the benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with Stage II disease remains unclear, with less than 5% of patients benefitting from adjuvant chemotherapy. There is therefore an unmet need for more precise markers to predict risk of recurrence after surgery for Stage II colon cancer, other than clinicopathological risk factors, and thus avoid exposure to unnecessary chemotherapy.

Circulating Tumor DNA (ctDNA) refers to DNA molecules that circulate in the bloodstream after cell apoptosis or necrosis, and can be detected in the cell-free component of peripheral blood samples (Liquid Biopsy) in almost all patients with advanced solid tumors including advanced colorectal cancer. ctDNA is a valuable biomarker and is directly evaluated for evidence of Minimal Residual Disease and allows early detection of relapse. Several studies have shown that detectable ctDNA following curative intent surgery for early stage cancers, including those with Stage II colon cancer, is associated with a very high risk of recurrence (more than 80%) without further adjuvant therapy. It has remained unclear whether adjuvant treatment is beneficial for these ctDNA-positive patients who are at high risk for recurrence.

The Circulating Tumor DNA Analysis Informing Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Stage II Colon Cancer (DYNAMIC) trial is a randomized trial designed to investigate whether a ctDNA-guided treatment approach could reduce the use of adjuvant treatment without compromising the risk of recurrence, as compared with a standard approach in patients with Stage II colon cancer.
The researchers also evaluated outcomes among ctDNA-positive patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy, to assess the benefit of treating this high-risk group of patients, as well as outcomes among ctDNA-negative patients whose disease was managed by surveillance alone. In this Phase II, multicenter, randomized, controlled trial of biomarker-driven adjuvant therapy, 455 patients with resected, histologically confirmed, Stage II (T3 or T4, N0, M0) colon or rectal adenocarcinoma with negative resection margins, were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to have their disease managed according to ctDNA results-ctDNA-guided management group (N=302) or managed by the treating clinician according to standard clinicopathological criteria-standard management group (N=153). Plasma specimens were obtained for ctDNA analysis from all patients at week 4 and week 7 after surgery. For patients assigned to ctDNA-guided management, week 4 and week 7 specimens were analyzed concurrently, and ctDNA results were made available to the treating clinician 8 to 10 weeks after surgery. Patients with a positive ctDNA result at either week 4 or week 7 received adjuvant single-agent fluoropyrimidine or Oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy, with the treatment regimen chosen at the treating physician’s discretion. Patients with negative ctDNA results at both week 4 and week 7 were not treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. In the standard management group, all treatment decisions were based on conventional clinicopathological criteria. This trial used a ctDNA assay specifically designed for detection of Minimal Residual Disease with very high sensitivity (a variant allele frequency limit of detection as low as 0.01%), as well as serial blood samples for ctDNA analysis to decrease the risk of a false negative result. In this study, ctDNA probes were personalized on the basis of specific mutations identified in tumor tissue.

Enrolled patients had an ECOG PS of 0-2 and had to be medically eligible to receive adjuvant Oxaliplatin-based or single-agent fluoropyrimidine chemotherapy. Patients were stratified according to tumor stage (T3 or T4) and patients with evidence of macroscopic metastatic disease on CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis performed within 8 weeks before enrollment, presence of synchronous primary colorectal cancer, or treatment with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, were excluded. Patients were enrolled within 3 weeks following surgery, and an adequate resected tumor specimen had to be provided for mutation analysis by 4 weeks after surgery. The treatment groups were well balanced, the median age of the patients was 64 years, 85% of patients had T3 disease, 15% had T4 disease, and 5% had a lymph node yield of less than 12. Clinical high risk disease was defined as one or more of the following clinicopathological risk features: T4 lesion, poor tumor differentiation, lymph node yield less than 12, lymphovascular invasion, tumor perforation, or bowel obstruction, in association with a proficient mismatch-repair tumor, which was present in 40% of patients. The Primary efficacy end point was noninferiority of ctDNA-guided management to standard management with regards to 2-year Recurrence Free Survival (RFS). A key Secondary end point was to determine whether fewer patients would receive adjuvant chemotherapy with the ctDNA-guided approach.

At a median follow up of 37 months, the 2-year RFS was 93.5% with ctDNA-guided management and 92.4% with standard management, meeting the noninferiority criterion. Further, a lower percentage of patients in the ctDNA-guided group received adjuvant chemotherapy than in the standard-management group (15% versus 28%).

The authors concluded that a ctDNA-guided approach to the treatment of Stage II colon cancer reduced adjuvant chemotherapy use without compromising Recurrence Free Survival. Studies are underway assessing the role of escalated chemotherapy in ctDNA-positive patients and deescalation of chemotherapy in ctDNA-negative patients with Stage II colorectal cancer.

Circulating Tumor DNA Analysis Guiding Adjuvant Therapy in Stage II Colon Cancer. Tie J, Cohen JD, Lahouel K, et al. for the DYNAMIC Investigators. N Engl J Med 2022; 386:2261-2272

Late Breaking Abstract – ASCO 2022: IMBRUVICA® plus Bendamustine and Rituximab for Older Patients with Untreated Mantle Cell Lymphoma

SUMMARY: The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, about 80,470 people will be diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) in the United States and about 20,250 individuals will die of this disease. In the US, approximately 3,300 new cases of MCL are diagnosed each year. Mantle Cell Lymphoma is an aggressive B-cell lymphoma and accounts for approximately 6% of all Non Hodgkin Lymphomas in adults, and is associated with a high relapse rate following dose-intensive therapies. Early and late relapses in patients with MCL have been attributed to persistence of residual disease.

Majority of patients with MCL are elderly and are not candidates for aggressive treatment or Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation. These patients often receive less aggressive first line therapy such as Bendamustine plus Rituximab, and this regimen has demonstrated superior Progression Free Survival compared to R-CHOP, with a better safety profile. Further, the addition of Rituximab maintenance therapy after induction therapy with Bendamustine and Rituximab has shown significantly prolonged Progression Free Survival or Overall Survival in two independent observational studies.

Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) is a member of the Tec family of kinases, downstream of the B-cell receptor and is predominantly expressed in B-cells. It is a mediator of B-cell receptor signaling in normal and transformed B-cells. Following binding of antigen to the B-Cell Receptor, kinases such as Syk (Spleen Tyrosine Kinase), Lyn (member of the Src family of protein tyrosine kinases) and BTK (Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase) are activated, with subsequent propagation through PI3K/Akt, MAPK, and NF-κB pathways. This results in B-cell activation and proliferation. The 3 BTK inhibitors presently approved by the FDA for MCL include, IMBRUVICA® (Ibrutinib) approved in 2013, CALQUENCE® (Acalabrutinib) approved in 2017, and BRUKINSA® (Zanubrutinib) approved in 2019.

Single agent IMBRUVICA® is presently approved by the FDA for the treatment of MCL patients who have received at least one prior therapy. In a Phase Ib study, the addition of IMBRUVICA® to Bendamustine and Rituximab therapy was safe and effective with a Complete Response Rate of 76%, among patients with untreated, relapsed, or refractory MCL.

SHINE study is an international, randomized, double-blind, Phase III trial , in which a combination of IMBRUVICA® with Bendamustine plus Rituximab and Rituximab maintenance therapy was compared with placebo with Bendamustine plus Rrituximab and Rituximab maintenance therapy, in elderly patients with untreated Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). A total of 523 previously untreated patients, 65 years of age or older, who had a centrally confirmed diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma with Cyclin D1 overexpression or translocation breakpoints at t(11;14) were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either to six cycles of IMBRUVICA® along with Bendamustine and Rituximab (N=261) or six cycles of placebo along with Bendamustine and Rituximab (N=262). IMBRUVICA® 560 mg or placebo was administered orally once daily. Bendamustine was administered at 90 mg/m2 IV on days 1 and 2 of each 28 day cycle along with Rituximab 375 mg/m2 IV on day 1 of each 28 day cycle. Patients in either arm who achieved a Complete or Partial Response continued to receive IMBRUVICA® or placebo daily along with Rituximab maintenance therapy at a dose of 375 mg/m2 IV every 8 weeks for up to 12 additional doses. Patients with stable disease after induction treatment could continue to receive IMBRUVICA® or placebo until disease progression or unacceptable toxicities. Both treatment groups were well balanced. The median age of the patients was 71 years and eligible patients had documented Stage II to IV disease with at least one measurable site of disease that was at least 1.5 cm in the longest diameter. Patients were excluded if stem-cell transplantation was planned or if they had known CNS involvement. The Primary endpoint was Progression Free Survival (PFS). Secondary endpoints included Objective Response Rate, Complete Response Rate, Overall Survival and Safety.

The study met its Primary endpoint and at a median follow up of 84.7 months, the median PFS was 80.6 months in the IMBRUVICA® group and 52.9 months in the placebo group (HR for disease progression or death=0.75; P=0.01). The Complete Response Rate was 65.5% in the IMBRUVICA® group and 57.6% in the placebo group (P=0.06). The Overall Survival was similar in the two treatment groups. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events during treatment were 81.5% in the IMBRUVICA® group and 77.3% in the placebo group and the most common Grade 3 and 4 adverse events were rash, pneumonia, and atrial fibrillation.

The authors concluded that treatment with IMBRUVICA® in combination with standard chemoimmunotherapy significantly prolonged Progression Free Survival, and may be a new treatment option for elderly patients with newly diagnosed Mantle Cell Lymphoma, who may not be candidates for intensive chemotherapy or Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation.

Ibrutinib plus Bendamustine and Rituximab in Untreated Mantle-Cell Lymphoma. Wang ML, Jurczak W, Jerkeman M, et al. June 3, 2022. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2201817.
DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2022.40.17_suppl.LBA7502 Journal of Clinical Oncology 40, no. 17_suppl (June 10, 2022) 

FDA Approves OPDIVO® Combination for Advanced Esophageal Carcinoma

SUMMARY: The FDA on May 27, 2022, approved OPDIVO® (Nivolumab) in combination with Fluoropyrimidine and Platinum-based chemotherapy, as well as OPDIVO® in combination with YERVOY® (Ipilimumab) for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, about 20,640 new cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in the US and about 16,410 individuals will die of the disease. It is the sixth most common cause of global cancer death. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of cancer of the esophagus among African Americans, while Adenocarcinoma is more common in Caucasians. Squamous Cell Carcinoma accounts for approximately 85% of cases.

Majority of esophageal cancers are unresectable at diagnosis, and most patients treated with curative intent eventually will relapse, and only about 20% of patients will survive at least 5 years following diagnosis. Patients with advanced esophageal cancer have a median survival of less than a year when treated with the standard Fluoropyrimidine plus Platinum based chemotherapy. For those patients progressing on first line chemotherapy, treatment options are limited, with a 5-year relative survival rate of 8% or less.

OPDIVO® (Nivolumab) is a fully human, immunoglobulin G4 monoclonal antibody that binds to the PD-1 receptor and blocks its interaction with PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby undoing PD-1 pathway-mediated inhibition of the immune response and unleashing the T cells. It has been noted that approximately 50% of patients with advanced esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma express tumor-cell Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) greater than 1%. In the ATTRACTION-3 multicentre, Phase III trial, treatment with OPDIVO® was associated with a significant improvement in Overall Survival, compared with chemotherapy, in previously treated patients with advanced esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma, regardless of PD-L1 expression. In the CheckMate 649 Phase III trial involving patients with gastric, gastroesophageal junction, or esophageal adenocarcinoma, first-line treatment with OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy resulted in a significant Overall Survival (OS) and Progression Free Survival (PFS) benefit, as compared with chemotherapy alone, as well as durable Objective Response Rate (ORR), with an acceptable safety profile.

CheckMate 648 is a global, open-label, Phase III trial in which the efficacy and safety of both an Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor in combination with chemotherapy and a dual Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor combination was evaluated in previously untreated patients with advanced esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The researchers herein reported the results for OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy and for OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® (Ipilimumab) as compared with chemotherapy alone. In this study, 970 patients with previously untreated, unresectable, advanced, recurrent or metastatic esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to receive OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy (N=321), OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® (N=325), or chemotherapy alone. Patients in the OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy group received OPDIVO® 240 mg IV every 2 weeks and chemotherapy consisted of Fluorouracil 800 mg/m2 IV Days 1-5 and Cisplatin 80 mg/m2 IV on Day 1, given every 4 weeks. The OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® group received OPDIVO® 3 mg/kg IV every 2 weeks plus YERVOY® 1 mg/kg IV every 6 weeks. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Patients could receive OPDIVO® or OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® for a maximum of 2 years. Demographic and baseline clinical characteristics were balanced across the treatment groups and in patients with tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater (49% of patients in each treatment group had tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater). The Primary end points were Overall Survival (OS) and Progression Free Survival (PFS), as determined by Blinded Independent Central Review (BICR), with hierarchical testing performed first in patients with tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater and then in the overall population. The Secondary end points included Objective Response Rate (ORR), which was also assessed by BICR.

After a minimum follow up period of 13 months, Overall Survival was significantly longer with OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy than with chemotherapy alone, both among patients with tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater (15.4 months versus 9.1 months; HR=0.54; P<0.001) and in the overall population (13.2 months versus 10.7 months; HR=0.74; P=0.002). These findings suggested a 46% and 26% lower risk of death respectively with OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy, than with chemotherapy alone. Overall Survival was also significantly longer with OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® than with chemotherapy among patients with tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater (13.7 months versus 9.1 months; HR=0.64; P=0.001) and in the overall population (12.7 months versus 10.7 months; HR=0.78; P=0.01).

There was a significant improvement in Progression Free Survival seen with OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy over chemotherapy alone, among patients with tumor-cell PD-L1 expression of 1% or greater (HR=0.65; P=0.002). This PFS benefit was not seen with OPDIVO® plus YERVOY®, as compared with chemotherapy. The incidence of Grade 3 or 4 treatment-related Adverse Events was 47% with OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy, 32% with OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® and 36% with chemotherapy alone.

Treatment with either OPDIVO®-based regimens resulted in a higher Complete Response rate, as well as in more durable responses, than chemotherapy alone. Of the three treatment regimens, OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy led to the highest Objective Response Rate and OPDIVO® plus YERVOY® resulted in the longest median Duration of Response.

It was concluded that first-line treatment of advanced esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma with either OPDIVO® plus chemotherapy or OPDIVO® plus YERVOY®, resulted in a significantly longer Overall Survival benefit and durable responses, than chemotherapy alone.

Nivolumab Combination Therapy in Advanced Esophageal Squamous-Cell Carcinoma. Doki Y, Ajani JA, Kato K, et al. N Engl J Med 2022;386:449-462

Consider Guideline-Recommended Biomarker Testing as an Integral Component of NSCLC Care

The NSCLC Landscape Has Evolved Significantly Due Largely to the Growing Number of Actionable Mutations1

Despite advancements in standard-of-care, advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) continues to burden patients, with poor survival outcomes.2,3 NSCLC has been identified as the leading cause of cancer death worldwide with an estimated 1.8 million deaths in 2020.2 As the number of targeted therapies and approved companion diagnostics continues to grow, mortality and survival rates have begun to improve.3 With the addition of KRAS G12C, there are 9 actionable molecular biomarkers (as of February 2022) and more than 20 targeted therapies approved for use in advanced NSCLC.1,4 Guidelines recommend biomarker testing for all eligible patients at diagnosis of advanced NSCLC regardless of characteristics such as smoking history, race, or histology.5,6 Unfortunately, real-world evidence shows that far too many patients fail to receive the comprehensive biomarker testing.7

Adherence to Guidelines Can Improve Patient Outcomes8

As targeted therapies are approved, guidelines continue to update their recommendations on biomarker testing.5 As of March 2022, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for NSCLC recommend broad molecular testing of actionable and emerging biomarkers for eligible patients with advanced or metastatic NSCLC (Figure 1).5 Similarly, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) endorsed the 2018 College of American Pathologists (CAP)/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC)/Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) guidelines, recommending comprehensive cancer panel testing for genetic biomarkers.9,10

Figure 1: NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for NSCLC5,*,†Advanced-Non-Squamous-NSCLC*The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for NSCLC provide recommendations for certain individual biomarkers that should be tested and recommend testing techniques but do not endorse any specific commercially available biomarker assays or commercial laboratories.5The NCCN Guidelines® for NSCLC recommend broad molecular testing to identify rare driver variants for which targeted therapies may be available to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment.5KRAS G12C and EGFR exon 20 mutations are used to determine subsequent (ie, second-line and beyond) therapy using targeted agents or other novel agents.5 §The definition of high-level MET amplification is evolving and may differ according to the assay used for testing. For NGS-based results, a copy number greater than 10 is consistent with high-level MET amplification.5 **For oncogenic or likely oncogenic HER2 mutations, refer to definitions at

Although adherence to guideline-recommended biomarker testing is associated with improved patient outcomes, real-world EMR data reveals suboptimal biomarker testing rates.8,11 In a retrospective study,†† 81% of patients with metastatic NSCLC did not receive testing for ALK, EGFR, ROS1, and BRAF before initiation of first-line treatment, despite availability of targeted therapies.11 Moreover, only 28% of patients received testing for all four genetic biomarkers and PD-L1 during the study period.11 In another retrospective study, less than 50% of patients with metastatic NSCLC received testing for all five biomarkers (EGFR, ALK, ROS1, BRAF, PD-L1) (Figure 2).7

Beyond the underutilization of biomarker testing, there remains an even greater need to increase broad molecular testing among racial and ethnic minority groups in the US.12,13 In one retrospective study, Black/African American patients with advanced NSCLC had significantly lower rates of testing with NGS assays (39.8%) compared with White patients (50.1%) (Figure 3).12

††A retrospective study assessing real-world biomarker testing patterns in patients with de novo mNSCLC (N=2,257) in the community oncology setting using the US Oncology Network electronic health records between January 1st, 2017 and September 31st, 2019 with follow-up through December 31st, 2019.11

Figure 2: MYLUNG Consortium™ EMR Analysis of Patients With Metastatic NSCLC7,‡‡MYLUNG-Consortium‡‡A retrospective, observational study assessing real-world biomarker testing patterns in patients with metastatic NSCLC(N=3,474) from community oncology practices within the US Oncology Network community practices between 2018 and 2020.7
Figure 3: EMR Analysis of Biomarker Testing in Patients With Advanced/Metastatic NSCLC12,§§
§§From a retrospective cohort study of patients with advanced/metastatic: NSCLC (N=14,768) from ~800 sites of care identified via the Flatiron Electronic Health Record Database between 2017 and 2020. Of this study cohort, patients included White (n=9,793), Black/African American (n=1,288), and non-squamous NSCLC (n=10,333).

Collectively, these findings highlight the disparity in proactive disease management across different patient populations.7,11,12

Considerations Across the Biomarker Testing Journey

There are several different methods in which eligible patients can be tested for actionable genetic alterations, each with unique considerations as indicated below (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Comparing Biomarker Testing Methods and Sample Types
Comparing-Biomarker-Testing-Methods***Data from a review of common molecular assays for biomarker testing that analyzed common detected variants, sensitivities, and turnaround time.6 †††cfDNA refers to all circulating DNA (largely non-malignant), while ctDNA refers to the tumor-related component of cfDNA.15 ‡‡‡Data from a prospective study that enrolled patients with previously untreated metastatic NSCLC undergoing SOC tissue genotyping and comprehensive cfDNA analysis, with turnaround time defined as the number of days between test order date and the retrieval of test results.16

While tissue biopsy remains the “gold standard” in NSCLC, it may not be feasible (insufficient tissue) or pragmatic (urgent need to begin treatment) in all patients.17 Plasma ctDNA demonstrates complementary results to tissue-based assays and can be considered a valid tool for genotyping of newly diagnosed patients with advanced NSCLC.15 In a prospective study of patients with previously untreated, non-squamous metastatic NSCLC from 2016 to 2018, guideline-recommended biomarkers with FDA-approved therapies (EGFR Exon 19 deletion and L858R, ALK fusion, ROS1 fusion, BRAF V600E) showed ≥ 98.2% concordance between tissue and liquid-based testing.16 While concordance is high for any single test, high concordance for full panels will be required for liquid biopsies to become standard; additionally, negative results on liquid biopsy still require validation with tissue testing.16,17

Liquid biopsy may offer improvements in sample acquisition and small tissue samples and provides less invasive procedures and shortened turnaround times.17 Other considerations for maximizing the tissue journey include the use of comprehensive testing, rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE), and implementing reflex testing protocols with the help of a multidisciplinary team (MDT).17

Delays in Biomarker Testing Results May Impact Treatment Plan Decisions18

Longer turnaround times for molecular testing compared with turnaround times for PD-L1 testing by IHC may result in the initiation of immunotherapy before molecular testing results are received.18 Waiting for complete biomarker test results prior to initiating therapy can allow doctors to make the most informed decisions surrounding a patient’s treatment journey.18

Consider Comprehensive Biomarker Testing as an Important Part of Your Treatment Plan8

As the NSCLC landscape continues to progress with the increasing number of actionable biomarkers, there is a growing need for proactive and comprehensive molecular testing.7,17 Although real-world data has shown significant underuse of biomarker testing, rates can be improved with diligent observation of expanding guidelines and recommendations by expert panels and associations.7,8 In the coming years, clinicians may consider evolving institutional protocols, including enabling reflex testing, and work as an MDT to ensure biomarker testing is performed on all eligible patients with advanced NSCLC.17

AA, African American; ALK, anaplastic lymphoma kinase; BRAF, proto-oncogene B-Raf; cfDNA, cell-free DNA; ctDNA, circulating tumor DNA; EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor; EMR, electronic medical record; ERBB2, erb-b2 receptor tyrosine kinase 2; HER2, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2; IHC, immunohistochemistry; KRAS, Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog; MET, mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition; mNSCLC, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer; NSCLC, non-small cell lung cancer; NCCN, National Comprehensive Cancer Network; NGS, next-generation sequencing; NTRK, neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase; PD-L1, programmed cell death ligand 1; RET, rearranged during transfection; ROS1, c-ros oncogene 1; SOC, standard-of-care.

1. Majeed U, et al. J Hematol Oncol. 2021;14:108.
2. Sung H, et al. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021;71:209-249.
3. Siegel RL, et al. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021;71:7-33.
4. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed October 6, 2021.
5. Referenced with permission from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. V.3.2022. ©National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. 2022. All rights reserved. Accessed March 16, 2022. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to NCCN makes no warranties of any kind whatsoever regarding their content, use or application and disclaims any responsibility for their application or use in any way.
6. Pennell NA, et al. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2019;39:531-542.
7. Robert NJ, et al. Presented at: The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting; June 4–8, 2021; Virtual Meeting. Abstract 102.
8. John A, et al. Adv Ther. 2021;38:1552-1566.
9. Hanna N, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35:3484-3515.
10. Lindeman NI, et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2018;142:321-346.
11. Nadler ES, et al. Presented at: The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting; June 4–8, 2021; Virtual Meeting. Abstract 9079.
12. Bruno DS, et al. Presented at: The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting; June 4–8, 2021; Virtual Meeting. Abstract 9005.
13. Hann KEJ, et al. BMC Public Health. 2017;17:503.
14. Pennell NA, et al. JCO Precis Oncol. 2019;3:1-9.
15. Rolfo C, et al. J Thorac Oncol. 2021;16:1647-1662.
16. Leighl NB, et al. Clin Cancer Res. 2019;25:4691-4700.
17. Gregg JP, et al. Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2019;8:286-301.
18. Smeltzer MP, et al. J Thorac Oncol. 2020;15:1434-1448.

USA-510-80864 02/22

FDA Approves KYMRIAH® for Relapsed or Refractory Follicular Lymphoma

SUMMARY: The FDA on May 27, 2022, granted accelerated approval to KYMRIAH® (Tisagenlecleucel) for adult patients with Relapsed or Refractory Follicular Lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, about 80,470 people will be diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) in the United States and about 20,250 individuals will die of this disease. Indolent Non Hodgkin Lymphomas are mature B cell lymphoproliferative disorders and include Follicular Lymphoma, Nodal Marginal Zone Lymphoma (NMZL), Extranodal Marginal Zone Lymphoma (ENMZL) of Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (MALT), Splenic Marginal Zone Lymphoma (SMZL), LymphoPlasmacytic Lymphoma (LPL) and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL). Follicular Lymphoma is the most indolent form and second most common form of all NHLs and they are a heterogeneous group of lymphoproliferative malignancies. Approximately 22% of all NHLs are Follicular Lymphomas (FL).

Advanced stage indolent NHL is not curable and as such, prolonging Progression Free Survival (PFS) and Overall Survival (OS), while maintaining Quality of Life, have been the goals of treatment intervention. Asymptomatic patients with indolent NHL are generally considered candidates for “watch and wait” approach. Patients with advanced stage symptomatic Follicular Lymphoma are often treated with induction chemoimmunotherapy followed by maintenance RITUXAN® (Rituximab). This can result in a median Progression Free Survival of 6-8 years. However, approximately 30% of the patients will relapse in 3 years and treatment options are limited for patients with relapses, after multiple treatments. Patients with Follicular Lymphomas often experience a relapsing and remitting pattern of disease and may be exposed to multiple lines of therapy over the course of their disease. In spite of the availability of multiple systemic therapies for Follicular Lymphoma, the efficacy of these regimens drops off rapidly with later lines of therapy. Novel therapies are therefore being investigated to improve outcomes.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy and consists of T cells collected from the patient’s blood in a leukapheresis procedure, and genetically engineered to produce special receptors on their surface called Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR). These reprogrammed cytotoxic T cells with the Chimeric Antigen Receptors on their surface are now able to recognize a specific antigen on tumor cells. These genetically engineered and reprogrammed CAR T-cells are grown in the lab and are then infused into the patient. These cells in turn proliferate in the patient’s body and the engineered receptor on the cell surface help recognize and kill cancer cells that expresses that specific antigen. KYMRIAH® (genetically engineered T-cells) seeks out cancer cells expressing the antigen CD19, which is found uniquely on B cells and destroy them. Patients, following treatment with CAR T-cells, develop B-cell aplasia (absence of CD19 positive cells) due to B-cell destruction and may need immunoglobin replacement. Hence, B-cell aplasia can be a useful therapeutic marker, as continued B-cell aplasia has been seen in all patients who had sustained remission, following CAR T-cell therapy. Cytokine Release Syndrome, an inflammatory process is the most common and serious side effect of CAR T-cell therapy and is associated with marked elevation of Interleukin-6. Cytokine release is important for T-cell activation and can result in high fevers and myalgias. This is usually self limiting although if severe can be associated with hypotension and respiratory insufficiency. Tocilizumab (ACTEMRA®), an Interleukin-6 receptor blocking antibody produces a rapid improvement in symptoms. This is however not recommended unless the symptoms are severe and life threatening, as blunting the cytokine response can in turn negate T-cell proliferation. Elevated serum ferritin and C-reactive protein levels are surrogate markers for severe Cytokine Release Syndrome. The CAR T-cells have been shown to also access sanctuary sites such as the CNS and eradicate cancer cells. CD19 antigen is expressed by majority of the B-cell malignancies and therefore most studies using CAR T-cell therapy have focused on the treatment of advanced B-cell malignancies.

The present FDA approval was based on the ELARA trial, which is an international, multicenter, single-arm, open-label trial in which the efficacy and safety of KYMRIAH® was investigated in adult patients with Relapsed/Refractory Follicular Lymphoma, after at least two prior therapies. A total of 97 patients received KYMRIAH® (0.6-6×108 CAR+ viable T cells) after lymphodepleting chemotherapy. Bridging therapy was permitted followed by disease assessment prior to KYMRIAH® infusion. Eligible patients had Grades 1-3A Relapsed/Refractory Follicular Lymphoma who had progressed on 2 or more lines of systemic therapy, (including an anti-CD20 antibody and an alkylating agent) or relapsed after Autologous hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant. The median patient age was 57 years, 85% had Stage III-IV disease, 60% had a FLIPI score 3 or more, 65% had bulky disease, and 42% had LDH above the upper limit of normal. The median number of prior therapies was 4, 78% of patients were refractory to their last treatment and 60% progressed within 2 years of initial anti-CD20 based therapy. The Primary endpoint was Complete Response Rate (CRR) by central review per Lugano 2014 criteria. Secondary endpoints included Overall Response Rate (ORR), Duration of Response (DOR), Progression Free Survival (PFS), Overall Survival (OS), Safety, and cellular kinetics.

In the primary efficacy analysis, with a median follow up 10.6 months, the Overall Response Rate was 86% with a Complete Response Rate of 66%. The response rates were comparable among key high risk subgroups. The median Duration of Response was Not Reached, with 75% of responders still in response at 9 months. At a median follow up of 17 months, the response rates were maintained and the 12-month PFS was 67% and 9 month Duration of Response was 76%. For patients who had a Complete Response, the 12-month PFS was 86% and the estimated Duration of Response was 87%. Approximately 48% of patients experienced Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) within eight weeks of infusion, with no patients experiencing CRS of Grade 3 or higher.

It was concluded that after a median follow up of 17 months, KYMRIAH® demonstrated high Response Rates, as well as durable responses, with remarkable safety profile, thus providing a new treatment option for this difficult-to-treat patient group of patients with Relapsed or Refractory Follicular Lymphoma.

Efficacy of Tisagenlecleucel in Adult Patients (Pts) with High-Risk Relapsed/Refractory Follicular Lymphoma (r/r FL): Subgroup Analysis of the Phase II Elara Study. Thieblemont C, Dickinson M, Martinez-Lopez J, et al. Presented in an oral session at the 63rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition (ASH) 2021:(Abstract #131).

IMFINZI® in Combination with Chemotherapy Improves Overall Survival in Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer

SUMMARY: Bile Tract cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma) is a rare, heterogenous cancer, and comprises about 30% of all primary liver tumors and includes both intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile duct cancers. Klatskin tumor is a type of Cholangiocarcinoma that begins in the hilum, at the junction of the left and right bile ducts. It is the most common type of Cholangiocarcinoma, accounting for more than half of all cases. About 8,000 people in the US are diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma each year and approximately 20% of the cases are suitable for surgical resection. The 5-year survival among those with advanced stage disease is less than 10%, with limited progress made over the past two decades. There is therefore an unmet need for new effective therapies.

Patients with advanced bile tract cancers often receive chemotherapy in the first and second line settings, with limited benefit. Gemcitabine and Cisplatin combination is currently the first line standard-of-care treatment. With the recognition of immunogenic features displayed by bile tract cancers, the role of immune checkpoint inhibitors for improving disease control and prolonging survival, has been increasingly explored.

IMFINZI® (Durvalumab) is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to the PD-L1 protein and blocks the interaction of PD-L1 with the PD-1 and CD80 proteins, countering the tumor’s immune-evading tactics and unleashes the T cells. IMFINZI® in combination with Gemcitabine and Cisplatin showed encouraging antitumor activity in a Phase II study, among patients with advanced bile tract cancers.

TOPAZ-1 is a double-blind, multicenter, global, Phase III trial conducted to evaluate the efficacy of first line immunotherapy given along with Gemcitabine and Cisplatin in patients with advanced metastatic biliary tract cancer. In this study, a total of 685 previously untreated patients with unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic biliary tract cancer were randomized 1:1 to receive IMFINZI® (Durvalumab) 1500 mg IV every 3 weeks (N=341) or placebo (N=344), along with Gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 IV and Cisplatin 25 mg/m2 IV given on Days 1 and 8, every 3 weeks for up to 8 cycles, followed by IMFINZI® 1500 mg IV every 4 weeks or placebo, until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Patients with recurrent disease more than 6 months following curative surgery or adjuvant therapy were also included. The median patient age was 64 years and approximately 50% of patients had an ECOG Performance Status of 0. Randomization was stratified by disease status (initially unresectable, recurrent) and primary tumor location (intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma versus extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma versus gallbladder cancer). Approximately 56% had intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, followed by gallbladder cancer (25%) and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (19%). The Primary endpoint was Overall Survival (OS) and Secondary endpoints included Progression Free Survival (PFS), Objective Response Rate (ORR), and Safety.

The Primary endpoint was met at the first interim analysis and treatment with IMFINZI® plus Gemcitabine and Cisplatin significantly improved Overall Survival compared with placebo plus chemotherapy, with a 20% reduction in the risk of death (HR=0.80; P=0.021). Progression Free Survival was also greatly improved with chemoimmunotherapy vs chemotherapy alone (HR=0.75; P=0.001). The Objective Response Rate was was 26.7% in the IMFINZI® plus chemotherapy group and 18.7% in the placebo plus chemotherapy group. Grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events were almost similar in both treatment groups (62.7% versus 64.9%), and treatment discontinuation due to adverse events was 8.9% in the IMFINZI® plus chemotherapy group and 11.4% in the placebo plus chemotherapy group.

It was concluded that in patients with advanced biliary tract cancers, IMFINZI® in combination with Gemcitabine and Cisplatin significantly improved Overall Survival and Progression Free Survival with manageable safety, when compared to chemotherapy alone, and should therefore be considered first line standard-of- care for this patient group.

A phase 3 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of durvalumab in combination with gemcitabine plus cisplatin (gemcis) in patients (pts) with advanced biliary tract cancer (BTC): TOPAZ-1. Oh D-Y, He AR, Qin S, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2022;40(suppl 4):378. DOI:10.1200/JCO.2022.40.4_suppl.378.

Mutations of STK11/KRAS Genes and Efficacy of Immunotherapy in NSCLC

SUMMARY: The American Cancer Society estimates that for 2022, about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and 135,360 patients will die of the disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers and Adenocarcinoma now is the most frequent histologic subtype of lung cancer.

Immune checkpoints are cell surface inhibitory proteins/receptors that are expressed on activated T cells. They harness the immune system and prevent uncontrolled immune reactions by switching off the T cells of the immune system. Immune checkpoint proteins/receptors include CTLA-4 (Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Antigen 4, also known as CD152) and PD-1(Programmed cell Death 1). Checkpoint inhibitors unleash the T cells resulting in T cell proliferation, activation, and a therapeutic response.

TECENTRIQ® (Atezolizumab) is an anti-PDL1 monoclonal antibody, designed to directly bind to PD-L1 expressed on tumor cells and tumor-infiltrating immune cells, thereby blocking its interactions with PD-1 and B7.1 receptors and thus enabling the activation of T cells. AVASTIN® (Bevacizumab) is a biologic antiangiogenic antibody, directed against Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), and prevents the interaction of VEGF to its receptors (Flt-1 and KDR) on the surface of endothelial cells. The interaction of VEGF with its receptors has been shown to result in endothelial cell proliferation and new blood vessel formation. Combining TECENTRIQ® and AVASTIN® is supported by the following scientific rationale. AVASTIN® in addition to its established anti-angiogenic effects, may further enhance the ability of TECENTRIQ® to restore anti-cancer immunity, by inhibiting VEGF-related immunosuppression, promoting T-cell tumor infiltration and enabling priming and activation of T-cell responses against tumor antigens.

IMpower150 is a multicenter, open-label, randomized, Phase III study, conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of TECENTRIQ® in combination with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel with or without AVASTIN®, in patients with Stage IV, treatment naïve, non-squamous NSCLC. This study enrolled 1,202 patients, who were randomized (1:1:1) to receive either TECENTRIQ® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel (ACP-Group A), TECENTRIQ® and AVASTIN® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel (ABCP-Group B), or AVASTIN® plus Carboplatin and Paclitaxel (BCP-Group C – control arm). During the treatment-induction phase, patients in Group A received TECENTRIQ® 1200 mg IV along with Carboplatin AUC 6 and Paclitaxel 200mg/m2 IV on Day 1 of a 3-week treatment cycle for 4 or 6 cycles. Following the induction phase, patients received maintenance treatment with TECENTRIQ® on the same dose schedule until disease progression. Patients in Group B received AVASTIN® 15 mg/kg IV, along with TECENTRIQ®, Carboplatin and Paclitaxel IV, Day 1 of a 3-week treatment cycle for 4 or 6 cycles followed by maintenance treatment with the TECENTRIQ® and AVASTIN® until disease progression. Patients in the control Group C received AVASTIN® plus Carboplatin and Paclitaxel every 3 weeks for 4 or 6 cycles followed by AVASTIN® maintenance treatment until disease progression. Among randomized patients with tumors demonstrating no ALK and EGFR mutations, ABCP was associated with significant improvements in Progression Free Survival (PFS) and Overall Survival (OS), compared with BCP, in an updated OS analysis. ABCP also prolonged OS and PFS compared with BCP in an exploratory subgroup analysis of patients with EGFR-sensitizing mutations.

The Serine‐Threonine Kinase 11 (STK11) gene is located on the short arm of chromosome 19 and germline STK11 mutations are often detected in Peutz‐Jeghers syndrome, an Autosomal Dominant disorder resulting in mucocutaneous hyperpigmentation, hamartomas throughout the gastrointestinal tract, and a predisposition for breast, lung, pancreas, and gastrointestinal malignancies including cancers of the colon and small bowel. Both STK11 (also called LKB1) and KEAP1 mutation occur in about 17% of NSCLC (adenocarcinomas), respectively, and correlates with poor outcome with immune checkpoint inhibitors or immune checkpoint inhibitors plus chemotherapy. Although immune checkpoint inhibitors with or without chemotherapy have demonstrated survival benefit in patients with KRAS mutated tumors, it remains unclear how co-occurring STK11, KEAP1, and TP53 mutations affect outcomes following immune checkpoint blockade.

The authors in this publication conducted a retrospective exploratory analysis of the efficacy of ABCP (TECENTRIQ® and AVASTIN® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel), in patients with KRAS mutations and co-occuring STK11, KEAP1, or TP53 mutations, from the IMpower150 nonsquamous NSCLC patient population. Mutation status was determined by circulating tumor DNA Next-Generation Sequencing.

Among the KRAS mutated population, there was numerical improvement in median OS with ABCP compared to BCP (19.8 vs 9.9 months; HR=0.50), as well as PFS (8.1 vs 5.8 months; HR=0.42) respectively. The median OS with ACP (TECENTRIQ® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel) was 11.7 vs 9.9 months (HR=0.63), and PFS was 4.8 vs 5.8 months (HR=0.80), when compared with BCP (AVASTIN® plus Carboplatin and Paclitaxel). When compared to BCP, the ABCP group showed numerically greater survival than the ACP group among KRAS mutated patients. These results were consistent with reported survival improvements with immune checkpoint inhibitors in KRAS-mutant NSCLC.

In KRAS mutant patients across PD-L1 subgroups, OS and PFS were longer with ABCP when compared with BCP, but in PD-L1-low and PD-L1-negative subgroups, OS with ACP was similar to BCP. Conversely, in KRAS wild type patients, OS was longer with ACP than with ABCP or BCP across PD-L1 subgroups.

KRAS was frequently comutated with STK11, KEAP1, and TP53 and these subgroups conferred different prognostic outcomes. Within the KRAS mutated population, STK11 and/or KEAP1 mutations were associated with inferior OS and PFS across treatments compared with STK11-wild type and/or KEAP1wild type. In KRAS mutated patients with co-occurring STK11 and/or KEAP1 mutations (44.9%) or TP53 mutations (49.3%), survival was longer with ABCP than with ACP or BCP.

It was concluded that this analysis supported previous findings of mutation of STK11 and/or KEAP1 as poor prognostic indicators. Even though the clinical efficacy of ABCP (TECENTRIQ® and AVASTIN® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel) and ACP (TECENTRIQ® along with Carboplatin and Paclitaxel) was favorable compared with BCP (AVASTIN® plus Carboplatin and Paclitaxel) in these mutational subgroups, survival benefits were greater in the KRAS mutated and KEAP1 and STK11 wild type population versus KRAS mutated and KEAP1 and STK11 mutated population, suggesting both prognostic and predictive value of mutational analysis. The researchers added that these results suggest that TECENTRIQ® in combination with AVASTIN® and chemotherapy is an efficacious first-line treatment in metastatic NSCLC subgroups with KRAS mutations co-occurring with STK11 and/or KEAP1 or TP53 mutations and/or high PD-L1 expression.

Clinical efficacy of atezolizumab plus bevacizumab and chemotherapy in KRAS- mutated non-small cell lung cancer with STK11, KEAP1, or TP53 comutations: subgroup results from the phase III IMpower150 trial. West JH, McCleland M, Cappuzzo, F, et al. J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Feb;10(2):e003027. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-003027.