Dr. Costa on Biomarkers Beyond PD-L1 for Immunotherapy in NSCLC

Daniel B. Costa, MD, PhD, MMSc
Published Online: Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017



Daniel B. Costa, MD, PhD, MMSc, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, medical staff, Hematology/Oncology, medical director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office, and Medical Center Thoracic Oncology Group Leader, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discusses biomarkers beyond PD-L1 in development for immunotherapy in patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Regarding immunotherapy, Costa explains that PD-L1 is a very clinically useful biomarker because it can be done routinely in most available tumor samples and it doesn’t have clinical implications. However, it’s not a perfect biomarker.

The presence of PD-L1 expression, even at the highest level, doesn’t necessarily predict a 100% response rate to immunotherapy, he says. Researchers are aware that there needs to be more refinements and better patient selection to determine who would best respond to these agents.

There are other biomarkers that are important and will likely become part of an assessment of immune response, Costa adds. PD-L1 is just one of many, and others will come through for expression in both tumor cells and the tumor-infiltrating microenvironment.


Daniel B. Costa, MD, PhD, MMSc, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, medical staff, Hematology/Oncology, medical director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office, and Medical Center Thoracic Oncology Group Leader, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discusses biomarkers beyond PD-L1 in development for immunotherapy in patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Regarding immunotherapy, Costa explains that PD-L1 is a very clinically useful biomarker because it can be done routinely in most available tumor samples and it doesn’t have clinical implications. However, it’s not a perfect biomarker.

The presence of PD-L1 expression, even at the highest level, doesn’t necessarily predict a 100% response rate to immunotherapy, he says. Researchers are aware that there needs to be more refinements and better patient selection to determine who would best respond to these agents.

There are other biomarkers that are important and will likely become part of an assessment of immune response, Costa adds. PD-L1 is just one of many, and others will come through for expression in both tumor cells and the tumor-infiltrating microenvironment.

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