Dr. Emens on Combining Checkpoint Inhibitors With PARP Inhibitors in Ovarian Cancer

Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD
Published: Thursday, Feb 20, 2020



Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, Hematology/Oncology, co-leader, Hillman Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, director, Translational Immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, discusses the combination of checkpoint inhibitors and PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer.

Many physicians and researchers are testing the same checkpoint inhibitors in ovarian cancer and, so far, there has not been a strong signal with them in this patient population. This is interesting because ovarian cancer is known to have tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and evidence of immune activation. There appears to be something biologically unique about ovarian cancer that makes it more difficult to respond to therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors, says Emens.

Combinations are going to be one way to get a response to therapy with checkpoint inhibitors. One of these combinations comprises PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in combination with a PARP inhibitor. There were early data to suggest that durvalumab (Imfinzi) has some activity in ovarian cancer. There was a phase III trial that was terminated early for futility and, unfortunately, did not show evidence of activity. However, there is still a lot of interest in developing immunotherapeutic options in ovarian cancer, concludes Emens.
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Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, Hematology/Oncology, co-leader, Hillman Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, director, Translational Immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, discusses the combination of checkpoint inhibitors and PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer.

Many physicians and researchers are testing the same checkpoint inhibitors in ovarian cancer and, so far, there has not been a strong signal with them in this patient population. This is interesting because ovarian cancer is known to have tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and evidence of immune activation. There appears to be something biologically unique about ovarian cancer that makes it more difficult to respond to therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors, says Emens.

Combinations are going to be one way to get a response to therapy with checkpoint inhibitors. One of these combinations comprises PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in combination with a PARP inhibitor. There were early data to suggest that durvalumab (Imfinzi) has some activity in ovarian cancer. There was a phase III trial that was terminated early for futility and, unfortunately, did not show evidence of activity. However, there is still a lot of interest in developing immunotherapeutic options in ovarian cancer, concludes Emens.



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