Dr. Ferris on Combining STING Agonists With Checkpoint Inhibitors in Head and Neck Cancer

Robert Louis Ferris, MD, PhD
Published: Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019



Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, director of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hillman Cancer Center, Hillman Professor of Oncology, associate vice chancellor for cancer research, professor of otolaryngology, immunology, and radiation oncology, co-director, Tumor Microenvironment Center, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, discusses combining STING agonists with checkpoint inhibitors in head and neck cancer.
 
In 2016, the FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) as single agents for patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). As such, these agents demonstrate modest efficacy for this patient population, says Ferris.
 
PD-1 inhibitors appear to work better when the tumor microenvironment is inundated with immune cells that cause beneficial inflammation, explains Ferris.
 
ADU-CL-20 (NCT03937141) is an ongoing phase II trial investigating the efficacy and safety of combining ADU-S100/MIW815 with pembrolizumab for patients with PD-L1–positive recurrent or metastatic HNSCC. By adding the agent, investigators are hoping to trigger inflammation, thus making the “cold” tumor “hot,” and eliciting more antitumor activity, Ferris concludes.
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Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, director of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Hillman Cancer Center, Hillman Professor of Oncology, associate vice chancellor for cancer research, professor of otolaryngology, immunology, and radiation oncology, co-director, Tumor Microenvironment Center, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, discusses combining STING agonists with checkpoint inhibitors in head and neck cancer.
 
In 2016, the FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) as single agents for patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). As such, these agents demonstrate modest efficacy for this patient population, says Ferris.
 
PD-1 inhibitors appear to work better when the tumor microenvironment is inundated with immune cells that cause beneficial inflammation, explains Ferris.
 
ADU-CL-20 (NCT03937141) is an ongoing phase II trial investigating the efficacy and safety of combining ADU-S100/MIW815 with pembrolizumab for patients with PD-L1–positive recurrent or metastatic HNSCC. By adding the agent, investigators are hoping to trigger inflammation, thus making the “cold” tumor “hot,” and eliciting more antitumor activity, Ferris concludes.



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