Checkpoint Inhibitors Shine Across Tumor Types at AACR

Oncology & Biotech News, May 2015, Volume 9, Issue 5

Immune checkpoint blockade strategies were a central focus of much of the key data presented at AACR.

OncLive Chairman,

Mike Hennessy

It is fitting that Drs James P. Allison and Jedd D. Wolchok are featured this month (pages 11 and 36, respectively) in the same issue as our coverage of the 2015 AACR Annual Meeting (click here, to view more). Both were pioneers in the development of the immune checkpoint blockade strategy that was a central focus of much of the key data presented at AACR.

Data shared at the meeting showed that the PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) produced response rates as high as 50% in some patients with non—small cell lung cancer. In a separate trial, pembrolizumab improved survival compared with another checkpoint agent, the CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy), in treatment-naïve patients with advanced melanoma.

Also in the frontline setting for advanced melanoma, adding the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) to ipilimumab was shown to improve progression-free survival by 60% compared with ipilimumab alone. And in breast cancer, early stage data showed that the PD-L1 inhibitor MPDL3280A had promising activity in pretreated patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

The ongoing research success with these checkpoint agents continues to lead to regulatory approvals and their increased integration into standard practice guidelines. Indeed, this month we also highlight the guideline updates presented at the 2015 NCCN Annual Meeting, and one of the more noteworthy updates was the addition of nivolumab to the NCCN treatment algorithm for non-small cell lung cancer.

And now with the AACR and NCCN annual meetings behind us, we arrive at the “main event” of oncology conferences, the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting. In next month’s issue, we’ll have the latest on the checkpoint agents and all the other treatments and strategies that make waves at ASCO. As always, thank you for reading. Click here, to view all of the findings from AACR.