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Emerging Therapies Show Promise in Head and Neck Cancer

Gina Columbus @ginacolumbusonc
Published: Thursday, May 04, 2017

Aarti Bhatia, MD

Aarti Bhatia, MD

The PD-1 inhibitors pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) have generated excitement in the field of head and neck cancer. However, because the agents do not demonstrate durable responses or even clinical activity in all patients, researchers are actively studying novel agents and combination regimens in hopes of improving survival.

State of the Science Summit on Head and Neck Cancer.

OncLive: Can you start by discussing where we are as far as treatments for head and neck cancer and any recent advancements?

Bhatia: I spoke about all of the targeted therapies that have been approved and that we have been using for many years. Additionally, I shed light on some of the novel drugs that have been tested in the past few years, and I talked about novel drugs in development and how we can improve outcomes for these patients. 

What agents are in the pipeline that look promising?

Within the past couple of years, afatinib (Gilotrif) has been tested in the metastatic setting and in the adjuvant setting. Those data will be out at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting. It also being tested in combination with other ErbB family receptor inhibitors.

In addition, there are other oncogenic aberrations that have been reported from other studies. There are a variety of drugs, which are in development in early-stage trials, such as MET inhibitors in combination with cetuximab (Erbitux). There are CDK4/6 inhibitors [being explored]; palbociclib and ribociclib, which are 2 for breast cancer, are being tested with cetuximab. We are opening a trial at Yale Cancer Center with PARP inhibitors for the HPV-positive patients with head and neck cancers, and we will see some data come out of that.

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Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Medical Crossfire®: How Can We Optimize Outcomes in Head and Neck Cancers with Immunotherapeutic Strategies?Oct 31, 20191.5
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