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Immune-Oncology Role Continues to Be Refined in GI Cancer

Kristi Rosa
Published: Monday, Jan 28, 2019

Michael J. Overman, MD

Michael J. Overman, MD
While PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors have demonstrated encouraging activity in a subset of patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, there are other drugs in the space that are currently in development, said Michael J. Overman, MD. The challenge lies in figuring out how to optimize the activity seen with this class of agents and bring them into the frontline setting.

during the 2018 ISGIO Meeting on Immune-oncology in Gastrointestinal Cancers, Overman highlighted new combination agents under investigation for the treatment of patients with GI cancers—specifically CRC—and challenges that still need to be addressed.

OncLive: Could you provide an overview of immune-oncology in the field of GI cancers?

Overman: Immune-oncology is a current big area of development in cancer. There are many different drugs under development in this space, but the drugs that have had the most success have been these drugs targeting PD-1 or PD-L1. There are a number of different drugs that are FDA-approved for several different cancer types. The question is, “What other drugs are coming after the initial wave of multiple PD-1/PD-L1 agents?” There are a lot in development, and [we need to figure out] some of the bigger picture of how to decide which other targets are relevant.

What agents and targets are under investigation in this space?

One of the big ones is a target called CTLA-4, which is an immune checkpoint on T cells that inhibit an immune response; if you block this target, you can stimulate an immune response. There have been a number of studies looking at combinations targeting PD-1 and CTLA-4.
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