Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD
Checkpoint inhibitors are making their way through the treatment paradigm of lymphomas with 2 FDA approvals in the last year. Now, combinations are likely next, as early results demonstrate encouraging activity across various subtypes.
State of the Science Summit on Hematologic Malignancies, Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD, chair of the Lymphoma Group at Mayo Clinic, lectured on the state of immunotherapy in lymphoma. In an interview, he shared insight on the potential these agents could have, ongoing clinical trials, and where this blends in with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.
OncLive: What did you cover in your presentation at the meeting?
It is an exciting time in the treatment of patients with lymphoma because we are learning how to optimize the immune system and get it to target the tumor. What I focused on is, first, the understanding of what is fundamentally wrong with the tumor and why is it that the immune system lets the cancer cell have a free pass and doesn’t actually target it.
That is what has led into some of these newer novel immunotherapy treatments. These are ways in which we want to wake up the immune system, get it far more effective, and make it get off to the cancer cell in a much more effective fashion.
What work are we doing right now to accomplish this?
One of the very exciting things is that blocking PD-1, which is 1 of the receptors that are on exhausted cells, has proven very effective in certain kinds of lymphoma—Hodgkin lymphoma in particular. The results have been very promising, with very high response rates. What has also been exciting is that subsequent studies have validated what was seen in the phase I study. In the phase II trials of nivolumab and pembrolizumab, the high response rates have remained high.
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