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BACKGROUND - Checkpoint inhibitor therapy is a standard of care for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Treatment options after checkpoint inhibitor therapy include vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF-R) tyrosine kinase inhibitors, although no prospective data regarding their use in this setting exist. Axitinib is a VEGF-R inhibitor with clinical data supporting increased activity with dose titration. We aimed to investigate the activity of dose titrated axitinib in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma who were previously treated with checkpoint inhibitor.
METHODS - We did a multicentre, phase 2 trial of axitinib given on an individualised dosing algorithm. Patients at least 18 years of age with histologically or cytologically confirmed locally recurrent or metastatic renal cell carcinoma with clear cell histology, a Karnofsky Performance Status of 70% or more, and measurable disease who received checkpoint inhibitor therapy as the most recent treatment were eligible. There was no limit on number of previous therapies received. Patients received oral axitinib at a starting dose of 5 mg twice daily with dose titration every 14 days in 1 mg increments (ie, 5 mg twice daily to 6 mg twice daily, up to 10 mg twice daily maximum dose) if there was no axitinib-related grade 2 or higher mucositis, diarrhoea, hand-foot syndrome, or fatigue. If one or more of these grade 2 adverse events occurred, axitinib was withheld for 3 days before the same dose was resumed. Dose reductions were made if recurrent grade 2 adverse events despite treatment breaks or grade 3-4 adverse events occurred. The primary outcome was progression-free survival. Analyses were done per protocol in all patients who received at least one dose of axitinib. Recruitment has been completed and the trial is ongoing. This trial is registered with ClincalTrials.gov, number NCT02579811.
FINDINGS - Between Jan 5, 2016 and Feb 21, 2018, 40 patients were enrolled and received at least one dose of study treatment. With a median follow-up of 8·7 months (IQR 3·7-14·2), the median progression-free survival was 8·8 months (95% CI 5·7-16·6). Fatigue (83%) and hypertension (75%) were the most common all-grade adverse events. The most common grade 3 adverse event was hypertension (24 patients [60%]). There was one (3%) grade 4 adverse event (elevated lipase) and no treatment-related deaths occurred. Serious adverse events that were likely related to therapy occurred in eight (20%) patients; the most common were dehydration (n=4) and diarrhoea (n=2).
INTERPRETATION - Individualised axitinib dosing in patients with metastatic renal cell inoma previously treated with checkpoint inhibitors did not meet the prespecified threshold for progression free survival, but these data show that this individualised titration scheme is feasible and has robust clinical activity. These prospective results warrant consideration of axitinib in this setting.
FUNDING - Pfizer.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is a rare kidney tumor that occurs in adolescent and young adults, typically in association with sickle cell trait. RMC exhibits rapid disease progression, frequent metastases at diagnosis, and dismal clinical outcomes. Currently available therapies, including cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy, multi-tyrosine kinase, and mTOR inhibitor strategies demonstrate either transient responses or minimal activity. Therefore, further molecular characterization and additional treatment strategies are urgently needed in this aggressive disease. The role of immune system surveillance and responsiveness to anti-PD-1 therapies in RMC are completely unexplored.
CASE PRESENTATION - A 29 year old male with sickle cell trait presented with painless hematuria that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of RMC. He underwent total nephrectomy and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy with carboplatin, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, and bevacizumab. As is common in this aggressive form of kidney cancer he recurred with biopsy proven lymph node metastasis. He was started on checkpoint inhibitor therapy with nivolumab that inhibits program cell death protein 1 (PD-1), and on his first follow-up imaging he was found to have a partial response that on subsequent scans ultimately resulted in a complete response lasting greater than nine months. In this report, we present a patient with metastatic RMC who exhibited a clinical response to nivolumab, as well as the genetic and immunologic correlates of the pre-treatment tumor. Provocatively, robust immune infiltrate and expression of immune checkpoints were observed, despite the presence of a low mutation burden.
CONCLUSIONS - Here, we report the first case of immune microenvironment profiling and response to anti-PD-1 in a patient with RMC to our knowledge. This case suggests that anti-PD-1 based therapies may have clinical activity in RMC.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors have improved clinical outcomes associated with numerous cancers, but high-grade, immune-related adverse events can occur, particularly with combination immunotherapy. We report the cases of two patients with melanoma in whom fatal myocarditis developed after treatment with ipilimumab and nivolumab. In both patients, there was development of myositis with rhabdomyolysis, early progressive and refractory cardiac electrical instability, and myocarditis with a robust presence of T-cell and macrophage infiltrates. Selective clonal T-cell populations infiltrating the myocardium were identical to those present in tumors and skeletal muscle. Pharmacovigilance studies show that myocarditis occurred in 0.27% of patients treated with a combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab, which suggests that our patients were having a rare, potentially fatal, T-cell-driven drug reaction. (Funded by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Ambassadors and others.).
Patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) have better overall survival when treated with nivolumab, a cancer immunotherapy that targets the immune checkpoint inhibitor programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), rather than everolimus (a chemical inhibitor of mTOR and immunosuppressant). Poor-risk mRCC patients treated with nivolumab seemed to experience the greatest overall survival benefit, compared with patients with favorable or intermediate risk, in an analysis of the CheckMate-025 trial subgroup of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) prognostic risk groups. Here, we explore whether tumor mutational load and RNA expression of specific immune parameters could be segregated by prognostic MSKCC risk strata and explain the survival seen in the poor-risk group. We queried whole-exome transcriptome data in renal cell carcinoma patients (n = 54) included in The Cancer Genome Atlas who ultimately developed metastatic disease or were diagnosed with metastatic disease at presentation and did not receive immune checkpoint inhibitors. Nonsynonymous mutational load did not differ significantly by the MSKCC risk group, nor was the expression of cytolytic genes-granzyme A and perforin-or selected immune checkpoint molecules different across MSKCC risk groups. In conclusion, this analysis revealed that mutational load and expression of markers of an active tumor microenvironment did not correlate with MSKCC risk prognostic classification in mRCC. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(10); 820-2. ©2016 AACR.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.
Anti-PD-1 therapy yields objective clinical responses in 30-40% of advanced melanoma patients. Since most patients do not respond, predictive biomarkers to guide treatment selection are needed. We hypothesize that MHC-I/II expression is required for tumour antigen presentation and may predict anti-PD-1 therapy response. In this study, across 60 melanoma cell lines, we find bimodal expression patterns of MHC-II, while MHC-I expression was ubiquitous. A unique subset of melanomas are capable of expressing MHC-II under basal or IFNγ-stimulated conditions. Using pathway analysis, we show that MHC-II(+) cell lines demonstrate signatures of 'PD-1 signalling', 'allograft rejection' and 'T-cell receptor signalling', among others. In two independent cohorts of anti-PD-1-treated melanoma patients, MHC-II positivity on tumour cells is associated with therapeutic response, progression-free and overall survival, as well as CD4(+) and CD8(+) tumour infiltrate. MHC-II(+) tumours can be identified by melanoma-specific immunohistochemistry using commercially available antibodies for HLA-DR to improve anti-PD-1 patient selection.
PURPOSE - Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) is an inhibitory receptor expressed by activated T cells that downmodulates effector functions and limits the generation of immune memory. PD-1 blockade can mediate tumor regression in a substantial proportion of patients with melanoma, but it is not known whether this is associated with extended survival or maintenance of response after treatment is discontinued.
PATIENTS AND METHODS - Patients with advanced melanoma (N = 107) enrolled between 2008 and 2012 received intravenous nivolumab in an outpatient setting every 2 weeks for up to 96 weeks and were observed for overall survival, long-term safety, and response duration after treatment discontinuation.
RESULTS - Median overall survival in nivolumab-treated patients (62% with two to five prior systemic therapies) was 16.8 months, and 1- and 2-year survival rates were 62% and 43%, respectively. Among 33 patients with objective tumor regressions (31%), the Kaplan-Meier estimated median response duration was 2 years. Seventeen patients discontinued therapy for reasons other than disease progression, and 12 (71%) of 17 maintained responses off-therapy for at least 16 weeks (range, 16 to 56+ weeks). Objective response and toxicity rates were similar to those reported previously; in an extended analysis of all 306 patients treated on this trial (including those with other cancer types), exposure-adjusted toxicity rates were not cumulative.
CONCLUSION - Overall survival following nivolumab treatment in patients with advanced treatment-refractory melanoma compares favorably with that in literature studies of similar patient populations. Responses were durable and persisted after drug discontinuation. Long-term safety was acceptable. Ongoing randomized clinical trials will further assess the impact of nivolumab therapy on overall survival in patients with metastatic melanoma.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as ipilimumab and targeted BRAF inhibitors have dramatically altered the landscape of melanoma therapeutics over the past few years. Agents targeting the programmed cell death-1/ligand (PD-1/PD-L1) axis are now being developed and appear to be highly active clinically with favorable toxicity profiles. We report two patients with BRAF V600E mutant melanoma who were treated with anti-PD-1 agents as first-line therapy without significant toxicity, followed by vemurafenib at disease progression. Both patients developed severe hypersensitivity drug eruptions with multi-organ injury early in their BRAF inhibitor treatment course. One patient subsequently developed acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) and the other developed anaphylaxis upon low-dose vemurafenib rechallenge. Further investigation of the immune response during combination or sequences of melanoma therapeutics is warranted. Furthermore, clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for these toxicities when vemurafenib is administered following an anti-PD-1 agent.