Nivolumab Continues to Deliver in Lung Cancer

An ASCO® Poster Brief

H. Jack West, MD; Julie R. Brahmer, MD


June 24, 2013

Nivolumab Yields Important Survival Benefit

Editor's Note: One of the hottest topics at this year's Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO®) was the effectiveness of immunotherapy using anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) and anti-PD-L1 antibodies. H. Jack West, MD, caught up with Julie R. Brahmer, MD, to ask her about long-term follow-up data from a pivotal study of nivolumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Dr. West: You presented the initial work last year in what was one of the real highlights in the field of lung cancer and arguably of the whole meeting.[1]Can you provide a brief summary of nivolumab, your study, and what has changed in the past year?

Dr. Brahmer: Nivolumab is an anti-PD-1 antibody that blocks the binding of PD-1 to PD-L1, as well as PD-L2. The antibody study[2] that we presented today is an extension of the phase 1 study[1] that was presented last year. We have updated the response rates and included survival data from these patients.

A total of 129 patients with lung cancer were enrolled in this trial that tested 3 different dose levels: 1 mg/kg, 3 mg/kg, and 10 mg/kg. This year, we are showing that response rates in both squamous and non-squamous cell histology are very similar. At least at the 3-mg/kg dose level, the response rate was 20%-25% in both patients with squamous cell and non-squamous cell histology. Last year, it seemed that more patients with squamous cell histology responded, so this is an update including data presented at the 2012 European Society for Medical Oncology.[3]

We are also presenting survival data. We are seeing a median overall survival in the 9-month range, and if you look at the different dose levels, it seems that the 3-mg/kg dose level performs well; however, there was a smaller number of patients in that group. The 3-mg/kg and 10-mg/kg dose levels have higher rates of response and overall survival compared with the 1-mg/kg dose level.

We are also seeing a 2-year overall survival of about 14% across the board. This is extremely exciting and tantalizing, particularly in this patient population, where most patients have had at least 3 or 4 previous therapies.


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