Hotly anticipated AZ lung cancer combo effective, but side effects remain a problem
- AstraZeneca's MEDI4736 combined with tremelimumab shows promise in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) clinical trials, according to an abstract released ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference at the end of May.
- MEDI4736 is an anti-PD-L1 therapy, while tremelimumab is a CTLA-4 blocker.
- An earlier study with a similar cocktail, which was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, shows evidence of serious side effects, and there are signs that AZ's combo treatment may produce some similar adverse events.
In a phase I study of MEDI4736 combined with the antibody tremelimumab, 31 of 61 advanced NSCLC patients were available for efficacy analysis. Overall, the partial response rate was 26%, meaning tumor shrinkage. In addition, 35% of patients had stabilized disease.
Unfortunately, 31% of patients out of the overall pool treated with this combination had serious side effects. In fact, eighteen percent of patients had such serious side effects that they discontinued the drug protocol. One patient died from polymyositis, an inflammation of the muscles.
Immunotherapy does not work for all patients. Generally, researchers and clinicians test for the target PD-L1 biomarker to determine the responsiveness of the target tumor. But sometimes, patients respond to treatment even when they don't have high levels of PD-LI. Checkpoint inhibitor therapy for treatment of cancer is still in early stages, but this year's ASCO conference will highlight how quickly this new phase of oncology R&D is progressing. BioPharma Dive will be in attendance at the conference and keep you up to date on all the news out of the meeting.