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It's the Biggest Cancer Meeting of the Year

May 30, 2014 | Alexandra Mulvey

It is the biggest weekend of the year in cancer treatment. What is it? The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is hosting the world’s largest meeting of cancer doctors, for five days in Chicago, to hear the latest in clinical oncology. Just like at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) two months ago, we will see cancer immunotherapy once again take center stage. On the ground there from CRI are Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., Brian Brewer, and Matt Tontonoz, who will bring you the latest in immuno-oncology.

Before that happens, here are some of my predictions:


  • MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) and nivolumab, being produced by Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb respectively, have a lot going on. MK-3475 has a Breakthrough Therapy Designation and went to the FDA this month for approval, with a decision date of October 28, 2014. Merck will reveal their data on Monday, June 2, but, based on late-breaking abstracts, I think it’s going to be good. (June 2; NCT01866319)
  • Nivolumab is in phase III clinical trials in ipilimumab-naïve melanoma patients and in melanoma patients treated concurrently with ipilimumab. A phase III trial of nivolumab alone is ongoing, and nivolumab plus ipilimumab will be posted on Monday, June 2. At least for the nivolumab plus ipilimumab, it looks promising (June 2; NCT00730639)

Lung Cancer

  • MK-3475 is the only PD-1 agent in clinical trial for non-small cell lung cancer that was chosen for an Oral Abstract Session. Data from a phase I trial suggest that it is well tolerated and provides robust anti-tumor activity in a first-line setting in patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that expresses PD-L1. They have a phase III trial launching soon. (June 2; NCT01295827, NCT02142738)
  • MEDI4736, an anti-PD-L1 antibody, is also highlighted. Its phase I trial suggests that adverse events are highly manageable, even in highly pretreated patients, and tumor shrinkage was reported as early as first assessment and benefit was durable. They have a phase III trial that just started. (June 3; NCT01693562, NCT02125461)

Bladder Cancer

  • MPDL3280A is an anti-PD-L1 pathway inhibitor and its bladder cancer statistics look promising. At the time of clinical cut off, 50% of patients were responding to the treatment and all responders were still responding. They just started a phase II trial. (May 31; NCT01375842, NCT02108652)

Ovarian Cancer

  • CVac, manufactured by PrimaBioMed, is an autologous dendritic cell vaccine. A phase II trial in women in second remission suggested that it warrants further investigation in a larger trial. Those patients with significant improvement in progression free survival had a median survival that was greater than 12.91 months (they’re still watching), compared to 4.94 for standard of care. (May 31; NCT01068509)

Brain Cancer

  • ICT-107 is an autologous dendritic cell vaccine that targets six different antigens associated with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). According to the abstract, this is the first randomized, placebo-controlled immunotherapy trial in brain cancer to positively affect progression free survival, although overall survival did not reach statistical significance. (June 1; NCT01280552)
What are your predictions?
I'm really interested in hearing more about the immunology's potential for treating pediatric cancers. I've read briefly about the potential for using certain viruses as a means to treat pediatric tumors while producing virtually no side effects. It's pretty incredible to think that these types of therapies could save a child from undergoing chemotherapy.
6/18/2014 12:47:12 AM