Improved endpoints for cancer immunotherapy trials.
ABSTRACT: Unlike chemotherapy, which acts directly on the tumor, cancer immunotherapies exert their effects on the immune system and demonstrate new kinetics that involve building a cellular immune response, followed by changes in tumor burden or patient survival. Thus, adequate design and evaluation of some immunotherapy clinical trials require a new development paradigm that includes reconsideration of established endpoints. Between 2004 and 2009, several initiatives facilitated by the Cancer Immunotherapy Consortium of the Cancer Research Institute and partner organizations systematically evaluated an immunotherapy-focused clinical development paradigm and created the principles for redefining trial endpoints. On this basis, a body of clinical and laboratory data was generated that supports three novel endpoint recommendations. First, cellular immune response assays generate highly variable results. Assay harmonization in multicenter trials may minimize variability and help to establish cellular immune response as a reproducible biomarker, thus allowing investigation of its relationship with clinical outcomes. Second, immunotherapy may induce novel patterns of antitumor response not captured by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors or World Health Organization criteria. New immune-related response criteria were defined to more comprehensively capture all response patterns. Third, delayed separation of Kaplan-Meier curves in randomized immunotherapy trials can affect results. Altered statistical models describing hazard ratios as a function of time and recognizing differences before and after separation of curves may allow improved planning of phase III trials. These recommendations may improve our tools for cancer immunotherapy trials and may offer a more realistic and useful model for clinical investigation.
Project description:Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have widely reshaped the treatment paradigm of advanced cancer patients. Although multiple studies are currently evaluating these drugs as monotherapies or in combination, the choice of the most accurate statistical methods, endpoints and clinical trial designs to estimate the benefit of ICI remains an unsolved methodological issue. Considering the unconventional patterns of response or progression [i.e., pseudoprogression, hyperprogression (HPD)] observed with ICI, the application in clinical trials of novel response assessment tools (i.e., iRECIST) able to capture delayed benefit of immunotherapies and/or to quantify tumor dynamics and kinetics over time is an unmet clinical need. In addition, the proportional hazard model and the conventional measures of survival [i.e., median overall or progression free survival (PFS) and hazard ratios (HR)] might usually result inadequate in the estimation of the long-term benefit observed with ICI. For this reason, innovative methodologies such as milestone analysis, restricted mean survival time (RMST), parametric models (i.e., Weibull distribution, weighted log rank test), should be systematically investigated in clinical trials in order to adequately quantify the fraction of patients who are "cured", represented by the tails of the survival curves. Regarding predictive biomarkers, in particular PD-L1 expression, the integration and harmonization of the existing assays are urgently needed to provide clinicians with reliable diagnostic tests and to improve patient selection for immunotherapy. Finally, developing original and high-quality study designs, such as adaptive or basket biomarker enriched clinical trials, included in large collaborative platforms with multiple active sites and cross-sector collaboration, represents the successful strategy to optimally assess the benefit of ICI in the next future.
Project description:Immunotherapy is a promising area of therapy in patients with neuro-oncological malignancies. However, early-phase studies show unique challenges associated with the assessment of radiological changes in response to immunotherapy reflecting delayed responses or therapy-induced inflammation. Clinical benefit, including long-term survival and tumour regression, can still occur after initial disease progression or after the appearance of new lesions. Refinement of the response assessment criteria for patients with neuro-oncological malignancies undergoing immunotherapy is therefore warranted. Herein, a multinational and multidisciplinary panel of neuro-oncology immunotherapy experts describe immunotherapy Response Assessment for Neuro-Oncology (iRANO) criteria based on guidance for the determination of tumour progression outlined by the immune-related response criteria and the RANO working group. Among patients who demonstrate imaging findings meeting RANO criteria for progressive disease within 6 months of initiating immunotherapy, including the development of new lesions, confirmation of radiographic progression on follow-up imaging is recommended provided that the patient is not significantly worse clinically. The proposed criteria also include guidelines for the use of corticosteroids. We review the role of advanced imaging techniques and the role of measurement of clinical benefit endpoints including neurological and immunological functions. The iRANO guidelines put forth in this Review will evolve successively to improve their usefulness as further experience from immunotherapy trials in neuro-oncology accumulate.
Project description:Increasing evidence demonstrates that radiation acts as an immune stimulus, recruiting immune mediators that enable anti-tumor responses within and outside the radiation field. There has been a rapid expansion in the number of clinical trials harnessing radiation to enhance antitumor immunity. If positive, results of these trials will lead to a paradigm shift in the use of radiotherapy. In this review, we discuss the rationale for trials combining radiation with various immunotherapies, provide an update of recent clinical trial results and highlight trials currently in progress. We also address issues pertaining to the optimal incorporation of immunotherapy with radiation, including sequencing of treatment, radiation dosing and evaluation of clinical trial endpoints.
Project description:Immunotherapy adds an exciting new dimension to the treatment of cancer, joining other approaches as a key pillar in the oncotherapeutics armamentarium. Immuno-oncology agents harbor unique mechanisms of antitumor activity by leveraging the host immune system, which may result in response patterns, resistance kinetics, and toxicity profiles that differ from other systemic therapies. These features have led to many discussions on ways to optimally integrate immunotherapy into cancer clinical trials. This overview provides an introduction to the four CCR Focus articles that ensue, with special thoughts paid to clinical trial endpoints, biomarker development and validation, combination strategies, and limitations that arise with increasing use of these agents. In addition, this overview examines design concepts that may be applied to invigorate clinical trials and to maximize their impact in the immuno-oncology era.
Project description:The standard of care for most patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) is immunotherapy with intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), which activates the immune system to recognize and destroy malignant cells and has demonstrated durable clinical benefit. Urologic best-practice guidelines and consensus reports have been developed and strengthened based on data on the timing, dose, and duration of therapy from randomized clinical trials, as well as by critical evaluation of criteria for progression. However, these reports have not penetrated the community, and many patients do not receive appropriate therapy. Additionally, several immune checkpoint inhibitors have recently been approved for treatment of metastatic disease. The approval of immune checkpoint blockade for patients with platinum-resistant or -ineligible metastatic bladder cancer has led to considerations of expanded use for both advanced and, potentially, localized disease. To address these issues and others surrounding the appropriate use of immunotherapy for the treatment of bladder cancer, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened a Task Force of experts, including physicians, patient advocates, and nurses, to address issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical endpoints, as well as the combination and sequencing of therapies. Following the standard approach established by the Society for other cancers, a systematic literature review and analysis of data, combined with consensus voting was used to generate guidelines. Here, we provide a consensus statement for the use of immunotherapy in patients with bladder cancer, with plans to update these recommendations as the field progresses.
Project description:Immunotherapy has traditionally been a critical component of the cancer treatment armamentarium in genitourinary (GU) cancers. It has an established role in the management of carefully selected patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) [e.g., high dose interleukin-2 (IL-2)] and non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) [e.g., intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)]. In 2010, the sipuleucel-T vaccine was approved by the FDA for the management of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), based on a phase III trial showing overall survival (OS) benefit compared to placebo. The immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (anti-PD-1) recently received FDA approval for the management of patients with advanced RCC patients previously treated with anti-angiogenic therapy, based on OS benefit compared to everolimus. Recently, large clinical trials demonstrated meaningful clinical benefit, including durable responses, as well as a good tolerability/safety profile with the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in advanced RCC and chemotherapy-resistant advanced urothelial carcinoma (UC), while FDA just approved atezolizumab for platinum-treated advanced UC. Numerous interesting trials in different cancers are ongoing. Several combinations of immune checkpoint blockade with chemotherapeutics, vaccines, targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors & monoclonal antibodies, epigenetic modifiers, anti-angiogenic agents, tumor microenvironment & myeloid cell targeting therapies, metabolic modification strategies, radiation, and others, are being tested in clinical trials. Comprehensive understanding of the factors underlying antitumor immune responses in physiologically relevant animal models and humans will refine further the clinical benefit of immunotherapy. Discovery and validation of appropriate molecular biomarkers via coordinated translational research efforts, rational clinical trial designs with suitable endpoints and well-defined eligibility criteria, prospective registries/databases, careful evaluation of cost-effectiveness and safety/tolerability, adequate funding and open continuous discussions among all stakeholders will support the revolutionary nature of immunotherapy in GU cancers.
Project description:Soft tissue and bone sarcomas are a rare and heterogeneous form of cancer. With standard of care treatment options including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the long-term survival is still low for high-risk soft tissue sarcoma patients. New treatment strategies are needed. Immunotherapy offers a new potential treatment paradigm with great promise. Immunotherapy of soft tissue sarcomas dates back to Dr. Coley's first use of toxins in the late 1800s. A variety of strategies of immunotherapy have been tried in soft tissue and bone sarcomas, including various vaccines and cytokines, with limited success. Results of these early clinical trials with vaccines and cytokines were disappointing, but there are reasons to be optimistic. Recent advances, particularly with the use of adoptive T-cell therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors, have led to a resurgence of this field for all cancer patients. Clinical trials utilizing adoptive T-cell therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors in soft tissue and bone sarcomas are under way. This paper reviews the current state of evidence for the use of immunotherapy, as well as current immunotherapy strategies (vaccines, adopative T-cell therapy, and immune checkpoint blockade), in soft tissue and bone sarcomas. By understanding the tumor microenviroment of sarcomas and how it relates to their immunoresponsiveness, better immunotherapy clinical trials can be designed, hopefully with improved outcomes for soft tissue and bone sarcoma patients. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:Immunotherapy is a promising treatment paradigm that is gaining acceptance for the management of several cancers, including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. There is a long history of immunotherapy in the treatment of soft tissue and bone sarcomas, although with little success. It is important to understand past failures to develop future immunotherapy treatment strategies with an improved possibility of success. This article reviews the history of and current state of immunotherapy research in the treatment of soft tissue and bone sarcomas, with particular regard to vaccine trials, adoptive T-cell therapy, and immune checkpoint blockade.
Project description:Despite lengthening survival, death rates from metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) remain unacceptably high, with a bright spot being the demonstration of durable responses in patients with CRC who have mismatch repair-deficient (dMMR) and/or microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) tumors and are treated with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab, as well as nivolumab in combination with low-dose ipilimumab-all checkpoint inhibitors-are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients with MSI-H/dMMR metastatic CRC that progressed following treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan. Nonetheless, there are a number of questions and considerations in the use of these checkpoint inhibitor therapies. Using a question-and-answer format, this review summarizes the scientific rationale for immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in CRC, including the effects of tumor factors such as genetic aberrations and mutational load on the immune response, particularly in patients with MSI-H/dMMR disease. We discuss response patterns, response criteria, and immune-related adverse events using findings from published efficacy and safety data of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in metastatic CRC. We also discuss issues surrounding treatment sequencing, incorporating approved checkpoint inhibitors into the current treatment paradigm, and the multiple investigational strategies that may optimize immunotherapy for advanced CRC in the future, including novel combination therapies. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in the U.S. Despite advances in chemotherapy, survival remains poor for patients with metastatic CRC. Certain immunotherapy agents have demonstrated long-lasting responses in previously treated patients with immune-responsive microsatellite instability-high/mismatch repair-deficient metastatic CRC, leading to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab (with or without low-dose ipilimumab) and pembrolizumab in this population. Combination therapy (e.g., nivolumab with low-dose ipilimumab) has demonstrated numerically higher response rates and improved long-term clinical benefit relative to anti-programmed death-1 monotherapy. Ongoing trials are evaluating immunotherapy in the broader CRC population and novel combinations to optimize immunotherapy for advanced CRC.
Project description:Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in China. The recent emergence of immunotherapy treatment options, such as the use of programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) checkpoint inhibitors, has also led to a paradigm shift in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and has provided promising directions for the treatment of small cell lung cancer. This review provides a summary of the developmental process of immunotherapy, especially immune checkpoint inhibitors in lung cancer, ongoing international and domestic clinical trials in this field, and the challenges and considerations related to the use of immunotherapy in Chinese patients with lung cancer, with the aim of providing detailed information for future immunotherapy-related clinical trials in China. Research regarding immune checkpoint inhibitors in China is several years behind similar research in several developed countries. However, although PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor-related clinical trials remain in their early stages in China, increased efforts by Chinese clinicians, researchers, and government staff have been directed toward trying to introduce novel drugs into the clinical setting. Because of the specific characteristics of Chinese patients with lung cancer (such as high epidermal growth factor receptor mutation rates, later disease stages, and different toxicity profiles), large-scale clinical trials targeting the Chinese population or Chinese participation in multinational trials should be promoted. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: As the leading cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality, lung cancer is a major public health problem in China. Immunotherapy based on programmed cell death protein 1/programmed death-ligand 1 checkpoint inhibitors may result in new treatment directions and a paradigm shift for Chinese patients with lung cancer. Although checkpoint inhibitor-related clinical trials remain in their early stages in China, increased efforts by Chinese clinicians, researchers, and government staff have been directed toward trying to introduce novel drugs into the clinical setting by encouraging the development of large-scale clinical trials targeting the Chinese population and promoting Chinese patients with lung cancer to participate in international trials.
Project description:In the last few years, the unprecedented results of immune checkpoint inhibitors have led to a paradigm shift in clinical practice for the treatment of several cancer types. However, the vast majority of patients with gastrointestinal cancer do not benefit from immunotherapy. To date, microsatellite instability high and DNA mismatch repair deficiency are the only robust predictive biomarkers of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Unfortunately, these patients comprise only 5%-10% of all gastrointestinal cancers. Several mechanisms of both innate and adaptive resistance to immunotherapy have been recognized that may be at least in part responsible for the failure of immune checkpoint inhibitors in this population of patients. In the first part of this review article, we provide an overview of the main clinical trials with immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with gastrointestinal cancer and the role of predictive biomarkers. In the second part, we discuss the actual body of knowledge in terms of mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy and the most promising approach that are currently under investigation in order to expand the population of patients with gastrointestinal cancer who could benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors.