A new clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina will test the combination of two powerful anti-cancer drugs: the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab and the immune stimulator ALT-803. The trial is now enrolling patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of all lung cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Its three main subtypes are squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Nivolumab (Opdivo) is FDA approved for the treatment of melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery or has metastasized, non-small cell lung cancer that has metastasized, and advanced renal cell carcinoma. It blocks PD-1, a checkpoint molecule, this way allowing T cells to fight the tumor cells. ALT-803 is being developed to work in both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system to stimulate anti-tumor responses. The Phase 1B/2 study (NCT02523469), “ALT-803 plus nivolumab in patients with pretreated, advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer,” plans to enroll 91 adult patients and to conclude in December 2018.
Immunotherapy holds promise, but the study’s researchers — led by principal investigator John Wrangle, MD, and Mark Rubinstein, PhD — say that most advanced lung cancer patients are not likely to respond to it. They theorize that a combination of two types of immunotherapy might be more effective, and of benefit to a greater number of these patients.
“While recently approved immunotherapies are extremely exciting and better than chemotherapy for second-line therapy, about 80 percent of patients will not respond. By combining two kinds of immunotherapy, we feel we have designed a treatment that is very promising to extend the remarkable benefit experienced by some patients to a larger percentage of people with advanced lung cancer,” Dr. Wrangle said in a press release.
More information on the study is available through this link, and those interested in possibly participating can call Amanda Gilbert at 843-792-8795.