A combination of the immunotherapies Tecentriq (atezolizumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) increased the time it took kidney cancer to progress, compared with the standard treatment Sutent (sunitinib), a Phase 3 clinical trial shows.
In addition to patients with advanced cases of the cancer, the trial covered patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of their body. All of the patients’ tumors contained PD-L1, a protein that can inhibit immune responses.
“We are encouraged by these results as they add to the emerging body of evidence that supports our rationale for this combination,” Dr. Sandra Horning, the chief medical officer of Genentech, which developed both of the combo therapies, said in a press release.
“We believe that the regimen of Tecentriq and Avastin may enhance the potential of the immune system in the initial treatment of advanced kidney cancer,” added Horning, who is also the company’s head of Global Product Development.
An immunotherapy does not fight cancer directly. Instead, it tries to rev up an immune system response.
The IMmotion151 trial (NCT02420821) compared the safety and effectiveness of the Tecentriq- Avastin combo with Pfizer’s Sutent in patients with kidney cancer that surgeons are unable to operate on. The study involved 915 patients at 165 medical facilities around the world.
Patients in the combo group received a Tecentriq-Avastin regimen once every three weeks. Patients in the control arm received six-week cycles of treatment consisting of Sutent once a day for four weeks, followed by two weeks of no therapy.
The combo did a better job than Sutent at increasing the time it took for patients’ cancer to progress — the trial’s primary objective. This was true regardless of the status of patients’ disease and their risk of it worsening.
The study’s design did not allow researchers to assess the statistical significance of the results they obtained. To help address this shortcoming, they are in the process of evaluating additional measures of effectiveness.
Researchers said the safety profile of the combo was consistent with previous studies on the safety of the drugs individually. The trial’s findings generated no additional safety concerns, they said.
“We will discuss these data with health authorities globally and hope to bring this combination forward as a potential new treatment option as soon as possible,” Horning said.
The trial results were in line with those from two earlier trials. The Phase 2 IMmotion150 trial (NCT01984242) dealt with the combo’s ability to treat kidney cancer. The Phase 3 IMpower150 trial (NCT02366143) covered patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.
Both studies showed that the combo extended the time it took for patients’ disease to progress or for them to die.
Genentech plans to present new information on the IMmotion151 study at a cancer conference in 2018.