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      Master protocols in immuno-oncology: do novel drugs deserve novel designs?

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          Abstract

          The rapid rise to fame of immuno-oncology (IO) drugs has generated unprecedented interest in the industry, patients and doctors, and has had a major impact in the treatment of most cancers. An interesting aspect in the clinical development of many IO agents is the increasing reliance on nonconventional trial design, including the so-called ‘master protocols’ that incorporate various adaptive features and often heavily rely on biomarkers to select patient populations most likely to benefit. These novel designs promise to maximize the clinical benefit that can be reaped from clinical research, but are not without costs. Their acceptance as solid evidence basis for use outside of the research context requires profound cultural changes by multiple stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, decision-makers, statisticians, researchers, doctors and, most importantly, patients. Here we review characteristics of recent and ongoing trials testing IO drugs with unconventional design, and we highlight trends and critical aspects.

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          Most cited references 40

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          CANCER IMMUNOLOGY. The "cancer immunogram".

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            Antitumor Activity of Pembrolizumab in Biomarker-Unselected Patients With Recurrent and/or Metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Results From the Phase Ib KEYNOTE-012 Expansion Cohort

            Purpose Treatment with pembrolizumab, an anti–programmed death-1 antibody, at 10 mg/kg administered once every 2 weeks, displayed durable antitumor activity in programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) –positive recurrent and/or metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in the KEYNOTE-012 trial. Results from the expansion cohort, in which patients with HNSCC, irrespective of biomarker status, received a fixed dose of pembrolizumab at a less frequent dosing schedule, are reported. Patients and Methods Patients with R/M HNSCC, irrespective of PD-L1 or human papillomavirus status, received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously once every 3 weeks. Imaging was performed every 8 weeks. Primary end points were overall response rate (ORR) per central imaging vendor (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors v1.1) and safety. Secondary end points included progression-free survival, overall survival, and association of response and PD-L1 expression. Patients who received one or more doses of pembrolizumab were included in analyses. Results Of 132 patients enrolled, median age was 60 years (range, 25 to 84 years), 83% were male, and 57% received two or more lines of therapy for R/M disease. ORR was 18% (95% CI, 12 to 26) by central imaging vendor and 20% (95% CI, 13 to 28) by investigator review. Median duration of response was not reached (range, ≥ 2 to ≥ 11 months). Six-month progression-free survival and overall survival rates were 23% and 59%, respectively. By using tumor and immune cells, a statistically significant increase in ORR was observed for PD-L1–positive versus –negative patients (22% v 4%; P = .021). Treatment-related adverse events of any grade and grade ≥ 3 events occurred in 62% and 9% of patients, respectively. Conclusion Fixed-dose pembrolizumab 200 mg administered once every 3 weeks was well tolerated and yielded a clinically meaningful ORR with evidence of durable responses, which supports further development of this regimen in patients with advanced HNSCC.
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              Serum lactate dehydrogenase as an early marker for outcome in patients treated with anti-PD-1 therapy in metastatic melanoma

              Background: Treatment with programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) antibodies is associated with high response rates in patients with advanced melanoma. Reliable markers for early response and outcome are still sparse. Methods: We evaluated 66 consecutive patients with advanced/metastatic melanoma treated with nivolumab or pembrolizumab between 2013 and 2014. The main objectives of this study were to investigate whether, first, serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) at baseline (normal vs above the upper limit of normal) correlates with overall survival (OS), and, second, whether the change of LDH during treatment predicts response before the first scan and OS in patients with an elevated baseline LDH. Results: After a median follow-up of 9 months, patients with an elevated baseline LDH (N=34) had a significantly shorter OS compared with patients with normal LDH (N=32; 6-month OS: 60.8% vs 81.6% and 12-month OS: 44.2% vs 71.5% (log-rank P=0.0292). In those 34 patients with elevated baseline LDH, the relative change during treatment was significantly associated with an objective response on the first scan: the 11 (32%) patients with partial remission had a mean reduction of −27.3% from elevated baseline LDH. In contrast, patients with progressive disease (N=15) had a mean increase of +39%. Patients with a relative increase over 10% from elevated baseline LDH had a significantly shorter OS compared with patients with ⩽10% change (4.3 vs 15.7 months, log-rank P<0.00623). Conclusions: LDH could be a useful marker at baseline and during treatment to predict early response or progression in patients with advanced melanoma who receive anti-PD-1 therapy.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Immunother Cancer
                J Immunother Cancer
                jitc
                jitc
                Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                2051-1426
                2020
                1 April 2020
                : 8
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]departmentDivision of Early Drug Development for Innovative Therapies , IEO European Institute of Oncology IRCCS , Milan, Italy
                [2 ]departmentExperimental Oncology , IEO European Institute of Oncology IRCCS , Milan, Italy
                [3 ]departmentDepartment of Oncology and Hematology , Universita degli Studi di Milano , Milan, Italy
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Luca Mazzarella; luca.mazzarella@ 123456ieo.it
                Article
                jitc-2019-000475
                10.1136/jitc-2019-000475
                7174064
                32238471
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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                Funding
                Funded by: ERAPerMed;
                Award ID: JTC2018 - PEVOSQ
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