Conference Coverage

Adjuvant immunotherapy results ‘encouraging’ in early NSCLC



– Neoadjuvant monotherapy with the immune checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab is associated with “encouraging” responses with no new safety signals for patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), an interim analysis of a multicenter phase 2 trial suggests.

Dr. David J. Kwiatkowski, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Neil Osterweil/MDedge News

Dr. David J. Kwiatkowski

Among 77 of a planned 180 patients with resectable NSCLC enrolled in the LCMC3 (Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium 3) trial, the pathological complete response (pCR) rate following two cycles of neoadjuvant atezolizumab (Tecentriq) and surgery was 5%, and the major pathological response (MPR) rate was 19%, reported David J. Kwiatkowski, MD, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“Pathological regression moderately correlated with target lesions’ measurements by RECIST [Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors] and MPR was observed irrespective of PD-L1 expression, although there was some correlation,” he said at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The study was designed to test whether preoperative immunotherapy with an immune checkpoint inhibitor could have additional clinical benefits for patients with early-stage NSCLC.

Investigators are enrolling patients with stage IB, II, IIIA, or selected IIIB resectable, previously untreated NSCLC. Patients receive 1,200 mg atezolizumab on days 1 and 22 (two cycles), followed by surgery on or about day 40.

The primary endpoint, MPR, “means that at the time of surgical resection, all of the samples of the tumor that are cut into sections are reviewed by a pathologist, and an aggregate score of a percent of viable tumor cells is determined based on a comparison of viable tumor cells and necrotic tumor cells and stroma,” Dr. Kwiatkowski said.

The threshold for MPR was 10% or fewer viable tumor cells at the time of resection.

Following surgery, patients received standard-of-care adjuvant chemotherapy and could receive optional continued atezolizumab for an additional 12 months.

At the time of this interim analysis, with a data cutoff of Sept. 5, 2018, 101 patients had been enrolled and were included in the interim safety analysis. Of this group, 11 did not undergo surgery, because of progressive disease, withdrawal of consent, failed echocardiogram (1 patient), or pulmonary artery involvement (1) patient.

Of the 10 patients with either progressive disease and no surgery or unresectable disease at surgery, 8 had stage IIIA tumors and 2 had stage IIIB tumors. All patients with stage I or II disease underwent resection.

Dr. Kwiatkowski presented interim data on 90 patients intended for surgery, of whom 84 had assessment of the primary endpoint, including 7 positive for EGFR and/or ALK, and 77 whose tumors were either EGFR/ALK negative or had unknown status. These 77 patients were the primary efficacy population.

As noted before, among the 77 in the primary efficacy population, 15 (19%) had a MPR, and 4 patients (5%) had a pCR. In addition, 38 patients (49%) had pathological regression of tumor of 50% or greater. Pathological regression correlated significantly with change in tumor lesion size (P less than .001).

Tumor mutational burden, however, was not significantly correlated with MPR or pathological regression.

Among the 101 patients in the safety population, there were two deaths deemed not related to study treatment: one cardiac death post surgical resection, and one from disease progression. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 57% of patients, including 6% that were grade 3 or greater. Adverse events leading to treatment withdrawal occurred in 5% of patients.

The efficacy interim analysis passed the prespecified futility boundary, and investigators are continuing to enroll patients.

Dr. Maximilian Diehn, Stanford (Calif.) University Neil Osterweil/MDedge News

Dr. Maximilian Diehn

Invited discussant Maximilian Diehn, MD, PhD, of Stanford (Calif.) University commented that neoadjuvant immunotherapy for NSCLC is promising, but added that the MPR endpoint still needs validation.

“Currently, it is not considered a validated surrogate endpoint for survival and therefore is not currently used for drug approvals. Secondly, the optimal cut point may differ by histology, such as being different for adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. And this has potential implications for using this in trials that enroll patients of both histologies. And, third, there are some emerging data that MPR may need to measured somewhat differently after immunotherapy than after chemotherapy,” he said.

The study is supported by Genentech. Dr. Kwiatkowski disclosed research funding and a consulting or advisory role for the company. Dr. Diehn reported stock ownership, consulting, research funding, and travel expenses from various companies.

SOURCE: Kwiatkowski DJ et al. ASCO 2019, Abstract 8503.

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