Conference Coverage

Checkpoint inhibitor seems safe and effective for patients with HIV



– Patients with HIV who are treated with nivolumab, a programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor, appear to have similar safety and efficacy outcomes compared with HIV-negative patients treated with the same agent, investigators found.

The retrospective study also showed that viral load and CD4 status were largely unchanged by immunotherapy, lead author Aurélien Gobert, MD, of Groupe Hospitalier Pitié Salpêtrière, Paris, reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress.

HIV increases risks of certain cancer types, Dr. Gobert said in a press release. “These patients are at higher risk for a number of cancers: AIDS-defining forms, the diagnosis of which results in the categorization of a person as suffering from AIDS, but also various other types that they are two to three times more likely to develop than in the general population, such as anal, skin, head and neck, and lung cancer,” he said.

Despite the increased risks, few studies have evaluated cancer treatments for patients with HIV due to exclusions from most clinical trials. As HIV is an immune-based disease, concerns have arisen surrounding the safety and efficacy of using anti-neoplastic immunotherapies for HIV-positive patients. Considering that millions of people worldwide are HIV positive, research in this area can have real-world consequences.

Dr. Gobert and his colleagues analyzed data from CANCERVIH, a French national database of patients with cancer and HIV. Since May 2014, nivolumab has been administered to 20 patients. Nineteen had metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer and 1 had metastatic melanoma. At diagnosis, the median CD4 count was 338.5 per cubic millimeter. Seventeen patients had undetectable viral load, two had fewer than 40 copies per millimeter, and one patient’s viral load was unknown. Dr. Gobert described the population as “demographically homogenous,” with “most patients being males around 60 years old.”

Analysis showed that nivolumab had little impact on CD4 count or viral load. One patient had a decreased CD4 count and an increased viral load, but this occurred during an interruption to antiretroviral therapy, which clouds potential associations with nivolumab. No immune-related adverse events or deaths due to drug toxicity occurred. Efficacy was assessed in 17 patients: Four (24%) showed a partial response, 2 (12%) had stable disease, and 11 (64%) had disease progression.

“Based on these preliminary data, treatment with anti-PD-1 ... seems to be feasible in people with HIV,” Dr. Gobert reported. He added that “antiretroviral therapy should not be interrupted.”

In a comment for ESMO, John Haanen, PhD, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, said that the results “confirm those of other, smaller cohorts in showing that while on antiretroviral therapy, cancer patients living with HIV can safely receive anti-PD-1 treatment. The efficacy data also suggests that the overall response rate of HIV-positive patients seems to be similar to that of other cancer patients. These promising results need to be confirmed in larger studies – ideally, in a prospective clinical trial.”

Principal investigator Jean-Philippe Spano, MD, PhD, disclosed relationships with Gilead, Roche, BMS, and others.

SOURCE: Gobert et al. ESMO 2018, Abstract 1213P_PR.

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