Conference Coverage

Conference Coverage: ASCO 2019

This issue of The Sarcoma Journal features reports from the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held in Chicago, May 31 – June 4, 2019.

The meeting included developments in research and treatment approaches for sarcoma, highlighting a wide-ranging array of agents, disease subtypes, and therapeutic strategies. The studies below were presented in oral abstract sessions, except for the late-breaking abstract reported in the plenary session, which kicks off the conference coverage that follows. Note: Information presented at the meeting may differ from the corresponding abstract.


Behind Olaratumab's Phase 3 Disappointment

ANNOUNCE, the phase 3 trial designed to confirm the clinical benefit of olaratumab in patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma (STS), failed to meet its primary endpoint of overall survival (OS) in all STS histologies and the leiomyosarcoma population. The previous phase 1b/2 signal-finding study of olaratumab had achieved an unprecedented improvement in OS, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded olaratumab accelerated approval in October 2016. By December 2018, olaratumab received additional accelerated, conditional, and full approvals in more than 40 countries worldwide. William D. Tap, MD, chief of the Sarcoma Medical Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, presented the phase 3 results and provided some explanations for the findings during the plenary session at ASCO.

ANNOUNCE (NCT02451943), which was designed and enrolled prior to olaratumab receiving accelerated approval, opened in September 2015 and completed accrual 10 months later in July 2016. Investigators randomized and treated 509 patients with advanced STS not amenable to curative therapy, 258 patients in the olaratumab-doxorubicin arm and 251 in the placebo-doxorubicin arm. Most patients (46%) had leiomyosarcoma, followed by liposarcoma (18%), pleomorphic sarcoma (13%), and 24% of the patient population had 26 unique histologies. Three-quarters of the patients had no prior systemic therapy.


As of the data cutoff on December 5, 2018, there were no survival differences in the intention-to-treat population, in the total STS population nor in the leiomyosarcoma subpopulation, with olaratumab-doxorubicin compared to placebo-doxorubicin. For the total STS population, median OS with olaratumab- doxorubicin was 20.4 months and with placebo-doxorubicin 19.7 months. “This is the highest survival rate described to date in any phase 3 sarcoma study,” Dr. Tap said. “It is of particular interest as ANNOUNCE did not mandate treatment in the first line.” In the leiomyosarcoma population, median OS was 21.6 months with olaratumab and 21.9 months with placebo. The secondary endpoints of progression-free survival (PFS), overall response rate, and disease control rate did not favor olaratumab either.

Investigators are examining the relationship between PDGFRα expression and OS in ANNOUNCE. PDGFRα-positive tumors tended to do worse with olaratumab than PDGFRα-negative tumors. The investigators noticed a 6-month difference in OS between these populations favoring PDGFRα-negative tumors. Additional biomarker analyses are ongoing.

A large and concerted effort is underway, Dr. Tap said, to understand the results of the ANNOUNCE study alone and in context with the phase 1b/2 study. “There are no noted discrepancies in study conduct or data integrity which could explain these findings or the differences between the two studies.”


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