Publications by authors named "Julie R Brahmer"

132 Publications

Detection and characterization of lung cancer using cell-free DNA fragmentomes.

Nat Commun 2021 08 20;12(1):5060. Epub 2021 Aug 20.

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Non-invasive approaches for cell-free DNA (cfDNA) assessment provide an opportunity for cancer detection and intervention. Here, we use a machine learning model for detecting tumor-derived cfDNA through genome-wide analyses of cfDNA fragmentation in a prospective study of 365 individuals at risk for lung cancer. We validate the cancer detection model using an independent cohort of 385 non-cancer individuals and 46 lung cancer patients. Combining fragmentation features, clinical risk factors, and CEA levels, followed by CT imaging, detected 94% of patients with cancer across stages and subtypes, including 91% of stage I/II and 96% of stage III/IV, at 80% specificity. Genome-wide fragmentation profiles across ~13,000 ASCL1 transcription factor binding sites distinguished individuals with small cell lung cancer from those with non-small cell lung cancer with high accuracy (AUC = 0.98). A higher fragmentation score represented an independent prognostic indicator of survival. This approach provides a facile avenue for non-invasive detection of lung cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24994-wDOI Listing
August 2021

Pembrolizumab for patients with leptomeningeal metastasis from solid tumors: efficacy, safety, and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 Aug;9(8)

Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Background: The benefit of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in patients with leptomeningeal metastases (LMM) is unknown.

Methods: We undertook a phase II trial of pembrolizumab in patients with LMM from solid tumors. Eligible patients had radiologic/cytologic LMM and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0-1. Pembrolizumab was administered intravenously at 200 mg q3W until disease progression/unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoint was central nervous system (CNS) response after four cycles, defined radiologically/cytologically/clinically. Serial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was assessed for tumor-derived DNA (t-DNA) aneuploidy and cytokines.

Results: Thirteen of a planned 16 patients were treated between April 2017 and December 2019. The study closed early for poor accrual. Median age was 57 years (range: 22-79). Sixty-two percent of patients had tumors not traditionally ICI-responsive (hormone-receptor (HR)-positive breast carcinoma=39%; high-grade glioma=23%), while 38% had ICI-responsive tumors (non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)=23%, head and neck carcinoma=8%, cutaneous squamous carcinoma (CSC)=8%). CNS response was observed in 38% of patients at 12 weeks (95% CI 13.9% to 68.4%) by pre-defined criteria and LM-RANO, and 2 achieved durable complete responses (CSC=1, overall survival (OS) 3+ years; NSCLC=1, OS 9 months). Median CNS progression-free survival and OS was 2.9 months (95% CI 1.3 to NR) and 4.9 months (95% CI 3.7 to NR), respectively. Grade 3+ treatment-related adverse events occurred in 15% of patients. Sensitivity for LMM detection by t-DNA and cytopathology was 84.6% (95% CI 54.6% to 98.1%) and 53.9% (95% CI 25.1% to 80.8%), respectively. Pre-therapy and on-therapy CSF cytokine analysis demonstrated complete responders clustered together.

Conclusions: Pembrolizumab conferred a 38% CNS response rate in patients with LMM, a tolerable safety profile, and deep responses in selected patients with ICI-responsive tumors. CSF t-DNA may be sensitive for LMM detection, and immunologic subsets of CNS response warrant further study.

Trial Registration Number: NCT03091478.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002473DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8359453PMC
August 2021

Transcriptional programs of neoantigen-specific TIL in anti-PD-1-treated lung cancers.

Nature 2021 08 21;596(7870):126-132. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD, USA.

PD-1 blockade unleashes CD8 T cells, including those specific for mutation-associated neoantigens (MANA), but factors in the tumour microenvironment can inhibit these T cell responses. Single-cell transcriptomics have revealed global T cell dysfunction programs in tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). However, the majority of TIL do not recognize tumour antigens, and little is known about transcriptional programs of MANA-specific TIL. Here, we identify MANA-specific T cell clones using the MANA functional expansion of specific T cells assay in neoadjuvant anti-PD-1-treated non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). We use their T cell receptors as a 'barcode' to track and analyse their transcriptional programs in the tumour microenvironment using coupled single-cell RNA sequencing and T cell receptor sequencing. We find both MANA- and virus-specific clones in TIL, regardless of response, and MANA-, influenza- and Epstein-Barr virus-specific TIL each have unique transcriptional programs. Despite exposure to cognate antigen, MANA-specific TIL express an incompletely activated cytolytic program. MANA-specific CD8 T cells have hallmark transcriptional programs of tissue-resident memory (TRM) cells, but low levels of interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R) and are functionally less responsive to interleukin-7 (IL-7) compared with influenza-specific TRM cells. Compared with those from responding tumours, MANA-specific clones from non-responding tumours express T cell receptors with markedly lower ligand-dependent signalling, are largely confined to HOBIT TRM subsets, and coordinately upregulate checkpoints, killer inhibitory receptors and inhibitors of T cell activation. These findings provide important insights for overcoming resistance to PD-1 blockade.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03752-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8338555PMC
August 2021

Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) clinical practice guideline on immune checkpoint inhibitor-related adverse events.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 Jun;9(6)

Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, USA

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are the standard of care for the treatment of several cancers. While these immunotherapies have improved patient outcomes in many clinical settings, they bring accompanying risks of toxicity, specifically immune-related adverse events (irAEs). There is a need for clear, effective guidelines for the management of irAEs during ICI treatment, motivating the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) to convene an expert panel to develop a clinical practice guideline. The panel discussed the recognition and management of single and combination ICI irAEs and ultimately developed evidence- and consensus-based recommendations to assist medical professionals in clinical decision-making and to improve outcomes for patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002435DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237720PMC
June 2021

Mutation status and postresection survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer brain metastasis: implications of biomarker-driven therapy.

J Neurosurg 2021 Jun 4:1-11. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

Departments of1Neurosurgery and.

Objective: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common primary tumor to develop brain metastasis. Prognostic markers are needed to better determine survival after neurosurgical resection of intracranial disease. Given the importance of mutation subtyping in determining systemic therapy and overall prognosis of NSCLC, the authors examined the prognostic value of mutation status for postresection survival of patients with NSCLC brain metastasis.

Methods: The authors retrospectively analyzed all cases of NSCLC brain metastasis with available molecular testing data that were resected by a single surgeon at a single academic center from January 2009 to February 2019. Mutation status, demographic characteristics, clinical factors, and treatments were analyzed. Association between predictive variables and overall survival after neurosurgery was determined with Cox regression.

Results: Of the included patients (n = 84), 40% were male, 76% were smokers, the mean ± SD Karnofsky Performance Status was 85 ± 14, and the mean ± SD age at surgery was 63 ± 11 years. In total, 23%, 26%, and 4% of patients had EGFR, KRAS, and ALK/ROS1 alterations, respectively. On multivariate analysis, survival of patients with EGFR (HR 0.495, p = 0.0672) and KRAS (HR 1.380, p = 0.3617) mutations were not significantly different from survival of patients with wild-type (WT) tumor. However, the subgroup of patients with EGFR mutation who also received tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy had significantly prolonged survival (HR 0.421, p = 0.0471). In addition, postoperative stereotactic radiosurgery (HR 0.409, p = 0.0177) and resected tumor diameter < 3 cm (HR 0.431, p = 0.0146) were also significantly associated with prolonged survival, but Graded Prognostic Assessment score ≤ 1.0 (HR 2.269, p = 0.0364) was significantly associated with shortened survival.

Conclusions: Patients with EGFR mutation who receive TKI therapy may have better survival after resection of brain metastasis than patients with WT tumor. These results may inform counseling and decision-making regarding the appropriateness of resection of NSCLC brain metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3171/2020.10.JNS201787DOI Listing
June 2021

Five-Year Outcomes With Pembrolizumab Versus Chemotherapy for Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer With PD-L1 Tumor Proportion Score ≥ 50.

J Clin Oncol 2021 Jul 19;39(21):2339-2349. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD.

Purpose: We report the first 5-year follow-up of any first-line phase III immunotherapy trial for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). KEYNOTE-024 (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02142738) is an open-label, randomized controlled trial of pembrolizumab compared with platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated NSCLC with a programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) tumor proportion score of at least 50% and no sensitizing or alterations. Previous analyses showed pembrolizumab significantly improved progression-free survival and overall survival (OS).

Methods: Eligible patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to pembrolizumab (200 mg once every 3 weeks for up to 35 cycles) or platinum-based chemotherapy. Patients in the chemotherapy group with progressive disease could cross over to pembrolizumab. The primary end point was progression-free survival; OS was a secondary end point.

Results: Three hundred five patients were randomly assigned: 154 to pembrolizumab and 151 to chemotherapy. Median (range) time from randomization to data cutoff (June 1, 2020) was 59.9 (55.1-68.4) months. Among patients initially assigned to chemotherapy, 99 received subsequent anti-PD-1 or PD-L1 therapy, representing a 66.0% effective crossover rate. Median OS was 26.3 months (95% CI, 18.3 to 40.4) for pembrolizumab and 13.4 months (9.4-18.3) for chemotherapy (hazard ratio, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.48 to 0.81). Kaplan-Meier estimates of the 5-year OS rate were 31.9% for the pembrolizumab group and 16.3% for the chemotherapy group. Thirty-nine patients received 35 cycles (ie, approximately 2 years) of pembrolizumab, 82.1% of whom were still alive at data cutoff (approximately 5 years). Toxicity did not increase with longer treatment exposure.

Conclusion: Pembrolizumab provides a durable, clinically meaningful long-term OS benefit versus chemotherapy as first-line therapy for metastatic NSCLC with PD-L1 tumor proportion score of at least 50%.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.21.00174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8280089PMC
July 2021

Association of severe lymphopenia and disease progression in unresectable locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer treated with definitive chemoradiation and immunotherapy.

Lung Cancer 2021 04 27;154:36-43. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Definitive chemoradiation with consolidative immunotherapy offers the best chance for cure in patients with unresectable, locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, treatment-related lymphopenia (TRL) may negatively impact outcomes.

Methods: Patients definitively treated with chemoradiation and immunotherapy from 2015 to 2019 at a single tertiary academic center were identified. Severe lymphopenia was defined as <0.5 × 10 cells/L. Progression-free survival (PFS) was calculated by Kaplan Meier methodology. Univariate and multivariate Cox Proportional Hazard modeling was used to correlate clinical variables with disease outcome. Immune-related adverse events (irAEs) were assessed according to CTCAE version 5.0 criteria.

Results: Seventy-eight patients were included in the final cohort. The median age was 66 years (IQR: 58-73), 55 % were males, and 88 % had a KPS of >70. At baseline, 90 % (n = 70/78) of patients had a normal ALC and one patient had severe lymphopenia. After chemoradiation, the median ALC decreased from 1.52 × 10cells/L (IQR: 1.23-1.98) to 0.72 × 10cells/L (IQR: 0.52-0.94) (p < 0.001), 22 % (n = 17/78) of patients had a normal ALC, and 23 % (n = 18/78) of patients developed severe lymphopenia. Patients who initiated consolidative immunotherapy with severe lymphopenia had worse PFS than those who did not (median 217 days [IQR: 120-434] vs. 570 days [IQR: 401-NR], p < 0.001). On multivariate modeling, severe lymphopenia at the time of immunotherapy initiation remained an independent predictor of worse PFS (HR 4.90, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: This is the first report to associate severe TRL with disease progression in patients with locally advanced NSCLC receiving consolidative immunotherapy. Factors associated with development of lymphopenia and strategies to mitigate lymphopenic effects should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2021.01.022DOI Listing
April 2021

Therapy for Stage IV Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer With Driver Alterations: ASCO and OH (CCO) Joint Guideline Update.

J Clin Oncol 2021 03 16;39(9):1040-1091. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute, Newark, DE.

Purpose: To provide evidence-based recommendations updating the 2017 ASCO guideline on systemic therapy for patients with stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with driver alterations. A guideline update for systemic therapy for patients with stage IV NSCLC without driver alterations was published separately.

Methods: The American Society of Clinical Oncology and Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) NSCLC Expert Panel updated recommendations based on a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from December 2015 to January 2020 and meeting abstracts from ASCO 2020.

Results: This guideline update reflects changes in evidence since the previous update. Twenty-seven RCTs, 26 observational studies, and one meta-analysis provide the evidence base (total 54). Outcomes of interest included efficacy and safety. Additional literature suggested by the Expert Panel is discussed.

Recommendations: All patients with nonsquamous NSCLC should have the results of testing for potentially targetable mutations (alterations) before implementing therapy for advanced lung cancer, regardless of smoking status recommendations, when possible, following other existing high-quality testing guidelines. Most patients should receive targeted therapy for these alterations: Targeted therapies against -1 fusions, V600e mutations, fusions, exon 14 skipping mutations, and fusions should be offered to patients, either as initial or second-line therapy when not given in the first-line setting. New or revised recommendations include the following: Osimertinib is the optimal first-line treatment for patients with activating epidermal growth factor receptor mutations (exon 19 deletion, exon 21 L858R, and exon 20 T790M); alectinib or brigatinib is the optimal first-line treatment for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase fusions. For the first time, to our knowledge, the guideline includes recommendations regarding alterations. Chemotherapy is still an option at most stages.Additional information is available at www.asco.org/thoracic-cancer-guidelines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.03570DOI Listing
March 2021

Steroid-refractory PD-(L)1 pneumonitis: incidence, clinical features, treatment, and outcomes.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 01;9(1)

Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Background: Immune-checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-pneumonitis that does not improve or resolve with corticosteroids and requires additional immunosuppression is termed steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis. Herein, we report the clinical features, management and outcomes for patients treated with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), infliximab, or the combination of IVIG and infliximab for steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis.

Methods: Patients with steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis were identified between January 2011 and January 2020 at a tertiary academic center. ICI-pneumonitis was defined as clinical or radiographic lung inflammation without an alternative diagnosis, confirmed by a multidisciplinary team. Steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis was defined as lack of clinical improvement after high-dose corticosteroids for 48 hours, necessitating additional immunosuppression. Serial clinical, radiologic (CT imaging), and functional features (level-of-care, oxygen requirement) were collected preadditional and postadditional immunosuppression.

Results: Of 65 patients with ICI-pneumonitis, 18.5% (12/65) had steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis. Mean age at diagnosis of ICI-pneumonitis was 66.8 years (range: 35-85), 50% patients were male, and the majority had lung carcinoma (75%). Steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis occurred after a mean of 5 ICI doses from PD-(L)1 start (range: 3-12 doses). The most common radiologic pattern was diffuse alveolar damage (DAD: 50%, 6/12). After corticosteroid failure, patients were treated with: IVIG (n=7), infliximab (n=2), or combination IVIG and infliximab (n=3); 11/12 (91.7%) required ICU-level care and 8/12 (75%) died of steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis or infectious complications (IVIG alone=3/7, 42.9%; infliximab alone=2/2, 100%; IVIG + infliximab=3/3, 100%). All five patients treated with infliximab (5/5; 100%) died from steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis or infectious complications. Mechanical ventilation was required in 53% of patients treated with infliximab alone, 80% of those treated with IVIG + infliximab, and 25.5% of those treated with IVIG alone.

Conclusions: Steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis constituted 18.5% of referrals for multidisciplinary irAE care. Steroid-refractory ICI-pnuemonitis occurred early in patients' treatment courses, and most commonly exhibited a DAD radiographic pattern. Patients treated with IVIG alone demonstrated an improvement in both level-of-care and oxygenation requirements and had fewer fatalities (43%) from steroid-refractory ICI-pneumonitis when compared to treatment with infliximab (100% mortality).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001731DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797270PMC
January 2021

Multisystem Immune-Related Adverse Events Associated With Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

JAMA Oncol 2020 12;6(12):1952-1956

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Importance: The spectrum of individual immune-related adverse events (irAEs) from anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has been reported widely, and their development is associated with improved patient survival across tumor types. The spectrum and impact on survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who develop multisystem irAEs from ICIs, has not been described.

Objective: To characterize multisystem irAEs, their association with survival, and risk factors for multisystem irAE development.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This retrospective cohort study carried out in 5 academic institutions worldwide included 623 patients with stage III/IV NSCLC, treated with anti-PD-(L)1 ICIs alone or in combination with another anticancer agent between January 2007 and January 2019.

Exposures: Anti-PD-(L)1 monotherapy or combinations.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Multisystem irAEs were characterized by combinations of individual irAEs or organ system involved, separated by ICI-monotherapy or combinations. Median progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Differences in PFS and OS between irAE groups were assessed by multivariable models. Risk for multisystem irAE was estimated as odds ratios by multivariable logistic regression.

Results: The 623 patients included in the study were mostly men (60%, n = 375) and White (77%, n = 480). The median (range) age was 66 (58-73) years, and 148 patients (24%) developed a single irAE, whereas 58 (9.3%) developed multisystem irAEs. The most common multisystem irAE patterns in patients receiving anti-PD-(L)1 monotherapy were pneumonitis thyroiditis (n = 7, 14%), hepatitis thyroiditis (n = 5, 10%), dermatitis pneumonitis (n = 5, 10%), and dermatitis thyroiditis (n = 4, 8%). Favorable Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) (ECOG PS = 0/1 vs 2; adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.27; 95% CI, 0.08-0.94; P = .04) and longer ICI duration (aOR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01-1.03; P < .001) were independent risk factors for development of multisystem irAEs. Patients with 1 irAE and multisystem irAEs demonstrated incrementally improved OS (adjusted hazard ratios [aHRs], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.66-1.12; P = .26; and aHR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.38-0.85; P = . 005, respectively) and PFS (aHR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.55-0.85; P = .001; and aHR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.28-0.55; P < .001, respectively) vs patients with no irAEs, in multivariable models adjusting for ICI duration.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this multicenter cohort study, development of multisystem irAEs was associated with improved survival in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with ICIs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.5012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7596677PMC
December 2020

Multimodal genomic features predict outcome of immune checkpoint blockade in non-small-cell lung cancer.

Nat Cancer 2020 Jan 13;1(1):99-111. Epub 2020 Jan 13.

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Despite progress in immunotherapy, identifying patients that respond has remained a challenge. Through analysis of whole-exome and targeted sequence data from 5,449 tumors, we found a significant correlation between tumor mutation burden (TMB) and tumor purity, suggesting that low tumor purity tumors are likely to have inaccurate TMB estimates. We developed a new method to estimate a corrected TMB (cTMB) that was adjusted for tumor purity and more accurately predicted outcome to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). To identify improved predictive markers together with cTMB, we performed whole-exome sequencing for 104 lung tumors treated with ICB. Through comprehensive analyses of sequence and structural alterations, we discovered a significant enrichment in activating mutations in receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) genes in nonresponding tumors in three immunotherapy treated cohorts. An integrated multivariable model incorporating cTMB, RTK mutations, smoking-related mutational signature and human leukocyte antigen status provided an improved predictor of response to immunotherapy that was independently validated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s43018-019-0008-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7514475PMC
January 2020

Neoadjuvant nivolumab plus ipilimumab in resectable non-small cell lung cancer.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 09;8(2)

Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Background: We conducted the first trial of neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade in resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), finding nivolumab monotherapy to be safe and feasible with an encouraging rate of pathologic response. Building on these results, and promising data for nivolumab plus ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4) in advanced NSCLC, we expanded our study to include an arm investigating neoadjuvant nivolumab plus ipilimumab.

Methods: Patients with resectable stage IB (≥4 cm)-IIIA (American Joint Committee on Cancer Tumor Node Metastases seventh edition), histologically confirmed, treatment-naïve NSCLC received nivolumab 3 mg/kg intravenously plus ipilimumab 1 mg/kg intravenously 6 weeks prior to planned resection. Nivolumab 3 mg/kg was given again approximately 4 and 2 weeks preoperatively. Primary endpoints were safety and feasibility with a planned enrollment of 15 patients. Pathologic response was a key secondary endpoint.

Results: While the treatment regimen was feasible per protocol, due to toxicity, the study arm was terminated early by investigator consensus after 9 of 15 patients were enrolled. All patients received every scheduled dose of therapy and were fit for planned surgery; however, 6 of 9 (67%) experienced treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) and 3 (33%) experienced grade ≥3 TRAEs. Three of 9 patients (33%) had biopsy-confirmed tumor progression precluding definitive surgery. Of the 6 patients who underwent resection, 3 are alive and disease-free, 2 experienced recurrence and are actively receiving systemic treatment, and one died postoperatively due to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Two patients who underwent resection had tumor pathologic complete responses (pCRs) and continue to remain disease-free over 24 months since surgery. Pathologic response correlated with pre-treatment tumor PD-L1 expression, but not tumor mutation burden. Tumor co-mutations were identified in 5 of 9 patients (59%), of whom two with disease progression precluding surgery had tumor co-mutations.

Conclusions: Though treatment was feasible, due to toxicity the study arm was terminated early by investigator consensus. In light of this, and while the long-term disease-free status of patients who achieved pCR is encouraging, further investigation of neoadjuvant nivolumab plus ipilimumab in patients with resectable NSCLC requires the identification of predictive biomarkers that enrich for response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001282DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7488786PMC
September 2020

Immune-related (IR)-pneumonitis during the COVID-19 pandemic: multidisciplinary recommendations for diagnosis and management.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 06;8(1)

Oncology, Johns Hopkins Medicine Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Immune-related (IR)-pneumonitis is a rare and potentially fatal toxicity of anti-PD(L)1 immunotherapy. Expert guidelines for the diagnosis and management of IR-pneumonitis include multidisciplinary input from medical oncology, pulmonary medicine, infectious disease, and radiology specialists. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is a recently recognized respiratory virus that is responsible for causing the COVID-19 global pandemic. Symptoms and imaging findings from IR-pneumonitis and COVID-19 pneumonia can be similar, and early COVID-19 viral testing may yield false negative results, complicating the diagnosis and management of both entities. Herein, we present a set of multidisciplinary consensus recommendations for the diagnosis and management of IR-pneumonitis in the setting of COVID-19 including: (1) isolation procedures, (2) recommended imaging and interpretation, (3) adaptations to invasive testing, (4) adaptations to the management of IR-pneumonitis, (5) immunosuppression for steroid-refractory IR-pneumonitis, and (6) management of suspected concurrent IR-pneumonitis and COVID-19 infection. There is an emerging need for the adaptation of expert guidelines for IR-pneumonitis in the setting of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We propose a multidisciplinary consensus on this topic, in this position paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-000984DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316105PMC
June 2020

Chronic immune checkpoint inhibitor pneumonitis.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 06;8(1)

Division of Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Background: Pneumonitis from immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) is a potentially fatal immune-related adverse event (irAE) from antiprogrammed death 1/programmed death ligand 1 immunotherapy. Most cases of ICI pneumonitis improve or resolve with 4-6 weeks of corticosteroid therapy. Herein, we report the incidence, clinicopathological features and management of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and melanoma who developed chronic ICI pneumonitis that warrants ≥12 weeks of immunosuppression.

Methods: Patients with ICI pneumonitis were identified from institutional databases of ICI-treated patients with advanced melanoma and NSCLC between January 2011 and July 2018. ICI pneumonitis was defined as clinical/radiographic evidence of lung inflammation without alternative diagnoses, adjudicated by a multidisciplinary team. Chronic ICI pneumonitis was defined as pneumonitis that persists or worsens with steroid tapering, and necessitates ≥12 weeks of immunosuppression, after ICI discontinuation. Serial chest CT was used to assess radiological features, and tumor response by Response EvaluationCriteria for Solid Tumors V.1.1. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples were assessed by cell differential. Lung biopsy samples were evaluated by H&E staining and multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF), where available.

Results: Among 299 patients, 44 developed ICI pneumonitis (NSCLC: 5/205; melanoma: 1/94), and of these, 6 experienced chronic ICI pneumonitis. The overall incidence of chronic ICI pneumonitis was thus 2%. Of those who developed chronic ICI pneumonitis: the majority had NSCLC (5/6), all sustained disease control from ICIs, and none had other concurrent irAEs. Timing of chronic ICI pneumonitis development was variable (range: 0-50 months), and occurred at a median of 12 months post ICI start. Recrudescence of ICI pneumonitis occurred at a median of 6 weeks after initial steroid start (range: 3-12 weeks), with all patients requiring steroid reintroduction when tapered to ≤10 mg prednisone/equivalent. The median total duration of steroids was 37 weeks (range: 16-43+weeks). Re-emergence of radiographic ICI pneumonitis occurred in the same locations on chest CT, in most cases (5/6). All patients who developed chronic ICI pneumonitis had BALF lymphocytosis on cell differential and organising pneumonia on lung biopsy at initial ICI pneumonitis presentation, with persistent BALF lymphocytosis and brisk CD8+ infiltration on mIF at pneumonitis re-emergence during steroid taper.

Conclusions: A subset of patients who develop pneumonitis from ICIs will develop chronic ICI pneumonitis, that warrants long-term immunosuppression of ≥12 weeks, and has distinct clinicopathological features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-000840DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7304886PMC
June 2020

Checkpoint Blockade in Lung Cancer With Driver Mutation: Choose the Road Wisely.

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book 2020 May;40:372-384

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD.

Immune checkpoint blockade with PD-(L)1 antibodies has revolutionized the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Similarly, the identification and targeting of oncogene drivers in metastatic NSCLC has dramatically improved patient outcomes with an expanding list of potentially actionable alterations and targeted therapies. Many of these molecular aberrations are more common in patients with little or no smoking history and adenocarcinoma histology. Certain molecular subsets of NSCLC, though gaining greatly from targeted therapy approaches, may derive less benefit from immune checkpoint blockade. The optimal identification, targeting, and sequencing of targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy are essential to continue to improve patient outcomes in advanced NSCLC. Herein, we review the role of immunotherapy in locally advanced and metastatic disease for patients with actionable driver alterations. Never-smoking patients have a high probability of having lung cancer that harbors one of these molecular aberrations that can be matched to a tyrosine kinase inhibitor with greatly improved clinical outcomes. Some of these patients with driver mutations may derive less benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitor approaches (either alone or combined with chemotherapy), especially compared with smoking-associated NSCLC. Given that PD-1 blockade alone or with platinum-based chemotherapy is the de facto first-line therapy (depending on level of PD-L1 expression) for nontargetable metastatic NSCLC, we also review treatment in never-smoking patients for whom molecular testing results are pending and the likelihood of identifying a driver mutation is high.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/EDBK_280795DOI Listing
May 2020

Immune-related adverse events of checkpoint inhibitors.

Nat Rev Dis Primers 2020 05 7;6(1):38. Epub 2020 May 7.

Section of Rheumatology/Clinical Immunology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Cancer immunotherapies have changed the landscape of cancer treatment during the past few decades. Among them, immune checkpoint inhibitors, which target PD-1, PD-L1 and CTLA-4, are increasingly used for certain cancers; however, this increased use has resulted in increased reports of immune-related adverse events (irAEs). These irAEs are unique and are different to those of traditional cancer therapies, and typically have a delayed onset and prolonged duration. IrAEs can involve any organ or system. These effects are frequently low grade and are treatable and reversible; however, some adverse effects can be severe and lead to permanent disorders. Management is primarily based on corticosteroids and other immunomodulatory agents, which should be prescribed carefully to reduce the potential of short-term and long-term complications. Thoughtful management of irAEs is important in optimizing quality of life and long-term outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41572-020-0160-6DOI Listing
May 2020

Epigenetic therapy inhibits metastases by disrupting premetastatic niches.

Nature 2020 03 26;579(7798):284-290. Epub 2020 Feb 26.

Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Cancer recurrence after surgery remains an unresolved clinical problem. Myeloid cells derived from bone marrow contribute to the formation of the premetastatic microenvironment, which is required for disseminating tumour cells to engraft distant sites. There are currently no effective interventions that prevent the formation of the premetastatic microenvironment. Here we show that, after surgical removal of primary lung, breast and oesophageal cancers, low-dose adjuvant epigenetic therapy disrupts the premetastatic microenvironment and inhibits both the formation and growth of lung metastases through its selective effect on myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). In mouse models of pulmonary metastases, MDSCs are key factors in the formation of the premetastatic microenvironment after resection of primary tumours. Adjuvant epigenetic therapy that uses low-dose DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase inhibitors, 5-azacytidine and entinostat, disrupts the premetastatic niche by inhibiting the trafficking of MDSCs through the downregulation of CCR2 and CXCR2, and by promoting MDSC differentiation into a more-interstitial macrophage-like phenotype. A decreased accumulation of MDSCs in the premetastatic lung produces longer periods of disease-free survival and increased overall survival, compared with chemotherapy. Our data demonstrate that, even after removal of the primary tumour, MDSCs contribute to the development of premetastatic niches and settlement of residual tumour cells. A combination of low-dose adjuvant epigenetic modifiers that disrupts this premetastatic microenvironment and inhibits metastases may permit an adjuvant approach to cancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2054-xDOI Listing
March 2020

Compartmental Analysis of T-cell Clonal Dynamics as a Function of Pathologic Response to Neoadjuvant PD-1 Blockade in Resectable Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 03 21;26(6):1327-1337. Epub 2019 Nov 21.

Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Purpose: Neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade is a promising treatment for resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), yet immunologic mechanisms contributing to tumor regression and biomarkers of response are unknown. Using paired tumor/blood samples from a phase II clinical trial (NCT02259621), we explored whether the peripheral T-cell clonotypic dynamics can serve as a biomarker for response to neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade.

Experimental Design: T-cell receptor (TCR) sequencing was performed on serial peripheral blood, tumor, and normal lung samples from resectable NSCLC patients treated with neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade. We explored the temporal dynamics of the T-cell repertoire in the peripheral and tumoral compartments in response to neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade by using the TCR as a molecular barcode.

Results: Higher intratumoral TCR clonality was associated with reduced percent residual tumor at the time of surgery, and the TCR repertoire of tumors with major pathologic response (MPR; <10% residual tumor after neoadjuvant therapy) had a higher clonality and greater sharing of tumor-infiltrating clonotypes with the peripheral blood relative to tumors without MPR. Additionally, the posttreatment tumor bed of patients with MPR was enriched with T-cell clones that had peripherally expanded between weeks 2 and 4 after anti-PD-1 initiation and the intratumoral space occupied by these clonotypes was inversely correlated with percent residual tumor.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that exchange of T-cell clones between tumor and blood represents a key correlate of pathologic response to neoadjuvant immunotherapy and shows that the periphery may be a previously underappreciated originating compartment for effective antitumor immunity..
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-2931DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7073288PMC
March 2020

Nivolumab plus Ipilimumab in Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer.

N Engl J Med 2019 11 28;381(21):2020-2031. Epub 2019 Sep 28.

From the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York (M.D.H.); Hospital Universitario Doce de Octubre, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas, Universidad Complutense, and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Cáncer, Madrid (L.P.-A.), Hospital Universitario Virgen Del Rocio, Seville (R.B.C.), and the Catalan Institute of Oncology-Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, Badalona (E.C.C.) - all in Spain; Ambulatorium Chemioterapii, Bydgoszcz, Poland (B.Z.); the Asan Medical Center (S.-W.K.) and the Samsung Medical Center at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine (K.P.) - both in Seoul, South Korea; the Institute of Oncology Prof. Dr. Alexandru Trestioreanu, Bucharest, Romania (A.A.); the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires (L.L.); Instituto Jalisciense de Cancerologia, Guadalajara, Mexico (E.M.J.); the Saitama Cancer Center, Saitama, Japan (H.S.); Matrai Gyogyintezet, Matrahaza, Hungary (I.A.); Limoges University Hospital, Limoges (A.V.), and Aix-Marseille University, National Center for Scientific Research, INSERM, Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Marseille, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, Marseille (F.B.) - all in France; Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne University, Lausanne, Switzerland (S.P.); Sotiria General Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens (K.S.); Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf, Airway Research Center North, German Center of Lung Research, Grosshansdorf, Germany (M.R.); Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia (H.B.); Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore (J.R.B.); Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (K.J.O.); Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ (W.J.G., P.B., S.K.R., R.S.K., F.E.N.); and Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta (S.S.R.).

Background: In an early-phase study involving patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the response rate was better with nivolumab plus ipilimumab than with nivolumab monotherapy, particularly among patients with tumors that expressed programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Data are needed to assess the long-term benefit of nivolumab plus ipilimumab in patients with NSCLC.

Methods: In this open-label, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned patients with stage IV or recurrent NSCLC and a PD-L1 expression level of 1% or more in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive nivolumab plus ipilimumab, nivolumab alone, or chemotherapy. The patients who had a PD-L1 expression level of less than 1% were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive nivolumab plus ipilimumab, nivolumab plus chemotherapy, or chemotherapy alone. All the patients had received no previous chemotherapy. The primary end point reported here was overall survival with nivolumab plus ipilimumab as compared with chemotherapy in patients with a PD-L1 expression level of 1% or more.

Results: Among the patients with a PD-L1 expression level of 1% or more, the median duration of overall survival was 17.1 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.0 to 20.1) with nivolumab plus ipilimumab and 14.9 months (95% CI, 12.7 to 16.7) with chemotherapy (P = 0.007), with 2-year overall survival rates of 40.0% and 32.8%, respectively. The median duration of response was 23.2 months with nivolumab plus ipilimumab and 6.2 months with chemotherapy. The overall survival benefit was also observed in patients with a PD-L1 expression level of less than 1%, with a median duration of 17.2 months (95% CI, 12.8 to 22.0) with nivolumab plus ipilimumab and 12.2 months (95% CI, 9.2 to 14.3) with chemotherapy. Among all the patients in the trial, the median duration of overall survival was 17.1 months (95% CI, 15.2 to 19.9) with nivolumab plus ipilimumab and 13.9 months (95% CI, 12.2 to 15.1) with chemotherapy. The percentage of patients with grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events in the overall population was 32.8% with nivolumab plus ipilimumab and 36.0% with chemotherapy.

Conclusions: First-line treatment with nivolumab plus ipilimumab resulted in a longer duration of overall survival than did chemotherapy in patients with NSCLC, independent of the PD-L1 expression level. No new safety concerns emerged with longer follow-up. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical; CheckMate 227 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02477826.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1910231DOI Listing
November 2019

The emerging role of epigenetic therapeutics in immuno-oncology.

Nat Rev Clin Oncol 2020 02 23;17(2):75-90. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Department of Oncology, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

The past decade has seen the emergence of immunotherapy as a prime approach to cancer treatment, revolutionizing the management of many types of cancer. Despite the promise of immunotherapy, most patients do not have a response or become resistant to treatment. Thus, identifying combinations that potentiate current immunotherapeutic approaches will be crucial. The combination of immune-checkpoint inhibition with epigenetic therapy is one such strategy that is being tested in clinical trials, encompassing a variety of cancer types. Studies have revealed key roles of epigenetic processes in regulating immune cell function and mediating antitumour immunity. These interactions make combined epigenetic therapy and immunotherapy an attractive approach to circumvent the limitations of immunotherapy alone. In this Review, we highlight the basic dynamic mechanisms underlying the synergy between immunotherapy and epigenetic therapies and detail current efforts to translate this knowledge into clinical benefit for patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41571-019-0266-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7254932PMC
February 2020

Immune checkpoint inhibitor-induced inflammatory arthritis persists after immunotherapy cessation.

Ann Rheum Dis 2020 03 20;79(3):332-338. Epub 2019 Sep 20.

Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Objective: We sought to investigate the long-term outcomes of patients who develop immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-induced inflammatory arthritis (IA), to define factors associated with IA persistence after ICI cessation, the need for immunosuppressants and the impact of these medications on underlying malignancies.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of patients referred for IA associated with ICIs. Patients were recruited from June 2015 to December 2018. Information was obtained at the baseline visit, and follow-up visits occurred at varying intervals for up to 24 months from ICI cessation. Kaplan-Meier curves were developed to characterise IA persistence. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the influence of various factors on IA persistence. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the impact of IA treatment on tumour response.

Results: Sixty patients were monitored with a median follow-up after ICI cessation of 9 months. A majority (53.3%) had active IA at their most recent follow-up. IA was less likely to improve in those with longer duration of ICI use, in those receiving combination ICI therapy, and in patients with multiple other immune-related adverse events. Tumour response did not appear to be impacted by immunosuppression. Although not statistically significant, persistent IA was correlated with a better tumour response (complete or partial response).

Conclusion: ICI-induced IA can become a long-term disease necessitating management by rheumatology for immunomodulatory treatment. Importantly, the use of immunomodulatory treatment has not been shown to impact cancer outcomes in this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7031780PMC
March 2020

Challenge of Rechallenge: When to Resume Immunotherapy Following an Immune-Related Adverse Event.

J Clin Oncol 2019 10 28;37(30):2714-2718. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Johns Hopkins Medicine Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.19.01623DOI Listing
October 2019

Safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab monotherapy in elderly patients with PD-L1-positive advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: Pooled analysis from the KEYNOTE-010, KEYNOTE-024, and KEYNOTE-042 studies.

Lung Cancer 2019 09 8;135:188-195. Epub 2019 Jul 8.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, 1475 NW 12th Ave, Miami, FL 33136, USA. Electronic address:

Objectives: Most lung cancer diagnoses occur in elderly patients, who are underrepresented in clinical trials. We present a pooled analysis of safety and efficacy in elderly patients (≥75 years) who received pembrolizumab (a programmed death 1 inhibitor) for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1)‒positive tumors.

Methods: The pooled analysis included patients aged ≥18 years with advanced NSCLC with PD-L1-positive tumors from the KEYNOTE-010 (NCT01905657), KEYNOTE-024 (NCT02142738), and KEYNOTE-042 (NCT02220894) studies. In KEYNOTE-010, patients were randomized to pembrolizumab 2 or 10 mg/kg every 3 weeks (Q3W) or docetaxel, as second- or later-line therapy. In KEYNOTE-024 and KEYNOTE-042, patients were randomized to first-line pembrolizumab 200 mg Q3W or platinum-based chemotherapy. Overall survival (OS) was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method, and safety data were summarized in elderly patients (≥75 years).

Results: The analysis included 264 elderly patients with PD-L1-positive tumors (PD-L1 tumor proportion score [TPS] ≥1%); among these, 132 had PD-L1 TPS ≥ 50%. Pembrolizumab improved OS among elderly patients with PD-L1 TPS ≥ 1% (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76 [95% CI, 0.56-1.02]) and PD-L1 TPS ≥ 50% (HR, 0.40 [95% CI, 0.25-0.64]). Pembrolizumab as first-line therapy also improved OS among elderly patients with PD-L1 TPS ≥ 50% (from KEYNOTE-024 and KEYNOTE-042) compared with chemotherapy (HR, 0.41 [95% CI, 0.23‒0.73]). Pembrolizumab was associated with fewer treatment-related adverse events (AEs) in elderly patients (overall, 68.5% vs 94.3%; grade ≥3, 24.2% vs 61.0%) versus chemotherapy. Immune-mediated AEs and infusion reactions were more common with pembrolizumab versus chemotherapy (overall, 24.8% vs 6.7%; grade 3‒4: 9.4% vs 0%; no grade 5 events).

Conclusions: In this pooled analysis of elderly patients with advanced NSCLC with PD-L1‒positive tumors, pembrolizumab improved OS versus chemotherapy, with a more favorable safety profile. Outcomes with pembrolizumab in patients ≥75 years were comparable to those in the overall populations in the individual studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2019.07.004DOI Listing
September 2019

Five-Year Survival and Correlates Among Patients With Advanced Melanoma, Renal Cell Carcinoma, or Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treated With Nivolumab.

JAMA Oncol 2019 Oct;5(10):1411-1420

Department of Internal Medicine (Section of Medical Oncology), Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Connecticut.

Importance: Nivolumab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits programmed cell death 1, is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating advanced melanoma, renal cell carcinoma (RCC), non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and other malignancies. Data on long-term survival among patients receiving nivolumab are limited.

Objectives: To analyze long-term overall survival (OS) among patients receiving nivolumab and identify clinical and laboratory measures associated with tumor regression and OS.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This was a secondary analysis of the phase 1 CA209-003 trial (with expansion cohorts), which was conducted at 13 US medical centers and included 270 patients with advanced melanoma, RCC, or NSCLC who received nivolumab and were enrolled between October 30, 2008, and December 28, 2011. The analyses were either specified in the original protocol or included in subsequent protocol amendments that were implemented between 2008 and 2012. Statistical analysis was performed from October 30, 2008, to November 11, 2016.

Intervention: In the CA209-003 trial, patients received nivolumab (0.1-10.0 mg/kg) every 2 weeks in 8-week cycles for up to 96 weeks, unless they developed progressive disease, achieved a complete response, experienced unacceptable toxic effects, or withdrew consent.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Safety and activity of nivolumab; OS was a post hoc end point with a minimum follow-up of 58.3 months.

Results: Of 270 patients included in this analysis, 107 (39.6%) had melanoma (72 [67.3%] male; median age, 61 [range, 29-85] years), 34 (12.6%) had RCC (26 [76.5%] male; median age, 58 [range, 35-74] years), and 129 (47.8%) had NSCLC (79 [61.2%] male; median age, 65 [range, 38-85] years). Overall survival curves showed estimated 5-year rates of 34.2% among patients with melanoma, 27.7% among patients with RCC, and 15.6% among patients with NSCLC. In a multivariable analysis, the presence of liver (odds ratio [OR], 0.31; 95% CI, 0.12-0.83; P = .02) or bone metastases (OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.10-0.93; P = .04) was independently associated with reduced likelihood of survival at 5 years, whereas an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 (OR, 2.74; 95% CI, 1.43-5.27; P = .003) was independently associated with an increased likelihood of 5-year survival. Overall survival was significantly longer among patients with treatment-related AEs of any grade (median, 19.8 months; 95% CI, 13.8-26.9 months) or grade 3 or more (median, 20.3 months; 95% CI, 12.5-44.9 months) compared with those without treatment-related AEs (median, 5.8 months; 95% CI, 4.6-7.8 months) (P < .001 for both comparisons based on hazard ratios).

Conclusions And Relevance: Nivolumab treatment was associated with long-term survival in a subset of heavily pretreated patients with advanced melanoma, RCC, or NSCLC. Characterizing factors associated with long-term survival may inform treatment approaches and strategies for future clinical trial development.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00730639.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.2187DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6659167PMC
October 2019

The alveolar immune cell landscape is dysregulated in checkpoint inhibitor pneumonitis.

J Clin Invest 2019 07 16;129(10):4305-4315. Epub 2019 Jul 16.

Division of Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine, and.

Background: Checkpoint inhibitor pneumonitis (CIP) is a highly morbid complication of immune checkpoint immunotherapy (ICI), one which precludes the continuation of ICI. Yet, the mechanistic underpinnings of CIP are unknown.

Methods: To better understand the mechanism of lung injury in CIP, we prospectively collected bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples in ICI-treated patients with (n=12) and without CIP (n=6), prior to initiation of first-line therapy for CIP (high dose corticosteroids. We analyzed BAL immune cell populations using a combination of traditional multicolor flow cytometry gating, unsupervised clustering analysis and BAL supernatant cytokine measurements.

Results: We found increased BAL lymphocytosis, predominantly CD4+ T cells, in CIP. Specifically, we observed increased numbers of BAL central memory T-cells (Tcm), evidence of Type I polarization, and decreased expression of CTLA-4 and PD-1 in BAL Tregs, suggesting both activation of pro-inflammatory subsets and an attenuated suppressive phenotype. CIP BAL myeloid immune populations displayed enhanced expression of IL-1β and decreased expression of counter-regulatory IL-1RA. We observed increased levels of T cell chemoattractants in the BAL supernatant, consistent with our pro-inflammatory, lymphocytic cellular landscape.

Conclusion: We observe several immune cell subpopulations that are dysregulated in CIP, which may represent possible targets that could lead to therapeutics for this morbid immune related adverse event.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI128654DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6763233PMC
July 2019

A Multidisciplinary Toxicity Team for Cancer Immunotherapy-Related Adverse Events.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2019 06;17(6):712-720

Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) may cause immune-related adverse events (irAEs). Methods to obtain real-time multidisciplinary input for irAEs that require subspecialist care are unknown. This study aimed to determine whether a virtual multidisciplinary immune-related toxicity (IR-tox) team of oncology and medicine subspecialists would be feasible to implement, be used by oncology providers, and identify patients for whom multidisciplinary input is sought.

Patients And Methods: Patients treated with ICIs and referred to the IR-tox team in August 2017 through March 2018 were identified. Feasibility was defined as receipt of electronic referrals and provision of recommendations within 24 hours of referral. Use was defined as the proportion of referring providers who used the team's recommendations, which was determined through a postpilot survey. Demographics and tumor, treatment, and referral data were collected. Patient features and irAE associations were analyzed.

Results: The IR-tox team was found to be feasible and used: 117 referrals from 102 patients were received in 8 months, all providers received recommendations within 24 hours, 100% of surveyed providers used the recommendations, and 74% changed patient management based on IR-tox team recommendations. Referrals were for suspected irAEs (n=106; 91%) and suitability to treat with ICIs (n=11; 10%). In referred patients, median age was 64 years, 54% were men, 13% had prior autoimmunity, and 46% received ICI combinations versus monotherapy (54%). The most commonly referred toxicities were pneumonitis (23%), arthritis (16%), and dermatitis (15%); 15% of patients had multisystem toxicities. Multiple referrals were more common in those treated with combination ICIs (odds ratio [OR], 6.0; P=.035) or with multisystem toxicities (OR, 8.1; P=.005). The IR-tox team provided a new multidisciplinary forum to assist providers in diagnosing and managing complex irAEs. This model identifies educational and service needs, and patients with irAEs for whom multidisciplinary care is most sought.

Conclusions: A virtual multidisciplinary toxicity team for irAEs was a feasible and used service, and facilitated toxicity identification and management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2018.7268DOI Listing
June 2019

A pooled analysis of two phase II trials evaluating metformin plus platinum-based chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Cancer Treat Res Commun 2019 10;20:100150. Epub 2019 May 10.

Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC, USA.

Background: Despite a wealth of preclinical and observational data, prospective data regarding the use of metformin in lung cancer is extremely limited.

Methods: We pooled individualized data from two prospective trials evaluating metformin plus platinum-based chemotherapy, with or without bevacizumab, in non-diabetic patients with untreated advanced NSCLC. In addition to reporting on clinical efficacy and safety endpoints, we also explored metformin's activity in key molecular cohorts.

Results: 33 patients were included in the pooled analysis, of whom 70% were current or previous smokers. 82% had standard tissue molecular testing results available. KRAS, EGFR, and LKB1 mutation prevalence was 48%, 26%, and 8.3%, respectively. Composite median PFS was 6 months for all patients (95% CI: [1.36, 7.96]), 7.2 months for KRAS mutants (95% CI: [1.18, 9.21]), and 6.6 months for EGFR mutants (95% CI: [1.18, 15.29]). Composite median OS was 14.8 months for all patients (95% CI: [8.25, 19.99]), 17.5 months for KRAS mutants (95% CI: [8.86, 26.96]), and 13.3 months for EGFR mutants (95% CI: [2.60, 25.86]). Lymphopenia was the most common grade 3 AE (12%), followed by leukopenia, nausea, vomiting, and hypertension (9% each). There were 2 grade 4 AEs, neutropenia (21%) and sepsis (3%), and 1 grade 5 AE (colonic perforation) attributed to bevacizumab.

Conclusion: Our results confirm the previously shown efficacy and tolerability of metformin in combination with chemotherapy and highlight encouraging activity in key molecular cohorts. Future efforts should build on this work by prospectively studying metformin in these molecular subgroups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctarc.2019.100150DOI Listing
February 2020

Relationship Between Prior Radiotherapy and Checkpoint-Inhibitor Pneumonitis in Patients With Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer.

Clin Lung Cancer 2019 07 28;20(4):e470-e479. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between radiotherapy (RT), in particular chest RT, and development of immune-related (IR) pneumonitis in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1).

Patients And Methods: Between June 2011 and July 2017, NSCLC patients treated with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 at a tertiary-care academic cancer center were identified. Patient, treatment, prior RT (intent, technique, timing, courses), and IR pneumonitis details were collected. Treating investigators diagnosed IR pneumonitis clinically. Diagnostic IR pneumonitis scans were overlaid with available chest RT plans to describe IR pneumonitis in relation to prior chest RT. We evaluated associations between patient, treatment, RT details, and development of IR pneumonitis by Fisher exact and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.

Results: Of the 188 NSCLC patients we identified, median follow-up was 6.78 (range, 0.30-79.3) months and median age 66 (range, 39-91) years; 54% (n = 102) were male; and 42% (n = 79) had stage I-III NSCLC at initial diagnosis. Patients received anti-PD-1/PD-L1 monotherapy (n = 127, 68%) or PD-1/PD-L1-based combinations (n = 61, 32%). In the entire cohort, 70% (132/188) received any RT, 53% (100/188) chest RT, and 37% (70/188) curative-intent chest RT. Any grade IR pneumonitis occurred in 19% (36/188; 95% confidence interval, 13.8-25.6). Of those who developed IR pneumonitis and received chest RT (n = 19), patients were more likely to have received curative-intent versus palliative-intent chest RT (17/19, 89%, vs. 2/19, 11%; P = .051). Predominant IR pneumonitis appearances were ground-glass opacities outside high-dose chest RT regions.

Conclusion: No RT parameter was significantly associated with IR pneumonitis. On subset analysis of patients who developed IR pneumonitis and who had received prior chest RT, IR pneumonitis was more common in patients who received curative-intent chest RT. Attention should be paid to NSCLC patients receiving curative-intent RT followed by anti-PD-1/PD-L1 agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2019.02.018DOI Listing
July 2019
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