Publications by authors named "Marijo Bilusic"

63 Publications

Combinatorial Natural Killer Cell-based Immunotherapy Approaches Selectively Target Chordoma Cancer Stem Cells.

Cancer Res Commun 2021 Dec;1(3):127-139

Sinonasal and Skull Base Tumor Program, National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, MD, USA.

Chordoma is a rare tumor derived from notochord remnants that has a propensity to recur and metastasize despite conventional multimodal treatment. Cancer stem cells (CSC) are implicated in chordoma's resistant and recurrent behavior; thus strategies that target CSCs are of particular interest. Using cytotoxicity models, we demonstrated that anti-programmed death-ligand 1 (N-601) and anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (cetuximab) antibodies enhanced lysis of chordoma cells by healthy donor and chordoma patient NK cells through antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). Treatment of NK cells with an IL-15 superagonist complex (N-803) increased their cytotoxicity against chordoma cells, which was further enhanced by treatment with N-601 and/or cetuximab. PD-L1-targeted chimeric antigen receptor NK cells (PD-L1 t-haNKs) were also effective against chordoma cells. CSCs were preferentially vulnerable to NK cell killing in the presence of N-601 and N-803. Flow cytometric analysis of a chordoma CSC population showed that CSCs expressed significantly more NK activating ligand B7-H6 and PD-L1 than non-CSCs, thus explaining a potential mechanism of selective targeting. These data suggest that chordoma may be effectively targeted by combinatorial NK cell-mediated immunotherapeutic approaches and that the efficacy of these approaches in chordoma and other CSC-driven tumor types should be investigated further in clinical studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2767-9764.crc-21-0020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9236084PMC
December 2021

A Single-arm Phase II Study Combining NLG207, a Nanoparticle Camptothecin, with Enzalutamide in Advanced Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer Post-Enzalutamide.

Oncologist 2022 May 30. Epub 2022 May 30.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: Despite the clinical efficacy of enzalutamide monotherapy in patients with advanced prostate cancer, therapeutic resistance and disease progression are inevitable. We proposed a study to evaluate NLG207, a nanoparticle-drug conjugate (NDC) of the potent topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin, in combination with enzalutamide, in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) following progression on enzalutamide.

Methods: This was a single-arm, optimal two-stage, phase II study to evaluate the efficacy of NLG207 in combination with enzalutamide in patients with mCRPC who received prior enzalutamide. A lead-in dose escalation evaluated the recommended phase 2 dose of NLG207 in combination with enzalutamide. Patients received NLG207 via IV infusion every 2 weeks and enzalutamide 160 mg orally once daily.

Results: Between March 2019 and June 2021, four patients were accrued to the lead-in dose escalation. Two of the four patients were evaluable and both experienced DLTs at the NLG207 12 mg/m2 dose level; one DLT was related to a dose delay for noninfective cystitis and myelosuppression, the other a grade 3 noninfective cystitis. Further evaluation of NLG207 in combination with enzalutamide was halted and the study was ultimately terminated. PSA declines from baseline were observed in two patients.

Conclusion: NLG207 12 mg/m2 in combination with enzalutamide was not well tolerated in patients with mCRPC following several lines of the standard of care therapy.

Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT03531827.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oncolo/oyac100DOI Listing
May 2022

What are the advantages of neoadjuvant immunotherapy over adjuvant immunotherapy?

Authors:
Marijo Bilusic

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther 2022 Jun 26;22(6):561-563. Epub 2022 Apr 26.

Medical Oncology GU Site Disease Group Lead, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System, Miami, FL, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737140.2022.2069097DOI Listing
June 2022

A Randomized Phase II Trial of mFOLFOX6 + Bevacizumab Alone or with AdCEA Vaccine + Avelumab Immunotherapy for Untreated Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.

Oncologist 2022 03;27(3):198-209

Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: FOLFOX plus bevacizumab is a standard of care (SOC) for first-line treatment of microsatellite-stable metastatic colorectal cancer (MSS mCRC). This study randomized patients to SOC or SOC plus avelumab (anti-PD-L1) plus CEA-targeted vaccine.

Methods: Patients with untreated MSS mCRC enrolled to a lead-in arm assessing safety of SOC + immuno-oncology agents (IO). Next, patients were randomized to SOC or SOC + IO. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Multiple immune parameters were analyzed.

Results: Six patients enrolled to safety lead-in, 10 randomized to SOC, and 10 to SOC + IO. There was no difference in median PFS comparing SOC versus SOC + IO (8.8 months (95% CI: 3.3-17.0 months) versus 10.1 months (95% CI: 3.6-16.1 months), respectively; hazard ratio 1.061 [P = .91; 95% CI: 0.380-2.966]). The objective response rate was 50% in both arms. Of patients analyzed, most (8/11) who received SOC + IO developed multifunctional CD4+/CD8+ T-cell responses to cascade antigens MUC1 and/or brachyury, compared to 1/8 who received SOC alone (P = .020). We detected post-treatment changes in immune parameters that were distinct to the SOC and SOC + IO treatment arms. Accrual closed after an unplanned analysis predicted a low likelihood of meeting the primary endpoint.

Conclusions: SOC + IO generated multifunctional MUC1- and brachyury-specific CD4+/CD8+ T cells despite concurrent chemotherapy. Although a tumor-directed immune response is necessary for T-cell-mediated antitumor activity, it was not sufficient to improve PFS. Adding agents that increase the number and function of effector cells may be required for clinical benefit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oncolo/oyab046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8914498PMC
March 2022

A randomized phase 2 study of bicalutamide with or without metformin for biochemical recurrence in overweight or obese prostate cancer patients (BIMET-1).

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 2022 Jan 25. Epub 2022 Jan 25.

Department of Hematology Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, 19111, USA.

Background: Metformin may have anticancer effects that are independent of its hypoglycemic effects. Retrospective studies have shown that metformin use is associated with decreased incidence of prostate cancer and prostate cancer-specific mortality. Preclinical studies suggesting additive anticancer effects of combining metformin and bicalutamide prompted this clinical trial (NCT02614859).

Methods: This open-label, randomized, phase 2 trial enrolled non-diabetic patients with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer, a PSADT of 3-9 months, BMI > 25 and normal testosterone. Patients were randomized 1:2 to observation for an initial 8 weeks (Arm A) or metformin 1000 mg twice daily (Arm B). Bicalutamide 50 mg/day was added after 8 weeks to both arms. The primary objective was to evaluate the number of patients with undetectable PSA ( < 0.2 ng/mL) at the end of 32 weeks. Immune correlatives were assessed as exploratory endpoints.

Results: A total of 29 patients were enrolled from March 2015 to January 2020. No difference was seen between the 2 arms in the proportion of patients with undetectable PSA. Modest PSA decrease ranging from 4% to 24% were seen in 40.0% (95% CI: 19.1-64.0%) of patients with metformin monotherapy, compared to 11.1% (95% CI: 0.3-48.3%) in the observation arm. Metformin monotherapy reduced PD-1 NK cells, and increased NKG2D NK cells. The combination of metformin and bicalutamide led to greater reductions in PD-1 expressing NK, CD4 T, and CD8 T-cell subsets compared to bicalutamide alone. The trial was stopped early due to predicted inability to achieve its primary endpoint.

Conclusions: Although metformin plus bicalutamide was well tolerated, there was no improvement in rates of achieving undetectable PSA at 32 weeks. Metformin monotherapy induced modest PSA declines in 40% of patients after 8 weeks. Metformin, given alone and in combination with bicalutamide, displayed immune modifying effects, primarily within NK and T cells subsets.

Trial Registration: Trial Registration Number: NCT02614859.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41391-022-00492-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9309187PMC
January 2022

Phase 1 open-label trial of intravenous administration of MVA-BN-brachyury-TRICOM vaccine in patients with advanced cancer.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 09;9(9)

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Background: MVA-BN-brachyury-TRICOM is a recombinant vector-based therapeutic cancer vaccine designed to induce an immune response against brachyury. Brachyury, a transcription factor overexpressed in advanced cancers, has been associated with treatment resistance, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and metastatic potential. MVA-BN-brachyury-TRICOM has demonstrated immunogenicity and safety in previous clinical trials of subcutaneously administered vaccine. Preclinical studies have suggested that intravenous administration of therapeutic vaccines can induce superior CD8 T cell responses, higher levels of systemic cytokine release, and stronger natural killer cell activation and proliferation. This is the first-in-human study of the intravenous administration of MVA-BN-brachyury-TRICOM.

Methods: Between January 2020 and March 2021, 13 patients were treated on a phase 1, open-label, 3+3 design, dose-escalation study at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. The study population was adults with advanced solid tumors and was enriched for chordoma, a rare sarcoma of the notochord that overexpresses brachyury. Vaccine was administered intravenously at three DLs on days 1, 22, and 43. Blood samples were taken to assess drug pharmacokinetics and immune activation. Imaging was conducted at baseline, 1 month, and 3 months post-treatment. The primary endpoint was safety and tolerability as determined by the frequency of dose-limiting toxicities; a secondary endpoint was determination of the recommended phase 2 dose.

Results: No dose-limiting toxicities were observed and no serious adverse events were attributed to the vaccine. Vaccine-related toxicities were consistent with class profile (ie, influenza-like symptoms). Cytokine release syndrome up to grade 2 was observed with no adverse outcomes. Dose-effect trend was observed for fever, chills/rigor, and hypotension. Efficacy analysis of objective response rate per RECIST 1.1 at the end of study showed one patient with a partial response, four with stable disease, and eight with progressive disease. Three patients with stable disease experienced clinical benefit in the form of improvement in pain. Immune correlatives showed T cell activation against brachyury and other tumor-associated cascade antigens.

Conclusions: Intravenous administration of MVA-BN-brachyury-TRICOM vaccine was safe and tolerable. Maximum tolerated dose was not reached. The maximum administered dose was 10 infectious units every 3 weeks for three doses. This dose was selected as the recommended phase 2 dose.

Trial Registration Number: NCT04134312.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-003238DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8420671PMC
September 2021

Anaplastic Features in Advanced Prostate Cancer With and Without DNA Damage Repair Mutations.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2021 12 17;19(6):e352-e359. Epub 2021 May 17.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Electronic address:

Background: Anaplastic prostate cancer has a poor prognosis with limited treatment options. Seven clinical features of anaplastic prostate cancer have been prospectively identified. In this phase II clinical trial, we identified mutations, including DNA damage repair (DDR) mutations, in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) who were treated with durvalumab and olaparib and determined how many of them can be described as anaplastic, and we examined the overlap between anaplastic features and DDR mutations.

Methods: Eligible patients with mCRPC received prior enzalutamide, abiraterone, or both. Patients were treated with durvalumab 1500 mg i.v. every 28 days and olaparib 300 mg p.o. every 12 hours until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Patients underwent mandatory baseline biopsies of metastatic lesions.

Results: Baseline characteristics were similar between anaplastic and nonanaplastic patients. Eleven patients (20%) displayed clear anaplastic features, and 43 (78.2%) lacked anaplastic features. In the anaplastic group, 2/11 (18.2%) had germline DRR mutations, and 4/11 (36.3%) had somatic DDR mutations. In the nonanaplastic group, 7/43 (16.3%) had germline mutations, and 13/43 (30.2%) had somatic mutations. Median progression-free survival (PFS) times in patients with anaplastic features (6.5 months) and without anaplastic features (5.1 months) were similar (hazard ratio 0.998, P = .996).

Conclusions: Patients with and without anaplastic features appear to have similar total rates of DDR mutations and also similar rates of somatic and germline DDR mutations. Patients with anaplastic features have a trend toward improved PFS when treated with olaparib and durvalumab compared with nonanaplastic patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2021.05.005DOI Listing
December 2021

Phase I study of a multitargeted recombinant Ad5 PSA/MUC-1/brachyury-based immunotherapy vaccine in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

J Immunother Cancer 2021 03;9(3)

Genitourinary Malignancy Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Background: Antitumor vaccines targeting tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) can generate antitumor immune response. A novel vaccine platform using adenovirus 5 (Ad5) vectors [E1-, E2b-] targeting three TAAs-prostate-specific antigen (PSA), brachyury, and MUC-1-has been developed. Both brachyury and the C-terminus of MUC-1 are overexpressed in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and have been shown to play an important role in resistance to chemotherapy, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and metastasis. The transgenes for PSA, brachyury, and MUC-1 all contain epitope modifications for the expression of CD8+ T-cell enhancer agonist epitopes. We report here the first-in-human trial of this vaccine platform.

Methods: Patients with mCRPC were given concurrently three vaccines targeting PSA, brachyury, and MUC-1 at 5×10 viral particles (VP) each, subcutaneously every 3 weeks for a maximum of three doses (dose de-escalation cohort), followed by a booster vaccine every 8 weeks for 1 year (dose-expansion cohort only). The primary objective was to determine the safety and the recommended phase II dose. Immune assays and clinical responses were evaluated.

Results: Eighteen patients with mCRPC were enrolled between July 2018 and September 2019 and received at least one vaccination. Median PSA was 25.58 ng/mL (range, 0.65-1006 ng/mL). The vaccine was tolerable and safe, and no grade >3 treatment-related adverse events or dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were observed. One patient had a partial response, while five patients had confirmed PSA decline and five had stable disease for >6 months. Median progression-free survival was 22 weeks (95% CI: 19.1 to 34). Seventeen (100%) of 17 patients mounted T-cell responses to at least one TAA, whereras 8 (47%) of 17 patients mounted immune responses to all three TAAs. Multifunctional T-cell responses to PSA, MUC-1, and brachyury were also detected after vaccination in the majority of the patients.

Conclusions: Ad5 PSA/MUC-1/brachyury vaccine is well tolerated. The primary end points were met and there were no DLTs. The recommended phase II dose is 5×10 VP. The vaccine demonstrated clinical activity, including one partial response and confirmed PSA responses in five patients. Three patients with prolonged PSA responses received palliative radiation therapy. Further research is needed to evaluate the clinical benefit and immunogenicity of this vaccine in combination with other immuno-oncology agents and/or palliative radiation therapy.

Trial Registration Number: NCT03481816.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002374DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7993215PMC
March 2021

Clinical and immunologic impact of short-course enzalutamide alone and with immunotherapy in non-metastatic castration sensitive prostate cancer.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 03;9(3)

Genitourinary Malignancies, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Background: The standard treatment for non-metastatic castration sensitive prostate cancer (nmCSPC) is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or surveillance. This study evaluated the potential synergy of immunotherapy and enzalutamide (without ADT) in nmCSPC. In addition, the immunologic impact of enzalutamide was also evaluated in men with normal testosterone.

Methods: Patients with rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) after definitive therapy, normal testosterone and no radiographic metastasis were randomized to enzalutamide for 3 months with/without PROSTVAC for 6 months. Thereafter, patients could be retreated with another 3 month course of enzalutamide when PSA returned to baseline. Immune profiles were evaluated in these patients.

Results: Thirty-eight patients were randomized with a median PSA=4.38 ng/dL and PSA doubling time=4.1 months. No difference was observed between the two groups for PSA growth kinetics, but PSA responses to enzalutamide were noteworthy regardless of PROSTVAC. The median PSA decline after short-course enzalutamide without ADT/testosterone lowering therapy was 99% in both courses. The median time to PSA recovery to baseline after each 84-day course of enzalutamide was also noteworthy because of the duration of response after enzalutamide was discontinued. After the first and second 3 month cycle of enzalutamide, PSA recovery to baseline took a median 224 (range 84-1246) and 189 days (78-400), respectively. The most common adverse events related to the enzalutamide were grade 1 fatigue (71%) and grade 1 breast pain/nipple tenderness (81%). The only grade 3 toxicity was aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevation in two patients. Enzalutamide was independently associated with immune changes, increasing natural killer cells, naïve-T cells, and decreasing myeloid-derived suppressor cells.

Conclusions: Three months of enzalutamide without ADT induced substantial PSA control beyond the treatment period and was repeatable, perhaps representing an alternative to intermittent ADT in nmCSPC. In addition, enzalutamide was associated with immune changes that could be relevant as future immune combinations are developed. TRAIL REGISTRATION NUMBER: clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01875250).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001556DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934713PMC
March 2021

Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase II Study of Yeast-Brachyury Vaccine (GI-6301) in Combination with Standard-of-Care Radiotherapy in Locally Advanced, Unresectable Chordoma.

Oncologist 2021 05 9;26(5):e847-e858. Epub 2021 Mar 9.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Background: Brachyury is a transcription factor overexpressed in chordoma and is associated with chemotherapy resistance and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. GI-6301 is a recombinant, heat-killed Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast-based vaccine targeting brachyury. A previous phase I trial of GI-6301 demonstrated a signal of clinical activity in chordomas. This trial evaluated synergistic effects of GI-6301 vaccine plus radiation.

Materials And Methods: Adults with locally advanced, unresectable chordoma were treated on a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Patients received three doses of GI-6301 (80 × 10 yeast cells) or placebo followed by radiation, followed by continued vaccine or placebo until progression. Primary endpoint was overall response rate, defined as a complete response (CR) or partial response (PR) in the irradiated tumor site at 24 months. Immune assays were conducted to evaluate immunogenicity.

Results: Between May 2015 and September 2019, 24 patients enrolled on the first randomized phase II study in chordoma. There was one PR in each arm; no CRs were observed. Median progressive-free survival for vaccine and placebo arms was 20.6 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.7-37.5 months) and 25.9 months (95% CI, 9.2-30.8 months), respectively. Hazard ratio was 1.02 (95% CI, 0.38-2.71). Vaccine was well tolerated with no vaccine-related serious adverse events. Preexisting brachyury-specific T cells were detected in most patients in both arms. Most patients developed T-cell responses during therapy, with no difference between arms in frequency or magnitude of response.

Conclusion: No difference in overall response rate was observed, leading to early discontinuation of this trial due to low conditional power to detect statistical difference at the planned end of accrual.

Implications For Practice: Chordoma is a rare neoplasm lacking effective systemic therapies for advanced, unresectable disease. Lack of clinically actionable somatic mutations in chordoma makes development of targeted therapy quite challenging. While the combination of yeast-brachyury vaccine (GI-6301) and standard radiation therapy did not demonstrate synergistic antitumor effects, brachyury still remains a good target for developmental therapeutics in chordoma. Patients and their oncologists should consider early referral to centers with expertise in chordoma (or sarcoma) and encourage participation in clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13720DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8100546PMC
May 2021

Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy: An Evolving Paradigm Shift?

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 07;113(7):799-800

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa217DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8246798PMC
July 2021

Fast Clearance of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus in a Patient Undergoing Vaccine Immunotherapy for Metastatic Chordoma: A Case Report.

Front Oncol 2020 16;10:603248. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been associated with perplexing clinical sequelae and phenomena that often have no clear link to the underlying infection. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms associated with infection, from minimal respiratory complaints to severe multi-organ failure, often resulting in death. Individuals with malignancies, particularly those whose treatments have left them immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, are among the patient populations thought to be at greater risk for more severe illness. A man with aggressive metastatic chordoma contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus and was diagnosed with COVID-19 while undergoing intravenous brachyury vaccine immunotherapy. His disease course was remarkably mild, and the virus cleared rapidly. Despite a treatment delay of 3 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the patient's disease has been stable and tumor-related pain has significantly improved. This suggests not only an intact, functional immune system, but also one that appears to have been responsive to cancer treatment. It has been suggested that individuals undergoing treatment for metastatic cancer are at greater risk of severe SARS-CoV-2-related illnesses and complications. While immunosuppression may be a problem, particularly in those receiving conventional chemotherapeutic agents, it is possible that the non-specific effects of immune-enhancing therapies may confer some protection against SARS-CoV-2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.603248DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7717959PMC
November 2020

Bintrafusp alfa, a bifunctional fusion protein targeting TGF-β and PD-L1, in patients with human papillomavirus-associated malignancies.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 12;8(2)

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Background: Bintrafusp alfa is a first-in-class bifunctional fusion protein composed of the extracellular domain of transforming growth factor (TGF)-βRII (a TGF-β 'trap') fused to a human IgG1 mAb blocking programmed cell death ligand 1. This is the largest analysis of patients with advanced, pretreated human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated malignancies treated with bintrafusp alfa.

Methods: In these phase 1 (NCT02517398) and phase 2 trials (NCT03427411), 59 patients with advanced, pretreated, checkpoint inhibitor-naive HPV-associated cancers received bintrafusp alfa intravenously every 2 weeks until progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity, or withdrawal. Primary endpoint was best overall response per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) V.1.1; other endpoints included safety.

Results: As of April 17, 2019 (phase 1), and October 4, 2019 (phase 2), the confirmed objective response rate per RECIST V.1.1 in the checkpoint inhibitor-naive, full-analysis population was 30.5% (95% CI, 19.2% to 43.9%; five complete responses); eight patients had stable disease (disease control rate, 44.1% (95% CI, 31.2% to 57.6%)). In addition, three patients experienced a delayed partial response after initial disease progression, for a total clinical response rate of 35.6% (95% CI, 23.6% to 49.1%). An additional patient with vulvar cancer had an unconfirmed response. Forty-nine patients (83.1%) experienced treatment-related adverse events, which were grade 3/4 in 16 patients (27.1%). No treatment-related deaths occurred.

Conclusion: Bintrafusp alfa showed clinical activity and manageable safety and is a promising treatment in HPV-associated cancers. These findings support further investigation of bintrafusp alfa in patients with advanced, pretreated HPV-associated cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001395DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745517PMC
December 2020

Molecular Profiling of Exceptional Responders to Cancer Therapy.

Oncologist 2021 03 28;26(3):186-195. Epub 2020 Nov 28.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Background: The vast majority of metastatic cancers cannot be cured. Palliative treatment may relieve disease symptoms by stopping or slowing cancer growth and may prolong patients' lives, but almost all patients will inevitably develop disease progression after initial response. However, for reasons that are not fully understood, a very few patients will have extraordinary durable responses to standard anticancer treatments.

Materials And Methods: We analyzed exceptional responders treated at Fox Chase Cancer Center between September 2009 and November 2017. An exceptional response was defined as a complete response lasting more than 1 year or a partial response or stable disease for more than 2 years. Tumor samples were analyzed using an Ambry Genetics test kit with a 142-gene panel. Messenger RNA expression was evaluated using NanoString's nCounter PanCancer Pathways Panel and Immune Profiling Panel and compared with matched controls for gender, age, and cancer type.

Results: Twenty-six exceptional responders with metastatic bladder, kidney, breast, lung, ovarian, uterine, and colon cancers were enrolled. Mutations were identified in 45 genes. The most common mutation was an EPHA5 nonsynonymous mutation detected in 87.5% of patients. Mutations in DNA damage repair pathway genes were also frequent, suggesting increased genome instability. We also found varying expression of 73 genes in the Pathways panel and 85 genes in the Immune Profiling panel, many of them responsible for improvement in tumor recognition and antitumor immune response.

Conclusions: The genomic instability detected in our exceptional responders, plus treatment with DNA damage compounds combined with favorable anticancer immunity, may have contributed to exceptional responses to standard anticancer therapies in the patients studied.

Implications For Practice: With recent advances in the treatment of cancer, there is increased emphasis on the importance of identifying molecular markers to predict treatment outcomes, thereby allowing precision oncology. In this study, it was hypothesized that there is a "specific biologic signature" in the biology of the cancer in long-term survivors that allows sensitivity to systemic therapy and durability of response. Results showed that DNA damage repair pathway alterations, combined with favorable anticancer immunity, may have contributed to exceptional responses. It is very likely that an in-depth examination of outlier responses will become a standard component of drug development in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13600DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7930427PMC
March 2021

Sequential Prostate Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Newly Diagnosed High-risk Prostate Cancer Treated with Neoadjuvant Enzalutamide is Predictive of Therapeutic Response.

Clin Cancer Res 2021 01 6;27(2):429-437. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.

Purpose: For high-risk prostate cancer, standard treatment options include radical prostatectomy (RP) or radiotherapy plus androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Despite definitive therapy, many patients will have disease recurrence. Imaging has the potential to better define characteristics of response and resistance. In this study, we evaluated prostate multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) before and after neoadjuvant enzalutamide plus ADT.

Patients And Methods: Men with localized intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer underwent a baseline mpMRI and mpMRI-targeted biopsy followed by a second mpMRI after 6 months of enzalutamide and ADT prior to RP. Specimens were sectioned in the same plane as mpMRI using patient-specific 3D-printed molds to permit mpMRI-targeted biopsies to be compared with the same lesion from the RP. Specimens were analyzed for imaging and histologic correlates of response.

Results: Of 39 patients enrolled, 36 completed imaging and RP. Most patients (92%) had high-risk disease. Fifty-eight lesions were detected on baseline mpMRI, of which 40 (69%) remained measurable at 6-month follow-up imaging. Fifty-five of 59 lesions (93%) demonstrated >50% volume reduction on posttreatment mpMRI. Three of 59 lesions (5%) demonstrated growth in size at follow-up imaging, with two lesions increasing more than 3-fold in volume. On whole-mount pathology, 15 patients demonstrated minimal residual disease (MRD) of <0.05 cc or pathologic complete response. Low initial mpMRI relative tumor burden was most predictive of MRD on final pathology.

Conclusions: Low relative lesion volume at baseline mpMRI was predictive of pathologic response. A subset of patients had limited response. Selection of patients based on these metrics may improve outcomes in high-risk disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2344DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7855232PMC
January 2021

The Potential Role for Immunotherapy in Biochemically Recurrent Prostate Cancer.

Urol Clin North Am 2020 Nov;47(4):457-467

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, 10 Center Drive, 13n240b, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:

Biochemically recurrent prostate cancer represents a stage of prostate cancer where conventional (continued on next page) computed tomography and technetium Tc 99m bone scan imaging are unable to detect disease after curative intervention despite rising prostate-specific antigen. There is no clear standard of care and no systemic therapy has been shown to improve survival. Immunotherapy-based treatments potentially are attractive options relative to androgen deprivation therapy due to the generally more favorable side-effect profile. Biochemically recurrent prostate cancer patients have a low tumor burden and likely lymph node-based disease, which may make them more likely to respond to immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ucl.2020.07.004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8177734PMC
November 2020

Cabozantinib plus docetaxel and prednisone in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

BJU Int 2021 04 23;127(4):435-444. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, NCI, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of cabozantinib combined with docetaxel.

Patients And Methods: This was a phase 1/2 multicentre study in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Docetaxel (75 mg/m every 3 weeks with daily prednisone 10 mg) was combined with escalating doses of daily cabozantinib (20, 40 and 60 mg). Based on the results of the phase 1 study, the investigation was expanded into a randomized study of docetaxel with prednisone (hereafter 'docetaxel/prednisone') plus the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of cabozantinib compared with docetaxel/prednisone alone.

Results: A total of 44 men with mCRPC were enrolled in this phase 1/2 trial. An MTD of 40 mg cabozantinib plus docetaxel/prednisone was determined. Dose-limiting toxicities were neutropenic fever and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia, and there was one death attributable to a thromboembolic event. In addition, grade 3 or 4 myelosuppression, hypophosphataemia and neuropathy were seen in three or more patients. In the phase 1 study, the median time to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS) time were 13.6 and 16.3 months, respectively. In the phase 2 study, which was terminated early because of poor accrual, the median TTP and OS favoured the combination (n = 13) compared to docetaxel/prednisone alone (n = 12; 21.0 vs 6.6 months; P = 0.035 and 23.8 vs 15.6 months; P = 0.072, respectively).

Conclusion: Despite the limited number of patients in this study, preliminary data suggest that cabozantinib can be safely added to docetaxel/prednisone with possible enhanced efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bju.15227DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8265825PMC
April 2021

Pembrolizumab in Combination with Axitinib as First-Line Treatment for Patients with Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC): Evidence to Date.

Cancer Manag Res 2020 17;12:7321-7330. Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Over the last 18 months, 3 immunotherapy combination regimens (ipilimumab + nivolumab, pembrolizumab + axitinib, and axitinib + avelumab) were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the first-line treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC), making selection of the optimal first-line treatment regimen very challenging. As of April 2020, preferred first-line treatment options for mRCC are pembrolizumab + axitinib and ipilimumab + nivolumab, based on the improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival compared to sunitinib, as observed in pivotal phase III clinical trials. Because the combination of 2 drugs is typically more toxic than a monotherapy, careful attention must be given to overlapping toxicities. The pembrolizumab + axitinib combination led to grade ≥3 adverse events in 75.8% of patients (vs 70.6% in the sunitinib group), while grade ≥3 adverse events were less frequent in the nivolumab + ipilimumab group compared to the sunitinib group. Discontinuation rates due to toxicity were 10.7% for pembrolizumab + axitinib (both drugs), 22% for ipilimumab + nivolumab and were comparable with sunitinib in both studies (13.9% and 12%, respectively). The combination of pembrolizumab + axitinib may have immune-modulating functions that may provide clinical benefit without the additional toxicity observed with ipilimumab + nivolumab. In addition, this tyrosine kinase inhibitor + immune checkpoint combination should have faster treatment response in patients with larger disease burden or in more symptomatic patients, which makes this combination an excellent choice for the first-line treatment regimen for mRCC. These combinations have proven to be tolerable, though long-term results are still lacking. As treatment options for mRCC are rapidly expanding, immunotherapy combinations could potentially change the treatment paradigm, with the ultimate goal of prolonging life and eventually curing mRCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S216605DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7443011PMC
August 2020

A Case Report of Sequential Use of a Yeast-CEA Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine and Anti-PD-L1 Inhibitor in Metastatic Medullary Thyroid Cancer.

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 2020 7;11:490. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, United States.

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) accounts for ~4% of all thyroid malignancies. MTC derives from the neural crest and secretes calcitonin (CTN) and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). Unlike differentiated thyroid cancer, MTC does not uptake iodine and I-131 RAI (radioactive iodine) treatment is ineffective. Patients with metastatic disease are candidates for FDA-approved agents with either vandetanib or cabozantinib; however, adverse effects limit their use. There are ongoing trials exploring the role of less toxic immunotherapies in patients with MTC. We present a 61-year-old male with the diagnosis of MTC and persistent local recurrence despite multiple surgeries. He was started on sunitinib, but ultimately its use was limited by toxicity. He then presented to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and was enrolled on a clinical trial with heat-killed yeast-CEA vaccine (NCT01856920) and his calcitonin doubling time improved in 3 months. He then came off vaccine for elective surgery. After surgery, his calcitonin was rising and he enrolled on a phase I trial of avelumab, a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitor (NCT01772004). Thereafter, his calcitonin decreased > 40% on 5 consecutive evaluations. His tumor was subsequently found to express PD-L1. CEA-specific T cells were increased following vaccination, and a number of potential immune-enhancing changes were noted in the peripheral immunome over the course of sequential immunotherapy treatment. Although calcitonin declines do not always directly correlate with clinical responses, this response is noteworthy and highlights the potential for immunotherapy or sequential immunotherapy in metastatic or unresectable MTC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00490DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7427000PMC
June 2021

Neoadjuvant PROSTVAC prior to radical prostatectomy enhances T-cell infiltration into the tumor immune microenvironment in men with prostate cancer.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 03;8(1)

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Background: Clinical trials have shown the ability of therapeutic vaccines to generate immune responses to tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). What is relatively less known is if this translates into immune-cell (IC) infiltration into the tumor microenvironment. This study examined whether neoadjuvant prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-targeted vaccination with PROSTVAC could induce T-cell immunity, particularly at the tumor site.

Methods: An open-label, phase II study of neoadjuvant PROSTVAC vaccine enrolled 27 patients with localized prostate cancer awaiting radical prostatectomy (RP). We evaluated increases in CD4 and CD8 T-cell infiltrates (RP tissue vs baseline biopsies) using a six-color multiplex immunofluorescence Opal method. Antigen-specific responses were assessed by intracellular cytokine staining after in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with overlapping 15-mer peptide pools encoding the TAAs PSA, brachyury and MUC-1.

Results: Of 27 vaccinated patients, 26 had matched prevaccination (biopsy) and postvaccination (RP) prostate samples available for non-compartmentalized analysis (NCA) and compartmentalized analysis (CA). Tumor CD4 T-cell infiltrates were significantly increased in postvaccination RP specimens compared with baseline biopsies by NCA (median 176/mm² vs 152/mm²; IQR 136-317/mm² vs 69-284/mm²; p=0.0249; median ratio 1.20; IQR 0.64-2.25). By CA, an increase in both CD4 T-cell infiltrates at the tumor infiltrative margin (median 198/mm² vs 151/mm²; IQR 123-500/mm² vs 85-256/mm²; p=0.042; median ratio 1.44; IQR 0.59-4.17) and in CD8 T-cell infiltrates at the tumor core (median 140/mm² vs 105/mm²; IQR 91-175/mm² vs 83-163/mm²; p=0.036; median ratio 1.25; IQR 0.88-2.09) were noted in postvaccination RP specimens compared with baseline biopsies. A total of 13/25 patients (52%) developed peripheral T-cell responses to any of the three tested TAAs (non-neoantigens); five of these had responses to more than one antigen of the three evaluated.

Conclusion: Neoadjuvant PROSTVAC can induce both tumor immune response and peripheral immune response.

Trial Registration Number: NCT02153918.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-000655DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7174144PMC
March 2020

Phase I Trial of a Modified Vaccinia Ankara Priming Vaccine Followed by a Fowlpox Virus Boosting Vaccine Modified to Express Brachyury and Costimulatory Molecules in Advanced Solid Tumors.

Oncologist 2020 07 26;25(7):560-e1006. Epub 2019 Dec 26.

Genitourinary Malignancy Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Lessons Learned: Modified vaccinia Ankara-Bavarian Nordic (MVA-BN)-Brachyury followed by fowlpox virus-BN-Brachyury was well tolerated upon administration to patients with advanced cancer. Sixty-three percent of patients developed CD4+ and/or CD8+ T-cell responses to brachyury after vaccination. BN-Brachyury vaccine also induced T-cell responses against CEA and MUC1, which are cascade antigens, that is, antigens not encoded in the vaccines.

Background: Brachyury, a transcription factor, plays an integral role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, metastasis, and tumor resistance to chemotherapy. It is expressed in many tumor types, and rarely in normal tissues, making it an ideal immunologic target. Bavarian Nordic (BN)-Brachyury consists of vaccination with modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) priming followed by fowlpox virus (FPV) boosting, each encoding transgenes for brachyury and costimulatory molecules.

Methods: Patients with metastatic solid tumors were treated with two monthly doses of MVA-brachyury s.c., 8 × 10 infectious units (IU), followed by FPV-brachyury s.c., 1 × 10 IU, for six monthly doses and then every 3 months for up to 2 years. The primary objective was to determine safety and tolerability.

Results: Eleven patients were enrolled from March 2018 to July 2018 (one patient was nonevaluable). No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. The most common treatment-related adverse event was grade 1/2 injection-site reaction observed in all patients. Best overall response was stable disease in six patients, and the 6-month progression-free survival rate was 50%. T cells against brachyury and cascade antigens CEA and MUC1 were detected in the majority of patients.

Conclusion: BN-Brachyury vaccine is well tolerated and induces immune responses to brachyury and cascade antigens and demonstrates some evidence of clinical benefit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0932DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7356719PMC
July 2020

A Phase I Trial Using a Multitargeted Recombinant Adenovirus 5 (CEA/MUC1/Brachyury)-Based Immunotherapy Vaccine Regimen in Patients with Advanced Cancer.

Oncologist 2020 06 8;25(6):479-e899. Epub 2019 Oct 8.

Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Lessons Learned: Concurrent ETBX-011, ETBX-051, and ETBX-061 can be safely administered to patients with advanced cancer. All patients developed CD4 and/or CD8 T-cell responses after vaccination to at least one tumor-associated antigen (TAA) encoded by the vaccine; 5/6 patients (83%) developed MUC1-specific T cells, 4/6 (67%) developed CEA-specific T cells, and 3/6 (50%) developed brachyury-specific T cells. The presence of adenovirus 5-neutralizing antibodies did not prevent the generation of TAA-specific T cells.

Background: A novel adenovirus-based vaccine targeting three human tumor-associated antigens-CEA, MUC1, and brachyury-has demonstrated antitumor cytolytic T-cell responses in preclinical animal models of cancer.

Methods: This open-label, phase I trial evaluated concurrent administration of three therapeutic vaccines (ETBX-011 = CEA, ETBX-061 = MUC1 and ETBX-051 = brachyury). All three vaccines used the same modified adenovirus 5 (Ad5) vector backbone and were administered at a single dose level (DL) of 5 × 10 viral particles (VP) per vector. The vaccine regimen consisting of all three vaccines was given every 3 weeks for three doses then every 8 weeks for up to 1 year. Clinical and immune responses were evaluated.

Results: Ten patients enrolled on trial (DL1 = 6 with 4 in the DL1 expansion cohort). All treatment-related adverse events were temporary, self-limiting, grade 1/2 and included injection site reactions and flu-like symptoms. Antigen-specific T cells to MUC1, CEA, and/or brachyury were generated in all patients. There was no evidence of antigenic competition. The administration of the vaccine regimen produced stable disease as the best clinical response.

Conclusion: Concurrent ETBX-011, ETBX-051, and ETBX-061 can be safely administered to patients with advanced cancer. Further studies of the vaccine regimen in combination with other agents, including immune checkpoint blockade, are planned.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2019-0608DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7288633PMC
June 2020

Phase I trial of HuMax-IL8 (BMS-986253), an anti-IL-8 monoclonal antibody, in patients with metastatic or unresectable solid tumors.

J Immunother Cancer 2019 09 5;7(1):240. Epub 2019 Sep 5.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: HuMax-IL8 (now known as BMS-986253) is a novel, fully human monoclonal antibody that inhibits interleukin-8 (IL-8), a chemokine that promotes tumor progression, immune escape, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and recruitment of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Studies have demonstrated that high serum IL-8 levels correlate with poor prognosis in many malignant tumors. Preclinical studies have shown that IL-8 blockade may reduce mesenchymal features in tumor cells, making them less resistant to treatment.

Methods: Fifteen patients with metastatic or unresectable locally advanced solid tumors were enrolled in this 3 + 3 dose-escalation trial at four dose levels (4, 8, 16, or 32 mg/kg). HuMax-IL8 was given IV every 2 weeks, and patients were followed for safety and immune monitoring at defined intervals up to 52 weeks.

Results: All enrolled patients (five chordoma, four colorectal, two prostate, and one each of ovarian, papillary thyroid, chondrosarcoma, and esophageal) received at least one dose of HuMax-IL8. Eight patients had received three or more prior lines of therapy and five patients had received prior immunotherapy. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in five patients (33%), mostly grade 1. Two patients receiving the 32 mg/kg dose had grade 2 fatigue, hypophosphatemia, and hypersomnia. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed, and maximum tolerated dose was not reached. Although no objective tumor responses were observed, 11 patients (73%) had stable disease with median treatment duration of 24 weeks (range, 4-54 weeks). Serum IL-8 was significantly reduced on day 3 of HuMax-IL8 treatment compared to baseline (p = 0.0004), with reductions in IL-8 seen at all dose levels.

Conclusions: HuMax-IL8 is safe and well-tolerated. Ongoing studies are evaluating the combination of IL-8 blockade and other immunotherapies.

Trial Registration: NCTN, NCT02536469. Registered 23 August 2015, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02536469?term=NCT02536469&rank=1 .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0706-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6729083PMC
September 2019

mpMRI preoperative staging in men treated with antiandrogen and androgen deprivation therapy before robotic prostatectomy.

Urol Oncol 2019 06 15;37(6):352.e25-352.e30. Epub 2019 Apr 15.

Laboratory for Genitourinary Cancer Pathogenesis, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Electronic address:

Introduction: Using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI), we sought to preoperatively characterize prostate cancer (PCa) in the setting of antiandrogen plus androgen deprivation therapy (AA-ADT) prior to robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP). We present our preliminary findings regarding mpMRI depiction of changes of disease staging features and lesion appearance in treated prostate.

Methods: Prior to RARP, men received 6 months of enzalutamide and goserelin. mpMRI consisting of T2 weighted, b = 2,000 diffusion weighted imaging, apparent diffusion coefficient mapping, and dynamic contrast enhancement sequences was acquired before and after neoadjuvant therapy. Custom MRI-based prostate molds were printed to directly compare mpMRI findings to H&E whole-mount pathology as part of a phase II clinical trial (NCT02430480).

Results: Twenty men underwent imaging and RARP after a regimen of AA-ADT. Positive predictive values for post-AA-ADT mpMRI diagnosis of extraprostatic extension, seminal vesicle invasion, organ-confined disease, and biopsy-confirmed PCa lesions were 71%, 80%, 80%, and 85%, respectively. Post-treatment mpMRI correctly staged disease in 15/20 (75%) cases with 17/20 (85%) correctly identified as organ-confined or not. Of those incorrectly staged, 2 were falsely positive for higher stage features and 1 was falsely negative. Post-AA-ADT T2 weighted sequences best depicted presence of PCa lesions as compared to diffusion weighted imaging and dynamic contrast enhancement sequences.

Conclusion: mpMRI proved reliable in detecting lesion changes after antiandrogen therapy corresponding to PCa pathology. Therefore, mpMRI of treated prostates may be helpful for assessing men for surgical planning and staging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.urolonc.2019.01.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132295PMC
June 2019

A Case of Anti-PD-L1-associated Remitting Seronegative Symmetric Synovitis With Pitting Edema.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2019 06 14;17(3):e549-e552. Epub 2019 Feb 14.

Genitourinary Malignancy Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2019.02.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8139240PMC
June 2019

Cancer Vaccines.

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 2019 04 28;33(2):199-214. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Building 10, Room B2L324B, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Cancer vaccines are a promising strategic approach within the rapidly growing field of immuno-oncology. Therapeutic cancer vaccines are distinct from prophylactic vaccines and vary by both target antigen and vaccine platform. There are currently 3 FDA-approved therapeutic cancer vaccines: intravesical BCG live, sipuleucel-T, and T-VEC. Prior clinical trials have shown that vaccines are generally well tolerated, exhibit unique kinetics, can target tumor neoantigens, and induce antigen cascade. Ongoing clinical trials seek to improve vaccine efficacy either by targeting novel antigens or by combining vaccines with standard-of-care therapies or other immune therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hoc.2018.12.001DOI Listing
April 2019

Myocarditis in a patient treated with Nivolumab and PROSTVAC: a case report.

J Immunother Cancer 2018 12 18;6(1):150. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Dr., Rm. B2L312, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.

Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized treatment and improved survival in many cancers. However, since immune-related adverse events (irAEs) are potentially fatal, early recognition and prompt treatment are warranted. One of the rarest but most dramatic irAE is myocarditis, which has significant morbidity and mortality if not recognized and treated early.

Objective: To report the first case of myocarditis in a patient with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) treated with a combination of nivolumab, an anti-programmed cell death protein 1 antibody, and PROSTVAC, a vector-based therapeutic prostate cancer vaccine.

Case Report: A 79-year-old man with mCRPC metastatic to bone and lymph nodes and a history of atrial fibrillation presented with blurred vision and pain and stiffness in the upper back after 8 weeks on a clinical trial with nivolumab (1 mg/kg) and PROSTVAC, both given every 2 weeks. Eye exam was within normal limits, while musculoskeletal exam revealed tenderness in trapezius muscles and decreased motor strength in arms (III/V) and neck (IV/V). The rest of the physical exam was within normal limits, with the exception of an irregular heart rhythm. Laboratory tests were as follows: creatinine kinase (CK) 3200 U/L (normal: 39-308 U/L), CK-MB 65.7 mcg/L (normal: 0-7.6 mcg/L), troponin I 0.209 ng/mL (normal: 0-0.056 ng/mL). Electrocardiogram (ECG) revealed atrial fibrillation with QT prolongation (QTc 514 msec) and left anterior fascicular block, unchanged from baseline. 2D-echocardiogram showed a left ventricular ejection fraction of 65% with an enlarged left atrium, dilated right ventricle, and increased pulmonary artery pressure (45 mmHg). ProBNP was elevated at 1463 pg/mL and peaked at 3066 pg/mL one day after hydration. With a presumed diagnosis of autoimmune myositis and possible myocarditis, the patient was admitted and started on methylprednisolone 1 mg/kg/day. Cardiac MRI showed elevated native myocardial T1 values consistent with myocarditis (Fig. 1). The patient was discharged on a prednisone taper after normalization of cardiac enzymes on day 4. Treatment with PROSTVAC continued for three more months; nivolumab was discontinued. Six months later, patient is doing well, with no residual cardiac damage.

Discussion: Cardiovascular irAEs are relatively rare (< 1%) and have a variety of clinical presentations. Myocarditis is potentially life-threatening and can range from subclinical to fulminant. Therefore, clinical suspicion, early detection, and prompt treatment are imperative (1). The initial diagnostic workup should include cardiac enzymes, ECG, and 2D-echocardiogram. The most commonly observed ECG changes are generalized repolarization abnormalities, prolonged QT interval, and conduction abnormalities (2). An elevated troponin I in the absence of overt coronary artery disease is suggestive of myocarditis and should be evaluated further. Myocardial biopsy is the standard diagnostic procedure; however, a cardiac MRI can achieve a diagnosis when biopsy is not feasible (3). Advancements in parametric mapping techniques have allowed the use of native myocardial T1 in the detection of myocarditis, as it has superior diagnostic performance and higher sensitivity than older parameters (3). Our patient had been treated with an immune checkpoint inhibitor and a therapeutic cancer vaccine to induce effective antitumor activity through immunogenic intensification and presented with muscle stiffness and elevated CK. Although he had no new cardiovascular symptoms, cardiac enzymes were tested to rule out myocardial involvement. MRI with gadolinium confirmed the diagnosis of myocarditis. To date, none of the 1360 patients treated with PROSTVAC as a single agent have developed myocarditis, while myocarditis has been rarely reported in patients treated with nivolumab (< 1%) (1). Whether the combination of PROSTVAC and nivolumab presents an additional risk of myocarditis is unclear. To our knowledge, this is the first case of myocarditis in a patient with mCRPC receiving simultaneous treatment with an immune checkpoint inhibitor and a prostate cancer vaccine. Our experience highlights the importance of suspicion and early intervention in patients who present with cardiac abnormalities after receiving cancer immunotherapy. We propose following protocol: baseline troponin, ECG, and 2D-echocardiogram prior to treatment, then repeated troponin at 2, 4, and 12 weeks post-treatment, then monthly. If troponin becomes positive without alternative explanation, myocarditis should be ruled out with cardiac MRI or myocardial biopsy, and patient should be admitted for treatment with high-dose steroids as early intervention may minimize myocardial injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-018-0473-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6299503PMC
December 2018

Activity of durvalumab plus olaparib in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer in men with and without DNA damage repair mutations.

J Immunother Cancer 2018 12 4;6(1):141. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: Checkpoint inhibitors have not been effective for prostate cancer as single agents. Durvalumab is a human IgG1-K monoclonal antibody that targets programmed death ligand 1 and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer and locally advanced, unresectable stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer. Olaparib, a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor, has demonstrated an improvement in median progression-free survival (PFS) in select patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Data from other trials suggest there may be improved activity in men with DNA damage repair (DDR) mutations treated with checkpoint inhibitors. This trial evaluated durvalumab and olaparib in patients with mCRPC with and without somatic or germline DDR mutations.

Methods: Eligible patients had received prior enzalutamide and/or abiraterone. Patients received durvalumab 1500 mg i.v. every 28 days and olaparib 300 mg tablets p.o. every 12 h until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. All patients had biopsies of metastatic lesions with an evaluation for both germline and somatic mutations.

Results: Seventeen patients received durvalumab and olaparib. Nausea was the only nonhematologic grade 3 or 4 toxicity occurring in > 1 patient (2/17). No patients were taken off trial for toxicity. Median radiographic progression-free survival (rPFS) for all patients is 16.1 months (95% CI: 4.5-16.1 months) with a 12-month rPFS of 51.5% (95% CI: 25.7-72.3%). Activity is seen in patients with alterations in DDR genes, with a median rPFS of 16.1 months (95% CI: 7.8-18.1 months). Nine of 17 (53%) patients had a radiographic and/or PSA response. Patients with fewer peripheral myeloid-derived suppressor cells and with alterations in DDR genes were more likely to respond. Early changes in circulating tumor cell counts and in both innate and adaptive immune characteristics were associated with response.

Conclusions: Durvalumab plus olaparib has acceptable toxicity, and the combination demonstrates efficacy, particularly in men with DDR abnormalities.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02484404 .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-018-0463-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6280368PMC
December 2018

Neoadjuvant Dose-dense Gemcitabine and Cisplatin in Muscle-invasive Bladder Cancer: Results of a Phase 2 Trial.

Eur Urol Oncol 2018 May 6;1(1):54-60. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Background: Accelerated (also termed dose-dense, DD) chemotherapy regimens such as accelerated methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin have shown better efficacy and tolerability in the metastatic setting, and shortened the time to surgery in the neoadjuvant setting compared to standard-schedule regimens. We hypothesized that a DD schedule of gemcitabine and cisplatin (GC) would shorten the time to surgery and yield similar pathologic complete response rates (pT0) in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) compared with historical controls with standard GC.

Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of neoadjuvant DDGC in MIBC.

Design Setting And Participants: Patients with cT2-4a, N0-1, M0 MIBC were eligible and received three 14-d cycles of DDGC with pegfilgrastim support followed by radical cystectomy with lymph node dissection. The primary end point was the pT0 rate. Molecular subtypes were assigned and correlated with survival.

Results And Limitations: Thirty-one patients were evaluable for toxicity and response, of whom 58% had baseline clinical stage >T2N0M0; the median age was 69 yr. Ten patients (32%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 16-49%) achieved ypT0N0 status at cystectomy. Another four patients (13%, 95% CI 1-25%) were downstaged to non-muscle-invasive (
Conclusions: DDGC yielded a similar pT0 rate to that noted retrospectively with standard GC. Vascular events precluded, delayed, or increased the risk of surgery for 23% of patients, resulting in early closure of the study. Additional prospective studies with embedded biomarker correlatives of GC in the neoadjuvant setting are critical to accurately define both the activity and toxicity of this combination in MIBC.

Patient Summary: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before cystectomy is the standard of care for muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC). This prospective phase 2 study tested a dose-dense schedule of gemcitabine and cisplatin in MIBC. The study was closed early because of a higher than expected rate of vascular events. These data suggest that caution is required in using this regimen, particularly when there is better prospective evidence for the safety and efficacy of alternative regimens such as dose-dense or accelerated methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin, and cisplatin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euo.2018.02.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6226048PMC
May 2018
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