Publications by authors named "Michael Millward"

158 Publications

Phase 1/2a trial of BMS-986148, an anti-mesothelin antibody-drug conjugate, alone or in combination with nivolumab in patients with advanced solid tumors.

Clin Cancer Res 2021 Oct 6. Epub 2021 Oct 6.

Medical Oncology, Cross Cancer Institute, University of Alberta

Purpose: To assess the safety and tolerability of BMS-986148, a mesothelin-directed antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) {plus minus} nivolumab in patients with selected tumors.

Experimental Design: In an international phase 1/2a study (NCT02341625 [CA008-002]), patients received BMS-986148 monotherapy (0.1-1.6 mg/kg IV Q3W or 0.4 or 0.6 mg/kg IV QW; n = 96) or BMS-986148 0.8 mg/kg + nivolumab 360 mg IV Q3W (n = 30). The primary endpoint was safety and tolerability.

Results: In CA008-002, the most common ({greater than or equal to} 10%) treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) included increased AST, ALT, and ALP. Grade 3/4 TRAEs occurred in 42 patients (49%) receiving BMS-986148 Q3W monotherapy, 3 (25%) receiving BMS-986148 QW monotherapy, and 10 (33%) receiving BMS-986148 + nivolumab Q3W. Overall, 17 of 126 patients (13%) discontinued due to a TRAE. The maximum tolerated dose of BMS-986148 was 1.2 mg/kg IV Q3W.The safety profile of BMS-986148 + nivolumab was similar to that of BMS-986148 monotherapy (0.8 mg/kg). Active ADC exposures increased in a dose-proportional manner with both dosing regimens (Q3W and QW). Preliminary clinical activity was observed with BMS-986148 {plus minus} nivolumab. No association between mesothelin expression and response was detected.

Conclusions: BMS-986148 {plus minus} nivolumab demonstrated a clinically manageable safety profile and preliminary evidence of clinical activity, supporting additional studies combining directed cytotoxic therapies with checkpoint inhibitors as potential multimodal therapeutic strategies in patients with advanced solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-1181DOI Listing
October 2021

Adjuvant nivolumab for stage III/IV melanoma: evaluation of safety outcomes and association with recurrence-free survival.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 Aug;9(8)

Perlmutter Cancer Center, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York, USA

Background: Several therapeutic options are now available in the adjuvant melanoma setting, mandating an understanding of their benefit‒risk profiles in order to make informed treatment decisions. Herein we characterize adjuvant nivolumab select (immune-related) treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) and evaluate possible associations between safety and recurrence-free survival (RFS) in the phase III CheckMate 238 trial.

Methods: Patients with resected stage IIIB-C or IV melanoma received nivolumab 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks (n=452) or ipilimumab 10 mg/kg every 3 weeks for four doses and then every 12 weeks (n=453) for up to 1 year or until disease recurrence, unacceptable toxicity, or consent withdrawal. First-occurrence and all-occurrence select TRAEs were analyzed within discrete time intervals: from 0 to 3 months of treatment, from >3-12 months of treatment, and from the last dose (regardless of early or per-protocol treatment discontinuation) to 100 days after the last dose. Possible associations between select TRAEs and RFS were investigated post randomization in 3-month landmark analyses and in Cox model analyses (including a time-varying covariate of select TRAE), within and between treatment groups.

Results: From the first nivolumab dose to 100 days after the last dose, first-occurrence select TRAEs were reported in 67.7% (306/452) of patients. First-occurrence select TRAEs were reported most frequently from 0 to 3 months (48.0%), during which the most common were pruritus (15.5%) and diarrhea (15.3%). Most select TRAEs resolved within 6 months. There was no clear association between the occurrence (or not) of select TRAEs and RFS by landmark analysis or by Cox model analysis within treatment arms or comparing nivolumab to the ipilimumab comparator arm.

Conclusion: Results of this safety analysis of nivolumab in adjuvant melanoma were consistent with its established safety profile. In the discrete time intervals evaluated, most first-occurrence TRAEs occurred early during treatment and resolved. No association between RFS and select TRAEs was evident.

Trial Registration Number: NCT02388906.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-003188DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8404438PMC
August 2021

Detection of clinical progression through plasma ctDNA in metastatic melanoma patients: a comparison to radiological progression.

Br J Cancer 2021 Aug 9. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia.

Background: The validity of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) as an indicator of disease progression compared to medical imaging in patients with metastatic melanoma requires detailed evaluation.

Methods: Here, we carried out a retrospective ctDNA analysis of 108 plasma samples collected at the time of disease progression. We also analysed a validation cohort of 66 metastatic melanoma patients monitored prospectively after response to systemic therapy.

Results: ctDNA was detected in 62% of patients at the time of disease progression. For 67 patients that responded to treatment, the mean ctDNA level at progressive disease was significantly higher than at the time of response (P < 0.0001). However, only 30 of these 67 (45%) patients had a statistically significant increase in ctDNA by Poisson test. A validation cohort of 66 metastatic melanoma patients monitored prospectively indicated a 56% detection rate of ctDNA at progression, with only two cases showing increased ctDNA prior to radiological progression. Finally, a correlation between ctDNA levels and metabolic tumour burden was only observed in treatment naïve patients but not at the time of progression in a subgroup of patients failing BRAF inhibition (N = 15).

Conclusions: These results highlight the low efficacy of ctDNA to detect disease progression in melanoma when compared mainly to standard positron emission tomography imaging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01507-6DOI Listing
August 2021

Safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of budigalimab with rovalpituzumab tesirine in patients with small cell lung cancer.

Cancer Treat Res Commun 2021 25;28:100405. Epub 2021 May 25.

Cancer Care Center, Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Agents targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) have been approved as monotherapy for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). In preclinical models, the combined targeting of PD-1 and delta-like protein 3 resulted in enhanced antitumor activity. Herein, we report results from the expansion arm of study NCT03000257 evaluating the combination of the anti-PD-1 antibody budigalimab and the targeted antibody-drug conjugate rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) in patients with previously treated SCLC.

Materials And Methods: This expansion arm of a multicenter, open-label, multi-arm, first-in-human phase 1 clinical trial enrolled adult patients with progressive SCLC. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability. Patients received budigalimab 375 mg via intravenous infusion every 3 weeks, and Rova-T was administered as a dose of 0.3 mg/kg intravenously, on day 1 of the first and third 3-week cycle.

Results: As of October 2019, 31 patients with SCLC were enrolled and treated with budigalimab plus Rova-T. The combination was tolerated, with the most common treatment-emergent adverse events (in >30%) being pleural effusion, fatigue, and cough. The overall response rate was 24.1%, with one confirmed complete response and six confirmed partial responses. The overall response rate in patients with high delta-like protein 3 expression was similar (21.1%). The median progression-free survival was 3.48 months.

Conclusion: Combination therapy with budigalimab and Rova-T had promising efficacy and appeared to be tolerated in patients with SCLC. Although Rova-T development has been discontinued, development of budigalimab combined with other anticancer agents is ongoing.

Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT03000257 Statement on originality of the work The manuscript represents original work and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere nor previously published. Statement of prior presentation Data from this study were previously presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctarc.2021.100405DOI Listing
May 2021

Changes in expression of PD-L1 on peripheral T cells in patients with melanoma and lung cancer treated with PD-1 inhibitors.

Sci Rep 2021 07 28;11(1):15312. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia.

Advances in cancer immunology have increased the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in clinical practice, however not all patients respond, and treatment can have severe side-effects. Blood-based immunological biomarkers are an attractive method for predicting which patients will respond to therapy, however, reliable biomarkers for immune checkpoint blockade are lacking. This study aimed to identify patients before or early in treatment who would best respond to PD-1 inhibitors. We hypothesised that higher baseline PD-L1 and/or PD-1 on peripheral blood T cells could predict radiological response to PD-1 inhibitors. This pilot prospective cohort study assessed 26 patients with melanoma or non-small cell lung cancer, treated with pembrolizumab, nivolumab, or nivolumab/ipilimumab combined. Response was assessed by RECIST 1.1. Peripheral blood lymphocytes collected at baseline, after one cycle, 10 weeks and at discontinuation of therapy were analysed by flow cytometry. Patients with a higher proportion of PD-L1 T cells at baseline had improved objective response to PD-1 inhibitor therapy, and patients with a lower proportion of regulatory T cells at baseline experienced more immune-related adverse events. These findings may prove useful to assist in clinical decision making. Further studies with larger cohorts are required to validate these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93479-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8319434PMC
July 2021

First-in-human phase 1 study of budigalimab, an anti-PD-1 inhibitor, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2021 Jul 3. Epub 2021 Jul 3.

START Madrid-FJD, Hospital Universitario Fundacion Jimenez Diaz, Madrid, Spain.

Background: Budigalimab is a humanized, recombinant immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). We present the safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetic (PK), and pharmacodynamic data from patients enrolled in the head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) expansion cohorts of the phase 1 first-in-human study of budigalimab monotherapy (NCT03000257; registered 15 December 2016).

Patients And Methods: Patients with recurrent/metastatic HNSCC or locally advanced/metastatic NSCLC naive to PD-1/PD-1-ligand inhibitors were enrolled; patients were not selected on the basis of oncogene driver mutations or PD-L1 status. Budigalimab was administered at 250 mg intravenously Q2W or 500 mg intravenously Q4W until disease progression/unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoints were safety and PK; the secondary endpoint was efficacy. Exploratory endpoints included biomarker assessments.

Results: In total, 81 patients were enrolled (HNSCC: N = 41 [PD-L1 positive: n = 19]; NSCLC: N = 40 [PD-L1 positive: n = 16]); median treatment duration was 72 days (range, 1-617) and 71 days (range, 1-490) for the HNSCC and NSCLC cohorts, respectively. The most frequent grade ≥ 3 treatment-emergent adverse event was anemia (HNSCC: n = 9, 22%; NSCLC: n = 5, 13%). Both dosing regimens had comparable drug exposure and increased interferon gamma-induced chemokines, monokine induced by gamma interferon, and interferon-gamma-inducible protein 10. Objective response rates were 13% (90% CI, 5.1-24.5) in the HNSCC cohort and 19% (90% CI, 9.2-32.6) in the NSCLC cohort. Median progression-free survival was 3.6 months (95% CI, 1.7-4.7) and 1.9 months (95% CI, 1.7-3.7) in the HNSCC and NSCLC cohorts.

Conclusions: The safety, efficacy and biomarker profiles of budigalimab are similar to other PD-1 inhibitors. Development of budigalimab in combination with novel anticancer agents is ongoing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-02973-wDOI Listing
July 2021

Hospitalizations in solid tumor phase I clinical trial patients: Incidence, pattern and clinical outcomes at an Australian phase I clinical trial unit.

Asia Pac J Clin Oncol 2021 Jun 28. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Linear Clinical Research, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia.

Background: Participation in early-phase clinical trials has become a prominent part of medical oncology patient management. We examined the incidence and pattern of hospitalizations in early-phase clinical trial patients and the associated clinical outcomes.

Method: We conducted a retrospective review of 194 patients with solid tumors treated on phase I clinical trials between July 2014 and October 2018 at a phase I trial unit. Unplanned hospitalizations occurring during the study period were characterized and correlated with treatment response and duration of trial participation.

Results: Among 194 patients, 104 hospitalizations were recorded involving 62 patients (31%). Nineteen percent of patients were hospitalized for cancer-related complications and 8% for treatment toxicity. No significant correlation was seen between the hospitalization and age, sex, tumor type, or trial drug. Best response to trial therapy was complete response, partial response, stable disease, and progressive disease in 5%, 11%, 37%, and 47% of patients, respectively. Median duration on trial was 86 days (range 0-1,412). Twenty-two patients (11%) remained on trial for more than 12 months. Overall, hospitalization did not impact treatment response or trial duration. However, cancer-related hospitalization was associated with significantly lower response (p < 0.001) and early patient attrition (p < 0.001). Resolution of the hospitalization event was associated with improved response (p = 0.002) and longer duration on trial (p < 0.001). The treatment related mortality was 0.5% (n = 1).

Conclusion: Approximately one third of patients required hospitalization, most commonly for cancer-related complications which correlated with poorer clinical outcomes. Hospitalizations related to treatment toxicity were infrequent. A significant proportion of patients derived significant therapeutic benefit. Phase I clinical trials provide a valuable treatment option for patients with cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ajco.13622DOI Listing
June 2021

A Phase I, First-in-Human Study of GSK2849330, an Anti-HER3 Monoclonal Antibody, in HER3-Expressing Solid Tumors.

Oncologist 2021 Oct 21;26(10):e1844-e1853. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Department of Medical Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, USA.

Background: GSK2849330, an anti-HER3 monoclonal antibody that blocks HER3/Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) signaling in cancer cells, is engineered for enhanced antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and complement-dependent cytotoxicity. This phase I, first-in-human, open-label study assessed the safety, pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamics, and preliminary activity of GSK2849330 in patients with HER3-expressing advanced solid tumors.

Patients And Methods: Patients with various tumor types were prospectively selected for HER3 expression by immunohistochemistry; a subset was also screened for NRG1 mRNA expression. In the dose-escalation phase, patients received GSK2849330 1.4-30 mg/kg every 2 weeks, or 3 mg/kg or 30 mg/kg weekly, intravenously (IV). In the dose-expansion phase, patients received 30 mg/kg GSK2849330 IV weekly.

Results: Twenty-nine patients with HER3-expressing cancers, of whom two expressed NRG1, received GSK2849330 (dose escalation: n = 18, dose expansion: n = 11). GSK2849330 was well tolerated. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. The highest dose, of 30 mg/kg weekly, expected to provide full target engagement, was selected for dose expansion. Treatment-emergent adverse events (AEs) were mostly grade 1 or 2. The most common AEs were diarrhea (66%), fatigue (62%), and decreased appetite (31%). Dose-proportional plasma exposures were achieved, with evidence of HER3 inhibition in paired tissue biopsies. Of 29 patients, only 1 confirmed partial response, lasting 19 months, was noted in a patient with CD74-NRG1-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Conclusion: GSK2849330 demonstrated a favorable safety profile, dose-proportional PK, and evidence of target engagement, but limited antitumor activity in HER3-expressing cancers. The exceptional response seen in a patient with CD74-NRG1-rearranged NSCLC suggests further exploration in NRG1-fusion-positive cancers.

Implications For Practice: This first-in-human study confirms that GSK2849330 is well tolerated. Importantly, across a variety of HER3-expressing advanced tumors, prospective selection by HER3/NRG1 expression alone was insufficient to identify patients who could benefit from treatment with this antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity- and complement-dependent cytotoxicity-enhanced anti-HER3 antibody. The only confirmed durable response achieved was in a patient with CD74-NRG1-rearranged lung cancer. This highlights the potential utility of screening for NRG1 fusions prospectively across tumor types to enrich potential responders to anti-HER3 agents in ongoing trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13860DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8488777PMC
October 2021

Increased interdigitation zone visibility on optical coherence tomography following systemic fibroblast growth factor receptor 1-3 tyrosine kinase inhibitor anticancer therapy.

Clin Exp Ophthalmol 2021 Aug 26;49(6):579-590. Epub 2021 May 26.

Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science (Incorporating Lions Eye Institute), The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia.

Background: To describe ocular adverse events and retinal changes during fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor (AZD4547) anticancer therapy.

Methods: This is a sub-study examining ocular adverse effects from AZD4547 therapy (single-centre, open-label, single arm phase II clinical trial). Comprehensive ocular examinations were performed 3 weekly in 24 patients. Macular optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan (30  × 25 ) was obtained at each visit and OCT parameters [central 1 mm retinal thickness (CRT) and total macular volume in central 6 mm] extracted. OCT scans were subdivided into outer (ELM to RPE) and inner (ELM to ILM) layers to compare outer and inner retinal changes.

Results: In 24 patients, AZD4547 was associated with eyelash elongation (n = 5, 21%) and punctate corneal erosion (n = 2, 8%). One patient developed clinically significant posterior capsular opacification during the study. OCT data were available in 23 patients, retinal changes ranged from an asymptomatic increased visibility of the interdigitation zone (IDZ) (n = 10, 43%) to multilobular subretinal fluid pockets (n = 5, 22%), which was associated with mild visual acuity loss. In a subset of patients (n = 9) with pre-AZD4547 dosing OCT baseline, CRT increased by mean (SD) of 9 (4) μm in those with IDZ change only compared with 64 (38) μm in those with other retinal changes. Retinal changes tended to be bilateral, self-limiting and improved over time without medical intervention.

Conclusions: The ocular signs and symptoms did not result in dose cessation. Posteriorly, FGFR inhibition leads to outer retinal changes ranging from increased visibility of IDZ to distinct, multiple fluid pockets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ceo.13940DOI Listing
August 2021

Low-coverage whole-genome sequencing of extracellular vesicle-associated DNA in patients with metastatic cancer.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 17;11(1):4016. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Department of Medical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Low-coverage whole-genome sequencing (LC-WGS) can provide insight into oncogenic molecular changes. Serum extracellular vesicles (EV) represent a novel liquid biopsy source of tumoral DNA. This study compared copy number alteration (CNA) profiles generated from LC-WGS of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumoral DNA and EV-DNA obtained from cancer patients. Patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the base of tongue (n = 3) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (n = 2) were included. LC-WGS (0.5-1X coverage) was performed on FFPE-DNA and serum EV-DNA. Similarity between CNA profiles was analysed using QDNAseq. FFPE samples had a mean CNA of 31 (range 17-50) over 1.9 × 10 (range 1.0-2.6 × 10) bp in length, and EV samples had a mean CNA value of 17 (range 7-19) over 7.6 × 10 (range 2.9-15 × 10) bp in length. A mean of 8 (range 0-21) CNA over 5.9 × 10 (range 1.6-14 × 10) bp in length was found to overlap between EV and FFPE-derived samples per patient. Although the mean correlation efficient between samples was r = 0.34 (range - .08 to 0.99), this was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Regions of highest deletion and duplication in FFPE samples were not well reflected in the EV-DNA. Selected CNA regions in EV-associated DNA were reflective of the primary tumor, however appreciation of global CNA and areas of most significant change was lost. The utility of LC-WGS of EV-derived DNA is likely limited to molecular alterations of known interest.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-83436-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7889887PMC
February 2021

A phase 1b clinical trial optimizing regulatory T cell depletion in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy in thoracic cancers.

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther 2021 May 9;21(5):465-474. Epub 2021 Feb 9.

Medical School, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia.

: Single-agent cyclophosphamide can deplete regulatory T-cells (Treg). We aimed to determine optimal dosing and scheduling of oral cyclophosphamide, alongside pemetrexed-based chemotherapy, to deplete Treg in mesothelioma or non-small-cell lung cancer patients.: 31 Patients received pemetrexed ± cisplatin or carboplatin on day 1 of a 21-day cycle (maximum 6 cycles). From cycle two, patients received cyclophosphamide, 50 mg/day, with intrapatient escalation to maximum 100/150 mg/day alternately. Immunological changes were examined by flow cytometry. Primary endpoint was Treg proportion of CD4 T-cells, with doses tailored to target Treg nadir <4%.: Reduction in Treg proportion was observed on day 8 of all cycles, and was not augmented by cyclophosphamide. Few patients achieved the <4% Treg target. Treg proliferation reached nadir one week after chemotherapy, and peaked on day 1 of the subsequent cycle. Efficacy parameters were similar to chemotherapy alone. Seventeen percent of patients ceased cyclophosphamide due to toxicity.: Specific Treg depletion to the degree seen with single-agent cyclophosphamide was not observed during pemetrexed-based chemotherapy. This study highlights the poor evidence basis for use of cyclophosphamide as an immunotherapeutic in combination with chemotherapy, and the importance of detailed flow cytometry studies.: Clinical trial registration: identifier is ACTRN12609000260224.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737140.2021.1882308DOI Listing
May 2021

The Prognostic Impact of Circulating Tumour DNA in Melanoma Patients Treated with Systemic Therapies-Beyond Mutant Detection.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Dec 16;12(12). Epub 2020 Dec 16.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia 6027, Australia.

In this study, we evaluated the predictive value of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) to inform therapeutic outcomes in metastatic melanoma patients receiving systemic therapies. We analysed 142 plasma samples from metastatic melanoma patients prior to commencement of systemic therapy: 70 were treated with BRAF/MEK inhibitors and 72 with immunotherapies. Patient-specific droplet digital polymerase chain reaction assays were designed for ctDNA detection. Plasma ctDNA was detected in 56% of patients prior to first-line anti-PD1 and/or anti-CTLA-4 treatment. The detection rate in the immunotherapy cohort was comparably lower than those with BRAF inhibitors (76%, = 0.0149). Decreasing ctDNA levels within 12 weeks of treatment was strongly concordant with treatment response (Cohen's k = 0.798, < 0.001) and predictive of longer progression free survival. Notably, a slower kinetic of ctDNA decline was observed in patients treated with immunotherapy compared to those on BRAF/MEK inhibitors. Whole exome sequencing of ctDNA was also conducted in 9 patients commencing anti-PD-1 therapy to derive tumour mutational burden (TMB) and neoepitope load measurements. The results showed a trend of high TMB and neoepitope load in responders compared to non-responders. Overall, our data suggest that changes in ctDNA can serve as an early indicator of outcomes in metastatic melanoma patients treated with systemic therapies and therefore may serve as a tool to guide treatment decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123793DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7765660PMC
December 2020

Circulating Tumour DNA in Advanced Melanoma Patients Ceasing PD1 Inhibition in the Absence of Disease Progression.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Nov 23;12(11). Epub 2020 Nov 23.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia.

Immunotherapy is an important and established treatment option for patients with advanced melanoma. Initial anti-PD1 trials arbitrarily defined a two-year treatment duration, but a shorter treatment duration may be appropriate. In this study, we retrospectively assessed 70 patients who stopped anti-PD1 therapy in the absence of progressive disease (PD) to determine clinical outcomes. In our cohort, the median time on treatment was 11.8 months. Complete response was attained at time of anti-PD1 discontinuation in 61 (87%). After a median follow up of 34.2 months (range: 2-70.8) post discontinuation, 81% remained disease free. Using ddPCR, we determine the utility of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) to predict progressive disease after cessation ( = 38). There was a significant association between presence of ctDNA at cessation and disease progression ( = 0.012, Fisher's exact test) and this conferred a negative and positive predictive value of 0.82 (95% CI: 0.645-0.930) and 0.80 (95% CI 0.284-0.995), respectively. Additionally, dichotomised treatment-free survival in patients with or without ctDNA at cessation was significantly longer in the latter group ( < 0.001, HR: 0.008, 95% CI: 0.001-0.079). Overall, our study confirms that durable disease control can be achieved with cessation of therapy in the absence of disease progression and undetectable ctDNA at cessation was associated with longer treatment-free survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113486DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700409PMC
November 2020

Prognostic value of HLA-I homozygosity in patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with single agent immunotherapy.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 11;8(2)

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia.

Background: We aimed to assess the impact of genomic human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-I/II homozygosity on the survival benefit of patients with unresectable locally advanced, metastatic non-small lung cancer treated by single-agent programmed cell death protein-1/programmed death ligand 1 (PD1/PDL1) inhibitors.

Methods: We collected blood from 170 patients with advanced lung cancer treated with immunotherapy at two major oncology centers in Western Australia. Genomic DNA was extracted from white blood cells and used for HLA-I/II high-resolution typing. HLA-I/II homozygosity was tested for association with survival outcomes. Univariable and multivariable Cox regression models were constructed to determine whether HLA homozygosity was an independent prognostic factor affecting Overall Survival (OS) and Progression Free Survival (PFS). We also investigated the association between individual HLA-A and -B supertypes with OS.

Results: Homozygosity at HLA-I loci, but not HLA-II, was significantly associated with shorter OS (HR=2.17, 95% CI 1.13 to 4.17, p=0.02) in both univariable and multivariable analysis. The effect of HLA-I homozygosity in OS was particularly relevant for patients with tumors expressing PDL1 ≥50% (HR=3.93, 95% CI 1.30 to 11.85, p<0.001). The adverse effect of HLA-I homozygosity on PFS was only apparent after controlling for interactions between PDL1 status and HLA-I genotype (HR=2.21, 95% CI 1.04 to 4.70, p=0.038). The presence of HLA-A02 supertype was the only HLA-I supertype to be associated with improved OS (HR=0.56, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.93, p=0.023).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that homozygosity at ≥1 HLA-I loci is associated with short OS and PFS in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer with PDL1 ≥50% treated with single-agent immunotherapy. Carriers of HLA-A02 supertype reported better survival outcomes in this cohort of patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7684824PMC
November 2020

Detection of splicing variants in plasma-derived cell-free nucleic acids and extracellular vesicles of melanoma patients failing targeted therapy therapies.

Oncotarget 2020 Nov 3;11(44):4016-4027. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia.

The analysis of plasma circulating tumour nucleic acids provides a non-invasive approach to assess disease burden and the genetic evolution of tumours in response to therapy. splicing variants are known to confer melanoma resistance to BRAF inhibitors. We developed a test to screen cell-free RNA (cfRNA) for the presence of splicing variants. Custom droplet digital PCR assays were designed for the detection of splicing variants p61, p55, p48 and p41 and then validated using RNA from cell lines carrying these variants. Evaluation of plasma from patients with reported objective response to BRAF/MEK inhibition followed by disease progression was revealed by increased circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in 24 of 38 cases at the time of relapse. Circulating splicing variants were detected in cfRNA from 3 of these 38 patients; two patients carried the BRAF p61 variant and one the p55 variant. In all three cases the presence of the splicing variant was apparent only at the time of progressive disease. p61 was also detectable in plasma of one of four patients with confirmed splicing variants in their progressing tumours. Isolation and analysis of RNA from extracellular vesicles (EV) from resistant cell lines and patient plasma demonstrated that splicing variants are associated with EVs. These findings indicate that in addition to plasma ctDNA, RNA carried by EVs can provide important tumour specific information.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27790DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7646833PMC
November 2020

Tumour PD-L1 Expression in Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Cells 2020 10 31;9(11). Epub 2020 Oct 31.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia.

Antibodies against programmed death-1 (PD-1), and its ligand, (PD-L1) have been approved recently for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Although there are previous reports that addressed PD-L1 detection on tumour cells in SCLC, there is no comprehensive meta-analysis on the prevalence of PD-L1 expression in SCLC. We performed a systematic search of the PubMed, Cochrane Library and EMBASE databases to assess reports on the prevalence of PD-L1 expression and the association between PD-L1 expression and overall survival (OS). This meta-analysis included 27 studies enrolling a total of 2792 patients. The pooled estimate of PD-L1 expression was 26.0% (95% CI 17.0-37.0), (22.0% after removing outlying studies). The effect size was significantly heterogeneous (I = 97.4, 95% CI: 95.5-98.5, < 0.0001).Positive PD-L1 expression was a favourable prognostic factor for SCLC but not statistically significant (HR = 0.86 (95% CI (0.49-1.50), = 0.5880; I = 88.7%, < 0.0001). Begg's funnel plots and Egger's tests indicated no publication bias across included studies ( > 0.05). Overall, there is heterogeneity in the prevalence of PD-L1 expression in SCLC tumour cells across studies. This is significantly moderated by factors such as immunohistochemistry (IHC) evaluation cut-off values, and assessment of PD-L1 staining patterns as membranous and/or cytoplasmic. There is the need for large size, prospective and multicentre studies with well-defined protocols and endpoints to advance the clinical value of PD-L1 expression in SCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9112393DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693331PMC
October 2020

Circulating Tumor DNA Predicts Outcome from First-, but not Second-line Treatment and Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Benefit from Combination Immunotherapy.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 11 16;26(22):5926-5933. Epub 2020 Oct 16.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

Purpose: We evaluated the predictive value of pretreatment ctDNA to inform therapeutic outcomes in patients with metastatic melanoma relative to type and line of treatment.

Experimental Design: Plasma circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) was quantified in 125 samples collected from 110 patients prior to commencing treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), as first- ( = 32) or second-line ( = 27) regimens, or prior to commencing first-line BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy ( = 66). An external validation cohort included 128 patients commencing ICI therapies in the first- ( = 77) or second-line ( = 51) settings.

Results: In the discovery cohort, low ctDNA (≤20 copies/mL) prior to commencing therapy predicted longer progression-free survival (PFS) in patients treated with first-line ICIs [HR, 0.20; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07-0.53; < 0.0001], but not in the second-line setting. An independent cohort validated that ctDNA is predictive of PFS in the first-line setting (HR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.22-0.83; = 0.006), but not in the second-line ICI setting. Moreover, ctDNA prior to commencing ICI treatment was not predictive of PFS for patients pretreated with BRAF/MEK inhibitors in either the discovery or validation cohorts. Reduced PFS and overall survival were observed in patients with high ctDNA receiving anti-PD-1 monotherapy, relative to those treated with combination anti-CTLA-4/anti-PD-1 inhibitors.

Conclusions: Pretreatment ctDNA is a reliable indicator of patient outcome in the first-line ICI treatment setting, but not in the second-line ICI setting, especially in patients pretreated with BRAF/MEK inhibitors. Preliminary evidence indicated that treatment-naïve patients with high ctDNA may preferentially benefit from combined ICIs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2251DOI Listing
November 2020

Adjuvant nivolumab versus ipilimumab in resected stage IIIB-C and stage IV melanoma (CheckMate 238): 4-year results from a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 3 trial.

Lancet Oncol 2020 11 19;21(11):1465-1477. Epub 2020 Sep 19.

Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, NYU Langone Health, New York, NY, USA.

Background: Previously, findings from CheckMate 238, a double-blind, phase 3 adjuvant trial in patients with resected stage IIIB-C or stage IV melanoma, showed significant improvements in recurrence-free survival and distant metastasis-free survival with nivolumab versus ipilimumab. This report provides updated 4-year efficacy, initial overall survival, and late-emergent safety results.

Methods: This multicentre, double-blind, randomised, controlled, phase 3 trial was done in 130 academic centres, community hospitals, and cancer centres across 25 countries. Patients aged 15 years or older with resected stage IIIB-C or IV melanoma and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1 were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive nivolumab or ipilimumab via an interactive voice response system and stratified according to disease stage and baseline PD-L1 status of tumour cells. Patients received intravenous nivolumab 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks or intravenous ipilimumab 10 mg/kg every 3 weeks for four doses, and then every 12 weeks until 1 year of treatment, disease recurrence, unacceptable toxicity, or withdrawal of consent. The primary endpoint was recurrence-free survival by investigator assessment, and overall survival was a key secondary endpoint. Efficacy analyses were done in the intention-to-treat population (all randomly assigned patients). All patients who received at least one dose of study treatment were included in the safety analysis. The results presented in this report reflect the 4-year update of the ongoing study with a database lock date of Jan 30, 2020. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02388906.

Findings: Between March 30 and Nov 30, 2015, 906 patients were assigned to nivolumab (n=453) or ipilimumab (n=453). Median follow-up was 51·1 months (IQR 41·6-52·7) with nivolumab and 50·9 months (36·2-52·3) with ipilimumab; 4-year recurrence-free survival was 51·7% (95% CI 46·8-56·3) in the nivolumab group and 41·2% (36·4-45·9) in the ipilimumab group (hazard ratio [HR] 0·71 [95% CI 0·60-0·86]; p=0·0003). With 211 (100 [22%] of 453 patients in the nivolumab group and 111 [25%] of 453 patients in the ipilimumab group) of 302 anticipated deaths observed (about 73% of the originally planned 88% power needed for significance), 4-year overall survival was 77·9% (95% CI 73·7-81·5) with nivolumab and 76·6% (72·2-80·3) with ipilimumab (HR 0·87 [95% CI 0·66-1·14]; p=0·31). Late-emergent grade 3-4 treatment-related adverse events were reported in three (1%) of 452 and seven (2%) of 453 patients. The most common late-emergent treatment-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events reported were diarrhoea, diabetic ketoacidosis, and pneumonitis (one patient each) in the nivolumab group, and colitis (two patients) in the ipilimumab group. Two previously reported treatment-related deaths in the ipilimumab group were attributed to study drug toxicity (marrow aplasia in one patient and colitis in one patient); no further treatment-related deaths were reported.

Interpretation: At a minimum of 4 years' follow-up, nivolumab demonstrated sustained recurrence-free survival benefit versus ipilimumab in resected stage IIIB-C or IV melanoma indicating a long-term treatment benefit with nivolumab. With fewer deaths than anticipated, overall survival was similar in both groups. Nivolumab remains an efficacious adjuvant treatment for patients with resected high-risk melanoma, with a safety profile that is more tolerable than that of ipilimumab.

Funding: Bristol Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30494-0DOI Listing
November 2020

Association of Known Melanoma Risk Factors with Primary Melanoma of the Scalp and Neck.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020 11 20;29(11):2203-2210. Epub 2020 Aug 20.

School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Background: Scalp and neck (SN) melanoma confers a worse prognosis than melanoma of other sites but little is known about its determinants. We aimed to identify associations between SN melanoma and known risk genes, phenotypic traits, and sun exposure patterns.

Methods: Participants were cases from the Western Australian Melanoma Health Study ( = 1,200) and the Genes, Environment, and Melanoma Study ( = 3,280). Associations between risk factors and SN melanoma, compared with truncal and arm/leg melanoma, were investigated using binomial logistic regression. Facial melanoma was also compared with the trunk and extremities, to evaluate whether associations were subregion specific, or reflective of the whole head/neck region.

Results: Compared with other sites, increased odds of SN and facial melanoma were observed in older individuals [SN: OR = 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.92-1.80, = 0.016; Face: OR = 4.57, 95% CI = 3.34-6.35, < 0.001] and those carrying -rs12203592*T (SN: OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.12-1.63, = 0.002; Face: OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.10-1.50, = 0.001). Decreased odds were observed for females (SN: OR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.37-0.64, < 0.001; Face: OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.53-0.82, < 0.001) and the presence of nevi (SN: OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.49-0.89, = 0.006; Face: OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.52-0.83, < 0.001).

Conclusions: Differences observed between SN melanoma and other sites were also observed for facial melanoma. Factors previously associated with the broader head and neck region, notably older age, may be driven by the facial subregion. A novel finding was the association of -rs12203592 with both SN and facial melanoma.

Impact: Understanding the epidemiology of site-specific melanoma will enable tailored strategies for risk factor reduction and site-specific screening campaigns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0595DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641988PMC
November 2020

Role of Serum Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) as a Potential Biomarker of Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy in Advanced Melanoma: Results of a Pilot Study.

Front Oncol 2020 30;10:1041. Epub 2020 Jun 30.

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia.

The development of biomarkers predictive of response to immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapies in advanced melanoma is an area of great interest in oncology. Our study evaluated the potential role of serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as a predictive biomarker of clinical benefit and response to treatment with ICIs. Pre-treatment peripheral blood samples were obtained from advanced melanoma patients undergoing ICI therapy as monotherapy or in combination at two tertiary care hospitals in Western Australia. Serum VEGF levels were correlated with response to therapy and survival outcomes. Serum VEGF samples were collected from a total of 130 patients treated with ICI therapy (pembrolizumab 73, ipilimumab 15, and ipilimumab/nivolumab combination 42). Median serum VEGF level was significantly higher in the non-responders (82.15 pg/mL) vs. responders (60.40 pg/mL) in the ipilimumab monotherapy cohort ( < 0.0352). However, no difference was seen in VEGF levels between non-responders and responders in pembrolizumab and ipilimumab/nivolumab treated patients. The results of our study confirm previous observations that that high pre-treatment serum VEGF levels in advanced melanoma patients may predict poor response to ipilimumab. However, serum VEGF is not predictive of outcome in patients treated with anti-PD-1 agents alone or in combination with ipilimumab.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.01041DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7338663PMC
June 2020

Phase IA/IB study of single-agent tislelizumab, an investigational anti-PD-1 antibody, in solid tumors.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 06;8(1)

Linear Clinical Research, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia.

Background: The programmed cell death-1/programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-1/PD-L1) axis plays a central role in suppressing antitumor immunity; axis dysregulation can be used by cancer cells to evade the immune system. Tislelizumab, an investigational monoclonal antibody with high affinity and binding specificity for PD-1, was engineered to minimize binding to FcγR on macrophages to limit antibody-dependent phagocytosis, a potential mechanism of resistance to anti-PD-1 therapy. The aim of this phase IA/IB study was to investigate the safety/tolerability, antitumor effects and optimal dose and schedule of tislelizumab in patients with advanced solid tumors.

Methods: Patients (aged ≥18 years) enrolled in phase IA received intravenous tislelizumab 0.5, 2, 5 or 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks; 2 or 5 mg/kg administered every 2 weeks or every 3 weeks; or 200 mg every 3 weeks; patients in phase IB received 5 mg/kg every 3 weeks. Primary objectives were to assess tislelizumab's safety/tolerability profile by adverse event (AE) monitoring and antitumor activity using RECIST V.1.1. PD-L1 expression was assessed retrospectively with the VENTANA PD-L1 (SP263) Assay.

Results: Between May 2015 and October 2017, 451 patients (n=116, IA; n=335, IB) were enrolled. Fatigue (28%), nausea (25%) and decreased appetite (20%) were the most commonly reported AEs. Most AEs were grade 1-2 severity; anemia (4.9%) was the most common grade 3-4 AE. Treatment-related AEs led to discontinuation in 5.3% of patients. Grade 5 AEs were reported in 14 patients; 2 were considered related to tislelizumab. Pneumonitis (2%) and colitis (1%) were the most common serious tislelizumab-related AEs. As of May 2019, 18% of patients achieved a confirmed objective response in phase IA and 12% in phase IB; median follow-up duration was 13.6 and 7.6 months, respectively. Pharmacokinetics, safety and antitumor activity obtained from both phase IA and IB determined the tislelizumab recommended dose; ultimately, tislelizumab 200 mg intravenous every 3 weeks was the dose and schedule recommended to be taken into subsequent clinical trials.

Conclusions: Tislelizumab monotherapy demonstrated an acceptable safety/tolerability profile. Durable responses were observed in heavily pretreated patients with advanced solid tumors, supporting the evaluation of tislelizumab 200 mg every 3 weeks, as monotherapy and in combination therapy, for the treatment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies.

Trial Registration Number: NCT02407990.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2019-000453DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295442PMC
June 2020

An International Phase 2 Study of Pazopanib in Progressive and Metastatic Thyroglobulin Antibody Negative Radioactive Iodine Refractory Differentiated Thyroid Cancer.

Thyroid 2020 09 29;30(9):1254-1262. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.

Multikinase inhibitors have clinical activity in radioactive iodine refractory (RAIR) differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs) but are not curative; optimal management and salvage therapies remain unclear. This study assessed clinical effects of pazopanib therapy in RAIR-DTC patients with progressive disease, examining in parallel biomarker that might forecast/precede therapeutic response. Assessment of responses and toxicities and of any association between thyroglobulin (Tg) changes cycle 1 and RECIST (response evaluation criteria in solid tumors) response to pazopanib therapy were prospectively undertaken in Tg antibody negative RAIR-DTC patients. RECIST progressive metastatic disease <6 months preceding enrollment was required. With a sample size of 68 (assuming 23 attaining partial response [PR]), there would be 90% chance of detecting a difference of >30% when the proportion of patients attaining PR whose Tg values decrease by >50% is >50% cycle 1 (one-sided  = 0.10, two sample test of proportions). Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) change or mutational status or pretreatment were also explored as early correlates of eventual RECIST response. From 2009 to 2011, 60 individuals were treated and evaluated; (one additional patient withdrew; another was found ineligible before therapy initiation); 91.7% had previous systemic therapy beyond RAI. Adverse events included one death (thromboembolic) deemed possibly pazopanib associated. Twenty-two confirmed RECIST PRs resulted (36.7%, confidence interval; CI [24.6-50.1]); mean administered 4-week cycles was 10. Among 44 fully accessible patients, the Tg nadir was greater among the 20 attaining PR (median: -86.8%; interquartile range [IQR]: -90.7% to -70.9%) compared with the 28 who did not (median: -69.0%; IQR: -78.1% to -27.7%, Wilcoxon rank-sum test:  = 0.002). However, the difference in the proportion of PRs among those whose Tg fell ≥50% after cycle 1 versus those that did not were not significantly correlated (-23.5% [CI: -55.3 to 8.3]; Fisher's exact test -value = 0.27). RECIST response was also not correlated with/predicted by early MCV change, receipt of prior therapy, or tumor mutational status. This trial prospectively confirmed pazopanib to have clinical activity and manageable toxicities in patients with progressive RAIR-DTC. Response to pazopanib, however, was not robustly forecast by early associated changes in Tg or MCV, by prior therapy, or by tumor mutational status. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00625846.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/thy.2019.0269DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482116PMC
September 2020

Detection of Low-level EGFR c.2369 C > T (p.Thr790Met) Resistance Mutation in Pre-treatment Non-small Cell Lung Carcinomas Harboring Activating EGFR Mutations and Correlation with Clinical Outcomes.

Pathol Oncol Res 2020 Oct 6;26(4):2371-2379. Epub 2020 Jun 6.

Department of Medical Oncology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Increasing evidence points to the presence of low-level de novo T790M mutations in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) harboring activating EGFR mutations. We utilized digital PCR (dPCR), a highly sensitive gene mutation detection method, to detect pre-treatment T790M mutations in NSCLC tumor samples and correlated the T790M status with clinical features and patient outcomes. DNA extracted from pre-treatment NSCLC tumor tissue with known activating EGFR mutations, diagnosed between October 2010 and May 2017 at PathWest laboratory, was used to perform targeted dPCR for quantitative detection of T790M mutations. T790M was detected in 42 of 109 pre-treatment samples (38.5%). Median variant allele frequency was 0.14% (range 0.02-28.5%). Overall response rate to first generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) was 67% regardless of T790M status. The median progression free survival was 10.7 (IQR 5.6-19.9) versus 6.7 (IQR 3.5-20.8) months in T790M negative and positive patients respectively. T790M positivity correlated with increased rate of early disease progression. It also correlated with increased mortality (HR 3.1 95%CI 1.2-8.1, p = 0.022) in patients who did not respond to TKI treatment. We detected a significant rate of low-level pre-treatment T790M mutations in NSCLC using highly sensitive dPCR. Low-level pre-treatment T790M did not impact treatment response rate or overall survival, but was associated with increased rate of early progression on TKI therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12253-020-00833-zDOI Listing
October 2020

Impact of direct-to-consumer genetic testing on Australian clinical genetics services.

Eur J Med Genet 2020 Sep 2;63(9):103968. Epub 2020 Jun 2.

Public Health Genomics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

The increasing popularity of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) is thought to be creating a burden on clinical genetic services worldwide. However, no Australian studies have collected recent evidence regarding this impact. We surveyed Australian clinical genetics services about DTCGT-related referrals over the past 10 years. Eleven publicly-funded services reported over 100 DTCGT-related referrals. Most (83%) involved general practitioners seeking interpretation of DTCGT results. More than 30% involved imputed risk estimates from third-party software tools. Services reported low validation rates for DTCGT results (<10%), and variable procedures for managing DTCGT referrals, with most (8/11) lacking specific procedures. Our study helps quantify the impact of DTCGT on clinical genetics services, and highlights the impact of imputed risk estimates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2020.103968DOI Listing
September 2020

Longitudinal Monitoring of ctDNA in Patients with Melanoma and Brain Metastases Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 08 22;26(15):4064-4071. Epub 2020 Apr 22.

Department of Biomedical Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Purpose: Brain involvement occurs in the majority of patients with metastatic melanoma. The potential of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) for surveillance and monitoring systemic therapy response in patients with melanoma brain metastases merits investigation.

Experimental Design: This study examined circulating , and mutations in patients with melanoma with active brain metastases receiving PD-1 inhibitor-based therapy. Intracranial and extracranial disease volumes were measured using the sum of product of diameters, and response assessment performed using RECIST. Longitudinal plasma samples were analyzed for ctDNA over the first 12 weeks of treatment (threshold 2.5 copies/mL plasma).

Results: Of a total of 72 patients, 13 patients had intracranial metastases only and 59 patients had concurrent intracranial and extracranial metastases. ctDNA detectability was 0% and 64%, respectively, and detectability was associated with extracranial disease volume ( < 0.01). Undetectable ctDNA on-therapy was associated with extracranial response ( < 0.01) but not intracranial response. The median overall survival in patients with undetectable ( = 34) versus detectable ( = 38) ctDNA at baseline was 39.2 versus 10.6 months [HR, 0.51; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.28-0.94; = 0.03] and on-therapy was 39.2 versus 9.2 months (HR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.16-0.63; < 0.01).

Conclusions: ctDNA remains a strong prognostic biomarker in patients with melanoma with brain metastases, especially in patients with concurrent extracranial disease. However, ctDNA was not able to detect or monitor intracranial disease activity, and we recommend against using ctDNA as a sole test during surveillance and therapeutic monitoring in patients with melanoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3926DOI Listing
August 2020

Results of a randomized, double-blind phase II clinical trial of NY-ESO-1 vaccine with ISCOMATRIX adjuvant versus ISCOMATRIX alone in participants with high-risk resected melanoma.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 04;8(1)

Versagenics Inc, Morrisville, North Carolina, USA.

Background: To compare the clinical efficacy of New York Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma-1 (NY-ESO-1) vaccine with ISCOMATRIX adjuvant versus ISCOMATRIX alone in a randomized, double-blind phase II study in participants with fully resected melanoma at high risk of recurrence.

Methods: Participants with resected stage IIc, IIIb, IIIc and IV melanoma expressing NY-ESO-1 were randomized to treatment with three doses of NY-ESO-1/ISCOMATRIX or ISCOMATRIX adjuvant administered intramuscularly at 4-week intervals, followed by a further dose at 6 months. Primary endpoint was the proportion free of relapse at 18 months in the intention-to-treat (ITT) population and two per-protocol populations. Secondary endpoints included relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS), safety and NY-ESO-1 immunity.

Results: The ITT population comprised 110 participants, with 56 randomized to NY-ESO-1/ISCOMATRIX and 54 to ISCOMATRIX alone. No significant toxicities were observed. There were no differences between the study arms in relapses at 18 months or for median time to relapse; 139 vs 176 days (p=0.296), or relapse rate, 27 (48.2%) vs 26 (48.1%) (HR 0.913; 95% CI 0.402 to 2.231), respectively. RFS and OS were similar between the study arms. Vaccine recipients developed strong positive antibody responses to NY-ESO-1 (p≤0.0001) and NY-ESO-1-specific CD4 and CD8 responses. Biopsies following relapse did not demonstrate differences in NY-ESO-1 expression between the study populations although an exploratory study demonstrated reduced (NY-ESO-1)/Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) class I double-positive cells in biopsies from vaccine recipients performed on relapse in 19 participants.

Conclusions: The vaccine was well tolerated, however, despite inducing antigen-specific immunity, it did not affect survival endpoints. Immune escape through the downregulation of NY-ESO-1 and/or HLA class I molecules on tumor may have contributed to relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2019-000410DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7204806PMC
April 2020

A comparative study of extracellular vesicle-associated and cell-free DNA and RNA for HPV detection in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

Sci Rep 2020 04 8;10(1):6083. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

Department of Medical Oncology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Purpose: This study compares the detection sensitivity of two separate liquid biopsy sources, cell-free (cf) DNA/RNA and extracellular vesicle (EV)-associated DNA/RNA (EV-DNA/RNA), to identify circulating Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) DNA/RNA in plasma obtained from patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPCSCC). We also report on the longitudinal changes observed in HPV-DNA levels in response to treatment.

Experimental Design: A prospective study was conducted that included 22 patients with locally advanced disease and six patients with metastatic OPCSCC. Twenty-three patients had HPV-related OPCSCC defined by p16 immunohistochemistry. Levels of circulating HPV-DNA and HPV-RNA from plasma-derived cf-DNA/RNA and EV-DNA/RNA were quantified using digital droplet PCR.

Results: Circulating HPV-DNA was detected with higher sensitivity in cf-DNA compared to EV-DNA at 91% vs. 42% (p = <0.001). Similarly, circulating tumoral HPV-RNA was detected at a higher sensitivity in cf-RNA compared to EV-RNA, at 83% vs. 50% (p = 0.0019). In the locally advanced cohort, 100% (n = 16) of HPV-OPCSCC patients demonstrated a reduction in circulating HPV-DNA levels in cf-DNA following curative treatment, with 81% of patients demonstrating complete clearance to undetectable levels. However, in metastatic HPV-OPCSCC patients (n = 4), HPV-DNA levels did not correlate with treatment response.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that although HPV-DNA/RNA can be detected in EV associated DNA/RNA, cf-DNA/RNA is the more sensitive liquid biopsy medium. As circulating HPV-DNA levels were found to only correlate with treatment response in the locally advanced but not metastatic setting in our small cohort of patients, the use of HPV-DNA as a dynamic biomarker to monitor treatment response requires further evaluation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-63180-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142128PMC
April 2020

A First-in-Human Dose Finding Study of Camrelizumab in Patients with Advanced or Metastatic Cancer in Australia.

Drug Des Devel Ther 2020 18;14:1177-1189. Epub 2020 Mar 18.

Linear Clinical Research, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia.

Purpose: Camrelizumab inhibits PD-1 in non-clinical models and showed typical non-clinical pharmacokinetic (PK) and safety profiles for an IgG4 monoclonal antibody. We report results from the First-in-Human Phase 1 trial of camrelizumab in Australian population.

Methods: Camrelizumab was administered to patients with advanced solid tumors who had failed standard therapies. In the dose-escalation phase (n=23), camrelizumab was administered intravenously at 1 mg/kg, 3 mg/kg, 6 mg/kg, and 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks. In dose expansion (n=26), camrelizumab was given at 200 mg or 600 mg every 4 weeks.

Results: Two dose-limiting toxicities were observed during dose escalation: transaminase elevation and diarrhea (both grade 3). Overall, treatment-related adverse events were consistent with the expected toxicity profile of immune checkpoint inhibition, with the striking exception of the dose-related development of angiomatous skin lesions characterized as reactive cutaneous capillary endothelial proliferation. The PK profile showed a dose-progressive increase in half-life from 3 days at 1 mg/kg to 7 days at 10 mg/kg. Moreover, receptor occupancy assays showed a PD-1 occupancy of >50% in most patients out to 28 days post-dose. The objective response rate was 15.2% (95% CI 6.3-28.9).

Conclusion: Camrelizumab has manageable toxicity and encouraging preliminary antitumor activity in advanced solid tumors in Australia.

Clinical Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02492789.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S243787DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7090185PMC
February 2021

Bilateral murine tumor models for characterizing the response to immune checkpoint blockade.

Nat Protoc 2020 05 1;15(5):1628-1648. Epub 2020 Apr 1.

School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.

The therapeutic response to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) is highly variable, not only between different cancers but also between patients with the same cancer type. The biological mechanisms underlying these differences in response are incompletely understood. Identifying correlates in patient tumor samples is challenging because of genetic and environmental variability. Murine studies usually compare different tumor models or treatments, introducing potential confounding variables. This protocol describes bilateral murine tumor models, derived from syngeneic cancer cell lines, that display a symmetrical yet dichotomous response to ICB. These models enable detailed analysis of whole tumors in a highly homogeneous background, combined with knowledge of the therapeutic outcome within a few weeks, and could potentially be used for mechanistic studies using other (immuno-)therapies. We discuss key considerations and describe how to use two cell lines as fully optimized models. We discuss experimental details, including proper inoculation technique to achieve symmetry and one-sided surgical tumor removal, which takes only 5 min per mouse. Furthermore, we outline the preparation of bulk tissue or single-cell suspensions for downstream analyses such as bulk RNA-seq, immunohistochemistry, single-cell RNA-seq and flow cytometry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41596-020-0299-3DOI Listing
May 2020
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