Background Patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck after platinum chemotherapy have a very poor prognosis and limited therapeutic options. Nivolumab, an anti-programmed death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody, was assessed as treatment for this condition. Methods In this randomized, open-label, phase 3 trial, we assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, 361 patients with recurrent squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck whose disease had progressed within 6 months after platinum-based chemotherapy to receive nivolumab (at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight) every 2 weeks or standard, single-agent systemic therapy (methotrexate, docetaxel, or cetuximab). The primary end point was overall survival. Additional end points included progression-free survival, rate of objective response, safety, and patient-reported quality of life. Results The median overall survival was 7.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.5 to 9.1) in the nivolumab group versus 5.1 months (95% CI, 4.0 to 6.0) in the group that received standard therapy. Overall survival was significantly longer with nivolumab than with standard therapy (hazard ratio for death, 0.70; 97.73% CI, 0.51 to 0.96; P=0.01), and the estimates of the 1-year survival rate were approximately 19 percentage points higher with nivolumab than with standard therapy (36.0% vs. 16.6%). The median progression-free survival was 2.0 months (95% CI, 1.9 to 2.1) with nivolumab versus 2.3 months (95% CI, 1.9 to 3.1) with standard therapy (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.13; P=0.32). The rate of progression-free survival at 6 months was 19.7% with nivolumab versus 9.9% with standard therapy. The response rate was 13.3% in the nivolumab group versus 5.8% in the standard-therapy group. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 occurred in 13.1% of the patients in the nivolumab group versus 35.1% of those in the standard-therapy group. Physical, role, and social functioning was stable in the nivolumab group, whereas it was meaningfully worse in the standard-therapy group. Conclusions Among patients with platinum-refractory, recurrent squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, treatment with nivolumab resulted in longer overall survival than treatment with standard, single-agent therapy. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 141 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02105636 .).
Systemic chemotherapy using two-drug platinum-based regimens for the treatment of advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has largely reached a plateau of effectiveness. Accordingly, efforts to improve survival and quality of life outcomes have more recently focused on the use of molecularly targeted agents, either alone or in combination with standard of care therapies such as taxanes. The molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) represents an attractive candidate for therapeutic intervention, as its inhibition results in the simultaneous blockade of multiple oncogenic signaling cascades. Ganetespib is a non-ansamycin inhibitor of Hsp90 currently under clinical evaluation in a number of human malignancies, including NSCLC. Here we show that ganetespib potentiates the cytotoxic activity of the taxanes paclitaxel and docetaxel in NSCLC models. The combination of ganetespib with paclitaxel, docetaxel or another microtubule-targeted agent vincristine resulted in synergistic antiproliferative effects in the H1975 cell line in vitro. These benefits translated to improved efficacy in H1975 xenografts in vivo, with significantly enhanced tumor growth inhibition observed in combination with paclitaxel and tumor regressions seen with docetaxel. Notably, concurrent exposure to ganetespib and docetaxel improved antitumor activity in 5 of 6 NSCLC xenograft models examined. Our data suggest that the improved therapeutic indices are likely to be mechanistically multifactorial, including loss of pro-survival signaling and direct cell cycle effects resulting from Hsp90 modulation by ganetespib. Taken together, these findings provide preclinical evidence for the use of this combination to treat patients with advanced NSCLC.
The taxanes (paclitaxel and docetaxel) represent an important class of antineoplastic agents that interfere with microtubule function leading to altered mitosis and cellular death. Paclitaxel (Taxol(®)) was originally extracted from a yew tree (Taxus spp., Taxaceae) a small slow-growing evergreen, coniferous tree. Due to the initial scarcity of paclitaxel, docetaxel (Taxotere(®)) a semisynthetic analog of paclitaxel produced from the needles of European yew tree, Taxus baccata was developed. Docetaxel differs from paclitaxel in two positions in its chemical structure and this small alteration makes it more water soluble. Today, paclitaxel and docetaxel are widely prescribed antineoplastic agents for a broad range of malignancies including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, and other carcinomas. Although very active clinically, paclitaxel and docetaxel have several clinical problems including poor drug solubility, serious dose-limiting toxicities such as myelosuppression, peripheral sensory neuropathy, allergic reactions, and eventual development of drug resistance. A number of these side effects have been associated with the solvents used for dilution of these antineoplastic agents: Cremophor EL for paclitaxel and polysorbate 80 for docetaxel. In addition, reports have linked these solvents to the alterations in paclitaxel and docetaxel pharmacokinetic profiles. In this review, we provide preclinical and clinical data on several novel taxanes formulations and analogs which are currently US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or in clinical development in various solid tumor malignancies. Of the new taxanes nab-paclitaxel and cabazitaxel have enjoyed clinical success and are FDA-approved; while many of the other compounds described in this review are unlikely to be further developed for clinical use in daily practice. Furthermore, the successful clinical emergence of novel nontaxane microtubule-targeting chemotherapy agents such as epothilones and eribulin is liable to further restrict the development of novel taxanes.
Background Nivolumab, a programmed death 1 (PD-1) checkpoint inhibitor, was associated with encouraging overall survival in uncontrolled studies involving previously treated patients with advanced renal-cell carcinoma. This randomized, open-label, phase 3 study compared nivolumab with everolimus in patients with renal-cell carcinoma who had received previous treatment. Methods A total of 821 patients with advanced clear-cell renal-cell carcinoma for which they had received previous treatment with one or two regimens of antiangiogenic therapy were randomly assigned (in a 1:1 ratio) to receive 3 mg of nivolumab per kilogram of body weight intravenously every 2 weeks or a 10-mg everolimus tablet orally once daily. The primary end point was overall survival. The secondary end points included the objective response rate and safety. Results The median overall survival was 25.0 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 21.8 to not estimable) with nivolumab and 19.6 months (95% CI, 17.6 to 23.1) with everolimus. The hazard ratio for death with nivolumab versus everolimus was 0.73 (98.5% CI, 0.57 to 0.93; P=0.002), which met the prespecified criterion for superiority (P≤0.0148). The objective response rate was greater with nivolumab than with everolimus (25% vs. 5%; odds ratio, 5.98 [95% CI, 3.68 to 9.72]; P<0.001). The median progression-free survival was 4.6 months (95% CI, 3.7 to 5.4) with nivolumab and 4.4 months (95% CI, 3.7 to 5.5) with everolimus (hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.75 to 1.03; P=0.11). Grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events occurred in 19% of the patients receiving nivolumab and in 37% of the patients receiving everolimus; the most common event with nivolumab was fatigue (in 2% of the patients), and the most common event with everolimus was anemia (in 8%). Conclusions Among patients with previously treated advanced renal-cell carcinoma, overall survival was longer and fewer grade 3 or 4 adverse events occurred with nivolumab than with everolimus. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 025 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01668784 .).
Background Nivolumab and ipilimumab are immune checkpoint inhibitors that have been approved for the treatment of advanced melanoma. In the United States, ipilimumab has also been approved as adjuvant therapy for melanoma on the basis of recurrence-free and overall survival rates that were higher than those with placebo in a phase 3 trial. We wanted to determine the efficacy of nivolumab versus ipilimumab for adjuvant therapy in patients with resected advanced melanoma. Methods In this randomized, double-blind, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 906 patients (≥15 years of age) who were undergoing complete resection of stage IIIB, IIIC, or IV melanoma to receive an intravenous infusion of either nivolumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 weeks (453 patients) or ipilimumab at a dose of 10 mg per kilogram every 3 weeks for four doses and then every 12 weeks (453 patients). The patients were treated for a period of up to 1 year or until disease recurrence, a report of unacceptable toxic effects, or withdrawal of consent. The primary end point was recurrence-free survival in the intention-to-treat population. Results At a minimum follow-up of 18 months, the 12-month rate of recurrence-free survival was 70.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 66.1 to 74.5) in the nivolumab group and 60.8% (95% CI, 56.0 to 65.2) in the ipilimumab group (hazard ratio for disease recurrence or death, 0.65; 97.56% CI, 0.51 to 0.83; P<0.001). Treatment-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events were reported in 14.4% of the patients in the nivolumab group and in 45.9% of those in the ipilimumab group; treatment was discontinued because of any adverse event in 9.7% and 42.6% of the patients, respectively. Two deaths (0.4%) related to toxic effects were reported in the ipilimumab group more than 100 days after treatment. Conclusions Among patients undergoing resection of stage IIIB, IIIC, or IV melanoma, adjuvant therapy with nivolumab resulted in significantly longer recurrence-free survival and a lower rate of grade 3 or 4 adverse events than adjuvant therapy with ipilimumab. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical; CheckMate 238 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02388906 ; Eudra-CT number, 2014-002351-26 .).
Background Androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) has been the backbone of treatment for metastatic prostate cancer since the 1940s. We assessed whether concomitant treatment with ADT plus docetaxel would result in longer overall survival than that with ADT alone. Methods We assigned men with metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer to receive either ADT plus docetaxel (at a dose of 75 mg per square meter of body-surface area every 3 weeks for six cycles) or ADT alone. The primary objective was to test the hypothesis that the median overall survival would be 33.3% longer among patients receiving docetaxel added to ADT early during therapy than among patients receiving ADT alone. Results A total of 790 patients (median age, 63 years) underwent randomization. After a median follow-up of 28.9 months, the median overall survival was 13.6 months longer with ADT plus docetaxel (combination therapy) than with ADT alone (57.6 months vs. 44.0 months; hazard ratio for death in the combination group, 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47 to 0.80; P<0.001). The median time to biochemical, symptomatic, or radiographic progression was 20.2 months in the combination group, as compared with 11.7 months in the ADT-alone group (hazard ratio, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.51 to 0.72; P<0.001). The rate of a prostate-specific antigen level of less than 0.2 ng per milliliter at 12 months was 27.7% in the combination group versus 16.8% in the ADT-alone group (P<0.001). In the combination group, the rate of grade 3 or 4 febrile neutropenia was 6.2%, the rate of grade 3 or 4 infection with neutropenia was 2.3%, and the rate of grade 3 sensory neuropathy and of grade 3 motor neuropathy was 0.5%. Conclusions Six cycles of docetaxel at the beginning of ADT for metastatic prostate cancer resulted in significantly longer overall survival than that with ADT alone. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00309985 .).
Background Nivolumab, a fully human IgG4 programmed death 1 (PD-1) immune-checkpoint-inhibitor antibody, disrupts PD-1-mediated signaling and may restore antitumor immunity. Methods In this randomized, open-label, international phase 3 study, we assigned patients with nonsquamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had progressed during or after platinum-based doublet chemotherapy to receive nivolumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 weeks or docetaxel at a dose of 75 mg per square meter of body-surface area every 3 weeks. The primary end point was overall survival. Results Overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. The median overall survival was 12.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.7 to 15.0) among 292 patients in the nivolumab group and 9.4 months (95% CI, 8.1 to 10.7) among 290 patients in the docetaxel group (hazard ratio for death, 0.73; 96% CI, 0.59 to 0.89; P=0.002). At 1 year, the overall survival rate was 51% (95% CI, 45 to 56) with nivolumab versus 39% (95% CI, 33 to 45) with docetaxel. With additional follow-up, the overall survival rate at 18 months was 39% (95% CI, 34 to 45) with nivolumab versus 23% (95% CI, 19 to 28) with docetaxel. The response rate was 19% with nivolumab versus 12% with docetaxel (P=0.02). Although progression-free survival did not favor nivolumab over docetaxel (median, 2.3 months and 4.2 months, respectively), the rate of progression-free survival at 1 year was higher with nivolumab than with docetaxel (19% and 8%, respectively). Nivolumab was associated with even greater efficacy than docetaxel across all end points in subgroups defined according to prespecified levels of tumor-membrane expression (≥1%, ≥5%, and ≥10%) of the PD-1 ligand. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 were reported in 10% of the patients in the nivolumab group, as compared with 54% of those in the docetaxel group. Conclusions Among patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC that had progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy, overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 057 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01673867 .).
Background Patients with advanced squamous-cell non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have disease progression during or after first-line chemotherapy have limited treatment options. This randomized, open-label, international, phase 3 study evaluated the efficacy and safety of nivolumab, a fully human IgG4 programmed death 1 (PD-1) immune-checkpoint-inhibitor antibody, as compared with docetaxel in this patient population. Methods We randomly assigned 272 patients to receive nivolumab, at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 weeks, or docetaxel, at a dose of 75 mg per square meter of body-surface area every 3 weeks. The primary end point was overall survival. Results The median overall survival was 9.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.3 to 13.3) with nivolumab versus 6.0 months (95% CI, 5.1 to 7.3) with docetaxel. The risk of death was 41% lower with nivolumab than with docetaxel (hazard ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.79; P<0.001). At 1 year, the overall survival rate was 42% (95% CI, 34 to 50) with nivolumab versus 24% (95% CI, 17 to 31) with docetaxel. The response rate was 20% with nivolumab versus 9% with docetaxel (P=0.008). The median progression-free survival was 3.5 months with nivolumab versus 2.8 months with docetaxel (hazard ratio for death or disease progression, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.81; P<0.001). The expression of the PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) was neither prognostic nor predictive of benefit. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 were reported in 7% of the patients in the nivolumab group as compared with 55% of those in the docetaxel group. Conclusions Among patients with advanced, previously treated squamous-cell NSCLC, overall survival, response rate, and progression-free survival were significantly better with nivolumab than with docetaxel, regardless of PD-L1 expression level. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 017 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01642004 .).
Background In patients with melanoma, ipilimumab (an antibody against cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 [CTLA-4]) prolongs overall survival, and nivolumab (an antibody against the programmed death 1 [PD-1] receptor) produced durable tumor regression in a phase 1 trial. On the basis of their distinct immunologic mechanisms of action and supportive preclinical data, we conducted a phase 1 trial of nivolumab combined with ipilimumab in patients with advanced melanoma. Methods We administered intravenous doses of nivolumab and ipilimumab in patients every 3 weeks for 4 doses, followed by nivolumab alone every 3 weeks for 4 doses (concurrent regimen). The combined treatment was subsequently administered every 12 weeks for up to 8 doses. In a sequenced regimen, patients previously treated with ipilimumab received nivolumab every 2 weeks for up to 48 doses. Results A total of 53 patients received concurrent therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab, and 33 received sequenced treatment. The objective-response rate (according to modified World Health Organization criteria) for all patients in the concurrent-regimen group was 40%. Evidence of clinical activity (conventional, unconfirmed, or immune-related response or stable disease for ≥24 weeks) was observed in 65% of patients. At the maximum doses that were associated with an acceptable level of adverse events (nivolumab at a dose of 1 mg per kilogram of body weight and ipilimumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram), 53% of patients had an objective response, all with tumor reduction of 80% or more. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events related to therapy occurred in 53% of patients in the concurrent-regimen group but were qualitatively similar to previous experience with monotherapy and were generally reversible. Among patients in the sequenced-regimen group, 18% had grade 3 or 4 adverse events related to therapy and the objective-response rate was 20%. Conclusions Concurrent therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab had a manageable safety profile and provided clinical activity that appears to be distinct from that in published data on monotherapy, with rapid and deep tumor regression in a substantial proportion of patients. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01024231 .).
Background Patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma that progresses after platinum-based chemotherapy have a poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Methods In this open-label, international, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 542 patients with advanced urothelial cancer that recurred or progressed after platinum-based chemotherapy to receive pembrolizumab (a highly selective, humanized monoclonal IgG4κ isotype antibody against programmed death 1 [PD-1]) at a dose of 200 mg every 3 weeks or the investigator’s choice of chemotherapy with paclitaxel, docetaxel, or vinflunine. The coprimary end points were overall survival and progression-free survival, which were assessed among all patients and among patients who had a tumor PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) combined positive score (the percentage of PD-L1-expressing tumor and infiltrating immune cells relative to the total number of tumor cells) of 10% or more. Results The median overall survival in the total population was 10.3 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.0 to 11.8) in the pembrolizumab group, as compared with 7.4 months (95% CI, 6.1 to 8.3) in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio for death, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.91; P=0.002). The median overall survival among patients who had a tumor PD-L1 combined positive score of 10% or more was 8.0 months (95% CI, 5.0 to 12.3) in the pembrolizumab group, as compared with 5.2 months (95% CI, 4.0 to 7.4) in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.37 to 0.88; P=0.005). There was no significant between-group difference in the duration of progression-free survival in the total population (hazard ratio for death or disease progression, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.81 to 1.19; P=0.42) or among patients who had a tumor PD-L1 combined positive score of 10% or more (hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.28; P=0.24). Fewer treatment-related adverse events of any grade were reported in the pembrolizumab group than in the chemotherapy group (60.9% vs. 90.2%); there were also fewer events of grade 3, 4, or 5 severity reported in the pembrolizumab group than in the chemotherapy group (15.0% vs. 49.4%). Conclusions Pembrolizumab was associated with significantly longer overall survival (by approximately 3 months) and with a lower rate of treatment-related adverse events than chemotherapy as second-line therapy for platinum-refractory advanced urothelial carcinoma. (Funded by Merck; KEYNOTE-045 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02256436 .).