December 09, 2016
Combination immunotherapy shows promise for treating bladder cancer
BY Scott Merville
Combination immunotherapy is producing response rates ranging from 26 to 38% among patients with metastatic bladder cancer in a clinical trial led by MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“Until the first, recent approval of immune checkpoint therapy, patients with bladder cancer have not had new treatment options for over 30 years. We’re quickly moving from immune checkpoint monotherapy to immune checkpoint combination therapies to improve outcomes for patients with bladder cancer,” said study principal investigator Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson.
In the randomized phase I/II clinical trial known as CheckMate 032, patients who progress after platinum-based chemotherapy received either the anti-PD1 inhibitor nivolumab, or one of two combinations of nivolumab plus the CTLA4 inhibitor ipilimumab. One combination had a higher dose of ipilimumab, the other a higher dose of nivolumab, given every three weeks for four cycles, followed by nivolumab every two weeks.
Patients receiving the combination with the higher dose of ipilimumab had the highest objective response rate (38.5%), which is confirmed complete response (disappearance of tumors) plus confirmed partial response (at least a 30% shrinkage of tumors).
“These early results with the higher dose ipilimumab provide evidence for improved responses with combination immune checkpoint therapy, which is exciting news to help drive the field to develop and test combination treatment strategies as a new standard of care for patients with metastatic disease, as well as for patients with earlier stages of disease,” Sharma, who also is scientific director of MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform and an investigator with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson. The platform is part of MD Anderson’s Cancer Moon Shots Program™ to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating development of therapies, prevention efforts and early detection based on scientific discoveries.
Learn more about the CheckMate 032 trial in MD Anderson’s newsroom.