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Ascierto P.A.,Unit of Melanoma | Kalos M.,Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute | Kalos M.,University of Pennsylvania | Schaer D.A.,Sloan Kettering Cancer Center | And 5 more authors.
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2013

Modulation of the immune system by targeting coinhibitory and costimulatory receptors has become a promising newapproach of immunotherapy for cancer. The recent approval of the CTLA-4-blocking antibody ipilimumab for the treatment of melanoma was a watershed event, opening up a new era in the field of immunotherapy. Ipilimumab was the first treatment to ever show enhanced overall survival (OS) for patients with stage IVmelanoma. However, measuring response rates using standard Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) or modified World Health Organization criteria or progression-free survival does not accurately capture the potential for clinical benefit for ipilimumab-treated patients. As immunotherapy approaches are translated into more tumor types, it is important to study biomarkers, which may be more predictive of OS to identify the patients most likely to have clinical benefit. Ipilimumab is the first-in-class of a series of immunomodulating antibodies that are in clinical development. Anti-PD1 (nivolumab and MK-3475), anti-PD-L1 (BMS-936 559, RG7446, and MEDI4736), anti-CD137 (urelumab), anti-OX40, anti- GITR, and anti-CD40 monoclonal antibodies are just some of the agents that are being actively investigated in clinical trials, each having the potential for combination with the ipilimumab to enhance its effectiveness. Development of rational combinations of immunomodulatory antibodies with small-molecule pathway inhibitor therapies such as vemurafenib makes the discovery of predictive biomarkers even more important. Identifying reliable biomarkers is a necessary step in personalizing the treatment of each patient's cancer through a baseline assessment of tumor gene expression and/or immune profile to optimize therapy for the best chance of therapeutic success. © 2012 American Association for Cancer Research.

Ascierto P.A.,Unit of Melanoma
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy | Year: 2015

Since 2011, the approval of four different classes of novel drugs (the anti-CTLA-4 agent, ipilimumab; BRAF inhibitors [BRAFi]; MEK inhibitors [MEKi]; and the anti-PD-1 drug, pembrolizumab) has revolutionized the care of advanced melanoma, with the disease becoming a model for the development of new treatments for other types of cancer. Further advances in the treatment of melanoma represented some of the key highlights of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2014 congress. The first phase III trial of an anti-PD-1 agent to report the CA209-037 study included 405 patients with metastatic melanoma previously treated with ipilimumab who were randomized 2:1 to receive nivolumab 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks or investigator’s choice chemotherapy. Nivolumab was associated with a higher response rate than chemotherapy and was well tolerated, with adverse events mostly low grade and manageable using recommended treatment algorithms. New data on other immunotherapies, namely ipilimumab and pembrolizumab, were also reported. In addition, outside of immunotherapy, combination approaches involving targeted agents were also a major focus of ESMO this year, with two major phase III studies of combined BRAF inhibition and MEK inhibition being reported. Overall, new clinical trial findings reported at ESMO further endorse the view that melanoma, given the continued development of novel, effective compounds, can accurately be described as the most “dynamic” field of oncology at present. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Ascierto M.L.,Johns Hopkins University | Melero I.,University of Navarra | Ascierto P.A.,Unit of Melanoma
Frontiers in Oncology | Year: 2015

After Coley's observation in 1891 of tumor regression in a patient who developed a postoperative infection, the field of immunotherapy is finally reborn. Avoiding immune destruction is now considered a hallmark of cancer and the immunotherapy arena has exploded with the recent advances demonstrating an improvement in survival and a durability of response in patients with different cancer types which translates into improved overall survival benefit. Here, we provide an overview of the main immuneoncology treatment strategies that, either alone or in combination, are undergoing clinical development. Namely, we will refer to those immunotherapeutic strategies that include adoptive transfer of ex vivo activated T cells, immunomodulatory monoclonal antibodies and cancer vaccines. Our major focus will be to describe these approaches in melanoma, a cancer type transformed by immunotherapy into a potentially curable disease. © 2015 Ascierto, Melero and Ascierto.

Ascierto P.A.,Unit of Melanoma | Gogas H.J.,National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | Grob J.J.,Aix - Marseille University | Algarra S.M.,University of Navarra | And 3 more authors.
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology | Year: 2013

Interferon alfa (IFNα) and pegylated IFNα2b (PegIFNα2b) are the only agents currently approved for the adjuvant treatment of resected melanoma at high risk of recurrence. Meta-analyses showed statistically significant disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) benefits versus controls but did not clarify optimal dose/duration. We review data from all recent clinical trials to provide the latest information on dose, duration, and potential predictive factors of treatment success. Recent data largely confirm DFS and OS benefits but optimal dose/duration is not clarified. The data suggest greater responses in patients with stage III micro-metastatic versus macro-metastatic disease, and ulceration may also predict greater sensitivity to therapy, although further investigation is needed. Presently, IFNα and PegIFNα2b remain valid adjuvant therapies following resection of high-risk melanoma; the most appropriate treatment regimen should be determined on an individual patient basis according to patient lifestyle and approach, potential for toxicity, and the available clinical evidence. © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Flaherty K.T.,Massachusetts General Hospital | Hennig M.,Glaxosmithkline | Lee S.J.,Dana-Farber Cancer Institute | Ascierto P.A.,Unit of Melanoma | And 13 more authors.
The Lancet Oncology | Year: 2014

Background: Recent phase 3 trials have shown an overall survival benefit in metastatic melanoma. We aimed to assess whether progression-free survival (PFS) could be regarded as a reliable surrogate for overall survival through a meta-analysis of randomised trials. Methods: We systematically reviewed randomised trials comparing treatment regimens in metastatic melanoma that included dacarbazine as the control arm, and which reported both PFS and overall survival with a standard hazard ratio (HR). We correlated HRs for overall survival and PFS, weighted by sample size or by precision of the HR estimate, assuming fixed and random effects. We did sensitivity analyses according to presence of crossover, trial size, and dacarbazine dose. Findings: After screening 1649 reports and meeting abstracts published before Sept 8, 2013, we identified 12 eligible randomised trials that enrolled 4416 patients with metastatic melanoma. Irrespective of weighting strategy, we noted a strong correlation between the treatment effects for PFS and overall survival, which seemed independent of treatment type. Pearson correlation coefficients were 0·71 (95% CI 0·29-0·90) with a random-effects assumption, 0·85 (0·59-0·95) with a fixed-effects assumption, and 0·89 (0·68-0·97) with sample-size weighting. For nine trials without crossover, the correlation coefficient was 0·96 (0·81-0·99), which decreased to 0·93 (0·74-0·98) when two additional trials with less than 50% crossover were included. Inclusion of mature follow-up data after at least 50% crossover (in vemurafenib and dabrafenib phase 3 trials) weakened the PFS to overall survival correlation (0·55, 0·03-0·84). Inclusion of trials with no or little crossover with the random-effects assumption yielded a conservative statement of the PFS to overall survival correlation of 0·85 (0·51-0·96). Interpretation: PFS can be regarded as a robust surrogate for overall survival in dacarbazine-controlled randomised trials of metastatic melanoma; we postulate that this association will hold as treatment standards evolve and are adopted as the control arm in future trials. Funding: None. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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