The American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research was held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta and attracted approximately 18,000 participants from around the world, including scientists, cancer survivors, clinicians, allied health professionals, and industry professionals. The conference highlighted recent advances in the treatment, management, and prevention of cancer.

In an ongoing phase I study, Prasad Adusumilli, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues found that mesothelin-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is safe in patients with solid tumors. The investigators also found that it is feasible to administer CAR T cells regionally into the chest cavity and achieve antitumor activity.

“We also found that exhausted CAR T-cell function in the presence of large tumor burden can be rescued by addition of an antiprogrammed cell death protein 1 (PD1) agent, and CAR T cells combined with an anti-PD1 strategy can be effective in therapy-resistant mesothelioma,” Adusumilli said. “Overall, ‘cold’ solid tumors can be rendered ‘hot’ by administration of CAR T cells and can keep the tumor micro-environment ‘warm’ by the addition of an anti-PD1 agent.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Atara Biotherapeutics.

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In an interim analysis of an ongoing clinical trial, Kim Reiss Binder, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues found that maintenance treatment with rucaparib monotherapy was extremely well tolerated and provided disease control in patients with platinum-sensitive, advanced pancreatic cancer and a BRCA or PALB2 mutation.

“At the time of the interim analysis (with a median potential follow-up of 257 days), our median progression-free survival was 9.1 months; two patients had been on study for greater than one year and an additional eight patients had been on study for greater than six months,” Reiss Binder said. “Additionally, we noted an overall response rate of 36.8 percent, with responses observed in four patients with germline BRCA2 mutations, two patients with germline PALB2 mutations, and one patient with a somatic BRCA2 mutation.”

At this time, according to Reiss Binder, the study continues to accrue with 30 of 42 planned patients enrolled.

“Although these data are extremely preliminary and require substantial further validation, there is an exciting signal that monotherapy rucaparib might serve as a maintenance treatment for patients with platinum-sensitive, advanced BRCA– or PALB2-related pancreatic cancer,” Reiss Binder said. “Being able to offer a lower-toxicity maintenance therapy for these patients in lieu of perpetual chemotherapy would be a tremendous breakthrough.”

The study was funded by Clovis Oncology, the manufacturer of rucaparib.

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In another study, Ryan Sullivan, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, and colleagues found that treatment with pembrolizumab plus entinostat in patients with melanoma previously treated with anti-PD1 therapy was associated with significant benefit in a population of patients with limited treatment options.

“We enrolled 53 patients with melanoma who progressed on prior PD1 inhibitor therapy into an expansion cohort of the combination of pembrolizumab and entinostat,” Sullivan said.

The primary end point was overall response rate. The investigators reported a 19 percent overall response rate, with one confirmed complete response and nine confirmed partial responses. One of the secondary end points was the six-month clinical benefit rate, which was 36 percent. Another secondary end point was progression-free survival, which was a median of 4.3 months.

“A number of preliminary correlative data were shown,” Sullivan said. “Basically, responders had robust reduction in myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) by C2D15, which fits the hypothesis that one of the key targets of entinostat is MDSCs and that through their inhibition this combination may work better. Entinostat led to a number of immunologic changes in the tumor environment, particularly in responders.”

The study was funded by Syndax, the manufacturer of entinostat.

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Shoba Navai, M.D., of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues evaluated human epidermal growth factor receptor CAR T cells in combination with lymphodepletion chemotherapy in patients with advanced sarcomas.

“In the 11 patients treated, we noted that the treatment is well tolerated and shows early promising signs of clinical efficacy,” Navai said. “At this point in time, we do not anticipate a change in general clinical practice, as our phase I trial was specifically designed to test safety. However, although we have treated a small number of patients, the clinical responses we have seen indicate that this CAR T-cell product should be further tested in a larger population to help determine which patient group might be most likely to benefit in the setting of relapsed or refractory human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive sarcoma.”

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AACR: HPV Vax Low for Adults at High Risk for HIV Infection

WEDNESDAY, April 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many adults at high risk for HIV infection have low rates of human papillomavirus vaccination, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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AACR: Surgery Tied to Improved Survival in HER2+ Breast Cancer

TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — For patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive stage IV breast cancer, surgery is associated with improved survival, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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AACR: Prostate Cancer Incidence Dropping, Stable in Most Countries

TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates are decreasing or stabilizing in most countries, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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AACR: Pembrolizumab Beneficial for Advanced Small Cell Lung Cancer

TUESDAY, April 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — For patients with advanced small cell lung cancer, pembrolizumab shows antitumor activity with durable responses, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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AACR: Longer Survival With Gilteritinib in FLT3mut+ AML

MONDAY, April 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — For patients with FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 mutations who have relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia, gilteritinib results in longer overall survival and higher response rates than salvage chemotherapy, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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AACR: High BMI Before 50 Raising Pancreatic Cancer Mortality

MONDAY, April 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Higher body mass index, especially before age 50, is associated with increased pancreatic cancer mortality, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from March 29 to April 3 in Atlanta.

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