A new type of immunotherapy treatment for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is being tested by Missak Haigentz, Jr, MD, medical director of hematology and oncology for Atlantic Health System. Early results appear promising in this phase 1/2 clinical trial of ADXS-503, a new type of cancer therapy which targets “hotspot” mutations that commonly occur in specific cancer types, both by itself and in combination with pembrolizumab.

Dr. Haigentz and colleagues published early results of this study Inn conjunction with an ASCO 2020 presentation, Dr. Haigentz and colleagues published early results

“I find these results very encouraging, although they are early,” said Dr. Haigentz, who also serves as principal investigator for the Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium, the only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program.  “New treatments are urgently needed for this form of cancer.”

Presenters reported 16-week results of the first patients dosed in Part B of this study, designed for NSCLC patients whose cancer has progressed despite treatment with pembrolizumab.  Among the findings were that the first two patients whose cancer had previously progressed while on pembrolizumab alone had tumors that stopped growing or were reduced in size while on the two-drug combination. One patient’s tumor had reduced by 25% after 16 weeks of combination therapy.  The second patient achieved a partial response with a nearly 60% reduction of the lung tumor burden. Responses to combination treatment of patients whose cancer had spread while on pembrolizumab immediately before starting the clinical trial suggest ADXS-503 may re-sensitize or enhance response to pembrolizumab.

Examination of biomarkers (molecular indicators of disease) showed activation of two types of immune system T cells, which are known to fight cancer cells, with new CD8+ T cells generated in all seven patients evaluated.  Both as a standalone treatment and in combination with pembrolizumab, ADXS-503 appeared safe and well tolerated with no toxicities at the dosage given.