Bristol-Myers, Innate Pharma testing combined lirilumab and Opdivo in head and neck cancer

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Innate Pharma SA have announced an interim efficacy analysis from a Phase 1/2 study of the combination of lirilumab and Opdivo (nivolumab) in the cohort of advanced platinum refractory squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), including exploratory biomarker analyses of patient response by level of PD-L1 expression.

Among 29 evaluable patients with SCCHN, the objective response rate (ORR), a secondary endpoint measured by Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (RECIST), was 24% (n=7). Seventeen percent (n=5) of these evaluable patients had deep responses, with reductions in tumor burden greater than 80%. Early signals of enhanced clinical benefit were observed in PD-L1 positive tumors, with an ORR of 41% (7/17) in patients with >1% PD-L1 expression.

“The interim efficacy results indicate that targeting both the KIR and PD-1 pathways with lirilumab and Opdivo, respectively, may provide enhanced clinical activity, particularly in PD-L1 positive tumors, with deep and durable responses in some patients,” said Rom Leidner, Medical Oncologist, Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center, and lead author of the study. “We look forward to continuing the study of this novel combination in patients with advanced platinum refractory squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, which is the seventh-leading cause of cancer globally.”

“The preliminary signals of anti-tumor activity we are seeing with the combination of lirilumab and Opdivo in head and neck cancer patients compare favorably to data previously presented on Opdivo monotherapy in a similar patient population. We are encouraged by the suggestion of enhanced benefit, particularly in inflamed tumors as defined by increasing PD-L1 expression,” said Tim Reilly, head of Oncology Early Assets Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We aim to apply what we have been learning about these complementary mechanisms and biomarker subgroups to maximize the potential clinical benefit of lirilumab and Opdivo across a range of tumor types and are excited about continuing to expand our study of Opdivo with complementary pathways.”

“We are very encouraged by these interim efficacy data and are eagerly awaiting the next steps of the clinical development of the combination of lirilumab and Opdivo” said Pierre Dodion, Chief Medical Officer of Innate Pharma. “These clinical data constitute crucial progress that validates our pioneering work on the role of innate immunity and NK cells in cancer. They support our ambition to be at the forefront of developing novel combination immunotherapies.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently (Thursday) approved Opdivo (nivolumab) injection, for intravenous use, for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) with disease progression on or after platinum-based therapy. Opdivo is the first and only Immuno-Oncology treatment proven in a Phase 3 trial to significantly extend overall survival (OS) for these patients. In oncology clinical trials, OS is considered the gold standard primary endpoint to evaluate the outcome of any therapy.

Last year, Opdivo was rejected for treating lung cancer, as it was said to be too expensive.

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