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Treating Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma With Nivolumab

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Friday, June 15, 2018

Nivolumab appears to have an antitumor effect in nasopharyngeal carcinoma, according to an exploratory investigation of tumor- and plasma-based biomarkers by co-senior author Anthony T. C. Chan, MD, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Shatin, and international colleagues. The results of the study, whose primary endpoint was objective response rate, were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In the phase II NCI-9742 trial, 44 patients with multiply pretreated recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma received nivolumab at 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks until disease progression. Most patients were Asian (82%) and male (78%). The overall objective response rate was 20.5%, which included 1 complete response and 8 partial responses. No unexpected toxicity to nivolumab, a secondary endpoint, was observed.

Another secondary endpoint was survival, and “the loss of expression of one or both human leukocyte antigen class 1 proteins was associated with better progression-free survival than when both proteins were expressed,” noted Dr. Chan and colleagues. The 1-year progression-free and overall survival rates were 19.3% and 59%, respectively. “There was no association between survival and PD-L1 expression or plasma Epstein-Barr virus DNA clearance,” they stated. However, “a descriptive analysis showed that the proportion of patients who responded was higher among those with PD-L1–positive tumors (> 1% expression) than those with PD-L1–negative tumors.”

Randomized studies would shed more light on nivolumab’s potential use in this population, concluded the team, and larger cohorts may provide validation of the biomarker results.

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