Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Predicting Response to Immunotherapy in Squamous Cell Carcinoma

By: Hillary Ojeda
Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

According to a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, copy number alterations in the chromosome 3q arm may be linked to immunotherapy response in patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. In fact, this and other genetic markers may prove to be useful candidates for drug targeting in combination or sequence with immunotherapy agents. The study was published by Glenn J. Hanna, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues. 

“Because response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy predicts survival among cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma patients, it is useful to identify which clinical and genetic characteristics can help predict response,” the scientists commented.

The investigators studied 33 patients who received immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Electronic health records provided the patients clinical data, and the OncoPanel platform of the cancer center provided the genomic data. Sequencing data for a subset of the patients were analyzed, as was how the tumor genomics compared with data from already sequenced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma cohorts.

“We found that allegations in NF1 and gains in the 3q21-27 region (a region that includes ETV5, PIK3CA, and BCL6) are associated with response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy,” the scientists reported. “Our finding suggests that patients in whom the PI3K pathway is particularly active may be, especially appropriate candidates for [immune checkpoint inhibition] therapy. Furthermore, we speculate that PI3K inhibition may not be suitable in combination with [immune checkpoint inhibition] therapy in [cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma], but further studies are needed,” they concluded.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at

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