Final results from the first U.S. clinical study of a Cuban immunotherapy show that CIMAvax-EGF, a treatment targeting a particular cancer survival protein, epidermal growth factor (EGF), is safe and showed promising efficacy as part of a treatment combination with nivolumab (Opdivo) in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Principal Investigator Grace Dy, MD, presented these findings at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta.
CIMAvax effectively starves cancer cells by stimulating an immune response against circulating EGF, which the cells need to grow and proliferate.
The now-completed phase I clinical study led by Dr. Dy evaluated the safety of combining CIMAvax with nivolumab, an anti-PD1 “checkpoint inhibitor” that is the standard therapy for patients with treatment-resistant or recurrent NSCLC.
The team reports that the combination of these two immunotherapies was safe and well-tolerated.
They observed promising efficacy in patients whose tumours have low PD-L1 expression and who would not, therefore, be likely to respond well to nivolumab alone.
Biomarker analysis shows that more patients developed strong antibody responses to CIMAvax at early time points with this combination, compared to results from earlier studies where patients were given CIMAvax alone.
“We posited that CIMAvax and nivolumab may work better together than they do alone, and results from this early-phase study suggest that this is the case, particularly for those patients whose tumours are PD-L1-negative,” notes Dr. Dy, Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Associate Professor of Oncology in the Roswell Park Department of Medicine.
“We look forward to looking more fully at efficacy as we move forward with our phase II study.”