I wanted to update the audience at Cancer GRACE with some really interesting developments at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting this year. Dr Charles Drake, from Johns Hopkins University, presented data related to the agent nivolumab, a so-called PD-1 inhibitor. I’m quite sure that PD-1 inhibitors are going to be drugs you’ll be hearing a lot about in coming years, along with PD-L1 inhibitors. These are drugs that work at the interface between immune-based cells called T-cells as well the cancer cell. Essentially, what they do is they stimulate the body’s own immune response to fight cancer.
There’s been a lot of talk related to some data from a Phase I clinical trial of nivolumab that encompasses a number of cancer types, including lung cancer and melanoma, as well as patients with kidney cancer. I wanted to mention specifically the data related to kidney cancer that has been presented to date. Specifically, Dr. Drake reported results from a total of 34 patients that were treated one of two doses of nivolumab, either 1 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg. In this total cohort of 34 patients, it was noted that 29% of patients had responses. The median delay in cancer progression, also known as progression-free survival, was 7.3 months. Now this in and of itself might not seem shocking, but what I will say is that patients in this trial were very heavily pre-treated. About half of patients in this study had 3 or more prior therapies. In my experience, it is relatively rare to see patients who have had this extent of prior therapy respond so well. What might be even more impressive than the response data or the delay in cancer progression is the survival data. That, so far, indicates that about 70% of patients on the trial lived to 1 year, and about half of patients are still alive at 2 years and beyond.