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Maintenance Therapy after First Line

GRACE Video

Maintenance Therapy for Advanced NSCLC

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GRACEcast-522_Lung_West_Maintenance_Therapy_Advanced_NSCLC

 

Dr. Jack West, Swedish Cancer Institute, defines maintenance therapy in advanced NSCLC and discusses maintenance treatment strategies.

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For patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, our typical approach, if we have someone who does not have a driver mutation that we typically treat with a pill-based targeted therapy, is to give chemotherapy. That chemotherapy is typically given in a cycle of three weeks or sometimes a four week period of time where the blood counts go down and then recover. That treatment is typically given once every three weeks, sometimes once or twice on a weekly basis in that three week interval, but we typically give that therapy for about four to six cycles of therapy — that’s about three to five months of treatment. By that time, by four to six cycles in, the two drug combination that includes a drug called platinum is usually creating some cumulative side effects: fatigue, low blood counts, and other complicating issues that make it increasingly challenging to administer more of the same potentially intensive therapy, and by four to six cycles you really tend to reach a point of diminishing returns.

At that point we often favor a maintenance therapy approach. That is, dropping the carboplatin or stopping all of the agents that have been given previously and either continuing one or more of the agents from the first line setting, or using what’s called switch maintenance to give a completely different treatment. These maintenance therapies are designed to do what their name suggests — to maintain a response after we’ve seen the most shrinkage that we’re likely to get from the more intensive first line therapy.

When we do a continuous maintenance approach, it’s typically taking a drug like cisplatin or carboplatin in combination with one or two partner drugs, usually a second chemotherapy agent and sometimes Avastin which blocks a tumor’s blood supply, and then after four to six cycles we drop the platinum and we will typically continue a drug like Alimta if that’s been given in the first line setting, and if a drug like Avastin has also been given we might continue that and give Alimta and Avastin together until the cancer progresses.

If a combination like carboplatin and Taxol were given with Avastin, the maintenance therapy is often just the Avastin because Taxol tends to have some cumulative neuropathy issues — numbness and tingling that can lead to a real limitation in how much of that therapy you can give. We might also consider a switch maintenance approach — instead of continuing some of the agents, come in with Alimta as a single agent if a patient has non-squamous histology. Another agent that is approved as a switch maintenance therapy is Tarceva (erlotinib) — this doesn’t tend to be as favored as a switch maintenance because the efficacy of Tarceva in patients who don’t have an EGFR mutation tends to be on the lower side.

What do these maintenance therapies have in common? Well they’re all agents that can be given on a longitudinal basis without a lot of cumulative side effects and they tend to be the agents that have good activity in patients who have already been on prior therapy. So any of these is a reasonable choice, the most common being a continuation maintenance of dropping the platinum and continuing one or two partner drugs that were given with it, or sometimes switching to an agent like Alimta (pemetrexed) or Tarceva (erlotinib). It’s also reasonable to not pursue maintenance therapy if a patient has cumulative side effects and really needs a break from therapy. That is certainly something to discuss with the patient; it’s not as if maintenance therapy is a mandate for all patients, but it is something that is a strong consideration if a patient is motivated and can continue to tolerate ongoing therapy after four to six cycles.


GRACE Video

Rociletinib/Osimertinib for EGFR T790M-negative NSCLC

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GCVL_LU-F13_Rociletinib_Osimertinib_EGFR_T790M-Negative_NSCLC

 

Dr. Jack West, Swedish Cancer Institute, reviews trial evidence for the efficacy of rociletinib and osimertinib for EGFR acquired resistance not driven by a T790M mutation.

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For patients who have an activating mutation in their cancer known as EGFR we have several very good first line treatment options to consider. There are three leading contenders as oral targeted therapies that block EGFR and tend to work very well for patients with an EGFR mutation. These agents are known as Iressa (gefitinib), Tarceva (erlotinib), and Gilotrif (afatinib). These agents have a chance of shrinking the tumor in the range of 60% to 75% which is great, but unfortunately these responses do not last forever and on average, patients will develop progression of their cancer, so-called acquired resistance to this first line therapy, after something in the range of nine to 12 months — can be less, can be more.

The question is what to do when that occurs. Well, there are a couple of agents that have shown great promise and great activity, at least in the subset of patients who have a mutation, found at the time of this acquired resistance, that is known as T790M. And so we repeat a biopsy of an area of progressing cancer while patients are on and progressing on this first line EGFR inhibitor, and 50% or 60% will have this acquired resistance mutation known as T790M. For those patients, we standardly consider drugs like osimertinib and rociletinib, and I say standardly consider as if they’re commercially available, and they’re not yet, at this moment in late 2015, FDA approved but it is expected that both will be approved by the FDA based on their very good activity in the very near future, perhaps by the time you see this.

But these agents are best studied and have their greatest activity in the patients with a T790M mutation. So what about the patients who are still 40% or 50% of that population with progressing cancer on an EGFR inhibitor who don’t have a T790M mutation? It turns out that both of these agents have good activity, or at least some degree of activity, in patients who are T790M-negative. It doesn’t tend to be as long-lasting and the response rates tend to be lower, but the activity is certainly encouraging.

GCVL_LU-XXNN_Jack_West_Swedish_15_01

When you look at what’s called a waterfall plot that’s shown here of how patients respond, the bars going downward represent patients whose cancers have shrunk, and the ones that go upward are the ones whose cancers have progressed on a therapy. You can see that when we look at patients who received osimertinib, the AstraZeneca drug AZD9291, there is good activity in the majority of patients who receive this agent, even if they have no T790M mutation.

GCVL_LU-XXNN_Jack_West_Swedish_15_02

The same is true for rociletinib, the Clovis drug CO1686 — the waterfall plot shows that most of the bars do go down, and that a lot of patients receive a substantial benefit, even if they do not have T790M detected in their rebiopsied tumor.

So there are studies that are looking specifically at these agents in patients who are T790M-negative. A trial with rociletinib known as TIGER-3 is looking at patients who have received prior EGFR inhibitors like Iressa, Tarceva or Gilotrif, and have also received prior chemotherapy. These patients are then randomized to either receive rociletinib or a standard chemotherapy as a single agent, and there are several that your doctor can choose from. This trial will be looking at which patients do better depending on whether they get the targeted therapy or standard chemotherapy.

There is another trial being done with osimertinib in combination with an EGFR monoclonal antibody known as necitumumab, so a two drug combination being looked at in patients who are T790M-negative after progressing on a first line EGFR inhibitor. So both of these agents are being studied not just in patients with a T790M-positive cancer, but a T790M-negative cancer, and if you do have acquired resistance and are found to not have a T790M mutation, you might want to look into information about these trials to see if one might be a good choice for you.


GRACE Video

Timing of Second Generation ALK Inhibitors: First Line vs. Treatment after Acquired Resistance

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GCVL_LU-FC02b_Second_Gen_ALK_Timing_First_Line_Acquired_Resistance

 

Dr. Ross Camidge, University of Colorado, addresses the question of whether to use a second generation ALK inhibitor as first line therapy or only after acquired resistance to crizotinib.

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One of the long-standing philosophies in oncology is you use your best drugs first. To be honest that goes back to a mindset that maybe people weren’t going to survive for you to try a treatment in a second line or third line setting, so you were just trying to get in your best drug in whilst you had a chance. Now we’ve seen with the next generation ALK inhibitors, they have better activity in the brain, they have activity after crizotinib has stopped working, so the logical question is, what if you come in with these drugs first instead of crizotinib? Could they displace the recently crowned king of ALK crizotinib by being the new pretender? Well, maybe.

The only direct head to head study is with alectinib and that’s the so-called ALEX study — alectinib, ALE, compared to crizotinib which is also called Xalkori and that’s where the X comes from — ALEX. There’s a very similar study run in Japan which is called the J-ALEX study. Both of those have finished accrual, so we should see those results in the near future.

Now, when we get that data it’s going to be very interesting to look at. Does the alectinib just have to be better that the crizotinib? Well, sure, it probably has to be and it probably will be. The real question is, how much better? If it’s just a little bit better, sure that’s a positive study, they’ll get a license for the drug, but you could still use crizotinib followed by alectinib, or followed by any other second generation ALK inhibitor, and maybe that sequential benefit may be more than if you use your best card up first.

What if it’s the same as the sequential therapy? Well that might change peoples’ prescribing if the drug is better tolerated, more convenient, or cheaper, and new drugs tend not to be cheaper. Perhaps what we’re hoping for is that by suppressing some of the dominant mechanisms of resistance from the get go, we’ll actually change the natural history of the disease. Every time resistance occurs, more cells divide, they grow up, and they’re generating the next and the next mechanism of resistance.

So the more you can suppress cell turnover from the get go, the more maybe you can extend out the overall duration of control — but we have to wait for those results to come out and until they come out, I wouldn’t start using second generation inhibitors in the first line setting without that data.


GRACE Video

CNS Disease in ALK-Positive NSCLC: Monitoring and Systemic vs. Radiation Therapy

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GCVL_LU-FC05_CNS_Disease_ALK-Positive_NSCLC_Monitoring_Systemic_Radiation_Therapy

 

Dr. Ross Camidge, University of Colorado, discusses management of CNS progression for ALK-positive NSCLC including monitoring frequency and preferences between systemic and radiation therapy.

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As we started to treat ALK-positive patients with crizotinib, it became clear that the brain was somewhat of an Achilles heel. It was a common site for people, when their cancer started to grow, for that to be the site where their cancer was growing, and we know that in many of those cases that’s the only site where the cancer is growing. We know from a small number of studies where people have actually sampled blood levels and from the fluid around the brain that actually very little of the crizotinib is getting in, so it’s maybe just that you have a relatively under-treated part of you.

Now that plus the fact that people fortunately live a long time with ALK-positive lung cancer means that the brain can become this area that will crop up with disease. For me that means you should absolutely keep an eye on the brain. If you have no known disease in the brain I would do an MRI scan at least every six months. If you do have known disease in the brain, even if it’s treated, I would be looking more frequently, possibly as frequently as one scanning the body on treatment, or maybe half as often.

Now if you do have disease in the brain, because the activity of crizotinib is not zero, unless you have a lot of symptoms from the disease in your brain, many people will start on the crizotinib, but obviously keeping a close eye because if you do progress in the brain, then you may have to salvage it.

You can salvage it in a number of different ways. One would tend to stay on the crizotinib and either have local radiotherapy or occasionally surgery depending on the site of the deposits in the brain. For me though, there’s a difference between one type of radiotherapy and another. For example, you can either treat the whole brain, what’s called whole brain radiotherapy, or you can treat individual lesions with what’s called stereotactic radiosurgery or SRS. I very much prefer giving SRS, even to a reasonably large number of lesions, than whole brain radiotherapy for the simple reason that people with ALK-positive disease are now living long enough that they’re manifesting the side effects of whole brain radiotherapy and that can mean word finding difficulties, memory difficulties.

So I think for me if you’re just at the point where you can spot weld a few areas with stereotactic radiosurgery, that’s fine — stay on the crizotinib. But if someone is thinking about whole brain radiotherapy, I would probably switch to a next generation ALK inhibitor rather than do the whole brain radiotherapy because we know they have good activity in the brain.


GRACE Video

Ceritinib and Other Second Generation ALK Inhibitors for Acquired Resistance in ALK-Positive NSCLC

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Camidge_Ceritinib_Second_Generation_ALK_Inhibitors_Acquired_Resistance_ALK-Positive_NSCLC

 

Dr. Ross Camidge, University of Colorado, describes the second generation ALK-inhibitors which provide good options for ALK-positive NSCLC patients who have developed acquired resistance to crizotinib.

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One of the exciting things about the ALK field is that in a relatively short space of time, we’ve gone from defining a molecular subtype of lung cancer that responds very nicely to a first generation drug, crizotinib, that we’ve actually not got more choices. More specific, more potent ALK inhibitors have been developed: ceritinib, alectinib, brigatinib to name a few. Ceritinib is already licensed — the other two drugs have got what’s called FDA breakthrough approval. That means the FDA is very keep to look at the results, and hopefully if they’re good, will license the drug fairly quickly.

What they’re showing is, one: because they tend to be slightly cleaner drugs, they have a different side effect profile from crizotinib. For example they tend to not have the swelling of the ankles and other areas of swelling which is associated with an off target effect of crizotinib called anti-MET activity. However they’re not completely free from side effects. Ceritinib for example has a lot of gastrointestinal side effects — a lot of nausea, a lot of vomiting and diarrhea, and nearly 60% of people need a dose reduction. The alectinib and brigatinib are looking relatively cleaner in terms of the side effects.

In terms of whether they work: after the crizotinib has stopped working, people have progressed in one of two ways. Either their cancer is growing in their brain because crizotinib doesn’t penetrate into the brain very well, or the cancer has evolved and changed its biology in the presence of the crizotinib.

The good news is these next generation drugs work on both of those mechanisms. Either more is getting into the brain or the drug is just more potent, and therefore we’re seeing responses in the brain, and also they work on some of the known resistance mechanisms to crizotinib. We’re seeing 50-70% of people responding in their body after initially progressing on crizotinib.

So very rapidly we now have a clearly defined next line of therapy for ALK-positive patients progressing on crizotinib.


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