Pembrolizumab in combination with ipilimumab as second-line or later therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: KEYNOTE-021 cohorts D and H

Matthew A Gubens, Lecia V Sequist, James P Stevenson, Steven F Powell, Liza C Villaruz, Shirish M Gadgeel, Corey J Langer, Amita Patnaik, Hossein Borghaei, Shadia I Jalal, Joseph Fiore, Sanatan Saraf, Harry Raftopoulos, Leena Gandhi
Lung Cancer: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2019, 130: 59-66

OBJECTIVES: Combination immunotherapy may result in improved antitumor activity compared with single-agent treatment. We report results from dose-finding and dose-expansion cohorts of the phase 1/2 KEYNOTE-021 study that evaluated combination therapy with anti‒programmed death 1 (PD-1) antibody pembrolizumab plus anti‒cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) antibody ipilimumab in patients with previously treated advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eligibility criteria stipulated histologically/cytologically confirmed advanced NSCLC and treatment failure on ≥1 prior systemic therapy (platinum-based chemotherapy or targeted therapy for patients with EGFR/ALK aberrations). In the dose-finding cohort, patients initially received pembrolizumab 10 mg/kg plus ipilimumab 1 or 3 mg/kg once every 3 weeks for 4 cycles followed by pembrolizumab 10 mg/kg monotherapy for up to 2 years. Based on emerging published data, subsequent patients received pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg plus ipilimumab 1 mg/kg. Objective response rate (ORR; primary efficacy endpoint) was assessed per RECIST version 1.1 by blinded, independent central review. Phase 2 hypothesis that ORR would be greater than the 20% rate for historical controls was evaluated using the exact binomial test.

RESULTS: Fifty-one patients were enrolled; 71% received ≥2 prior lines of therapy. No dose-limiting toxicities occurred at any dose level. Among patients who received pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg plus ipilimumab 1 mg/kg (n = 44), ORR was 30% (95% CI, 17%-45%), but not statistically significantly >20% (P = 0.0858). Median progression-free survival in this group was 4.1 (95% CI, 1.4-5.8) months; median overall survival was 10.9 (95% CI, 6.1-23.7) months. With pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg plus ipilimumab 1 mg/kg, incidences of treatment-related adverse events, grade 3-5 treatment-related adverse events, and immune-mediated adverse events and infusion reactions were 64%, 29%, and 42%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with heavily pretreated advanced NSCLC, pembrolizumab plus ipilimumab showed evidence of antitumor activity, but was associated with meaningful toxicity.

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