Melanoma research by CPMC’s David Minor, MD, featured as leading news by the American Society of Clinical Oncology

California Pacific CURRENTS: The online journal of CPMC Research Institute

June 16, 2016

A study co-authored by David Minor, MD, was highlighted in the American Society of Clinical Oncology News and Cancer Therapy Advisor (June 14, 2016).   The study assessed the effects of talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC)—a virus that preferentially infects and kills cancer cells—combined with the immunotherapy ipilimumab, to treat advanced melanoma.  The combination was shown to be more effective and safer than either agent alone. Results were published this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Minor, a Senior Scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, and colleague Mohammed Kashani-Sabet, MD, Senior Scientist and Director of CPMC’s Cancer Program, are internationally renowned for their foundational research on cancer immunotherapies, particularly the study that led to FDA approval in 2014 of the game-changing drug nivolumab.

The recent open-label, multicenter, phase 1b trial enrolled 19 patients with stage IIIB-IV melanoma. T-VEC was administered in combination with ipilimumab (a checkpoint PD1 inhibitor).

The primary end point was incidence of dose-limiting toxicities; secondary end points were objective response rate (ORR, meaning a complete or partial response to the treatment) by immune-related response criteria, and safety.

After a median follow-up of 20 months, the ORR was 50%, and 44% of patients experienced durable responses lasting at least six months. Neither dose-limiting toxicities nor new safety signals were detected for either agent.

“Combining immunotherapeutic agents with different mechanisms of action may enhance efficacy,” said Dr. Minor. “This combination of an oncolytic virus and an immunotherapeutic checkpoint inhibitor may represent new treatment options for patients with advanced, metastatic melanoma that cannot be adequately addressed by surgery. We eagerly await further results of the combination in an ongoing phase II trial.”