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AACR 2015: Improved Responses With Ipilimumab-Nivolumab Combination vs Ipilimumab Alone in Advanced Melanoma

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Key Points

  • Among patients without BRAF mutations, those who received ipilimumab plus nivolumab had an overall response rate of 60%, compared with 37% in patients who received ipilimumab alone.
  • Among the patients with BRAF V600 mutations, those who received the drug combination had an overall response rate of 44%.
  • Side effects for patients from the combination arm were higher compared with patients treated with ipilimumab alone.

Giving the two immunotherapies ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo) simultaneously yielded better treatment responses than ipilimumab alone in patients with advanced melanoma who received no prior treatment, according to phase II clinical trial data presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, held April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia (Abstract 2860). This study was published simultaneously in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Preclinical studies in animal models demonstrated that a combination of anti–CTLA-4 and anti–PD-1 had better outcomes than when the two drugs were given individually in sequence. In a phase I trial testing the combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab for safety, some early positive responses were seen. So we tested this combination in a blinded fashion in this phase II trial,” said F. Stephen Hodi, MD, Director of the Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Trial Details

This phase II, double-blind trial enrolled 142 treatment-naive patients with advanced melanoma. Of these patients, 109 had the normal form of the gene BRAF in their tumors, and 33 had BRAF V600 mutations. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive ipilimumab plus nivolumab, followed by nivolumab alone (95 patients); or ipilimumab plus placebo, followed by placebo alone (47 patients).

Among the patients without BRAF mutations, those who received ipilimumab plus nivolumab had an overall response rate of 60%, which included 17% and 31% complete and partial response rates, respectively. Those who received ipilimumab plus placebo had an overall response rate of 37%, with no complete responses and an 11% partial response rate.

Among the patients with BRAF V600 mutations, those who received the drug combination had an overall response rate of 44%, which included 17% and 26% complete and partial response rates, respectively.

“Side effects for patients from the combination arm were higher compared with patients treated with ipilimumab alone, and this needs to be interpreted with caution,” Dr. Hodi said. “Following up with patients in the current study over a longer period of time is an important step.”

This study was supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb. 

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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