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Nemvaleukin Alfa Alone and in Combination With Pembrolizumab for Advanced-Stage Solid Tumors


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Initial results from the ARTISTRY-1 study to be presented by Vaishampayan et al at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting showed that an experimental drug called nemvaleukin alfa, when used alone or in combination with pembrolizumab, may be effective in treating several types of late-stage cancers in some patients (Abstract 2500). Nemvaleukin alfa is an engineered version of the naturally occurring signaling protein interleukin-2, which attaches to immune cells at the interleukin-2 alpha receptor. This in turn triggers the action of CD8-positive T cells and natural killer cells.

New generations and combinations of immunotherapies are needed, researchers explained, because existing treatments do not work for all patients, especially those whose cancer recurs and/or metastasizes after standard treatment.

Details From the Trial

Results from the phase I/II ARTISTRY-1 trial showed that a series of injections of nemvaleukin alfa stopped tumor growth or resulted in some shrinkage for at least 6 months in 4 (18%) of 22 men and women with advanced renal cell carcinoma. Some tumor shrinkage was also observed in 4 (8%) of 46 patients with various forms of melanoma. All patients had cancer that had previously failed to respond to other immunotherapies. Side effects were minimal, although some patients experienced chills and anemia.

The study findings also showed that nemvaleukin alfa demonstrated anticancer activity when used in combination with injections of pembrolizumab. Researchers found that the drug combination led to a sustained and tenfold increase in the production of CD8-positive T cells and natural killer cells. This occurred in 22 of 137 patients (16%) with multiple types of cancer, over half of whom (59%) experienced a total stall in progression of their cancers. Similar anticancer immune cell activity was observed in 4 (28%) of 14 women with ovarian cancer whose disease did not respond to initial treatment with chemotherapy.

Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD

Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD

“Our early results demonstrate that nemvaleukin alfa is a generally safe, tolerable, and potentially effective therapy for several different cancers,” said study senior investigator Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD, Associate Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and a member of Perlmutter Cancer Center. “If further trial results prove successful, then nemvaleukin alfa, when prescribed on its own or in combination with other anticancer medications, could serve as a valuable option for people with advanced-stage cancer in which other therapies have not worked and for whom there are few remaining treatment options.”

Dr. Velcheti, who also serves as Director of Perlmutter’s Thoracic Medical Oncology Program, cautioned that further results from the ongoing study would have to demonstrate similar benefits before nemvaleukin alfa treatment could become a standard of care for patients with advanced cancers.

Nemvaleukin alfa has already been granted fast-track status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, based in part on earlier ARTISTRY-1 findings.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit coi.asco.org.

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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