PD-1 Antibodies

One popular poster, titled “Safety and clinical activity of MK-3475 as initial therapy in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer,” was presented by Naiyer Rizvi, MD, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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MK-4375 is a PD-1 antibody that showed robust antitumor activity in the first-line setting in patients with locally advanced disease that expresses PD-L1. Of 84 patients included in the study, 57 had tumors that expressed PD-L1. Of these, 45 initiated treatment. Preliminary data indicated an ORR of 36%.

RELATED: The Promise of PD-1/PD-L1 Antagonists in Treating Metastatic Melanoma

Another poster, presented by Edward B. Garon, MD, from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, also examined the effect of MK-3475 in patients who had been treated previously. In this study, 221 patients with PD-L1 expression were treated, with an ORR of 15%.


Scott Joseph Antonia, MD, PhD, from the Moffitt Cancer Center, also presented a couple of interesting posters in the realm of immunotherapy.

One examined nivolumab in combination with standard chemotherapy. Results showed that the treatment yielded good response along with a tolerable side effect profile. ORR was noted to be about 33% to 50% in this phase 1 study.

The second poster, also presented by Dr. Antonia, was titled “The combination of nivolumab (anti-PD-1) and ipilimumab used in the first-line setting in patients with both expression or non-expression of PD-L1.”

In this phase 1 study, the combination demonstrated feasibility, but further investigation in larger phase 2 and phase 3 studies are required.

Another poster that caught my attention was presented by Jong-Mu Sun, MD, from Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Korea. This study demonstrated that PD-L1 expression may be a poor prognostic marker in patients with non-squamous cell NSCLC. This finding will have an impact on PFS and OS of patients who are noted to progress rapidly in light of the swiftly developing PD-1 antibodies.

Final Thoughts

There were many other posters that clearly merit mention, but it would be too difficult to cover them all in this article, so I apologize to all the researchers behind the remarkable work presented at ASCO 2014.

As a fellow, it is always a treat to visit Chicago in the summer and enjoy the beautiful city and its restaurants. (I thought the best restaurant of this trip was Shaw’s Crab House. Try it if you like good sea food!) And at the same time, I have the opportunity to learn about some amazing, cutting edge science.

I am excited for my visit next year, which will be my first ASCO conference after completing my fellowship and working as an attending physician. I am looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

Muhammad Rizvi, MD, is a fellow in the division of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA.