In conjunction with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors, sonepcizumab improves overall survival of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC), according to a study published in Cancer.1

mRCC is usually incurable, despite several advances in treatment in recent years. VEGF inhibitors improve progression-free survival, but tumors evolve resistance to these drugs. For the present study, researchers evaluated whether sonepcizumab, a monoclonal antibody, can limit tumor resistance to VEGF-directed therapy.

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Forty patients, 30 of whom had metastatic disease, were enrolled to this phase 2 trial between May 2013 and December 2014. When the study was discontinued in September 2015, median progression-free survival was 2.2 months, and the median overall survival was 21.7 months. No complete responses were reported.

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No grade 3-4 treatment-related adverse events were observed; fatigue was the most common grade 1-2 event, which was reported for 12 patients.

The authors conclude that although the primary endpoint was not met, the improvement in overall survival is encouraging. Sonepcizumab should be investigated further as a complement to PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors, in addition to VEGF inhibitors.


  1. Pal SK, Drabkin HA, Reeves JA, et al. A phase 2 study of the sphingosine-1-phosphate antibody sonepcizumab in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Cancer. 2016 Oct 11. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30393 [Epub ahead of print]