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ASCO 2016 Extended Education Session – Immunotherapeutic Approaches to Treating Hematologic Malignancies

At this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, an extended education session took place on Friday June 3, 13:00–15:15pm, titled ‘Immunotherapeutic Approaches to Treating Hematologic Malignancies’.

During this session, four presentations were given in total, followed by an in-depth panel question and answer session. All presentations followed the ‘Developmental Therapeutics and Translational Research Track’.

The session was chaired by Carl H June, MD, Professor in Immunotherapy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

The opening presentation was ‘T-Cell Engaging Antibodies in Hematological Malignancies’ and the speaker was Pr Max S Topp of the University of Würzburg, Würburg, Germany.

The second presentation was ‘Possible Roles of Checkpoint Blockade in Heme Malignancies’ and was given by Philippe Armand, MD, PhD, a Senior Physician in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Armand highlighted two phase 2 studies in Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL): the CA209-205 study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Nivolumab in previously untreated or newly diagnosed cHL; and the KEYNOTE-087 trial studying pembrolizumab in patients with Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) cHL:

  • Cohort 1 (ASCT/BV failure): ORR 70%
  • Cohort 2 (ASCT-ineligible): ORR 80%

 It was also noted that in a phase 1 trial with nivolumab, 10/10 patients had 9p24 copy gain, PD-L1+/L2+/pSTAT3+. Moreover, in a phase 1 trial with pembrolizumab, 13/15 tumors were PD-L1+. This near universal genetic abnormality of 9p24 indicates that PD-1 blockade is effective for R/R cHL and validates the “target hunting” strategy.

Armand then discussed preliminary phase 1 results (KEYNOTE-013):

  • 10 evaluable patients
  • ORR 40%, CR 10%
  • Tumor response 80%
  • DOR >1year
  • Phase 2 (KEYNOTE-170) ongoing

 Dr Carl H June, Chair of the session, was speaker for the third talk: ‘Current Status of Cellular Therapy for the Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies’.

The last presentation in the session was given by Dr Veronika Bachanova, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. The presentation was titled ‘What We Have Not Heard About the Role of Immunotherapy in Hematologic Malignancies’.