Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Dr Roy Herbst

Dr Roy Herbst at 2014 SITC annual meeting

“Personalized Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer was the title of an outstanding presentation by Roy Herbst MD PhD, at the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC).

Following his talk, Dr Herbst kindly shared his thoughts on lung cancer immunotherapy, and his experience of participating in clinical trials of checkpoint inhibitors that target the PD-1 (and it’s ligand PD-L1) cell signaling pathway.

This is the third prologue that “sets the scene” in cancer immunotherapy prior to the launch of the first episode of Novel Targets in a few weeks time.

Additional Information:

Last month, in March 2015, the US Food and Drug administration expanded the approved use of nivolumab/Opdivo (an antibody that targets PD-1) for use in previously treated advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). (BMS press release) As the FDA news release at the time noted (no longer readily accessible), NSCLC affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

Other checkpoint inhibitors in clinical trials for advanced lung cancer include: pembrolizumab (Merck) – this also targets the PD-1 checkpoint molecule; MPDL3280A – now atezolizumab (Roche/Genentech) and MEDI4736 – now durvalumab (AstraZeneca) both target PD-L1, the binding partner of the PD-1.

Disclaimer: Genentech is the sponsor of the podcast but the mention of their antibody in clinical development is not influenced by that.

An excerpt of the SITC interview with Dr Herbst was previously published on Biotech Strategy Blog (subscription required) in a post on “The Science of PD1 PDL1 Cancer Immunotherapy,”

Nature Cover 27 November 2014This discussed the landmark event of 5 “letters” to the prestigious science journal, Nature on immune checkpoint blockade, including work by Dr Herbst and colleagues.

Links to Nature (subscription required) are provided below:

1. MPDL3280A (anti-PD-L1) treatment leads to clinical activity in metastatic bladder cancer

2. Predictive correlates of response to the anti-PD-L1 antibody MPDL3280A in cancer patients

3. PD-1 blockade induces responses by inhibiting adaptive immune resistance

4. Predicting immunogenic tumour mutations by combining mass spectrometry and exome sequencing

5. Checkpoint blockade cancer immunotherapy targets tumour-specific mutant antigens

Cancer Immunotherapy is something we expect to hear more about at the forthcoming American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, and is a topic we will be covering on the Novel Targets podcast over the coming year.


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