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

Dr Roy HerbstPersonalized Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer was the title of an outstanding presentation by Roy Herbst MD PhD, at last year’s 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, the US Food and Drug administration expanded the approved use of nivolumab/Opdivo (an antibody that targets PD-1) for use in advanced non squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). As the FDA news release notes, NSCLC affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

Other checkpoint inhibitors in clinical trials for advanced lung cancer include: pembrolizumab/Keytruda (Merck) – this also targets the PD-1 checkpoint molecule; MPDL3280A (Roche/Genentech) and MEDI4736 (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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