Background Single agent checkpoint inhibitors (CPI) are an approved first or second-line therapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), but their efficacy is limited. Adoptive cell therapy with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL, LN-145) has demonstrated efficacy in multiple malignancies alone or in combination with CPI. To improve HNSCC therapy, a combination of pembrolizumab and LN-145 was explored.
Methods IOV-COM-202 is an ongoing Phase 2 multicenter, multi-cohort, open-label study evaluating LN-145 in multiple settings and indications, and here we report cohort 2A which enrolled CPI naïve HNSCC patients who received the combination of LN-145 and pembrolizumab. Key eligibility criteria include up to 3 lines of prior therapy, ECOG <1, at least one resectable metastasis for LN-145 production, and at least another measurable lesion after tumor resection. Primary endpoints are ORR per RECIST v1.1 by investigator and safety as measured by the incidence of grade ≥ 3 treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs). LN-145 production method uses central GMP manufacturing in a 22-day process yielding a cryopreserved TIL product (figure 1). Preconditioning chemotherapy consists of cyclophosphamide/fludarabine, followed by LN-145, and then < 6 doses of IL-2 over <3 days. Pembrolizumab is initiated post-tumor harvest but prior to LN-145 and continues after LN-145 infusion Q3W until toxicity or progression (figure 2).
Results Nine (N=9) HNSCC patients have received LN-145 plus pembrolizumab, with a median duration of follow up of 6.9 months. Nine and 8 patients were evaluable for safety and efficacy, respectively. Mean number of prior therapies was 1.1 with 89% of the patients having received prior chemotherapy. Four were HPV+, 2 HPV-, 3 unknown. The Treatment Emergent Adverse Event (TEAE) profile was consistent with the underlying advanced disease and the known AE profiles of pembrolizumab, the lymphodepletion and IL-2 regimens. The most common TEAE were chills, hypotension, anemia, thrombocytopenia, pyrexia, fatigue and tachycardia. Four patients had a confirmed, objective response with an ORR of 44% (1 CR, 3 PR, 4 SD, 1 NE) per RECIST 1.1. The disease control rate at data cutoff was 89% in 9 patients, and 7 of the 8 evaluable patients (87.5%) had a reduction in target lesions. Median DOR was not reached.
Conclusions LN-145 can be safely combined with pembrolizumab in patients with metastatic HNSCC. LN-145 plus pembrolizumab shows early signs of improved efficacy particularly when compared with literature reports of pembrolizumab alone in a comparable patient population. Enrollment is ongoing and updated data will be presented.
Trial Registration NCT03645928
Ethics Approval The study was approved by Advarra Institutional Review Board, under protocol number: Pro00035064.
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