Background Locoregional therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma, such as transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) or ablation, can induce a peripheral anti-tumor immune response. This may be amplified by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). Early and higher anti-CTLA4 dosing could potentially lead to better priming and a stronger immune response. Recent data has suggested that early (Day 1 only), increased doses of anti-CTLA4 therapy, was associated with encouraging clinical activity and a tolerable safety profile. This study will evaluate dual immune checkpoint, CTLA4 (tremelimumab, day 1-only dosing) and PD-L1 (durvalumab) blockade in combination with TACE in patients with advanced HCC. Intensive peripheral immune-monitoring and longitudinal on-treatment tumor biopsies will focus on the role of the innate immune system, particularly Natural Killer cells, in anti-tumor responses.
Methods Patients with HCC (Childs Pugh A/B7; Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer Stage B/C; ECOG 0/1; sorafenib-naïve or experienced) are being enrolled in a pilot study (Study Number UCDCRC/19/01) of tremelimumab at 2 dose levels (DL1 and DL2) in combination with durvalumab and TACE until disease progression (per irRECIST). DL1: tremelimumab (75 mg q28 days for 4 doses) and durvalumab (1500 mg q28 days). DL2: tremelimumab (300 mg in a single dose on day 1) and durvalumab (1500 mg q28 days). Subtotal TACE will be performed during study week 6 with the dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) evaluation period encompassing the first 8 weeks of the study. Primary endpoint is 6-month progression-free survival with secondary efficacy endpoints being safety, tolerability and overall survival. Exploratory objectives will evaluate changes in immune parameters in the tumor and peripheral blood of patients undergoing anti-CTLA4 therapy pre- and post-RFA or TACE. A major focus will be on the role of the innate immune system, particularly Natural Killer cells, in anti-tumor responses. Patients will be enrolled and treated at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. This study is currently open and actively recruiting.
Trial Registration EudraCT Number 2019-002767-98
Ethics Approval St Vincent’s University Hospital Research Ethics Committee Study Number UCDCRC/19/01.
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