Background Pembrolizumab is a standard-of-care first-line treatment for advanced/metastatic NSCLC, either as monotherapy (for patients with PD-L1 tumor proportion score [TPS] ≥1%) or combined with platinum chemotherapy. An improved OS benefit has been demonstrated for both pembrolizumab monotherapy and pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy in patients with higher tumor PD-L1 expression, and for pembrolizumab monotherapy in patients with higher tissue tumor mutation burden (tTMB). Mutations in KRAS occur relatively frequently in patients with nonsquamous NSCLC but infrequently in those with squamous NSCLC; most mutations are in codon 12. Notably, the pembrolizumab OS treatment effect was not diminished in patients with KRAS G12C mutations in phase 3 studies evaluating pembrolizumab monotherapy and pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy.1 2 Herein we describe prevalence of KRAS mutations among patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC from two phase 3 clinical studies evaluating first-line pembrolizumab (KEYNOTE-042 and KEYNOTE-189) and the relationship of such mutations with select patient characteristics.
Methods KEYNOTE-042 (NCT02220894) evaluated pembrolizumab versus platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced PD-L1–positive NSCLC (any histology) without EGFR/ALK alterations. KEYNOTE-189 (NCT02578680) evaluated pembrolizumab plus platinum-based chemotherapy versus platinum-based chemotherapy alone for metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC without EGFR/ALK alterations irrespective of tumor PD-L1 expression. Whole-exome sequencing of tumor tissue and matched normal DNA (blood) was performed for patients with nonsquamous histology. PD-L1 TPS was evaluated using the PD-L1 IHC 22C3 pharmDx assay (Agilent Technologies, Carpinteria, CA, USA). Prevalence of KRAS mutations and their relationships with TMB, PD-L1 TPS, and smoking status were analyzed descriptively.
Results 590 patients with nonsquamous NSCLC were included in these analyses (KEYNOTE-042, n=301; KEYNOTE-189, n=289). Overall, 42.9% of patients had tTMB ≥175 mut/exome, 81.4% were current/former smokers and, 40.3%, 42.7%, and 16.9% had PD-L1 TPS ≥50%, 1–49% and <1% respectively. KRAS G12C, G12D, and G12V mutations occurred in 11.0%, 4.1%, and 5.4% of patients, respectively. Prevalence of KRAS mutations by patient characteristics is summarized in the table (table 1). KRAS G12C mutations occurred almost exclusively in current/former smokers. KRAS G12C was enriched in tumors with tTMB ≥175 mut/exome and tumors with PD-L1 TPS ≥50%. Prevalence was highest in tumors with both tTMB ≥175 mut/exome and PD-L1 TPS ≥50%.
Conclusions KRAS G12C mutations occurred with moderate frequency in patients with nonsquamous NSCLC, with most occurring in current/former smokers. KRAS G12C mutations occurred at higher frequency in patient subgroups defined by higher tTMB and PD-L1 TPS.
Acknowledgements Medical writing assistance was provided by Christabel Wilson, MSc, of ICON plc (North Wales, PA, USA), funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.
Gadgeel S, Rodriguez-Abreu D, Felip E, et al. KRAS mutational status and efficacy in KEYNOTE-189: pembrolizumab (pembro) plus chemotherapy (chemo) vs placebo plus chemo as first-line therapy for metastatic non-squamous NSCLC. Ann Oncol 2019;30(suppl 11):xi64-xi5.
Herbst RS, Lopes G, Kowalski DM, et al. Association of KRAS mutational status with response to pembrolizumab monotherapy given as first-line therapy for PD-L1-positive advanced non-squamous NSCLC in KEYNOTE-042. Ann Oncol 2019;30(suppl 11):xi63-xi4.
Ethics Approval For both trials, the protocol and all amendments were approved by the appropriate ethics committee at each center, the study was conducted in accordance with the standards of Good Clinical Practice. Patients provided written informed consent before enrollment.
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