Opdivo-Adcetris Combo Shows Promise in Heavily Treated Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients

Opdivo-Adcetris Combo Shows Promise in Heavily Treated Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients

Combining the checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) with the antibody-therapy conjugate Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) is an effective and safe treatment for patients with recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma, according to Phase 1 trial results.

All patients responded to the combo treatment, with 63 percent achieving complete responses. The therapy was generally well tolerated, and side effects were manageable.

The study, “A Phase I Study with an Expansion Cohort of the Combination of Ipilimumab and Nivolumab and Brentuximab Vedotin in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Trial of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (E4412 Arms D and E),” was presented at the 58th Annual Meeting & Exposition of the American Society of Hematology Dec. 3-6, 2016.

Catherine Diefenbach, an assistant professor at New York University and clinical director of lymphoma program services at the Perlmutter Cancer Center, led the research.

In a previous study in 2012, the team found that patients with Hodgkin lymphoma have dysfunctional T-cells that are less likely to be activated to attack tumor cells.

This inspired them to test whether immune checkpoint inhibitors, which activate the immune system, would work well with chemotherapy.

Researchers first tested whether they could combine the anti-CTLA4 drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) with Adcetris. Adcetris, which has FDA approval for certain lymphoma patients, is an antibody that targets the CD30 protein found at the surface of some lymphoma cells.

Trial data that the team presented at the 2015 meeting of the American Society of Hematology showed that the combo therapy was effective and safe in patients with recurrent Hodgkin lymphoma who had made progress against the disease after chemotherapy or stem-cell transplantation.

The researchers’ latest trial revelation is that Opdivo, another immune checkpoint inhibitor, can also be safely and effectively combined with Adcetris.

The results showed that in this heavily treated patient population, all patients responded to the treatment in some fashion, and the complete response rate was 62.5%. The suggested that the combo treatment was more effective than either treatment alone.

“Although our study offers reason for optimism, the results of larger, longer-term studies already underway are needed before combination immunotherapy could become the new standard of care for people whose Hodgkin lymphoma returns after initial treatment,” Diefenbach said in a press release.

“If further testing proves successful, such dual therapies could potentially become an alternative curative regimen for relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma,” she added.


Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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