Noted This Week

February 19–25

The FDA approved the PD-1 inhibitor cemiplimab-rwlc (Libtayo; Regeneron/Sanofi) as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer and high PD-L1 expression. The approval was based on the phase III EMPOWER-Lung 1 trial, in which patients treated with the agent had a median overall survival (OS) of 22.1 months and a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 6.2 months, compared with 14.3 months and 5.6 months, respectively, in patients who received chemotherapy.

Idecabtagene vicleucel (ide-cel/bb2121; Bluebird Bio/Celgene) may be effective in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (N Engl J Med 2021 Feb 25 [Epub ahead of print]). In the phase II KarMMa trial, 128 patients had an overall response rate of 73% and a median PFS of 8.8 months. Idecabtagene vicleucel is an autologous chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy that targets B-cell maturation antigen.

The launch of a new foundation called Break Through Cancer was announced. The foundation will bring together cancer scientists at five institutions: The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT in Cambridge, MA, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Multidisciplinary teams will conduct translational research on difficult-to-treat malignancies such as pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, and acute myeloid leukemia.

AstraZeneca will stop marketing the PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab (Imfinzi) for locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer in the United States. The FDA previously granted the agent an accelerated approval based on encouraging results in the phase I/II Study 1108 trial. The agent has since failed to meet its primary endpoint of improving OS compared with standard chemotherapy in the phase III DANUBE trial, prompting the decision.

The Epidemiology of Young Lung Cancer study launched to investigate the underlying causes of lung cancer in patients diagnosed before age 40. Researchers aim to gather medical, environmental, demographic, and lifestyle data from 250 patients with early-onset lung cancer and use this information to identify potential risk factors. The effort is a collaboration between the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute and the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.

"Once we beat COVID, we’re going to do everything we can to end cancer as we know it," President Joe Biden said during a speech he gave after a tour of one of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing sites. Biden added that the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are developing an “advanced research effort on cancer and other diseases.” While serving as vice president, Biden led the White House’s Cancer Moonshot initiative.


TROP2 ADC Intrigues in NSCLC
February 17
Datopotamab deruxtecan elicited responses in almost a quarter of patients with relapsed/refractory disease in trial.

Agios Exits Oncology
January 27
Servier acquires multiple IDH inhibitors in deal worth more than $1.8 billion.

Research Watch