New Chemo-Immunotherapy Combo for Triple Negative Breast Cancer
- The Keynote 355 study showed promising results for women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer whose tumors expressed a protein called PD-L1
- When given the new chemo/immunotherapy drug combination, study participants experienced an increase in progression-free survival
- The new combination has not been granted FDA approval yet
The Keynote 355 study looked at a new combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and found that it led to increased progression-free survival for patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer whose tumors expressed a protein called PD-L1.Read More
Dr. Heather McArthur explains how immunotherapy is being studied as a treatment for certain types of breast cancer
This is not the first time researchers have looked at chemotherapy and immunotherapy combinations to treat this type of triple negative breast cancer. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an immune boosting drug, atezolizumab, in combination with a chemotherapy backbone of nab-paclitaxel after a considerable survival benefit was observed. These new findings with immune drug pembrolizumab have not led to a new federal approval just yet.
“Whether the improvements were uniform across all chemotherapy backbones or whether there is an optimal chemotherapy backbone has not yet been reported,” Dr. McArthur added.”Notably, pembrolizumab with chemotherapy recently demonstrated clinically meaningful benefits when administered with chemotherapy in the curative intent setting and FDA approval in that setting is also anticipated.”
Dr. Julie Rani Nangia, director of the Breast Cancer Prevention and High Risk Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine, added that while we’re still waiting to learn the “endpoint” of the Keynote study, it’s important for patients to know that “another immunotherapy drug is approved in this setting (atezolizumab in combo with abraxane).”
What’s Next for Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, or the concept of rallying the body’s own immune system to recognize and attack cancer, has really changed the game when it comes to treating several cancers, such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, when it comes to treating breast cancer with this type of therapy — there is still a lot of research to do.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Dr. Jim Allison, who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine, explained that the fact that immunotherapy is so effective when treating some cancers, and not effective when treating others, is one of the big questions researchers are working on answering now.
Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jim Allison explains what’s next for the immunotherapy revolution.
“[Immunotherapy] works in many different kinds of cancers,” Dr. Allison said. “Some it doesn’t work in yet. That’s a big challenge that we’re beginning to work on. But there’s never been a class of drugs that’s worked with quite this — at this level and then also offered the possibility for combinations.”
“I think that the most powerful combinations coming up are based on combining immune blockers or enhancers, but also drugs that can directly kill tumor cells to really have a double whammy,” he added.