Recently, pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Meyer Squibb and AbbVie announced a collaborative effort to determine if a combination of specific immunotherapy drugs can effectively treat relapsed extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. The study is expected to begin enrolling patients sometime this year.
The drugs involved in the treatment are AbbVie’s Rova-T and Bristol-Meyer Squibb’s Opdivo and Opdivo-Yervoy treatment combination. Rova-T (rovalpituuzumab tesirine) is being studied as a biomarker-specific antibody drug conjugate that identifies cancer stem cells with DLL3 protein (Delta like protein 3) in order deliver a cytotoxic agent that destroys tumor-initiating and bulk-tumor cells. Opdivo, an immune-checkpoint 1 inhibitor, and Yervoy, an immune-checkpoint 4 inhibitor, currently target unresectable or metastatic melanoma.
Opdivo Immunotherapy Medication.
Immune-checkpoint inhibitors such as Opdivo and Yervoy essentially jumpstart the immune system by helping identify particular proteins associated with cancer cells so they can be attacked. In this study, DLL3 proteins are the target, as they are found in the tumors of more than 80% of those with small cell lung cancer, the proteins Rova-T is specifically manufactured to address.
Rova-T is currently being tested as a third-line treatment option for certain types of melanoma. New testing for its value as a first-line SCLC option begins in the near future. Because it targets DLL3, it is hoped it will be effective in treating several tumor types, as well as metastatic melanoma, glioblastoma multiforme and some prostate, pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
Opdivo (nivolumab) was the first immune-protein inhibitor and is currently used for treating:
• Both BRAF V600 wild-type and mutation-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma,Metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that has progressed following platinum-based chemotherapy
• Advanced renal cell carcinoma in those having already received anti-angiogenic therapy
• Classical Hodgkin lymphoma that has relapsed or progressed after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and post-transplantation brentuximab vedotin.
Yervoy (ipilimumbab) is a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor recommended for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. The combination of OPDIVO and YERVOY is used to treat of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.
Both drugs work by binding to checkpoint receptors found on activated T-cells, blocking the binding of PD-L1 and PD-L2 and preventing interference with an anti-tumor immune response which, in this study, will be Rova-T.
It is hoped that the initial clinical program phases will demonstrate that a regimen of a cancer stem cell antibody drug conjugate along with immune checkpoint inhibitors will safely and effectively enhance the impact of immunotherapy beyond currents levels. And, if successful, it will lead to greater advances in cancer treatment options, especially for those cancers that have limited resources for treatment.