Immunotherapy Combination Doubles Response Rates in Kidney Cancer Patients

Promising immunotherapy may change the standard of care for kidney cancer.

A combination treatment involving 2 immunotherapy drugs doubled the response rates in patients with kidney cancer, a recent study found. In the future, the regimen could become the new standard of care for this disease, according to the study authors.

In a multicenter trial that included 100 patients with kidney cancer, investigators found the addition of ipilimumab to the FDA-approved nivolumab resulted in responses that can last beyond 2 years.

Of the patients in the trial, half had metastasis that grew while they underwent prior therapy. But with the combination treatment, response rates bumped from 20% to 40%.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, provided a base for a pivotal phase 3 trial, which recently completed patient enrollment.

Lead author Dr Hans Hammers noted that if the findings are repeated in the larger phase 3 trial, it could lead to a new standard of care for patients with kidney cancer.

“Durable responses lasting may years can be achieved with immunotherapy,” said Dr Hammers. “While side effects of immunotherapy can be significant, they are typically reversible, and unlike current therapies, don’t significantly dampen patients’ daily quality of life.”

Kidney cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer that affects both men and women. It can be difficult to treat because standard chemotherapy produces little results and targeted therapies—–which have prolonged life expectancy––are associated with daily adverse events. Although single-agent immunotherapies improve survival, it is only beneficial in a subset of patients.

Currently, the combination immunotherapy regimen with nivolumab and ipilimumab is FDA-approved to treat melanoma, and is undergoing testing for other cancer types.