Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) has announced results from the Phase 3 CheckMate -816 trial, which showed that neoadjuvant treatment with three cycles of Opdivo (nivolumab) in combination with chemotherapy significantly improved event-free survival (EFS), a primary endpoint, compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
With a minimum follow-up of 21.0 months, Opdivo with chemotherapy reduced the risk of disease recurrence, progression or death by 37% (Hazard Ratio [HR] 0.63; 97.38% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.43 to 0.91; p=0.0052) across randomized patients when administered before surgery. In patients receiving the combination, median EFS was 31.6 months, compared to 20.8 months for patients treated with chemotherapy alone, the company said.
Additionally, while the data are still immature and the analysis did not reach statistical significance, favorable early overall survival (OS) results were observed with Opdivo in combination with chemotherapy (HR 0.57; 99.67% CI: 0.30 to 1.07). At two years, 83% of patients treated with neoadjuvant Opdivo and chemotherapy were alive, compared to 71% with chemotherapy alone. OS will continue to be followed for upcoming analyses.
CheckMate -816 represents the first Phase 3 study with an immunotherapy-based combination to show a significant improvement in EFS, as well as in the other primary endpoint of pathologic complete response (pCR), in the neoadjuvant setting of NSCLC. The EFS data are being presented for the first time during the Neoadjuvant and Perioperative Immunotherapy Clinical Trials Plenary Session (Abstract #CT012) at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2022 on Monday, April 11, 2022, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. CT and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the company said.
“While resectable non-small cell lung cancer may be curable in some cases, patients face a high probability of recurrence after surgery, so we need effective systemic treatment options to interrupt this trajectory,” said Nicolas Girard, M.D., Ph.D., CheckMate -816 investigator and professor and head of the Thorax Institute Curie-Montsouris. “The results from CheckMate -816 represent the first demonstration of clear and significant benefits with neoadjuvant immunotherapy-based treatment over chemotherapy alone for these patients, initially seen with increased pathologic complete response and now with improved event-free survival and a positive trend in overall survival. As we work toward the ultimate goal of curing these patients, these data suggest the potential for better long-term outcomes with nivolumab in combination with chemotherapy.”
In the study, the safety profile of the neoadjuvant Opdivo-chemotherapy combination was consistent with previous reports, and no new safety signals were observed at the time of the EFS analysis. Rates of Grade 3-4 treatment-related adverse events were similar with the Opdivo-chemotherapycombination versus chemotherapy alone (34% vs. 37%), as were all causality surgery-related Grade 3-4 adverse events (11% with the combination vs. 15% with chemotherapy). With Opdivo in combination with chemotherapy, 83% of patients went on to receive surgery, compared to 75% with chemotherapy, BMS said.
“Surgery is still the cornerstone of cure for patients with non-small cell lung cancer,” said Jonathan Spicer M.D., Ph.D., CheckMate -816 investigator; associate professor of surgery, McGill University; and attending surgeon, division of thoracic and upper gastrointestinal surgery, Montreal General Hospital, McGill University Health Centre. “The fact that neoadjuvant nivolumab with chemotherapy enabled shorter, less invasive and less extensive operations without increasing complications or adverse events is of tremendous importance to thoracic surgeons and their patients. These findings, combined with the improved survival outcomes, have the potential to completely change the way surgeons and oncologists collaborate in treating patients with resectable non-small cell lung cancer.”
“Immunotherapy has ushered in a new era of treatment in metastatic cancers, changing survival expectations for patients with lung cancer and many other tumor types. More recently, our understanding of the biology of the immune system and cancer has led us to explore the role of immunotherapy in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant and peri-operative settings,” said Abderrahim Oukessou, M.D., vice president, thoracic cancers development lead, Bristol Myers Squibb. “The data from CheckMate -816, including the positive early overall survival results, reinforce the importance of researching immunotherapy in earlier stages of disease, and we look forward to continuing to see this science translate into tangible benefits for patients and their families.”
Based on the EFS and pCR results from CheckMate -816,the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo in combination with platinum-doublet chemotherapy every three weeks for three cycles for adult patients with resectable (tumors ≥4 cm or node positive) NSCLC in the neoadjuvant setting in March 2022, and further applications are under review with health authorities globally.
In non-metastatic NSCLC, Bristol Myers Squibb and collaborators are exploring the use of immunotherapy in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant and peri-operative settings, as well as in association with chemoradiation. The scientific rationale for using immunotherapy in the neoadjuvant setting is twofold: the presence of a tumor during immunotherapy treatment may enable a stronger immune response, potentially making the treatment more effective against a primary tumor, while offering an early opportunity to target covert micro-metastasis. To date, Opdivo-based treatments have shown improved efficacy in the neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment of four tumor types: lung cancer, bladder cancer, esophageal/gastroesophageal junction cancer and melanoma, BMS noted.