The most recent edition of the ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) Conference in Munich hosted a number of notable guests, among them Prof. Peter Schmid, who presented the results of his trials with Tecentriq (Atezolizumab). Part of the new wave of immunotherapy drugs, his checkpoint inhibitor produced significant responses in patients suffering from advanced forms of breast malignancy.
“Atezolizumab in combination with nab-paclitaxel is the first targeted treatment to improve survival in metastatic triple negative breast cancer. It is also the first immune therapy to improve outcome in this cancer. Most of the survival benefit was in patients with PD-L1 positive tumours”, indicated the press release.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a particularly aggressive form of the disease with poor prognosis. Because it lacks the common receptors that are generally focused by all tumor medication, treatment options are limited to just chemotherapy. On its own, Tecentriq was not quite enough, but paired with nanoparticle albumin-bound (nab)–paclitaxel, the courses managed some impressive results.
The combination of drugs reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by 20% in all patients and 38% for the subgroup that exhibited the PD-L1 gene. Median progression-free survival was extended from 5.5 months to 7.2. For patients with PD-L1 positive tumours, the median overall survival was 25.0 months with the combination compared to 15.5 months on chemotherapy. Dr. Schmid mentioned that the approach was largely well tolerated and side effects were minimal.
Dr. Marleen Kok, Medical Oncologist at The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam said: “This is the first randomised phase III trial providing evidence that adding immune therapy to standard chemotherapy increases progression-free survival (…) The IMpassion 130 data will probably change the treatment landscape for our metastatic triple negative breast cancer patients”.