EGFR antibodies have shown promise in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), particularly with squamous cell histology. We hypothesised that EGFR copy number by fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) can identify patients most likely to benefit from these drugs combined with chemotherapy and we aimed to explore the activity of cetuximab with chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC who are EGFR FISH-positive.
We did this open-label, phase 3 study (SWOG S0819) at 277 sites in the USA and Mexico. We randomly assigned (1:1) eligible patients with treatment-naive stage IV NSCLC to receive paclitaxel (200 mg/m2; every 21 days) plus carboplatin (area under the curve of 6 by modified Calvert formula; every 21 days) or carboplatin plus paclitaxel and bevacizumab (15 mg/kg; every 21 days), either with cetuximab (250 mg/m2 weekly after loading dose; cetuximab group) or without (control group), stratified by bevacizumab treatment, smoking status, and M-substage using a dynamic-balancing algorithm. Co-primary endpoints were progression-free survival in patients with EGFR FISH-positive cancer and overall survival in the entire study population. We analysed clinical outcomes with the intention-to-treat principle and analysis of safety outcomes included patients who received at least one dose of study drug. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (number NCT00946712).
Between Aug 13, 2009, and May 30, 2014, we randomly assigned 1313 patients to the control group (n=657; 277 with bevacizumab and 380 without bevacizumab in the intention-to-treat population) or the cetuximab group (n=656; 283 with bevacizumab and 373 without bevacizumab in the intention-to-treat population). EGFR FISH was assessable in 976 patients and 400 patients (41%) were EGFR FISH-positive. The median follow-up for patients last known to be alive was 35·2 months (IQR 22·9-39·9). After 194 progression-free survival events in the cetuximab group and 198 in the control group in the EGFR FISH-positive subpopulation, progression-free survival did not differ between treatment groups (hazard ratio [HR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·75-1·12; p=0·40; median 5·4 months [95% CI 4·5-5·7] vs 4·8 months [3·9-5·5]). After 570 deaths in the cetuximab group and 593 in the control group, overall survival did not differ between the treatment groups in the entire study population (HR 0·93, 95% CI 0·83-1·04; p=0·22; median 10·9 months [95% CI 9·5-12·0] vs 9·2 months [8·7-10·3]). In the prespecified analysis of EGFR FISH-positive subpopulation with squamous cell histology, overall survival was significantly longer in the cetuximab group than in the control group (HR 0·58, 95% CI 0·36-0·86; p=0·0071), although progression-free survival did not differ between treatment groups in this subgroup (0·68, 0·46-1·01; p=0·055). Overall survival and progression-free survival did not differ among patients who were EGFR FISH non-positive with squamous cell histology (HR 1·04, 95% CI 0·78-1·40; p=0·77; and 1·02, 0·77-1·36; p=0·88 respectively) or patients with non-squamous histology regardless of EGFR FISH status (for EGFR FISH-positive 0·88, 0·68-1·14; p=0·34; and 0·99, 0·78-1·27; p=0·96; respectively; and for EGFR FISH non-positive 1·00, 0·85-1·17; p=0·97; and 1·03, 0·88-1·20; p=0·69; respectively). The most common grade 3-4 adverse events were decreased neutrophil count (210 [37%] in the cetuximab group vs 158 [25%] in the control group), decreased leucocyte count (103 [16%] vs 74 [20%]), fatigue (81 [13%] vs 74 [20%]), and acne or rash (52 [8%] vs one [<1%]). 59 (9%) patients in the cetuximab group and 31 (5%) patients in the control group had severe adverse events. Deaths related to treatment occurred in 32 (6%) patients in the cetuximab group and 13 (2%) patients in the control group.
Although this study did not meet its primary endpoints, prespecified subgroup analyses of patients with EGFR FISH-positive squamous-cell carcinoma cancers are encouraging and support continued evaluation of anti-EGFR antibodies in this subpopulation.
National Cancer Institute and Eli Lilly and Company.
PURPOSE: RAS mutations predict lack of response to epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody therapy in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), but preclinical studies and retrospective clinical data suggest that patients with tumors harboring the exon 2 KRAS G13D mutation may benefit from cetuximab. We aimed to assess cetuximab monotherapy and cetuximab plus irinotecan in patients with molecularly selected (G13D mutation) chemotherapy-refractory mCRC in a randomized phase II trial of this rare molecular subtype.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with chemotherapy-refractory KRAS G13D mutation-positive mCRC who had progressed within 6 months of irinotecan therapy were randomly assigned to cetuximab 400 mg/m(2) loading dose and then 250 mg/m(2) once per week with or without irinotecan 180 mg/m(2) once every 2 weeks. The primary end point was 6-month progression-free survival; secondary end points were response rate, overall survival, quality of life, and toxicity.
RESULTS: Fifty-one of 53 patients recruited over 2 years were eligible. The 6-month progression-free survival rate was 10% (95% CI, 2% to 26%) for cetuximab versus 23% (95% CI, 9% to 40%) for cetuximab plus irinotecan with a hazard ratio of 0.74 (95% CI, 0.42 to 1.32). Response and stable disease rates were 0% and 58% for monotherapy versus 9% and 70% for combination treatment, respectively. Overall survival and quality of life were similar; toxicities were higher with combination therapy.
CONCLUSION: In patients with G13D-mutated chemotherapy-refractory mCRC, there was no statistically significant improvement in disease control at 6 months with either cetuximab monotherapy or cetuximab plus irinotecan. No responses were seen with single-agent cetuximab. The responses observed with the combination of cetuximab and irinotecan may reflect true drug synergy or persistent irinotecan sensitivity. The ICECREAM (Irinotecan Cetuximab Evaluation and Cetuximab Response Evaluation Among Patients with a G13D Mutation) study demonstrates the need to prospectively evaluate hypotheses that were previously supported by retrospective analyses and exemplifies the value of international collaboration in trials of rare molecular subtypes.
Cetuximab and panitumumab are monoclonal antibodies that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and are approved for the treatment of patients with KRAS wild-type meta-static colorectal cancer. There are no data that describe the activity of panitumumab in patients with progressive disease on cetuximab. We performed a single-arm phase II trial of panitumumab in patients with KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer that had progressed on prior cetuximab.
Patients and Methods We used a two-stage study design to treat patients with panitumumab at 6 mg/kg every 14 days (cycle length = 28 days). Treatment was continued until disease progression, death, inability to tolerate panitumumab, or study withdrawal. The primary endpoint was response rate; secondary endpoints included progression-free survival and overall survival. Twenty patients were treated in the first stage, with plans to treat an additional twelve patients if there was at least one objective response. We collected blood samples at baseline and prior to cycles 2 and 3 to evaluate for the presence of anti-cetuximab and anti-panitumumab antibodies.
Results We treated twenty patients for a median of two cycles (range 1–4). No patients responded, and 45% had a best response of stable disease (no progression for at least two cycles). Median progression-free survival was 1.7 months and median overall survival was 5.2 months. Panitumumab was well tolerated. Thirteen patients (65%) had grade 1–2 dry skin or rash, and three patients had treatment-related grade 3 toxicities (one each with hyperglycemia, hyperbilirubinemia, and hypokalemia). No patients had detectable anti-cetuximab antibodies at any time point; one patient developed anti-panitumumab antibodies.
Conclusions Panitumumab has minimal benefit in patients with KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed on prior cetuximab.
Discussion Both cetuximab and panitumumab competitively inhibit ligand binding to EGFR, thereby promoting receptor internalization and blocking receptor-mediated signaling. Although the two agents have never been compared directly in a randomized clinical trial, they produce similar response rates when used alone as well as in combination with cytotoxic agents. Cetuximab is a chimeric antibody with approximately 30% murine protein, while panitumumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody. Correspondingly, rates of severe hypersensitivity reactions are somewhat increased with cetuximab (3%) compared to panitumumab (1%). However, the potential efficacy of panitumumab in patients who have developed disease progression on cetuximab has been an open question. Metges et al. (PANERB trial) prospectively treated 32 KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer patients with cetuximab and irinotecan followed by panitumumab monotherapy after progression. Remarkably, the authors reported an objective response rate of 22% to panitumumab, including a disease control rate (objective response plus stable disease) of 73% in 11 patients who had previously responded to cetuximab and irinotecan. In contrast, we found no responders and a stable disease rate of 45% with a median duration of only 1.7 months in our trial of 20 patients. Moreover, no patients had detectable anti-cetuximab antibodies at baseline. It is not clear to what extent the PANERB trial included patients without objective disease progression on cetuximab or for whom cetuximab-containing regimens may have been ceased due to toxicity in the absence of disease progression. In both circumstances, retreatment with panitumumab may be expected to demonstrate some degree of clinical activity. In our study, disease progression after at least 4 weeks of cetuximab documented radiographically or by increased carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels was required for inclusion in order to ensure that the study population demonstrated unequivocal evidence of progression on cetuximab. While it remains possible that a small subset of patients may benefit from panitumumab after progression on cetuximab, our results suggest that this approach should not be adopted until predictive biomarkers for panitumumab response in this setting have been discovered and validated. Until then, patients who develop progression on cetuximab should be enrolled in trials of novel agents.
The approval was based on the results of an international phase III clinical trial of 442 patients with metastatic or recurrent squamous cell cancer of the head and neck who had not previously received chemotherapy. Patients treated with cetuximab and chemotherapy (5-FU in combination with either cisplatin or carboplatin) had improved overall survival compared with patients who received chemotherapy alone (10.1 months versus 7.4 months). Patients who received cetuximab had a higher incidence of several side effects, including diarrhea, respiratory and other infections, and serious infusion reactions.
Sebastian M et al. – Malignant ascites is frequently found with various solid tumors, and no established treatment options exist, apart from symptomatic paracentesis. Catumaxomab, a trifunctional bispecific monoclonal antibody, has two binding specificities directed to epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) and the T cell antigen CD3. With its Fc–fragment, catumaxomab additionally binds accessory cells, including dendritic cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells. Catumaxomab has been approved in Europe for the intraperitoneal treatment of malignant ascites in patients with EpCAM–positive epithelial tumors where standard therapy is not available or no longer feasible.