The PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq) combined with carboplatin has shown signs of clinical activity in women with metastatic invasive lobular breast cancer (ILC) according to the first results to come from the ongoing GELATO trial.
The 6-month objective response rate was 19%, based on 4 of 21 patients who could be evaluated exhibiting a partial response to the chemoimmunotherapy. A further two (10%) patients had stable disease, meaning that clinical benefit rate was 29%.
GELATO (AssessinG Efficacy of Carboplatin and ATezOlizumab in Metastatic Lobular Breast Cancer) is a phase 2 trial being conducted at four Dutch centers. The primary premise of the study is that “there’s an immune-related subtype of ILC,” researcher Leonie Voorwerk, BSc, reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology: Breast Cancer virtual meeting (Abstract LBA3).
This ILC subtype is “characterized by high expression of immune-related genes and high levels of TILs [tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes] and PDL-1,” said Ms. Voorwerk, a PhD student working with medical oncologist Marleen Kok, MD, PhD, at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam.
Furthermore, she added, in vitro data suggest sensitivity of immune-related-ILCs to platinum and there is preclinical work showing that there is synergy between platinum-based chemotherapy and checkpoint blockade.
First Chemoimmunotherapy Trial in Lobular Cancer Setting
GELATO is a significant trial as it is “the first chemoimmunotherapy trial in metastatic lobular breast cancer,” said Sylvia Adams, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Breast Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
“Of note, the further research should include the immune-related genes and TMB [tumor mutational burden],” proposed Adams, who was not involved in the trial.
“We should look to tumor mutational burden because while it is not typically high in early disease, metastatic lesions can have higher TMB,” she explained. “Also, metastatic ILC is known to have higher tumor mutational burden compared to IDC [invasive ductal carcinoma], so this is an important thing along with the clinical factors as described in looking at outcomes.”
Trial Design and Patient Characteristics
GELATO is a single-arm, nonrandomized trial in which 37 patients with metastatic ILC were screened for inclusion between November 2017 and January 2021. A total of 26 of these patients were registered for the trial, and 23 have so far received at least one cycle of atezolizumab.
Prerequisites for entry into the trial were that patients had to have negative or aberrant E-cadherin, a characteristic feature of ILC. Patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (ER+) disease could be included, but they had to be proven to be resistant to endocrine therapies. No more than two prior lines of palliative chemotherapy were allowed, and all participants had to have lactose dehydrogenase levels of less than 2 times the upper limit of normal.
Patients were then treated with up to 12 cycles of weekly carboplatin (AUC = 1.5 mg/mL/min), with atezolizumab (1,200 mg) added in from cycle 3 onward. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurred.
“Baseline characteristics were mainly as expected for this patient population,” Ms. Voorwerk stated. Patients were aged 45-89 years, with a median of 60 years. Around half each had a WHO performance status of 0 or 1, and around half each had one to two or three or more metastatic sites; 78% had liver metastases.
“But I want to highlight that we included five patients with the triple-negative ILC,” said Ms. Voorwerk, also highlighting that approximately 50% of patients had received prior palliative chemotherapy. Later in her presentation she noted that four out of the six patients that showed any clinical benefit had triple negative disease.
Key Findings and Next Steps
The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) at 6 months, with secondary endpoints of the best overall response rate, PFS at 1 year, overall survival, and safety.
While details of the latter three endpoints are yet to be reported, Ms. Voorwerk noted that there was a median duration of response of 12 weeks and the median PFS was 15 weeks. The primary endpoint of PFS was met as four patients were free of progression at 6 months and the statistical method used called for patients to be progression free at this time point.
“We observed that stromal TILs and CD8+ cells were not associated with clinical benefits,” said Ms. Voorwerk. There was, however, “a slight trend” toward higher PD-L1 expression in responding patients.
“Further translational research is needed to provide the rationale for new strategies to improve checkpoint blockade in patients with lobular breast cancer,” she concluded.
Adams concurred, adding that a future research question was whether either atezolizumab or carboplatin was contributing to the response. This is “difficult to tell as the study was a single arm trial.”
Another question, said Adams, is “Are anti-CDK 4/6 inhibitors helpful in improving response rates and durability?” In the trial, 70% of patients had prior exposure to CDK 4/6 inhibitors.
The GELATO trial was sponsored by the Netherlands Cancer Institute with funding from Roche Pharma AG. Ms. Voorwerk had nothing to disclose. Adams disclosed uncompensated consulting or advisory roles with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, and Merck from whom she has received research funding. Adams also disclosed research funding from Amgen, Celgene, and Novartis.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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