Letter from the Editor
Dear JITC Readers:
The Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) is proud to present nine, high-impact articles in this month's digest. Highlighted in the Clinical/Translational Cancer Immunotherapy section, "A randomized, controlled trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of BTH1677 in combination with bevacizumab, carboplatin, and paclitaxel in first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)," conducted by Walburga Engel-Riedel et al., describes results from a phase II study investigating the efficacy of the beta-glucan pathogen-associated molecular patter molecule (PAMP) BTH1677 in combination with bevacizumab/carboplatin/paclitaxel in patients with untreated, advanced NSCLC. Despite not reaching statistical significance, data revealed that patients who received BTH1677 had an increased objective response rate compared to patients receiving bevacizumab/carboplatin/paclitaxel only (60.4% vs 43.5%; p = 0.21). Overall survival and disease control rate were also increased in the BTH1677 cohort, but again did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.27 and p = 0.66, respectively). Importantly, BTH1677 addition to the treatment regimen did not increase adverse event frequency compared to the control arm. These data suggest the potential of combining PAMPs, such as some TLR agonists or a beta-glucan in this case, with chemotherapies as a front line treatment for patients with advanced NSCLC, a potentially novel immune engagement strategy outside of immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Also featured this month, Priyanka Subrahmanyam, Zhiwan Dong et al. in "Distinct predictive biomarker candidates for response to anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in melanoma patients" identified novel predictive biomarkers of anti-CTLA-4 and/or anti-PD-1 therapeutic response by analyzing peripheral blood samples from melanoma patients using mass cytometry. In regard to anti-PD-1 therapy, researchers observed that non-responders had reduced abundance of CD69+ and MIP-1ß+ NK cells (p < 0.05, each). Additionally, data indicate that CD4+ and CD8+ memory/effector cell distribution may predict response to anti-CTLA-4 treatment. Interestingly, these identified biomarkers were only predictive for their respective therapies. Using this data, researchers conducted multivariate analyses and generated a prediction model for response to anti-CTLA-4 therapy based on four cellular features (AUC = 0.729). Together, these data elucidate potentially useful and exclusive predictive biomarkers for patients with melanoma treated with either anti-CTLA-4 or anti-PD-1 agents.
With best regards,
Pedro J. Romero, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
JITC Welcomes Sandra Demaria, MD to the Editorial Board Leadership
JITC is pleased to welcome Dr. Sandra Demaria, Professor of Radiation Oncology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, as the new Section Co-Editor for JITC's Reviews Section. Following three years of service as a SITC Board Director and an Associate Editor for JITC's Commentary/Editorials section, Dr. Demaria will lead one of the journal's most highly-cited sections with Co-Editor Dr. Thomas F. Gajewski during a time of exponential growth in cancer immunotherapy research.
Dr. Demaria is internationally known for her studies demonstrating the synergy of local radiation therapy with different immunotherapeutic agents in preclinical models of cancer. She was the first to show that radiotherapy can convert tumors unresponsive to immune checkpoint inhibitors into responsive ones, a finding being translated in several clinical trials at multiple institutions. Her current work is aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms that regulate ionizing radiation's ability to generate an in situ tumor vaccine in preclinical tumor models as well as cancer patients treated in clinical trials testing combinations of radiation and immunotherapy. As a breast cancer pathologist Dr. Demaria has also studied the immunological microenvironment of breast cancer in patients, and therapeutic strategies to modulate the immune infiltrate in preclinical breast cancer models
Please take a moment to congratulate and welcome Dr. Demaria through SITC CONNECT.