Assessment of hyperprogression versus the natural course of disease development with nivolumab with or without ipilimumab versus placebo in phase III, randomized, controlled trials

Kang YK, Reck M, Nghiem P, Feng Y, Plautz G, Kim HR, Owonikoko TK, Boku N, Chen LT, Lei M, Chang H, Lin WH, Roy A, Bello A, Sheng J

J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Apr;10(4):e004273. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-004273

PMID: 35383114

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Background: Retrospective studies have suggested a potential risk of hyperprogressive disease (HPD) in patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). We compared the incidence of HPD during treatment with nivolumab±ipilimumab versus natural tumor progression with placebo in post hoc analyses of two randomized, double-blind clinical trials.

Methods: ATTRACTION-2 randomized patients with advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer (GC/GEJC) and progression on ≥2 prior regimens to nivolumab 3 mg/kg Q2W or placebo. CheckMate 451 randomized patients with extensive-disease small cell lung cancer (ED SCLC) and ongoing complete/partial response or stable disease after first-line chemotherapy to nivolumab 240 mg Q2W, nivolumab 1 mg/kg+ipilimumab 3 mg/kg Q3W for four doses then nivolumab 240 mg Q2W, or placebo. Patients receiving ≥1 dose of study drug and with tumor scans at baseline and the first on-treatment evaluation were included in the HPD analyses. HPD definitions were ≥20%, ≥50%, and ≥100% increase in target lesion sum of the longest diameters (SLD) at the first on-treatment assessment.

Results: In the ATTRACTION-2 HPD-evaluable population, 243 patients received nivolumab and 115 placebo. Fewer patients receiving nivolumab versus placebo had increases in SLD ≥20% (33.7% vs 46.1%) and ≥50% (6.2% vs 11.3%); similar proportions had increases in SLD ≥100% (1.6% vs 1.7%). In the CheckMate 451 HPD-evaluable population, 177 patients received nivolumab, 179 nivolumab+ipilimumab, and 175 placebo. Fewer patients receiving nivolumab or nivolumab+ipilimumab versus placebo had increases in SLD ≥20% (27.1%, 27.4% vs 45.7%), ≥50% (10.2%, 11.2% vs 22.3%), and ≥100% (2.8%, 2.8% vs 6.3%).

Conclusions: Nivolumab±ipilimumab was not associated with an increased rate of progression versus placebo in patients with GC, GEJC, or ED SCLC, suggesting that previous reports of HPD may reflect the natural disease course in some patients rather than ICI-mediated progression.

J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Apr;10(4):e004273. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-004273