Extended duration of treatment using reduced-frequency dosing of anti-PD-1 therapy in patients with advanced melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma

Tachiki, L. M. L., Hippe, D. S., Williams Silva, K., Hall, E. T., McCamy, W., Fritzsche, D., Perdue, A., Majovski, J., Pulliam, T., Goldstein, D. A., Veatch, J., Ho, J., Nghiem, P. T., Thompson, J. A., & Bhatia, S

Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII, 72(11), 3839–3850. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-023-03539-8

PMID: 37733060

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Background: Optimal duration of treatment (DoT) with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in metastatic cancers remains unclear. Many patients, especially those without radiologic complete remission, develop progressive disease after ICI discontinuation. Extending DoT with ICI may potentially improve efficacy outcomes but presents major logistical and cost challenges with standard frequency dosing (SFD). Receptor occupancy data supports reduced frequency dosing (RFD) of anti-PD-1 antibodies, which may represent a more practical and economically viable option to extend DoT.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of patients with metastatic melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), who received ICI at RFD administered every 3 months, after initial disease control at SFD. We evaluated efficacy, safety, and cost-savings of the RFD approach in this cohort.

Results: Between 2014 and 2021, 23 patients with advanced melanoma (N = 18) or MCC (N = 5) received anti-PD-1 therapy at RFD. Median DoT was 1.1 years at SFD and 1.2 years at RFD. The 3 year PFS after start of RFD was 73% in melanoma and 100% in MCC patients, which compare favorably to historical control rates. In the subset of 15 patients who received at least 2 years of therapy, total savings amounted to $1.1 million in drug costs and 384 h saved despite the extended DoT (median 3.4 years), as compared to the calculated cost of 2 years at SFD.

Conclusions: ICI administration at RFD can allow extension of treatment duration, while preserving efficacy and reducing logistical and financial burden. RFD approach deserves further exploration in prospective clinical trials.

Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII, 72(11), 3839–3850. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00262-023-03539-8