A combination of two drugs -- one of them an immunotherapy agent -- could become a new standard, first-line treatment for patients with metastatic kidney cancer, says an investigator from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, reporting results from a phase 3 clinical trial.
Patients who received the immunotherapy drug avelumab plus axitinib, a targeted agent, had a significant advantage in progression-free survival compared with those who received sunitinib (Sutent), a targeted drug that has been a standard treatment for advanced clear cell renal cell carcinoma -- the most common form of kidney cancer.
While progression-free survival was improved with the combination treatment, additional follow-up is needed to show whether the two-drug therapy extends overall survival compared to the standard regimen.
The trial is the first pivotal study to combine avelumab with a drug that targets the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR). VEGFR blockers like sunitinib and axitinib are designed to starve tumors by disrupting their blood supply. Immunotherapy drugs such as avelumab -- which blocks an immune checkpoint called PD-L1 -- work by activating "exhausted" immune T cells so they can more effectively attack cancer cells.
The clinical trial involved 886 patients with previously untreated, advanced renal cell carcinoma that were randomized to receive the drug combination or sunitinib alone. See more
Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute