New Therapeutic Combination Shows Promise for Relapsed/Refractory Hodgkin Lymphoma

Catherine Diefenbach, MD (New York University) presents at the 2017 North American Educational Forum on Lymphoma

At the 2018 ASH Annual Meeting, Catherine Diefenbach, MD (New York University) – a past recipient of LRF’s Clinical Investigator Career Development Award – presented data from cooperative group ECOG-ACRIN’s clinical trial of a new combination of existing therapies ipilimumab (Yervoy), nivolumab (Opdivo) and brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) for relapsed and refractory Hodgkin lymphoma.

The combination therapy, combining checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy (nivolumab), with a monoclonal antibody currently approved for melanoma (ipilimumab), and a targeted CD30 inhibitor (brentuximab vedotin), was designed to activate the immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, while overcoming tumor resistance with brentuximab vedotin.

Twenty-two patients were enrolled on the study, which sought data on both the safety and efficacy of the treatment regimen.  Three patients discontinued therapy due to severe side effects, and researchers also noted a higher incidence of grade 3 side effects than trials of only two of the three drugs, but most patients were able to complete their therapy.

Of the 19 patients evaluable for response, the overall response rate was 95 percent (18 of 19) with a complete response rate of 79 percent (15 of 19).

With median follow-up periods of less than a year thus far, neither progression free survival or overall survival had been reached.

Dr. Diefenbach noted that in a patient population that had received numerous other therapies, with nine patients who had already gone through stem cell transplant and relapsed, an overall response rate of 95 percent was extremely promising.

A larger randomized trial comparing this triplet combination to the doublet of brentuximab vedotin and nivolumab is ongoing.

This study also included contributions from LRF Scientific Advisory Board members Ranjana Advani, MD (Stanford University), Stephen Ansell, MD, PhD (Mayo Clinic), Brad Kahl, MD (Washington University in Saint Louis); LRF grantees Jonathon B. Cohen, MD, MS (Emory University); Reem Carmali, MD (Northwestern University); MCL Consortium member Timothy Fenske, MD (Medical University of Wisconsin); and former SAB member Richard F. Ambinder, MD (Johns Hopkins University).

For more research news from the 2018 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting, download the special ASH edition of Research Report.