Highlights from ASCO

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held a virtual conference at the end of May.

ASCO logo

The ASCO20 Virtual Scientific Program featured over 250 presentations and 2,500 scientific posters covering the latest developments in cancer research. The virtual conference included specific sessions on blood cancers, including lymphoma, where specialists presented the results of clinical trials. Here, we cover some of the lymphoma highlights.

The KEYNOTE-204 trial is a phase 3 study that compared pembrolizumab with brentuximab vedotin in over 300 people with classical Hodgkin lymphoma that had come back or had not responded to previous treatment. The trial found that people treated with pembrolizumab had a significantly longer period until lymphoma progressed (known as ‘progression-free survival’) than people treated with brentuximab vedotin. The study authors concluded that pembrolizumab should be standard treatment for these people.

The Alexander trial is an early phase study that aims to find out whether a new treatment called AUTO3 is safe and effective for people with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that has come back or has not responded to previous treatment. AUTO3 is a type of CAR T-cell therapy that targets two different proteins on the surface of lymphoma cells: CD19 and CD22. Initial results from 28 people with relapsed or refractory DLBCL who were treated with AUTO3, in combination with pembroluzimab, are promising. Response rates are encouraging and there have been no cases so far of severe cytokine release syndrome or neurological toxicity (known side effects of CAR T-cell therapy).

The ZUMA-5 trial is investigating axicabtagene ciloleucel, a CAR T-cell therapy, in people with advanced stage low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma that has come back or has not responded to at least two previous courses of treatment. Early results from 94 people who took part in the study showed that response rates were high. Response to treatment seemed to be durable in most people. Some people treated with axicabtagene ciloleucel developed cytokine release syndrome or neurological toxicity, but the side effects were manageable. The trial is ongoing.

The GENUINE trial looked at adding ublituximab (an antibody therapy) to ibrutinib (a targeted drug that blocks a protein called BTK) in people with high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) that has come back or didn’t respond to previous treatment. The trial found that people treated with ublitixmab and ibrutinib had better outcomes than people treated with ibrutinib on its own. The benefits were particularly noticeable in people with particular genetic changes linked to high-risk CLL (TP53 mutation or 17p deletion). More research is needed to work out the role of adding antibody therapy to BTK inhibitors in people with CLL.

We look forward to bringing you news from other conferences – virtual or otherwise – later in the year.

If you’d like to find out more about clinical trials, including what they are and how they work, visit Lymphoma TrialsLink. You can also use our searchable database to find a trial or study that might be suitable for you.

25 June 2020