The checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab is active in patients with metastatic melanoma who have failed ipilimumab. In this phase I/II study, we assessed nivolumab's safety in 92 ipilimumab-refractory patients with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, including those who experienced grade 3–4 drug-related toxicity to ipilimumab. We report long-term survival, response duration, and biomarkers in these patients after nivolumab treatment (3 mg/kg) every 2 weeks for 24 weeks, then every 12 weeks for up to 2 years, with or without a multipeptide vaccine. The response rate for ipilimumab-refractory patients was 30% (95% CI, 21%–41%). The median duration of response was 14.6 months, median progression-free survival was 5.3 months, and median overall survival was 20.6 months, when patients were followed up for a median of 16 months. One- and 2-year survival rates were 68.4% and 31.2%, respectively. Ipilimumab-naïve and ipilimumab-refractory patients showed no significant difference in survival. The 21 patients with prior grade 3–4 toxicity to ipilimumab that was managed with steroids tolerated nivolumab well, with 62% (95% CI, 38%–82%) having complete or partial responses or stabilized disease at 24 weeks. High numbers of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) were associated with poor survival. Thus, survival and long-term safety were excellent in ipilimumab-refractory patients treated with nivolumab. Prior grade 3–4 immune-related adverse effects from ipilimumab were not indicative of nivolumab toxicities, and patients had a high overall rate of remission or stability at 24 weeks. Prospectively evaluating MDSC numbers before treatment could help assess the expected benefit of nivolumab. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(4); 1–9. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 11, 2015.
- Revision received December 7, 2015.
- Accepted January 12, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.