Melanoma treatment has progressed in the past decade with the development and approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting programmed death 1 (PD-1) or its ligand (PD-L1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4, as well as small molecule inhibitors of BRAF and/or MEK for the subgroup of patients with BRAFV600 mutations1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. BRAF/MEK-targeted therapies have effects on the tumor microenvironment that support their combination with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20. This phase Ib study (ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01656642) evaluated the safety and anti-tumor activity of combining atezolizumab (anti-PD-L1) with vemurafenib (BRAF inhibitor), or cobimetinib (MEK inhibitor) + vemurafenib, in patients with BRAFV600-mutated metastatic melanoma. Triple combination therapy with atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib, after a 28-d run-in period with cobimetinib + vemurafenib, had substantial but manageable toxicity. Exploratory biomarker data show that the cobimetinib + vemurafenib run-in was associated with an increase in proliferating CD4+ T-helper cells but not with an increase in T-regulatory cells, as observed in the vemurafenib-only run-in period. The confirmed objective response rate was 71.8% (95% confidence interval 55.1–85.0). The estimated median duration of response was 17.4 months (95% confidence interval 10.6–25.3) with ongoing response in 39.3% of patients after 29.9 months of follow-up. Further investigation in a phase III trial is underway.
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The authors declare that all data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its Supplementary information, or available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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Research support was provided by S. Lecagoonporn (MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA). Medical writing support was provided by M. Sweetlove and J. Sah (ApotheCom, San Francisco, CA, USA) and was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
This study was funded by F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd. R.J.S. reports personal fees from Amgen, Merck, Genentech, Array and Novartis; research grants from Amgen and Merck; and clinical trial support from Merck, Genentech and Novartis during the conduct of the study; and by personal fees from Compugen, Replimune and Syndax outside the submitted work. O.H. reports advisory board fees from Roche and speaker bureau fees from Genentech during the conduct of the study; advisory board fees from Amgen, Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb; speaker bureau fees from Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis and Array Biopharma; and research support paid to institution from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celldex, Genentech, Immunocore, Merck Serono, MedImmune, Novartis, Pfizer, Rinat and Roche outside the submitted work. R.G. reports personal fees and grants from Roche/Genentech during the conduct of the study, personal fees and grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis; and grants from Merck and Array Biopharma outside the submitted work. J.R.I. reports consultancy fees from BioMed Valley and Armo Biosciences and employment with Janssen Pharmaceuticals outside the submitted work. M.R.P. reports no competing interests. F.S.H. reports clinical trial support paid to institution from Genentech during the conduct of the study; consultancy fees from Genentech, Merck, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Aduro, Partner Therapeutics, EMD Serono, Sanofi and Celldex; advisory board fees from Apricity; and research grants paid to institution from Bristol-Myers Squibb outside the submitted work; F.S.H. also reports an issued patent for Therapeutic Peptides and pending patents for MICA Related Disorders and Angiopoietin-2 as Therapeutic Target for Cancer. K.D.L. reports grants from Roche/Genentech during the conduct of the study and consultancy fees from Roche/Genentech outside the submitted work. H.A.T. reports grants and personal fees from Roche/Genentech during the conduct of the study; and grants and personal fees from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Novartis outside the submitted work. G.H. reports employment with Roche. M.J.W. reports employment and stock ownership with Genentech/Roche and stock ownership with ARIAD Pharmaceuticals. Y.C. reports employment with Genentech/Roche. L.R. reports employment with Genentech/Roche. M.B. reports employment and stock ownership with Genentech/Roche. Y.Y. reports employment with Genentech/Roche and stock ownership with Genentech/Roche. E.C. reports employment and stock ownership with Genentech/Roche. P.H. reports consultancy and advisory fees from Dragonfly, GlaxoSmithKline, Immatics and Sanofi outside the submitted work.
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a, Patients received at least one dose of atezolizumab during the combination treatment period (safety population). b, Patients with progression after prior checkpoint inhibitor therapy (mandatory serial biopsy). c, Checkpoint inhibitor-naive patients (mandatory serial biopsy). d, checkpoint inhibitor-naive patients (no mandatory serial biopsy).
a,b, Longitudinal change in tumor burden in: patients treated with atezolizumab + vemurafenib (n = 17) (a) and patients treated with atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib (n = 39) (b). PD, progressive disease.
Representative images of CD8+ T cells in the tumor center before and after cobimetinib + vemurafenib treatment in 3 of 6 patients treated in the dose-escalation study phase. Numbers in each panel of a represent percentage of CD8+ cells in the tumor center. CR, complete response; SD, stable disease.
a–d, Kaplan–Meier curves of: PFS according to PD-L1 expression in patients treated with atezolizumab + vemurafenib (a); OS according to PD-L1 expression in patients treated with atezolizumab + vemurafenib (b); PFS according to PD-L1 expression in patients treated with atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib (c); and OS according to PD-L1 expression in patients treated with atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib (d).
a,b, PFS according to pre-treatment CD8+ T cell infiltration by CD8+ immunohistochemistry with: atezolizumab + vemurafenib (a) and atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib (b). c,d, PFS according to pre-treatment CD8+ T cell infiltration by Teff signature with: atezolizumab + vemurafenib (c) and atezolizumab + cobimetinib + vemurafenib (d).
a,b, Gating strategies for FASC panels for: T cell activation/proliferation (a) and regulatory T cells (b).
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Sullivan, R.J., Hamid, O., Gonzalez, R. et al. Atezolizumab plus cobimetinib and vemurafenib in BRAF-mutated melanoma patients. Nat Med 25, 929–935 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0474-7
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