by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. updated 12/2018
Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) immunotherapy prolongs the survival of individuals with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) when used as part of an initial treatment in combination with chemotherapy and when used as a single drug for individuals with recurrent cancer.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) monotherapy and in combination with Avastin® (bevacizumab), paclitaxel and carboplatin (chemotherapy), for the first-line treatment of people with metastatic (NSCLC) with no EGFR or ALK genomic abnormalities.
This FD approval is based on results from Phase III studies demonstrating that Tecentriq combined with Avastin and chemotherapy helped people live significantly longer.(1-3)
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the United States, NSCLC accounts for 75–80% of all lung cancers. Although progress has been made in recent years, the majority of patients with advanced stage lung cancer still die from their disease. New treatments are needed. Precision medicine continues to impact the lives of lung cancer patients with research into genomics and genetics leading to unprecedented progress in improving outcomes. Tailored treatments have emerged to match a person’s genetic makeup or a tumor’s genetic profile. As a result, patients with lung cancer now typically receive molecular testing that guides their physicians in determining which therapies are more likely to boost the chances of survival while limiting the potential for adverse effects.(4-6)
Tecentriq belongs to a new class of medicines called “checkpoint inhibitors.” Checkpoint inhibitors are a novel precision cancer immunotherapy that helps to restore the body’s immune system in fighting cancer by releasing checkpoints that cancer uses to shut down the immune system. PD-1 and PD-L1 are proteins that inhibit certain types of immune responses, allowing cancer cells to evade detection and attack by certain immune cells in the body. A checkpoint inhibitor can block the PD-1 and PD-L1 pathway and enhance the ability of the immune system to fight cancer. By blocking the binding of the PD-L1 ligand these drugs restore an immune cells’ ability to recognize and fight the colon cancer cells. A diagnostic test to measure the level of PD-L1 is available.
Tecentriq is a monoclonal antibody designed to target and bind to a protein called PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1), which is expressed on cancer cells and cancer-infiltrating immune cells. PD-L1 interacts with PD-1 and B7.1, both found on the surface of T cells, causing inhibition of T cells. By blocking this interaction, Tecentriq may enable the activation of T cells, restoring their ability to effectively detect and attack cancer cells.
IMpower130 study Tecentriq combined with chemo improves survival in newly diagnosed stage IV NSCLC
Results from the IMpower130 study demonstrated that the combination of Tecentriq (altezolizumab) plus chemotherapy significant improved overall survival and delayed cancer progression compared to chemotherapy alone for the first-line treatment of patients with stage IV nonsquamous non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and no ALK or EGFR mutations.(1)
Between April 16, 2015, and February 13, 2017, a total of 724 patients with stage IV squamous NSCLC were enrolled in the multi-center Impower130 clinical trial. Patients were treated with Tecentiq with or without the chemotherapy combination of carboplatin + nab paclitaxel followed by maintenance therapy.
Patients treated with the Tecentriq-chemotherapy survived on average 18.6 months compared to13.9 months with chemotherapy alone demonstrating a significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival.
IMpower150 study for previously untreated stage IV NSCLC
The IMpower150 clinical trial compared Tecentriq in combination with chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel) with or without Avastin in people with stage IV or recurrent metastatic non-squamous NSCLC in 1202 previously untreated advanced NSCLC patients without a EGFR and ALK mutations. Individuals were treated with either one of 3 regimens and directly compared.(2) Avastin is an “angiogenesis inhibitor” biologic antibody designed to specifically bind to a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that plays an important role throughout the lifecycle of a cancer to develop and maintain blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. Interfering with the cancers blood supply is thought to prevent that cancers ability to grow and spread in the body (metastasize).
- Tecentriq plus carboplatin and paclitaxel
- Tecentriq and Avastin plus carboplatin and paclitaxel
- Avastin plus carboplatin and paclitaxel
The result of the study demonstrated that individuals treated with Tecentriq in combination with Avastin and chemotherapy were more likely to respond to treatment and survive compared to Avastin and chemotherapy. The median survival was improved from 14 to 19 months.
The rationale for combining Tecentriq and Avastin with chemotherapy is to target the cancer simultaneously with different medications and to enhance the potential of the immune system to combat the cancer by priming and activating a T cell response against cancer cell antigens.
Tecentriq Monotherapy for Recurrent NSCLC
The results of one study presented at ESMO 2016 reported the outcomes of 1,225 advanced or metastatic NSCLC patients whose disease had progressed following previous treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy who were treated with either Tecentriq or Taxotere® (docetaxel). Tecentriq helped people live a median of 13.8 months, 4.2 months longer than those treated with Taxotere chemotherapy regardless of their levels of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression.(3)
Possible serious side effects with Tecentriq include, but are not limited to, lung problems (pneumonitis), liver problems (hepatitis), intestinal problems (colitis), hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands and pancreas), nervous system problems (neuropathy, meningitis and encephalitis), eye problems (inflammation of the eyes), severe infections and severe infusion reactions. Additional information on these and other side effects can be found below.
- Lancet Oncol. 2019 May 20. Epub ahead of print.
- Barlesi F, Park K, Ciardiello F, et al. Primary analysis from OAK, a randomized phase III study comparing atezolizumab with docetaxel in 2L/3L NSCLC. Proceedings from the annual meeting of the 2016 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESOM). (Abstract #LBA44) Oct. 9, 2016.
- Genetech. (2016.) FDA Approves Genetech’s Cancer Immunotherapy Tecentriq® for People with a Specific Type of Metastatic Lung Cancer. [Press release.]
- Socinski M et al., Atezolizumab for First-Line Treatment of Metastatic non-squamous NSCLC. N Engl J Med. 2018; 378:2288- 2301.
- GLOBOCAN 2018; Lung Cancer: Estimated cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide. World Health Organization. Available from: <a href="http://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/15-Lung-fact-sheet.pdf.">http://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/15-Lung-fact-sheet.pdf.</a> Accessed December 2018.
- American Cancer Society; What Is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer? [Internet]: Available from: <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/what-is-non-small-cell-lung-cancer.html.">https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/what-is-non-small-cell-lung-cancer.html.</a> Accessed December 2018.