'Continuing to Exploit the Immune System' Important in Cervical Cancer


Ritu Salani, MD, suggests using the immune system to find treatment options for cervical cancer is the logical course of action.

In a conversation with CancerNetwork®, Ritu Salani, MD, the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Director at University of California Los Angeles Health and the Gynecologic editorial board member for the journal ONCOLOGY®, discussed the importance of continuing to research immunotherapy treatment options for patients with cervical cancer. Specifically, she highlighted ongoing trials testing immunotherapy in patients with human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16).

The phase 2 C-02 trial (NCT04405349) combined VB10.16, a cancer vaccine, with the PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq), resulting in promising responses among patients with HPV16-positive advanced cervical cancer. Treatment with the combination therapy showed an overall response rate (ORR) of 21% in the heavily pretreated population, including 2 complete responses and 6 partial responses. The combination also produced a disease control rate (DCR) of 64%. Among those with PD-L1–positive disease, the ORR was 27% and the DCR was 77%. In the PD-L1–negative group, the ORR and DCR were 17% and 58%, respectively.


Continuing to exploit the immune system is important in cervical cancer. This is a patient population that has not gotten a lot of attention. Now with the advent of immunotherapy in the setting, we’ve found some avenues of treatment. One thing I’m excited about that I’m working on is this trial looking at the HPV 16 target, and it’s a vaccine targeting HPV 16 in combination with immunotherapy in patients who have been previously exposed to immunotherapy.1 This is not an immunotherapy-naive population; it’s one that’s seen it. This is a high-risk population, but for HPV 16 cervical cancers, we can see if we can capitalize on targeting the HPV 16, complementing it with immunotherapy, and continuing to see if we can get that benefit from the immune system. It makes sense because cervical cancer is infection-related, so using the immune system is a logical target. We just have to find that right combination. Knowing that we have some benefit with immunotherapy, seeing it move to earlier settings, now it’s in the frontline setting, there may be some potential for it to be moved even with chemoradiation. Understanding the sequencing of these therapies, but also understanding that immune therapy may play a role even after a prior checkpoint inhibitor therapy, and continuing to explore those avenues is exciting. That’s what I’m most excited about.


Nykode Therapeutics announces positive interim results from its Phase 2 trial with VB10.16 in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab in advanced cervical cancer. News release. Nykode Therapeutics. May 9, 2022. Accessed December 4, 2022. https://yhoo.it/37CjiZi

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