Expert Point of View: Al Covens, MD


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Al Covens, MD

Al Covens, MD

Al Covens, MD, Professor and Chair of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Toronto, and Head of Gynecologic Oncology at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, commented on the phase II findings of axalimogene filolisbac: “As almost all cervical cancers are human papillomavirus (HPV)-related, this approach is biologically plausible. I think these data are very encouraging for immunotherapy studies in cervical cancer and for the patients suffering from recurrent or metastatic disease. More definitive larger studies are needed, and they are being planned and conducted at present.”

Another Step Forward


This phase II trial showing a significant improvement in survival in advanced-stage cervical cancer patients is another step forward in the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines.
— Mary L. (Nora) Disis, MD

Also commenting for The ASCO Post was Mary L. (Nora) Disis, MD, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Health Translational Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Disis is involved in a number of vaccine studies herself. “This phase II trial showing a significant improvement in survival in advanced-stage cervical cancer patients is another step forward in the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines,” she said.

Dr. Disis noted that data for another HPV-targeted vaccine, ISA101, produced robust responses when combined with chemotherapy in patients with advanced cervical cancer in the CervISA study, as reported at the recent ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium.1 Overall survival for previously untreated patients approached a year and a half.

Data from the current study, for the axalimogene filolisbac vaccine, also suggest “that cervical cancer can be treated with vaccine therapy targeting HPV, which is a goal that has been elusive to date,” admitted Dr. Disis. “This trial is a significant advance for our patients.” ■

Disclosure: Dr. Covens reported no potential conflicts of interest. Dr. Disis has received grant funding from Celgene, EMD Serono, Seattle Genetics, Janssen, and Epiphany and has stock in Epiphany.

Reference

1. Melief CJ, Gerritsen WR, Welters M, et al: Correlation between strength of T-cell response against HPV16 and survival after vaccination with HPV16 long peptides in combination with chemotherapy for late-stage cervical cancer. 2017 ASCO-SITC Clinical Immuno-Oncology Symposium. Abstract 140. Presented February 23, 2017.


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Overall survival in recurrent, metastatic cervical cancer was substantially extended with a Listeria-based immunotherapy approach that targets the human papillomavirus (HPV), investigators reported at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting.1


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