Expert Point of View: Stephen Ansell, MD, PhD


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There is always concern that there’s a bit of a flash in the pan and that a drug helps but only for a short period. I think these data show that the responses achieved with nivolumab and pembrolizumab are really durable.
— Stephen Ansell, MD, PhD

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Stephen Ansell, MD, PhD, Chair of the Mayo Clinic Lymphoma Group, said the “exciting results” of these studies indicated that “we have come a long way in Hodgkin lymphoma.”

“It’s been very gratifying to see that the excellent initial trial results with the anti–programmed cell death protein 1 (anti–PD-1) agents have been validated in larger studies,” he added. “I think there is always concern that there’s a bit of a flash in the pan and that a drug helps but only for a short period. I think these data show that the responses achieved with nivolumab [Opdivo] and pembrolizumab [Keytruda] are really durable.”

Positioning these drugs in the setting of transplantation is “complicated,” he revealed in an interview. “It’s a bit early to make a significant call on that. Auto-transplant is curative in a high percentage of patients. I think everyone is a little concerned that we would be using a long-term therapy when instead we could use a short-term therapy and actually cure some patients. Allo-transplant is a much more complex scenario. You have a very toxic therapy on one hand and a very long-term therapy on the other. One could be curative and the other, possibly not. I think there’s lots to consider here about the benefit-risk profile.” ■

Disclosure: Dr. Ansell has a relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Seattle Genetics, Merck, Celldex, and Affimed.


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