Background: In patients with melanoma, ipilimumab (an antibody against cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 [CTLA-4]) prolongs overall survival, and nivolumab (an antibody against the programmed death 1 [PD-1] receptor) produced durable tumor regression in a phase 1 trial. On the basis of their distinct immunologic mechanisms of action and supportive preclinical data, we conducted a phase 1 trial of nivolumab combined with ipilimumab in patients with advanced melanoma.
Methods: We administered intravenous doses of nivolumab and ipilimumab in patients every 3 weeks for 4 doses, followed by nivolumab alone every 3 weeks for 4 doses (concurrent regimen). The combined treatment was subsequently administered every 12 weeks for up to 8 doses. In a sequenced regimen, patients previously treated with ipilimumab received nivolumab every 2 weeks for up to 48 doses.
Results: A total of 53 patients received concurrent therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab, and 33 received sequenced treatment. The objective-response rate (according to modified World Health Organization criteria) for all patients in the concurrent-regimen group was 40%. Evidence of clinical activity (conventional, unconfirmed, or immune-related response or stable disease for ≥24 weeks) was observed in 65% of patients. At the maximum doses that were associated with an acceptable level of adverse events (nivolumab at a dose of 1 mg per kilogram of body weight and ipilimumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram), 53% of patients had an objective response, all with tumor reduction of 80% or more. Grade 3 or 4 adverse events related to therapy occurred in 53% of patients in the concurrent-regimen group but were qualitatively similar to previous experience with monotherapy and were generally reversible. Among patients in the sequenced-regimen group, 18% had grade 3 or 4 adverse events related to therapy and the objective-response rate was 20%.
Conclusions: Concurrent therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab had a manageable safety profile and provided clinical activity that appears to be distinct from that in published data on monotherapy, with rapid and deep tumor regression in a substantial proportion of patients. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01024231.).