Results of a Randomized Phase IIb Trial of Nelipepimut-S + Trastuzumab versus Trastuzumab to Prevent Recurrences in Patients with High-Risk HER2 Low-Expressing Breast Cancer

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jun 1;26(11):2515-2523. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-2741. Epub 2020 Feb 18.


Purpose: Preclinical data provide evidence for synergism between HER2-targeted peptide vaccines and trastuzumab. The efficacy of this combination was evaluated in patients with HER2 low-expressing breast cancer in the adjuvant setting.

Patients and methods: A phase IIb, multicenter, randomized, single-blinded, controlled trial enrolled disease-free patients after standard therapy completion (NCT01570036). Eligible patients were HLA-A2, A3, A24, and/or A26+, and had HER2 IHC 1+/2+, FISH nonamplified breast cancer, that was node positive and/or hormone receptor-negative [triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)]. Patients received trastuzumab for 1 year and were randomized to placebo (GM-CSF, control) or nelipepimut-S (NPS) with GM-CSF. Primary outcome was 24-month disease-free survival (DFS). Secondary outcomes were 36-month DFS, safety, and immunologic response.

Results: Overall, 275 patients were randomized; 136 received NPS with GM-CSF, and 139 received placebo with GM-CSF. There were no clinicopathologic differences between groups. Concurrent trastuzumab and NPS with GM-CSF was safe with no additional overall or cardiac toxicity compared with control. At median follow-up of 25.7 (interquartile range, 18.4-32.7) months, estimated DFS did not significantly differ between NPS and control [HR, 0.62; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.31-1.25; P = 0.18]. In a planned exploratory analysis of patients with TNBC, DFS was improved for NPS versus control (HR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.08-0.81, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: The combination of NPS with trastuzumab is safe. In HER2 low-expressing breast cancer, no significant difference in DFS was seen in the intention-to-treat analysis; however, significant clinical benefit was seen in patients with TNBC. These findings warrant further investigation in a phase III randomized trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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