Background: Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death worldwide, highlighting the need for novel therapeutic concepts. In particular, there is still a lack of treatment strategies for the group of elderly and frail patients, who are frequently not capable of receiving standard therapy regimens. Despite comprising the majority of lung cancer patients, this group is underrepresented in clinical trials. This applies also to elderly and frail patients suffering from unresectable stage III NSCLC, who are unfit for chemotherapy, and, therefore, cannot receive the standard therapy comprising of radiochemotherapy and the recently approved subsequent durvalumab consolidation therapy. These patients often receive radiotherapy only, which raises the concern of undertreatment. The TRADE-hypo trial aims at optimizing treatment of this patient group by combining radiotherapy with concomitant durvalumab administration, thereby employing the immune-promoting effects of radiotherapy, and determining safety, feasibility, and efficacy of this treatment.
Methods/ design: In this prospective phase II clinical trial, durvalumab therapy will be combined with either conventionally fractionated (CON-group) or hypofractionated (HYPO-group) thoracic radiotherapy. A safety stop-and-go lead-in phase will assess safety of hypofractionated radiotherapy with respect to severe pneumonitis in small patient cohorts before opening full enrollment. Tumor tissue, blood and stool samples will be collected before and during the study period to investigate the immunological mechanisms responsible for checkpoint inhibitor efficacy and immune-promoting effects of radiotherapy.
Discussion: Preclinical data suggests that irradiation-induced immunogenicity can be further increased if applied in a hypofractionated setting, potentially boosting the expected synergistic effect with immune checkpoint inhibition in restoring the immune anti-tumor response. If proven safe and efficient, a hypofractionated radiation schedule can provide a considerably more practicable option for the patient. Taking into consideration the intend to develop a combination treatment strategy that can be made available to patients soon after proving to be efficient and the potentially elevated toxicity of a hypofractionated radiotherapy approach, this trial was designed as a two-trials-in-one design. An accompanying translational research program is planned striving to gain insights into the tumor-host biology and to identify suitable biomarkers to predict therapy response.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov , NCT04351256 . Registered 17 April 2020, Eudra-CT, 2019-002192-33 . Registered 24 October 2019.
Keywords: Anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody; Geriatric risk profile; Hypofractionated radiation; Immune checkpoint inhibition; NSCLC; Non-small cell lung cancer; Radioimmunotherapy.