Safety and efficacy of quavonlimab, a novel anti-CTLA-4 antibody (MK-1308), in combination with pembrolizumab in first-line advanced non-small-cell lung cancer

Ann Oncol. 2021 Mar;32(3):395-403. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2020.11.020. Epub 2020 Dec 2.


Background: Quavonlimab (MK-1308), a novel anti-CTLA-4 antibody, in combination with pembrolizumab was investigated in a phase I study.

Patients and methods: Dose-escalation (DE) phase: patients with advanced/metastatic solid tumors received an initial flat dose of quavonlimab as monotherapy [25 mg (cohort 1), 75 mg (cohort 2), or 200 mg (cohort 3)] followed by four treatments of the same quavonlimab dose plus pembrolizumab every 3 weeks (Q3W). Dose-confirmation phase (DC): patients with stage IIIB/IV non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received first-line quavonlimab [25 mg Q3W (arm A), 25 mg Q6W (arm B), 75 mg Q6W (arm C), or 75 mg Q3W (arm E)] plus pembrolizumab. Primary objectives were safety and tolerability and establishment of the recommended phase II dose (RP2D) of quavonlimab when used with pembrolizumab. Objective response rate (ORR) was a secondary endpoint. Efficacy based on PD-L1 expression, tumor mutational burden (TMB), and changes in circulating CD4+/CD8+ cells were exploratory endpoints.

Results: Thirty-nine patients were enrolled in DE [n = 14 (cohort 1); n = 17 (cohort 2); n = 8 (cohort 3)] and 134 in DC [n = 40 (arm A); n = 40 (arm B); n = 40 (arm C); n = 14 (arm E)]. Maximum-tolerated dose was not reached. Grade 3-5 treatment-related adverse events (AEs; graded according to NCI CTCAE v4.03) occurred in 0%, 23.5%, and 75.0% of patients in DE cohorts 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and 35.0%, 30.0%, 35.0%, and 57.1% of patients in DC arms A, B, C, and E, respectively. Efficacy was observed at all dose levels/schedules in patients with NSCLC. ORRs were 40.0% [95% confidence interval (CI), 24.9-56.7; arm A], 37.5% (95% CI, 22.7-54.2; arm B), 27.5% (95% CI, 14.6-43.9; arm C), and 35.7% (95% CI, 12.8-64.9; arm E). PD-L1 expression and total number of circulating CD4+ cells correlated with ORR.

Conclusions: Quavonlimab 25 mg Q6W plus pembrolizumab demonstrated similar efficacy and a better safety profile among all quavonlimab doses/schedules evaluated; this regimen was the chosen RP2D.

Keywords: CTLA-4; MK-1308; immunotherapy; non-small-cell lung cancer; pembrolizumab; quavonlimab.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • pembrolizumab