Genomic profiling of advanced cervical cancer to predict response to programmed death-1 inhibitor combination therapy: a secondary analysis of the CLAP trial

J Immunother Cancer. 2021 May;9(5):e002223. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2020-002223.


Background: The Camrelizumab Plus Apatinib in Patients with Advanced Cervical Cancer trial was a single-arm, phase II study that showed promising activity of the programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor camrelizumab plus the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 inhibitor apatinib in patients with advanced cervical cancer. However, the predictive biomarkers for treatment outcomes are unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify potential predictors of treatment response in PD-1 inhibitor combination therapy.

Methods: Genomic profiling was performed on patients with available biopsy or surgical samples by targeted next-generation sequencing of 425 cancer-related genes in this preplanned, secondary analysis. Somatic alterations, including all non-synonymous mutations, and tumor mutational burden (TMB) were assessed for their predictive values in objective response rate, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS).

Results: A subset of 32 patients was included in this analysis. Top altered genes included PIK3CA (43.8%), STK11 (25%), FBXW7 (15.6%), and PTEN (15.6%). The PI3K/AKT pathway was among the most frequently dysregulated pathways, and its genetic alterations were identified in 68.8% of patients. PIK3CA (PFS HR 0.33, p=0.05; OS HR 0.23, p=0.04) and PTEN (PFS HR 3.71e-09, p=0.05; OS HR 3.64e-09, p=0.08) alterations were associated with improved outcomes. PI3K/AKT pathway genetic alterations showed improved predictive power compared with either PIK3CA or PTEN alterations alone (PFS HR 0.33, p=0.03; OS HR 0.25, p=0.02), while ERBB3 mutations (PFS HR 34.9, p<0.001; OS HR 19.8, p<0.001) correlated with poor survival. TMB-high (≥5 mut/Mb) was associated with prolonged PFS (HR 0.26, p<0.01) and OS (HR 0.31, p=0.05). Multivariate analysis showed ERBB3 mutations (PFS p=0.01, OS p<0.001), PD-L1 positive (PFS p=0.01, OS p=0.05), and high TMB (PFS p=0.01, OS p=0.05) remained significantly associated with survival.

Conclusions: We uncovered that genetic alterations in PIK3CA, PTEN, ERBB3, and PI3K/AKT pathway, as well as TMB, could be novel predictive biomarkers in patients with cervical cancer treated with PD-1 inhibitor combination therapy.

Trial registration number: NCT03816553.

Keywords: combination; drug therapy; gene expression profiling; genetic markers; immunotherapy.

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