Purpose: Empirical time-varying clearance models have been reported for several immune checkpoint inhibitors, including avelumab (anti-programmed death ligand 1). To investigate the exposure-response relationship for avelumab, we explored semimechanistic pharmacokinetic (PK)-tumor growth dynamics (TGD) models.
Patients and methods: Plasma PK data were pooled from three phase I and II trials (JAVELIN Merkel 200, JAVELIN Solid Tumor, and JAVELIN Solid Tumor JPN); tumor size (TS) data were collected from patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (mMCC) enrolled in JAVELIN Merkel 200. A PK model was developed first, followed by TGD modeling to investigate interactions between avelumab exposure and TGD. A PK-TGD feedback loop was evaluated with simultaneous fitting of the PK and TGD models.
Results: In total, 1,835 PK observations and 338 TS observations were collected from 147 patients. In the final PK-TGD model, which included the bidirectional relationship between PK and TGD, avelumab PK was described by a two-compartment model with a positive association between clearance and longitudinal TS, with no additional empirical time-varying clearance identified. TGD was described by first-order tumor growth/shrinkage rates, with the tumor shrinkage rate decreasing exponentially over time; the exponential time-decay constant decreased with increasing drug concentration, representing the treatment effect through tumor shrinkage inhibition.
Conclusions: We developed a TGD model that mechanistically captures the prevention of loss of antitumor immunity (i.e., T-cell suppression in the tumor microenvironment) by avelumab, and a bidirectional interaction between PK and TGD in patients with mMCC treated with avelumab, thus mechanistically describing previously reported time variance of avelumab elimination.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02155647.
©2021 The Authors; Published by the American Association for Cancer Research.