Phase IB study of ziv-aflibercept plus pembrolizumab in patients with advanced solid tumors

J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Mar;10(3):e003569. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-003569.


Background: The combination of antiangiogenic agents with immune checkpoint inhibitors could potentially overcome immune suppression driven by tumor angiogenesis. We report results from a phase IB study of ziv-aflibercept plus pembrolizumab in patients with advanced solid tumors.

Methods: This is a multicenter phase IB dose-escalation study of the combination of ziv-aflibercept (at 2-4 mg/kg) plus pembrolizumab (at 2 mg/kg) administered intravenously every 2 weeks with expansion cohorts in programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1(PD-L1)-naïve melanoma, renal cell carcinoma (RCC), microsatellite stable colorectal cancer (CRC), and ovarian cancer. The primary objective was to determine maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and recommended dose of the combination. Secondary endpoints included overall response rate (ORR) and overall survival (OS). Exploratory objectives included correlation of clinical efficacy with tumor and peripheral immune population densities.

Results: Overall, 33 patients were enrolled during dose escalation (n=3) and dose expansion (n=30). No dose-limiting toxicities were reported in the initial dose level. Ziv-aflibercept 4 mg/kg plus pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg every 2 weeks was established as the MTD. Grade ≥3 adverse events occurred in 19/33 patients (58%), the most common being hypertension (36%) and proteinuria (18%). ORR in the dose-expansion cohort was 16.7% (5/30, 90% CI 7% to 32%). Complete responses occurred in melanoma (n=2); partial responses occurred in RCC (n=1), mesothelioma (n=1), and melanoma (n=1). Median OS was as follows: melanoma, not reached (NR); RCC, 15.7 months (90% CI 2.5 to 15.7); CRC, 3.3 months (90% CI 0.6 to 3.4); ovarian, 12.5 months (90% CI 3.8 to 13.6); other solid tumors, NR. Activated tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells at baseline (CD8+PD1+), high CD40L expression, and increased peripheral memory CD8 T cells correlated with clinical response.

Conclusion: The combination of ziv-aflibercept and pembrolizumab demonstrated an acceptable safety profile with antitumor activity in solid tumors. The combination is currently being studied in sarcoma and anti-PD-1-resistant melanoma.

Trial registration number: NCT02298959.

Keywords: clinical trials as topic; combination; drug therapy; immunotherapy; programmed cell death 1 receptor; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • aflibercept
  • pembrolizumab
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor

Associated data