Neoadjuvant pembrolizumab, dabrafenib and trametinib in BRAFV600-mutant resectable melanoma: the randomized phase 2 NeoTrio trial

Nat Med. 2024 Jun 21. doi: 10.1038/s41591-024-03077-5. Online ahead of print.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors and BRAF-targeted therapy each improve survival in melanoma. Immune changes early during targeted therapy suggest the mechanisms of each drug class could work synergistically. In the non-comparative, randomized, phase 2 NeoTrio trial, we investigated whether targeted therapy could boost the proportion of patients achieving long-term recurrence-free survival with neoadjuvant immunotherapy in resectable stage III BRAFV600-mutant melanoma. Sixty patients (42% females) were randomized to pembrolizumab alone (n = 20), sequential therapy (dabrafenib plus trametinib followed by pembrolizumab; n = 20) or concurrent (triple) therapy (n = 20), followed by surgery and adjuvant therapy. The primary outcome was pathological response; secondary outcomes included radiographic response, recurrence-free survival, overall survival, surgical outcomes, peripheral blood and tumor analyses and safety. The pathological response rate was 55% (11/20; including six pathological complete responses (pCRs)) with pembrolizumab, 50% (10/20; three pCRs) with sequential therapy and 80% (16/20; ten pCRs) with concurrent therapy, which met the primary outcome in each arm. Treatment-related adverse events affected 75-100% of patients during neoadjuvant treatment, with seven early discontinuations (all in the concurrent arm). At 2 years, event-free survival was 60% with pembrolizumab, 80% with sequential therapy and 71% with concurrent therapy. Recurrences after major pathological response were more common in the targeted therapy arms, suggesting a reduction in response 'quality' when targeted therapy is added to neoadjuvant immunotherapy. Risking the curative potential of immunotherapy in melanoma cannot be justified. Pending longer follow-up, we suggest that immunotherapy and targeted therapy should not be combined in the neoadjuvant setting for melanoma. registration: NCT02858921 .

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