Axitinib in Combination With Toripalimab, a Humanized Immunoglobulin G4 Monoclonal Antibody Against Programmed Cell Death-1, in Patients With Metastatic Mucosal Melanoma: An Open-Label Phase IB Trial

PURPOSE:

Metastatic mucosal melanoma responds poorly to anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) monotherapy. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been shown to play an important immunosuppressive role in the tumor microenvironment. The combination of VEGF inhibition and PD-1 blockade provides therapeutic opportunities for patients refractory to either therapy alone.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

We conducted a single-center, phase IB trial evaluating the safety and preliminary efficacy of toripalimab, a humanized immunoglobulin G4 monoclonal antibody against PD-1 in combination with the VEGF receptor inhibitor axitinib in patientswith advanced melanoma, including patients with chemotherapy-naïve mucosal melanomas (88%). Patients received toripalimab at 1 or 3 mg/kg via intravenous infusion every 2 weeks, in combination with axitinib 5 mg orally twice a day, in a dose-escalation and cohort-expansion study until confirmed disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or voluntary withdrawal. The primary objective was safety. Secondary objectives included efficacy, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, immunogenicity, and tumor tissue biomarkers.

RESULTS:

Thirty-three patients were enrolled. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. Ninety-seven percent of patients experienced treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs). The most common TRAEs were mild (grade 1 or 2) and included diarrhea, proteinuria, hand and foot syndrome, fatigue, AST or ALT elevation, hypertension, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, and rash. Grade 3 or greater TRAEs occurred in 39.4% of patients. By the cutoff date, among 29 patients with chemotherapy-naïve mucosal melanoma, 14 patients (48.3%; 95% CI, 29.4% to 67.5%) achieved objective response, and the median progression-free survival time was 7.5 months (95% CI, 3.7 months to not reached) per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) version 1.1.

CONCLUSION:

The combination of toripalimab plus axitinib was tolerable and showed promising antitumor activity in patients with treatment-naïve metastatic mucosal melanoma. Patients enrolled in this study were all Asian, and this combination therapy must be validated in a randomized phase III trial that includes a non-Asian population before it can become a standard of care.