Lung Cancer Patients with a Specific Human Leukocyte Antigen More Likely to Respond to Immunotherapy

A new study shows that lung cancer patients with a particular type of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) are more likely to benefit from immunotherapy. The study appeared in Nature Cancer.

In this study, researchers performed whole-exome sequencing on melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer tumors and blood samples.

According to the results, in HLA-B44 non-small cell lung cancer patients, only those who had neoepitopes similar to those commonly found in melanoma responded to immunotherapy. More importantly, the researchers noted, these patients tended to have durable responses to immunotherapy that lasted five years, or in some cases, longer.

“Finding out that immunotherapy in HLA-B44 patients performed differently in non-small cell lung cancer than melanoma really set us off on this journey to dive down into how HLA-B44 works,” said lead author Dr. Amy Cummings, clinical instructor of hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the Jonsson Cancer Center via a press release. “Usually you would think that for two types of cancers that generally respond well to immunotherapy, there would be similar principles in terms of characteristics of patients who benefit, but that’s not the case in this instance.”


“This certainly has a lot of implications for how we run clinical trials and may be able to help us stratify patients much better in terms of their likelihood of response to immunotherapy.”