Leading with lung

Lung cancer, PD-1/PD-L1 take over ASCO

Lung cancer squeezed past breast cancer as the top indication at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting this year as targeted therapies duke it out within genetically defined subgroups, while immunotherapies seek their best molecular subpopulations, combination partner or both.

BioCentury analyzed the roughly 3,600 meeting abstracts related to clinical, preclinical, biomarker or basic cancer research released in advance of the meeting taking place June 2-6 in Chicago.

Analyses of the top indications and targets reflect a huge emphasis on the role of the immune system in cancer (see “Top Indications at ASCO” and “Top ASCO Targets”).

This is not a surprise, as checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapies have been the hottest programs in industry’s cancer pipeline for the past few years, and every company with a checkpoint inhibitor is testing it with multiple combination partners and across several types of cancer.

Lung cancer was one of the first indications for which PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors were approved, and a great deal of work on immunotherapies in this indication continues.

PD-1 and PD-L1 were each mentioned in roughly one-sixth of the lung cancer abstracts. These include clinical studies attempting to bring Opdivo nivolumab from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Keytruda pembrolizumab from Merck & Co. Inc. up the lines of therapy or into new combinations.

However, immunotherapies only partly

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