Indoximod + Keytruda looks promising in Phase 2 advanced melanoma
IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase) is an intracellular enzyme found in antigen presenting cells that mediates immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment.
Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an intracellular heme-containing enzyme that initiates the first and rate-limiting step of tryptophan degradation along the kynurenine pathway. In mammalian organisms, tryptophan is an essential amino acid for cell survival; it cannot be synthesized de novo.
An important mechanism by which IDO affects T-cell activity is that the consumption of local tryptophan inhibits mechanistic target of rapamycin (serine/threonine kinase) complex 1 (mTORC1) as well as the T-cell receptor regulatory kinase, protein kinase C theta (PKC-θ), both of which are regulatory targets of the master amino acid-sensing kinase, glucokinase (GLK1). mTORC1 inhibition can trigger a response that includes activating autophagy, leading to anergy in T cells in the tumor microenvironment.
IDO expression can further induce a stress response in cells via activation of general control nondepressible-2 (GCN2). Tryptophan degradation by IDO causes local tryptophan deficiency, leading to the accumulation of uncharged tryptophan transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) in cells. GCN2, a stress-response kinase, is stimulated by elevations in uncharged tRNA, and its activation can limit or alter protein translation and prevent T-cell activation. Furthermore, activation of GCN2 promotes de novo Treg differentiation and enhances Treg activity, resulting in profound immunosuppressive microenvironment.
Rationale for IDO inhibition plus checkpoint inhibition
Although patients who respond to treatment with checkpoint inhibitors have excellent outcomes, most patients do not respond. The goal, then, is to add Indoximod with the hope of squelching Treg cells in the microenvironment so that immune checkpoint blockade can induce responses and excellent outcomes in more patients.
IDO inhibition + checkpoint blockade in advanced melanoma
New Link Genetics is conducting a phase 2b clinical study of Indoximod in patients with advanced melanoma who are receiving CTLA-4 and PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors – Yervoy (ipilimumab; CTLA-4), Opdivo (nivolumab; PD-1), or Keytruda (pembrolizumab; PD-1), all of which are approved for advanced melanoma by the FDA. Important inclusion/exclusion criteria include:
- Inclusion Criteria –
- Unresectable Stage III or Stage IV melanoma.
- Patients must have measurable disease, defined as lesions that can be accurately measure in in 2 perpendicular diameters with at least one diameter > 20mm and the other >10mm on conventional CT or MRI or 10mm x 10 mm by spiral CT.
- No systemic treatment in the previous 28 days.
- Exclusion Criteria –
- Patients who have had prior therapy with immune checkpoint inhibition or or indoximod are excluded from the trial. Pre-treatment with other immune modulators is allowed in the phase 1 component of the study only. For the Phase II component, patients are excluded if they have had prior therapy with or immune-stimulating agents including interleukin-2, interferons, CTLA-4 or PD1 antagonists, CD40 or CD137 agonist, or cancer therapeutic vaccines in any prior line for metastatic disease. Interferons used in the adjuvant setting are allowed (Phase 1 or 2 component).
Results in 51 patients treated with Indoximod + Keytruda demonstrate an overall response rate of 61% and median progression-free survival of 12.9 months.
These results compare quite favorably to Keytruda, alone, based on the KEYNOTE-006 registration trial in which overall response rate was 34% and median progression-free survival was 5.1 months.
Phase 3 study of Indoximod + Keytruda or Opdivo
New Link is planning a Phase 3 trial that will include 600 patients with
Stage III unresectable and metastatic stage IV melanoma. The trial will have a one to one randomization between indoximod plus KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) or OPDIVO (nivolumab) compared to single agent PD-1 inhibitor. The co-primary endpoints of the study are PFS by RECIST criteria and Overall Survival (OS).