Researchers reported a number of important findings in the treatment of sarcoma (cancers of the body’s connective tissue) at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Pembrolizumab shows promise in phase ll trial for subset of sarcomas

SARC028 is a phase ll multicenter trial that evaluated the immunotherapy pembrolizumab given as a single agent in patients with advanced soft tissue sarcomas and bone sarcomas. The trial’s primary endpoint (assessment goal) was objective response rate. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival and overall survival.

What Patients Need to Know

Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy called a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. SARC028 showed that the drug is a potentially viable treatment for a subset of sarcomas, with promising activity in undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) and liposarcoma.

Immunotherapy drugs given in combination evaluated in metastatic sarcoma

A phase II multicenter trial, ALLIANCE A091401, evaluated the combination of the immunotherapies nivolumab and ipilimumab in patients with heavily treated metastatic sarcoma.

What Patients Need to Know

The combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab induced an objective response rate (ORR) of 16 percent, compared to an ORR of 5 percent with nivolumab given as a single agent. Researchers reported that the combination of immunotherapies had a manageable toxicity profile, as determined by the number and severity of adverse events.

Investigational chemotherapy evaluated in treatment of soft tissue sarcomas

A phase lll trial showed that the investigational chemotherapy aldoxorubicin prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with liposarcoma and leiomyosarcoma (L-sarcoma), compared with standard chemotherapy treatments.

The trial compared aldoxorubicin, given every 3 weeks, with the investigator’s choice of pazopanib, gemcitabine/docetaxel, dacarbazine, doxorubicin, or ifosfamide.

What Patients Need to Know

In addition to prolonging PFS, aldoxorubicin had a favorable cardiac toxicity profile as compared to doxorubicin.

Drug evaluated for treatment of advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)

Phase l findings from a trial evaluating the investigational drug BLU-285 in patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) supported earlier findings that the drug exhibited strong clinical activity and an encouraging safety profile.

BLU-285 is a selective KIT and PDGFRα inhibitor. An estimated 80 percent of GISTs have a mutation of the KIT gene, and 10 percent have a mutation of the PDGFRα gene.

What Patients Need to Know

A global, randomized phase lll clinical trial of BLU-285 as a third-line treatment for GIST is planned for the first half of 2018.