Geneva, Switzerland, 05 May 2017 – White blood cell counts can predict whether or not lung cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy, according to research presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC).
“Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab significantly improve overall survival in some – but not all – patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),” said Dr Marcello Tiseo, Coordinator of DMT Thoracic Oncology, University Hospital of Parma, Italy. “Researchers are looking for a predictive biomarker to select patients that will benefit from this treatment to avoid unnecessary toxicity and a waste of resources in patients who will not respond.”
He continued: “PD-L1 expression in a biopsy of tumour tissue is now used to select patients but it is not completely accurate, possibly because it does not reflect the evolving immune response. Biomarkers in the blood are easier to obtain and may be better indicators of immune response.”
This study assessed the ability of white blood cell counts to predict whether lung cancer patients responded to treatment with nivolumab. The study included 54 patients with NSCLC who received nivolumab at a dose of 3 mg/kg every 14 days.
The researchers found that white blood cell counts at baseline and during therapy did predict whether lung cancer patients would respond to nivolumab treatment. A greater number and concentration of natural killer cells at baseline was associated with response to nivolumab, as was an increase in the number of natural killer cells during treatment.
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