Phase II Trial of IL-12 Plasmid Transfection and PD-1 Blockade in Immunologically Quiescent Melanoma.

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Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research




PURPOSE: Tumors with low frequencies of checkpoint positive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (cpTIL) have a low likelihood of response to PD-1 blockade. We conducted a prospective multicenter phase II trial of intratumoral plasmid IL-12 (tavokinogene telseplasmid; "tavo") electroporation combined with pembrolizumab in patients with advanced melanoma with low frequencies of checkpoint positive cytotoxic lymphocytes (cpCTL).

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Tavo was administered intratumorally days 1, 5, and 8 every 6 weeks while pembrolizumab (200 mg, i.v.) was administered every 3 weeks. The primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR) by RECIST, secondary endpoints included duration of response, overall survival and progression-free survival. Toxicity was evaluated by the CTCAE v4. Extensive correlative analysis was done.

RESULTS: The combination of tavo and pembrolizumab was well tolerated with adverse events similar to those previously reported with pembrolizumab alone. Patients had a 41% ORR (

CONCLUSIONS: The combination of tavo and pembrolizumab was associated with a higher than expected response rate in this poorly immunogenic population. No new or unexpected toxicities were observed. Correlative analysis showed T cell infiltration with enhanced immunity paralleling the clinical activity in low cpCTL tumors.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute