Treatment with a retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) agonist as monotherapy and in combination with pembrolizumab in patients with advanced solid tumors: results from two phase 1 studies.
Moreno V., Calvo E., Middleton MR., Barlesi F., Gaudy-Marqueste C., Italiano A., Romano E., Marabelle A., Chartash E., Dobrenkov K., Zhou H., Connors EC., Zhang Y., Wermke M.
BACKGROUND: We evaluated MK-4621, an oligonucleotide that binds and activates retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I), as monotherapy (NCT03065023) and in combination with the anti-programmed death 1 antibody pembrolizumab (NCT03739138). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients were ≥ 18 years with histologically/cytologically confirmed advanced/metastatic solid tumors with injectable lesions. MK-4621 (0.2‒0.8 mg) was administered intratumorally as a stable formulation with jetPEI™ twice weekly over a 4-week cycle as monotherapy and weekly in 3-week cycles for up to 6 cycles in combination with 200 mg pembrolizumab every 3 weeks for up to 35 cycles. Primary endpoints were dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), treatment-related adverse events (AEs), and treatment discontinuation due to AEs. RESULTS: Fifteen patients received MK-4621 monotherapy and 30 received MK-4621 plus pembrolizumab. The only DLT, grade 3 pleural effusion that subsequently resolved, occurred in a patient who received MK-4621/jetPEI™ 0.8 mg plus pembrolizumab. 93% of patients experienced ≥ 1 treatment-related AE with both monotherapy and combination therapy. No patients experienced an objective response per RECIST v1.1 with MK-4621 monotherapy; 4 (27%) had stable disease. Three (10%) patients who received combination therapy had a partial response. Serum and tumor biomarker analyses provided evidence that MK-4621 treatment induced an increase in gene expression of interferon signaling pathway members and associated chemokines and cytokines. CONCLUSIONS: Patients treated with MK-4621 monotherapy or in combination with pembrolizumab experienced tolerable safety and modest antitumor activity, and there was evidence that MK-4621 activated the RIG-I pathway. At the doses tested, MK-4621 did not confer meaningful clinical benefit. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03065023 and NCT03739138.