BACKGROUND: Treatment with programmed cell death receptor (PD-1) and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors is a promising strategy to lift tumour-induced immune response suppression. However, the current systemic treatment often causes autoimmune side effects. In more than 50% of squamous cell cervical cancer, PD-L1 expression is detected. Moreover, we observed high and interrelated rates of PD-L1 positive macrophages and regulatory T cells in metastatic lymph nodes of cervical cancer patients. As cervical cancer in general initially metastasizes to regional lymph nodes, local administration of durvalumab (a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor) at an early stage will deliver these antibodies exactly where they are needed, facilitating immune protection. This may result in a clinical benefit while reducing undesirable side effects.
METHODS: DURVIT is a non-randomized, single-arm, open-label, phase I study. Three escalating dose levels of intratumourally (i.t.) injected durvalumab will be tested, i.e. 5, 10 and 20 mg (three patients per dose level, with an additional three at the highest tolerated dose). The primary endpoint of this phase-I study is safety. Immune monitoring will consist of flow cytometric, immunohistochemical and functional T cell reactivity testing. The first patient has been included in this trial in November 2017.
DISCUSSION: Evidence of safety and biological efficacy of this locally administered checkpoint blockade may expand adjuvant therapy options for cervical cancer patients. Early metastatic spread of cervical cancer cells may thus be controlled in the draining lymph node basin, and beyond, and hopefully delay or even prevent the onset of disease recurrence.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR6119 , 1-nov-2016.