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Highlights From the 2022 Society for Melanoma Research Annual Congress

Michael A. Davies, MD, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Michael A. Davies, MD, PhD: consultant/advisor/speaker: ABM Therapeutics, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Iovance, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche/Genentech; researcher: ABM Therapeutics, Lead Pharma.

View ClinicalThoughts from this Author

Released: November 17, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Adjuvant immunotherapy provides a relapse-free survival benefit in patients with stage IIB/IIC melanoma.
  • The use of “flipped-dose” ipilimumab plus nivolumab in combination with tocilizumab may reduce the incidence of severe adverse events.
  • The results of tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy for advanced melanoma are promising.

The results from many important clinical trials were reported during the 2022 Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) Annual Congress. Here, Michael A. Davies, MD, PhD, an expert in melanoma care, notes the key studies and highlights some of their most crucial findings.

  • The phase III CheckMate 76K trial compared adjuvant nivolumab with placebo in patients with newly diagnosed, resected stage IIB/IIC melanoma. Dr Georgina Long presented initial relapse-free survival (RFS) results from an interim analysis that demonstrated that adjuvant nivolumab significantly improved RFS vs placebo, with a stratified HR of 0.42 and a 12-month RFS rate of 89% vs 79% in the overall population.
  • Previously reported RFS data from a third interim analysis of the phase III KEYNOTE-716 trial favored adjuvant pembrolizumab vs placebo in patients with newly diagnosed stage IIB/IIC melanoma (HR: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.50-0.84). Dr Dirk Schadendorf presented a post hoc analysis that evaluated the benefit of adjuvant pembrolizumab in subgroups defined by histopathologic features of the primary tumors, which identified some interesting differences and associations for further investigation.
  • Dr Jose Lutzky presented the first report from a phase II trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of nivolumab and relatlimab for metastatic uveal melanoma. Of 20 evaluable patients, 9 (45%; 95% CI: 23.1-68.5) achieved a clinical benefit. The toxicity profile of the combination was noted to be manageable, with fatigue as the most common treatment-related adverse event.
  • In an encore presentation, Dr John Crown reported the combined results of 2 phase I expansion cohorts of anti–PD-1/PD-L1 naive patients with metastatic melanoma who received the LAG-3–targeted antibody fianlimab in combination with cemiplimab. Anti–PD-1/PD-L1 naive patients had an objective response rate of 63.8% and a Kaplan-Meier estimated median progression-free survival of 24 months.
  • A randomized, controlled phase III trial compared tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy with ipilimumab for patients with PD-1 blockaderefractory advanced melanoma. Dr John Haanen reported that, at a median follow-up of ~33 months, median progression-free survival was 7.2 months in the TIL arm vs 3.1 months in the ipilimumab arm (HR: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.35-0.72; P <.001). The overall response rate was 48.8% with TIL vs 21.4% with ipilimumab.
  • Dr Jeff Weber presented updated results from a phase II clinical trial of “flipped-dose” ipilimumab/nivolumab given in combination with the anti–interleukin 6 antibody tocilizumab in patients with advanced melanoma. Promising results showed a serious immune-related adverse event rate of <20% by week 24 and best overall response rate of 49% in 61 evaluable patients.

Data presented at the 2022 SMR Annual Congress included promising results for adjuvant immunotherapy in stage IIB/IIC melanoma and TIL therapy for previously treated advanced melanoma. New agents (such as LAG-3–targeted therapy) are being investigated in both cutaneous and uveal melanoma. Emerging data with tocilizumab for the reduction of immune-mediated toxicities with immune checkpoint inhibitors also are promising.

Learn More
To learn more about the clinical implications of the studies covered at SMR, read an expert analysis by Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD, and Michael A. Davies, MD, PhD, and download slides summarizing the data from the studies above.

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