The 2018 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Annual Congress will begin in Munich on October 19, where combination therapies and immuno-oncology strategies feature heavily in the highest impact clinical research abstracts. The best studies at the congress, those considered cutting-edge or practice-changing, will be presented during the three plenary sessions, called Presidential Symposia at ESMO.

This year’s first Presidential Symposium focuses exclusively on combination therapies in breast cancer, including in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2−), and hormone receptor-positive (HR+) subtypes, reflecting the breadth of ongoing efforts to improve treatment options for patients with significant unmet needs.

Presentations in the first Presidential Symposium on 20 October will include:

  • LBA1_PR: IMpassion130: Results from a global, randomised, double-blind, Phase III study of atezolizumab + nab-paclitaxel versus placebo + nab-paclitaxel in treatment-naïve, locally advanced or metastatic TNBC (Roche)
  • LBA2_PR: Overall survival with palbociclib plus fulvestrant in women with HR+, HER2− advanced breast cancer: Analyses from PALOMA-3 (Pfizer/AstraZeneca)
  • LBA3_PR: Alpelisib + fulvestrant for advanced breast cancer: Results of the Phase III SOLAR-1 trial in HR+, HER2− patients (Novartis)
  • 283O_PR: Phase III trial of chidamide, a subtype-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, in combination with exemestane in patients with HR+ advanced breast cancer (Chipscreen Biosciences)

Interestingly, in July 2018, Roche announced that the co-primary endpoint of progression-free survival in the IMpassion130 study had been met in an interim analysis, and also noted a positive trend in overall survival. It is not yet clear whether overall survival data for the Tecentriq (atezolizumab) plus chemotherapy combination will be released at ESMO, but the study results have been submitted by Roche with the FDA, in a fast turnaround time of only 12 weeks.

The second and third Presidential Symposia, on October 21 and 22, respectively, will focus on a broader range of cancers, including prostate, renal, ovarian, head and neck, and non-small cell lung cancers. Combination studies will also feature in many of these presentations, which include:

  • LBA4: Effects of abiraterone acetate plus prednisone/prednisolone in high- and low-risk metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer
  • LBA5_PR: Radiotherapy to the primary tumour for men with newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer: Survival results from STAMPEDE (NCT00268476)
  • LBA6_PR: JAVELIN Renal 101: A randomized, Phase III study of avelumab + axitinib versus sunitinib as first-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (Pfizer/Merck KGaA)
  • LBA7_PR: Maintenance olaparib following platinum-based chemotherapy in newly diagnosed patients with advanced ovarian cancer and a BRCA1/2 mutation: Phase III SOLO1 trial (AstraZeneca)
  • LBA8_PR: KEYNOTE-048: Phase III study of first-line pembrolizumab for recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (Merck)
  • LBA9_PR: Cetuximab versus cisplatin in patients with HPV-positive, low-risk oropharyngeal cancer, receiving radical radiotherapy
  • LBA10: Primary results of ALESIA: A randomised, Phase III, open-label study of alectinib versus crizotinib in Asian patients with treatment-naïve ALK+ advanced NSCLC (Roche)

Of particular note among these abstracts is Pfizer/Merck KGaA’s JAVELIN Renal 101 study in renal cell carcinoma, for which the two companies revealed positive top-line results in September, with the combination of Bavencio (avelumab) and Inlyta (axitinib) showing a significant improvement in progression-free survival in advanced, PD-L1-positive patients. Having received Breakthrough Designation from the FDA in December 2017, the companies plan to submit these data for the regulatory agency’s consideration.

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