Clinical responses to immunotherapy have been associated with augmentation of preexisting immune responses, manifested by heightened inflammation in the tumor microenvironment. However, many tumors have a noninflamed microenvironment, and response rates to immunotherapy in melanoma have been 50%. We approached this problem by utilizing immunotherapy (CTLA-4 blockade) combined with chemotherapy to induce local inflammation. In murine models of melanoma and prostate cancer, the combination of chemotherapy and CTLA-4 blockade induced a shift in the cellular composition of the tumor microenvironment, with infiltrating CD8\+ and CD4\+ T cells increasing the CD8/Foxp3 T-cell ratio. These changes were associated with improved survival of the mice. To translate these findings into a clinical setting, 26 patients with advanced melanoma were treated locally by isolated limb infusion with the nitrogen mustard alkylating agent melphalan followed by systemic administration of CTLA-4 blocking antibody (ipilimumab) in a phase II trial. This combination of local chemotherapy with systemic checkpoint blockade inhibitor resulted in a response rate of 85% at 3 months (62% complete and23%partial response rate) and a58% progression-free survival at 1 year. The clinical response was associated with increased T-cell infiltration, similar to that seen in the murine models. Together, our findings suggest that local chemotherapy combined with checkpoint blockade-based immunotherapy results in a durable response to cancer therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research