Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD, shares his excitement over the use of immunotherapy for liver cancer in 2018, and highlights research initiatives that are studying its potential in combination with other therapies.
PUBLISHED February 26, 2018
Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD: This year in 2018, no doubt that it’s now confirmed that any patients with liver cancer got to ask about immunotherapy, and now this is valid because we have a drug that already has been approved for that purpose. And in addition to that, there are many other clinical trials still ongoing and these studies are very important, which make it one more reason to ask about immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is no doubt under a lot of studies, being evaluated further, and looked at in many aspects. And short of what already we know about the nivolumab, or Opdivo, in the second-line setting, we’re hoping to see how it’s to translate into the first-line setting with the study that has already been completed. We are waiting for the results of combinations of different immunotherapies that are actually in studies that are underway.
Please do remember, despite that I mentioned about that brake on the immune system with pushing on that pedal at all times, some cars, or some systems, are made with 2 brakes or 2 pedals. And as such, braking a certain target for the immunotherapy plus another target next to it might actually cause further effect and good further effect in regard to delivering cancer control.
And for that reason, there’s a huge clinical trial or study that is ongoing called the HIMALAYA study, which, if anything, would hopefully be able provide care for close to about 1300 patients. At the same time, we will learn quite a bit from it about the potential outcome in regard to patients with liver cancer.
So, it’s not necessary that you tie yourself up to only the standard of care; there are other opportunities where you can have, contribute, and get the right therapy, but at the same time see how best to benefit from it.
I would say that this is a great start of the year with immunotherapy onboard for the treatment of liver cancer. And on top of that, there’s a potential for other clinical trials. As such, the expectation is that hopefully every patient, any patient, that’s eligible for the treatment of immunotherapy will get it one way or the other. So, I would remain very positive and very optimistic.