Yale Study Shows PD-L1 Expression Can Predict Response to PD-L1 Inhibitors

The trial, conducted across various tumor types, monitored PD-L1 expression in biopsy samples before and during treatment with the PD-L1 inhibitor MPDL3280A being developed by Genentech.

The presence of an immune-suppressing protein in non-cancerous immune cells may predict how patients with different types of cancer respond to treatment, a multi-center phase I study using an investigational immune therapy drug has found.


The study, led by a Yale Cancer Center investigator, is described in the Nov. 27 edition of the journal .

The trial included patients with melanoma or cancers of the lung, kidney, colon, GI tract, or head and neck, whose tumors were evaluated for PD-L1 expression by a novel assay. PD-L1 is a protein expressed by many tumor types that is believed to act as a stop sign that prevents the immune system from attacking cancer cells. Patients were treated with MPDL3280A, a drug that blocks PD-L1 and is being developed by Genentech, a member of the Roche group.

The trial differed from other immune therapy trials in that it incorporated serial biopsies of patients before and during treatment to identify a tumor profile that predicts response to treatment, said the paper’s first author, Roy Herbst, Ensign Professor of Medicine at Yale Cancer Center, professor of pharmacology, and chief of medical oncology in Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

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