Purpose: The CLASSICAL-Lung clinical trial tested the combination of pepinemab, an IgG4 humanized mAb targeting semaphorin 4D, with the PD-L1 inhibitor avelumab to assess the effects of coupling increased T-cell infiltration and reversal of immune suppression via pepinemab with sustained T-cell activation via checkpoint inhibition. Patients and Methods: This phase Ib/II, single-arm study was designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of pepinemab in combination with avelumab in 62 patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), including immunotherapy-naïve (ION) patients and patients whose tumors progressed following anti-PD-1/L1 monotherapy (IOF). The main objectives were to evaluate safety/tolerability, establish a recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D), obtain a preliminary evaluation of antitumor activity, and investigate candidate biomarker activity. Results: The combination was well tolerated with no major safety signals identified. Pepinemab, 10 mg/kg with avelumab, 10 mg/kg, every 2 weeks, was selected as the RP2D. Among 21 evaluable ION patients, 5 patients experienced partial responses (PR), 4 patients evidenced clinical benefit ≥1 year, and the disease control rate (DCR) was 81%. Notably, overall response rate with the combination therapy was higher than previously reported for single-agent avelumab in the PD-L1-negative/low population. Among 29 evaluable IOF patients, the combination resulted in a DCR of 59%, including 2 PR and 7 patients with durable clinical benefit of ≥23 weeks. Biomarker analysis of biopsies demonstrated increased CD8 T-cell density correlating with RECIST response criteria. Conclusions: The combination of pepinemab with avelumab was well tolerated in NSCLC and showed signs of antitumor activity in immunotherapy-resistant and PD-L1-negative/low tumors.
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