Rare Disease Report

Should Adcetris Be Evaluated as a Combination Therapy?

DECEMBER 14, 2017
Martin Hutchings, Ph.D., M.D.
Martin Hutchings, Ph.D., M.D., is a Senior Consultant in the Department of Hematology at the Finsen Centre, National Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

At the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting and Exposition in Atlanta last week, Rare Disease Report caught up with him to discuss whether Adcetris, which has proven its effectiveness as a single agent in heavily relapsed/refractory lymphomas, is worth being investigated as a combination therapy. Watch the video below to hear his take:

Rare Disease Report (RDR): What exactly is Adcetris?

Hutchings: Adcetris is what we call an “antibody conjugate,” which means it’s an antibody—in this case, directed against the specific target of Hodgkin lymphoma and the CD30 antigen, which is linked with a protein linker to some cytostatic, or cytotoxic, molecule. In this case, it’s an old, very toxic drug called MMAE [monomethyl auristatin E]. That’s the biological basis for the drug. It’s been tested as a mono- agent, so it’s a single agent therapy in heavily relapsed, refractory Hodgkin lymphoma. Another disease that expresses CD30 on the surface of the cell is called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an even rarer disease.

RDR: How effective is Adcetris as a single agent?

Hutchings: It’s been proven to be very active as a single agent, with a response rate of around 75%, including with roughly one-third complete responses—and many of those responses quite durable. It’s logical for investigators to want to examine the role of that drug in combination with other drugs in early lines of therapy to, perhaps, not only help control the disease in patients who’ve relapsed but also help increase cure rates in first- and second-line. It’s a drug that is very active as a single agent. It’s combinable. Its toxicity profile allows it to be combined with convention chemotherapies and other new agents, so it’s certainly a player that will be around not only in relapse disease but also in first- and second-line treatment.

RDR: What do you, personally, expect for Adcetris as we head into 2018 and beyond?

Hutchings: It’s very difficult to make a prediction for the drug in 5 to 10 years from now, because you would have to consider health care economics, the studies that are performed, and other agents that will emerge—hopefully—in the coming years. I would have to say, though, that, hopefully, in the next year, it will find its role in first-line therapy, and we will get approval in the agencies for the use of this combination in first-line therapy in some patient groups.


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