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Efficacy of nivolumab in pediatric cancers with high mutation burden and mismatch-repair deficiency

Purpose: Checkpoint-inhibitors have limited efficacy for children with unselected solid and brain tumors. We report the first prospective pediatric trial (NCT02992964) using nivolumab exclusively for refractory non-hematological cancers harboring tumor mutation burden (TMB) ≥5 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb) and/or mismatch-repair deficiency (MMRD). Patients and methods: Twenty patients were screened, and ten ultimately included in the response cohort of whom nine had TMB >10mut/Mb (three initially eligible based on MMRD) and one patient had TMB between 5-10 mut/Mb. Results: Delayed immune responses contributed to best overall response of 50%, improving on initial objective responses (20%) and leading to 2-year overall survival (OS) of 50% (95% CI; 27, 93). Four children, including three with refractory malignant gliomas are in complete remission at a median follow-up of 37-months (range: 32.4-60), culminating in 2-year OS of 43% (95% CI; 18.2, 100). Biomarker analyses confirmed benefit in children with germline MMRD, microsatellite instability, higher activated and lower regulatory circulating T-cells. Stochastic mutation accumulation driven by underlying germline MMRD impacted the tumor microenvironment, contributing to delayed responses. No benefit was observed in the single patient with a MMR-proficient tumour and TMB 7.4 mut/Mb. Conclusions: Nivolumab resulted in durable responses and prolonged survival for the first time in a pediatric trial of refractory hypermutated cancers including malignant gliomas. Novel biomarkers identified here need to be translated rapidly to clinical care to identify children who can benefit from checkpoint-inhibitors, including for upfront management of their cancers.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001011117 Illumina HiSeq 2500 26
Publications Citations
Efficacy of Nivolumab in Pediatric Cancers with High Mutation Burden and Mismatch Repair Deficiency.
Clin Cancer Res 29: 2023 4770-4783