Background. In patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) aged ≥60 years, comorbidities and treatment-related toxicities often prevent delivery of optimal intensity and/or duration of standard frontline chemotherapy. Brentuximab vedotin (BV) and nivolumab (Nivo) have two distinct mechanisms of action, tolerability of the combination has been observed in relapsed/refractory HL in a phase 1/2 study (85% objective response rate [ORR]; 62% complete remission [CR] rate) (Herrera 2017); thus, our phase 2 study was amended to evaluate this combination in a cohort of newly diagnosed HL patients aged ≥60 years (NCT01716806).

Methods. Eligible subjects have treatment-naive classical HL and are ineligible for or declined initial conventional combination chemotherapy (planned N = 20). Subjects received BV 1.8 mg/kg + Nivo 3 mg/kg as well as prophylactic premedication for infusion-related reactions on Day 1 of each 3-week cycle for ≤16 cycles. CT/PET scans were performed at Cycles 2 (CT only), 4, 8, 12, and 16 (assessed per Lugano Classification Revised Staging System [Cheson 2014] and Lymphoma Response to Immunomodulatory Therapy Criteria (LYRIC) [Cheson 2016]). The primary objective is ORR.

Results. Twenty-one subjects received BV + Nivo (median age, 72 years [range, 60-88]). The majority had an ECOG performance status of 0/1 (95%), Stage III/IV disease (77%), and presented with B symptoms at baseline (57%). In this elderly population, 48% had bulky disease and 38% had extranodal disease at the initial diagnosis. Of the 21 subjects treated, 7 remain on treatment, 2 discontinued treatment due to progressive disease, 6 completed treatment, 4 withdrew due to subject decision, 1 withdrew due to pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, and 1 had an unrelated Grade 3 serious adverse event of acute renal failure and sepsis, resulting in death. The most common treatment-related adverse events (TRAE) of any grade were fatigue (48%), peripheral sensory neuropathy (38%), diarrhea, infusion-related reactions, and pyrexia (24% each). No infusion-related reactions required steroid intervention. Among TRAE ≥Grade 3, the most common were elevated lipase (19%) and peripheral motor neuropathy (14%). Three subjects had immune-related AEs with a maximum severity of Grade 3.

Three of the 21 subjects treated were not evaluable for efficacy, defined in the protocol as subjects who had both a baseline and at least one post-baseline disease assessment or who had documented progression of disease any time after receiving any amount of BV. Non-evaluable subjects included 1 who died from renal failure prior to assessment, 1 who withdrew consent prior to assessment, and 1 who had not been assessed at the time of the data cutoff. Based on the 18 evaluable subjects, the ORR was 100%, with a 72% CR rate and a 28% PR rate.

Conclusions. Elderly HL remains an unmet clinical need. These data suggest that BV + Nivo is an active treatment with an encouraging CR rate (72%) and appears well tolerated in these patients. These results also suggest that with further follow-up and validation, treatment with BV + Nivo may improve patient outcomes. Enrollment in this cohort is complete (21 subjects), with 7 subjects continuing to receive treatment.


Yasenchak:BMS: Consultancy; Seattle Genetics: Consultancy. Bordoni:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Research Funding; Practice Point Communication: Honoraria; Phillips & Gilmore: Honoraria; Merck: Speakers Bureau; Genentech: Speakers Bureau; Deciphera: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Boehringer Ingelheim: Honoraria; AstraZeneca: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Speakers Bureau. Yazbeck:Celgene: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead Sciences: Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Patel-Donnelly:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Research Funding. Anderson:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Research Funding. Larson:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Research Funding. Newhook:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Employment. Mei:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Research Funding. Ho:Seattle Genetics, Inc.: Employment, Equity Ownership. Friedberg:Bayer: Honoraria, Other: Data & Safety Monitoring Committee; Acerta: Other: Data & Safety Monitoring Committee.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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