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BACKGROUND: Patients with microsatellite stable (MSS) colorectal carcinoma (CRC) do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Preclinical models suggested synergistic anti-tumour activity combining CXD101 and anti-programmed cell death protein 1 treatment; therefore, we assessed the clinical combination of CXD101 and nivolumab in heavily pre-treated patients with MSS metastatic CRC (mCRC). PATIENTS AND METHODS: This single-arm, open-label study enrolled patients aged 18 years or older with biopsy-confirmed MSS CRC; at least two lines of systemic anticancer therapies (including oxaliplatin and irinotecan); at least one measurable lesion; Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0, 1 or 2; predicted life expectancy above 3 months; and adequate organ and bone marrow function. Nine patients were enrolled in a safety run-in study to define a tolerable combination schedule of CXD101 and nivolumab, followed by 46 patients in the efficacy assessment phase. Patients in the efficacy assessment cohort were treated orally with 20 mg CXD101 twice daily for 5 consecutive days every 3 weeks, and intravenously with 240 mg nivolumab every 2 weeks. The primary endpoint was immune disease control rate (iDCR). RESULTS: Between 2018 and 2020, 55 patients were treated with CXD101 and nivolumab. The combination therapy was well tolerated with the most frequent grade 3 or 4 adverse events being neutropenia (18%) and anaemia (7%). Immune-related adverse reactions commonly ascribed to checkpoint inhibitors were surprisingly rare although we did see single cases of pneumonitis, hypothyroidism and hypopituitarism. There were no treatment-related deaths. Of 46 patients assessable for efficacy, 4 (9%) achieved partial response and 18 (39%) achieved stable disease, translating to an immune disease control rate of 48%. The median overall survival (OS) was 7.0 months (95% confidence interval 5.13-10.22 months). CONCLUSIONS: The primary endpoint was met in this phase II study, which showed that the combination of CXD101 and nivolumab, at full individual doses in the treatment of advanced or metastatic MSS CRC, was both well tolerated and efficacious.

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CXD101, MSS, colorectal cancer, nivolumab