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Metronomic chemotherapy plus anti-PD-1 in metastatic breast cancer: a Bayesian adaptive randomized phase 2 trial

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It remains unclear whether metronomic chemotherapy is superior to conventional chemotherapy when combined with immune checkpoint blockade. Here we performed a phase 2 clinical trial of metronomic chemotherapy combined with PD-1 blockade to compare the efficacy of combined conventional chemotherapy and PD-1 blockade using Bayesian adaptive randomization and efficacy monitoring. Eligible patients had metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer and had not received more than one prior line of standard chemotherapy. Patients (total n = 97) were randomized to receive (1) metronomic vinorelbine (NVB) monotherapy (n = 11), (2) NVB plus anti-PD-1 toripalimab (n = 7), (3) anti-angiogenic bevacizumab, NVB and toripalimab (n = 27), (4) conventional cisplatin, NVB and toripalimab (n = 26), or (5) metronomic cyclophosphamide, capecitabine, NVB and toripalimab (the VEX cohort) (n = 26). The primary endpoint was disease control rate (DCR). Secondary objectives included progression-free survival (PFS) and safety. The study met the primary endpoint. The VEX (69.7%) and cisplatin (73.7%) cohorts had the highest DCR. The median PFS of patients in the VEX cohort was the longest, reaching 6.6 months, followed by the bevacizumab (4.0 months) and cisplatin (3.5 months) cohorts. In general, the five regimens were well tolerated, with nausea and neutropenia being the most common adverse events. An exploratory mass cytometry analysis indicated that metronomic VEX chemotherapy reprograms the systemic immune response. Together, the clinical and translational data of this study indicate that metronomic VEX chemotherapy combined with PD-1 blockade can be a treatment option in patients with breast cancer. Identifier: NCT04389073.