Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), generally considered aggressive with few options beyond standard chemotherapy, is currently experiencing a period of optimism, with multiple trials showing increased efficacy of platinum containing regimens (with and without PARP-inhibition), and more recently, immunotherapy. In I-SPY 2, veliparib/carboplatin (VC) and the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Pembro) graduated in the TN subtype. As part of the I-SPY 2 biomarker program, we previously identified the signature PARPi7, a measure of DNA repair deficiency (DRD), as predicting response to VC. As well, immune signatures, including one representing dendritic cells, predicted response to Pembro. Here we investigate the overlap between these biomarkers to identify patient subgroups more likely to respond to immunotherapy or platinum-based therapy and estimate response rates to VC and Pembro in patients positive for one, both, or neither biomarker.
153 TNBC patients (Control: 85; VC: 39; Pembro: 29) were considered in this analysis. Continuous DNA repair deficiency and immune signatures assayed at the pre-treatment time point were evaluated as published (Wolf, 2017; Danaher, 2017). To identify optimal dichotomizing thresholds, 2-fold cross-validation was repeated 500 times. Bayesian logistic regression was used to estimate pCR rates by arm for patient subsets defined by biomarker combinations. Our study is exploratory with no claims for generalizability; and this analysis does not adjust for multiplicities.
Using the optimal dichotomizing cutpoints, 54% of TNBC patients are classified as DRD+, and 67% Immune+. As expected, DRD+ patients have a high estimated pCR rate to VC (75%); and Immune+ patients have a high estimated pCR rate to Pembro (82%). Combining these biomarkers, 40% of TNBC are positive for both biomarkers, 40% for only one biomarker (26% Immune+/DRD-, 14% Immune-/DRD+), and 20% for neither. The Immune+/DRD+ TN subset predicted sensitive to both VC and Pembro has a higher estimated pCR rate to both VC and Pembro relative to control (estimated pCR rates: VC: 75%, Pembro: 73% vs. control: 18%). In contrast, the Immune+/DRD- group, predicted to be sensitive to Pembro, has the highest pCR rate to Pembro (VC: 48%, Pembro: 83% vs. control 21%), whereas the Immune-/DRD+ group is most responsive to VC (VC: 63%, Pembro: 41% vs. control 29%). For the 20% of Immune-/DRD- TNBC patients, their estimated response rates are lower than the biomarker-positive patients (VC: 27%, Pembro: 43% vs. control: 19%).
Molecular phenotypes capturing immune activation and DNA repair deficiency may predict response of TNBC and help prioritize selection of platinum or immunotherapy containing regimens.