New checkpoint inhibitor shows promise in clinical trial for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

By combining the experimental anti-cancer antibody known as 5F9 (Hu5F9-G4) with the established anti-cancer antibody rituximab, researchers managing a small phase-1b clinical trial were able to induce a positive response in 11 out of 22 people with relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. About 36 percent of the patients (8 out of 22) in this trial went into complete remission from their cancers.

This new approach to immunotherapy, published November 1, 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine, relies on immune system cells called macrophages, rather than T cells, to attack and kill cancer cells.

“5F9 is a macrophage immune checkpoint inhibitor,” said Sonali Smith, MD, the Elwood V. Jensen Professor in Medicine, Director of the Lymphoma Program at the University of Chicago Medicine, and senior author of the study. “This is one of the first successful anti-cancer drugs that can stimulate a macrophage to attack a cancer cell. It opens a whole new door.”