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Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

A Friends of Cancer Research-led team reporting in JCO Precision Oncology describe circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) changes related to clinical response in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) treatments. Using ctDNA data and clinical profiles for 200 NSCLC patients previously enrolled in five clinical trials, the investigators reported a significant jump in overall survival or progression-free survival times in patients showing ctDNA declines after treatment with anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 treatments, alone or in combination with chemotherapy. "In this pooled analysis of five independent clinical trials, consistent and robust associations between reductions in ctDNA and outcomes were found across multiple end points assessed in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with an ICI," they write. Although they caution that additional validation studies are needed to sure up these findings in individuals with other tumor types, cancer stages, or drug treatment protocols, the authors suggest that ctDNA "may serve as an important tool in clinical development and an early indicator of treatment benefit."