Results are in from a clinical trial conducted by the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, inspired by the late Stanford physician Holbrook Kohrt, MD, PhD. And the findings — that it is safe for people with HIV and cancer to receive a type of cancer immunotherapy called a checkpoint inhibitor — are just what Kohrt would have predicted, the study’s senior author Martin “Mac” Cheever, MD, explained in a Fred Hutch story:
Holbrook had three patients early on with malignancies that he thought would benefit from [checkpoint inhibitors] and could not get access to the drug because they had HIV…
Kohrt was aiming to develop effective therapies for cancer when he died due to hemophilia at age 38 in 2016.
The recently completed trial was needed because HIV patients have been regularly excluded from tests of the most promising new cancer therapies, as it was thought their already compromised immune systems may not be able to handle treatments that target the immune system.
But the new findings suggest that isn’t the case.
“For patients with HIV who are using effective antiretroviral therapy and have cancers for which these drugs are approved, there’s no reason not to consider these drugs as standard therapy,” Cheever said in the story.
Now, as part of the ongoing trial, the researchers are going to turn to the question of efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors in HIV patients with cancers, including Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Previously: “You have to choose… to hope and move forward:” A look back at a doctor driven by hemophilia, Both a doctor and a patient: Stanford physician talks about his hemophilia and Autoimmunity and cancer: Flip sides of the same coin?
Photo by Kris Newby