AACR 2020 – Iovance doesn’t disappoint

When the 2020 AACR abstract titles were released they turned Iovance into an instant winner, identifying lung cancer as a new indication for tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), one example of which is Iovance's lead, lifileucel. With this morning’s unveiling of the full abstracts investors who had bid the group up 17% breathed a sigh of relief: there were indeed multiple complete responses – two, to be precise – in the Lee Moffitt Cancer Center’s 20-subject TIL study in question. Just as important is durability, with both remissions ongoing almost one year after TIL infusion, the AACR abstract reveals. And one has been observed in a particularly intractable tumour type, a never-smoker with low PD-L1 expression. Still, the single-cohort study raises questions over the TILs’ precise effect, given that it included Opdivo, as well as lymphodepleting chemotherapy and IL-2. Similar questions had been raised when at last year’s Asco Iovance impressed in cervical cancer; until then TILs had shown limited potential beyond melanoma. While Opdivo on its own is unlikely to be responsible for the remissions reported at AACR, expect the TILs’ contribution to be scrutinised when the study is discussed in full tomorrow.

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