Blocking the colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF-1) signal on tumor-associated macrophages can lead to an upregulation of checkpoint molecules, such as programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), thus causing resistance to this blockade. Combining spartalizumab (PDR001), a high-affinity, ligand-blocking, humanized anti–PD-1 immunoglobulin G4 antibody, with lacnotuzumab (MCS110), a high-affinity, humanized monoclonal antibody directed against human CSF-1 can potentially overcome this resistance.


This was a multicenter, phase Ib/II trial using a combination of spartalizumab with lacnotuzumab in patients with advanced cancers, including anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatment-resistant melanoma, and anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatment-naïve triple-negative breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer ( identifier: NCT02807844). The primary objective of dose escalation phase Ib was to assess safety, tolerability, and recommended phase II dose. The primary objective of the phase II expansion study was to assess the combination’s antitumor activity, including objective response rate and clinical benefit rate.


A total of eight patients (five in phase Ib and three in phase II) were evaluable for adverse events (AEs) at our study site. All eight patients experienced at least grade 1 AE. The most common treatment-related AEs were increased serum aspartate aminotransferase (38%), fatigue (38%), anemia (25%), increased alkaline phosphatase (25%), hyperbilirubinemia (25%), hypocalcemia (25%), and hypoalbuminemia (25%). Most of these AEs were grade 1 or 2. None of the patients experienced grade 4 AEs and no drug-related fatal AEs were reported among the eight patients treated in the study. One (13%) patient had stable disease (SD) (captured as unknown by the study sponsor because the evaluation criteria set per protocol was not met) and three (38%) patients had progressive disease. Four (50%) patients developed clinical disease progression based on investigator evaluation. One patient with pancreatic cancer achieved immune-related SD for 26 months while on the study treatments.


The study completed phase Ib dose escalation and phase II. However, gating criteria for efficacy were not met for expansion beyond 80 patients in phase II and the sponsor did not continue development of the combination of spartalizumab and lacnotuzumab for oncology indications. The potential signal of activity in pancreatic cancer should be further explored.

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Author notes

Source of Support: This work was supported by Novartis, Inc., who helped with study design and manuscript preparation.

Competing Interests

Conflict of Interest: Shubham Pant serves as an advisor for Zymeworks, Ipsen, Novartis, Janssen, Boehringer Ingelheim, and AskGene Pharma; and he receives research funding from Mirati Therapeutics, Lilly, Xencor, Novartis, Rgenix, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Astellas Pharma, Framewave, 4D Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Janssen, Arcus Biosciences, Elicio Therapeutics, Bionte, Ipsen, Zymeworks, Pfizer, ImmunoMET, Imuneering, and Amal Therapeutics. The remaining authors have no disclosures.

This work is published under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

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