Nivolumab boosts the body’s immune system by targeting a protein on cells called PD-L1. PD-L1 normally maintains the balance of the immune system by shutting it down at the right time. Some cancers take advantage of this shut-down mechanism by activating PD-L1, enabling them to escape attack by the immune system. Nivolumab binds to and inactivates PD-L1, enhancing the body’s ability to detect and destroy cancer cells.
In this study, researchers are comparing the effectiveness of treatment with nivolumab versus standard first-line chemotherapy in patients with metastatic or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that express PD-L1. Examples of the standard chemotherapy drugs used in this study include carboplatin or cisplatin with gemcitabine, paclitaxel, or pemetrexed.
Patients will be randomly assigned to receive nivolumab or standard chemotherapy. The chemotherapy regimen will be selected by the treating doctor based on the patient’s type of NSCLC. Those receiving standard chemotherapy whose NSCLC continues to grow will be given the opportunity to receive nivolumab instead.
Nivolumab is approved for treating melanoma and some metastatic squamous cell lung cancers; its use for treating other cancers is considered investigational.