Purpose:

Central nervous system metastases are a prominent cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with ALK-positive (ALK+) non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The phase II ASCEND-7 (NCT02336451) study was specifically designed to assess the efficacy and safety of the ALK inhibitor (ALKi) ceritinib in patients with ALK+ NSCLC metastatic to the brain and/or leptomeninges.

Patients and Methods:

Patients with active brain metastases were allocated to study arms 1 to 4 based on prior exposure to an ALKi and/or prior brain radiation (arm 1: prior radiotherapy/ALKi-pretreated; arm 2: no radiotherapy/ALKi-pretreated; arm 3: prior radiotherapy/ALKi-naïve; arm 4: no radiotherapy/ALKi-naïve). Arm 5 included patients with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. Patients received ceritinib 750 mg once daily (fasted condition). Primary endpoint was investigator-assessed whole-body overall response rate (ORR) per RECIST v1.1. Secondary endpoints included disease control rate (DCR) and intracranial/extracranial responses.

Results:

Per investigator assessment, in arms 1 (n = 42), 2 (n = 40), 3 (n = 12), and 4 (n = 44), respectively: whole-body ORRs [95% confidence interval (CI)] were 35.7% (21.6–52.0), 30.0% (16.6–46.5), 50.0% (21.1–78.9), and 59.1% (43.2–73.7); whole-body DCR (95% CI): 66.7% (50.5–80.4), 82.5% (67.2–92.7), 66.7% (34.9–90.1), and 70.5% (54.8–83.2); intracranial ORRs (95% CI): 39.3% (21.5–59.4), 27.6% (12.7–47.2), 28.6% (3.7–71.0), and 51.5% (33.5–69.2). In arm 5 (n = 18), whole-body ORR was 16.7% (95% CI, 3.6–41.4) and DCR was 66.7% (95% CI, 41.0–86.7). Paired cerebrospinal fluid and plasma sampling revealed that ceritinib penetrated the human blood–brain barrier.

Conclusions:

Ceritinib showed antitumor activity in patients with ALK+ NSCLC with active brain metastases and/or leptomeningeal disease, and could be considered in the management of intracranial disease.

See related commentary by Murciano-Goroff et al., p. 2477

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