Newswise — Atlantic Health System Cancer Care physicians are co-authors of original research to be presented at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, May 31-June 4 in Chicago. The ASCO meeting is the world’s premier scientific gathering of cancer specialists and clinical researchers.

“Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is proud of its role, helping to lead these studies alongside some of the world’s best-known cancer researchers,” said Eric Whitman, MD medical director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care and director of the Atlantic Melanoma Center. “Our physicians conduct paradigm-shifting research and provide world-class care. These innovative clinical trials offer more treatment options for patients, both in our area and in some cases, around the world.”

Studies to be presented at the ASCO meeting were co-authored by Dr. Whitman; Missak Haigentz, MD, chief of hematology and oncology at Morristown Medical Center and medical director of Atlantic Hematology and Oncology for Atlantic Medical Group; and Angela Alistar, MD medical director of GI medical oncology at Morristown Medical Center. Their ASCO studies include:

Real-world outcomes of advanced melanoma patients treated with pembrolizumab who have failed prior lines of therapy.

Dr. Whitman; May 31, 12:00 p.m. CT

Dr. Whitman and colleagues examined data on 236 advanced melanoma patients who received at least one treatment with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (KeytrudaÒ) after failing previous treatment with another cancer therapy, in a “real-world” setting outside of a clinical trial. The study’s findings suggest that pembrolizumab may be an effective treatment option for patients in later stages of therapy, even after failing prior therapy.

Safety and efficacy of cryopreserved autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocyte therapy (LN-144, lifileucel) in advanced metastatic melanoma patients who progressed on multiple prior therapies including anti-PD-1.

Dr. Whitman; June 1, 1:15-2:45 p.m. CT

Treatment options are limited for patients with advanced melanoma whose disease has progressed after FDA-approved treatment with immunotherapies known as checkpoint inhibitors and certain targeted therapies. Dr. Whitman and other researchers are testing the safety and efficacy of lifileucel, a new type of therapy that uses tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) to kill cancer cells. In this Phase 2 clinical trial, the patient’s own immune system cells are removed from his/her tumor, treated with an immune booster and then infused back into the patient, along with a medication that stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells. Participants in the study have received an average of about three types of prior treatment, including immunotherapies and targeted therapies, yet their disease progressed before enrolling in the TIL therapy trial. Thirty-eight percent of these patients responded (overall response rate) to lifileucel in a prior study, and a new trial has been started, which is expected to support FDA registration.

Phase 1b/2, open label, multicenter study of intratumoral SD-101 in combination with pembrolizumab in anti-PD-1 treatment naïve patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

Dr. Whitman; June 1, 1:15-4:15 p.m. CT

This international study looked at SD-101, a drug that initiates two ways to harness the immune system to kill cancer cells, in combination with pembrolizumab. Patients with various types of recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma who had not previously been treated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapies such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab were enrolled. The researchers seek to gain insights into this drug combination’s efficacy and safety, and to test the combination at varying dose levels. This presentation is an update on findings in the ongoing clinical trial.

Tabelecleucel in combination with pembrolizumab (Pembro) in platinum-pretreated, recurrent/metastatic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive nasopharyngeal carcinoma (EBV+NPC).

Dr. Haigentz; June 1, 1:15-4:15 p.m. CT

About 25% of people with nasopharyngeal cancer develop recurrent/metastatic disease, which has a poor prognosis when treated with the standard of care -- radiation and/or chemotherapy. This cancer is associated with the Epstein-Barr virus, which activates PD-L1, a protein that helps cancer cells avoid immune attack. The purpose of this Phase 1b/2 clinical trial by Dr. Haigentz and other investigators is to determine the safety and efficacy of treating patients with recurrent-metastatic Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal cancer with a combination of pembrolizumab and tabelecleucel (tab-cel). Tab-cel immunotherapy consists of immune T cells from compatible donors that are Epstein-Barr virus specific. All study participants must have been previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. The study is ongoing.

A phase 1 clinical trial of fluorouracil (5-FU) + devimistat (CPI-613) combination in previously treated patients (pts) with metastatic colorectal cancer (MCR).

Dr. Alistar; May 31, 12:00 p.m. CT

This Phase 1 study looked at a combination of devimistat (CPI-613) -- a new type of medication, pioneered by Dr. Alistar, known as an altered energy metabolism drug -- with chemotherapeutic agent fluorouracil (5-FU) in treating metastatic colorectal cancer patients whose cancer did not respond to other treatments. The researchers learned the devimastat-5-FCU combination had a tolerable safety profile for this group of patients. The study also helped determine the appropriate dose level of devimistat that would activate antitumor activity.

For information on current Atlantic Health System Cancer Care clinical trials, go to: To learn more about the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting, go to:

About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources for more than 6,000 patients annually through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. With more than 250 cancer specialists, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group are designated Blue Cross Blue Shield ‘Blue Distinction Centers’ and have been recognized nationally for their role in advancing the fight against cancer. Morristown, Overlook, Chilton and Newton medical centers earned the coveted American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award and earned Three-Year Approval with Commendation. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Atlantic Health System hospitals as high performing in colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, and pulmonology. Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have launched the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., is an integrated health care delivery system powered by a workforce of more than 16,500 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities. The system serves a population of 5 million, with more than 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers within the Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs including 11 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of both the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across six health systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and AllSpire Health Partners, a consortium of five leading health care organizations dedicated to serving patients, families and communities in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania.