A Phase 2 Study of the Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Antibody Sonepcizumab in Patients With Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma

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Upregulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) may mediate resistance to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-directed therapies and inhibit antitumor immunity. Antagonism of S1P in preclinical models appears to overcome this resistance. In this phase 2 study, the authors assessed the activity of sonepcizumab, a first-in-class inhibitor of S1P, in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) with a history of prior VEGF-directed therapy.


Patients were required to have clear cell mRCC and to have received treatment with at least 1 prior VEGF-directed agent. Prior treatment with immunotherapeutic agents and ≤1 mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors was permitted. The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival. Additional endpoints included response rate and safety, and overall survival (OS) performed post hoc.


A total of 40 patients were enrolled with a median of 3 prior therapies (range, 1-5 prior therapies), 78% of whom had intermediate-risk disease by second-line International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) criteria. Although the current study did not achieve its primary endpoint based on the 2-month progression-free survival, a median OS of 21.7 months was observed. Four patients (10%) demonstrated a partial response, with a median duration of response of 5.9 months. No grade 3/4 treatment-related adverse events were observed in >5% of patients (adverse events were graded and recorded for each patient using Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events [version 4.0]); the most frequent grade 1/2 treatment-related adverse events were fatigue (30%), weight gain (18%), constipation (15%), and nausea (15%). Biomarker studies demonstrated an increase in S1P concentrations with therapy. Comprehensive genomic profiling of 3 patients with a clinical benefit of >24 months indicated von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) and polybromo-1 (PBRM1) alterations.


The encouraging OS and favorable safety profile observed with sonepcizumab should prompt further investigation of the agent in combination with VEGF-directed agents or checkpoint inhibitors.

In the current study, the authors assess the activity of sonepcizumab, a first-in-class sphingosine-1-phosphate inhibitor, within the context of previously treated patients with renal cell carcinoma. The encouraging overall survival and safety profile associated with this agent make it valid for further study.

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