Development of a Diagnostic Programmed Cell Death 1-Ligand 1 Immunohistochemistry Assay for Nivolumab Therapy in Melanoma

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Nivolumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between programmed cell death 1 (PD1) and programmed cell death 1-ligand 1 (PD-L1), resulting in enhanced antitumor activity by the immune system. Nivolumab is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), renal cell carcinoma, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, and urothelial carcinoma. PD-L1 IHC 28-8 pharmDx is FDA-approved as a complementary diagnostic for immunohistochemical (IHC) detection of PD-L1 in non-squamous NSCLC and melanoma. We report validation of PD-L1 IHC 28-8 pharmDx for PD-L1 detection on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded human melanoma specimens using Autostainer Link 48. A prevalence assessment of 104 melanoma specimens indicated that PD-L1 was detected across the full expression level range (0% to 100% of tumor cells). Assay robustness and precision studies were conducted at Agilent Technologies, with additional reproducibility studies performed at 3 external laboratories. Precision studies evaluated at ≥1% and ≥5% expression levels revealed a range of average negative agreement from 89.5%, 95% CI (83.2, 93.6) to 100%, 95% CI (97.3, 100), and average positive agreement from 85.5%, 95% CI (77.6, 90.9) to 100%, 95% CI (97.9, 100). For external reproducibility, precise results were obtained. These results demonstrate PD-L1 IHC 28-8 pharmDx is a precise, robust, and reproducible assay for determining PD-L1 expression in melanoma. This is the first PD-L1 IHC test to receive FDA approval as a complementary diagnostic in melanoma patients whereby positive PD-L1 expression is correlated with the magnitude of nivolumab treatment effect.

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