In this phase 1/2 study, brentuximab vedotin (BV) and nivolumab (Nivo) administered in combination were evaluated as initial salvage therapy in patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) classical Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). Patients received up to 4 cycles of combination treatment, with BV administered on day 1 and Nivo on day 8 of the first cycle. For cycles 2 to 4, BV and Nivo were both administered on day 1. After study treatment, responses were evaluated by investigators per the 2014 Lugano classification, and patients could proceed to autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). Sixty-two patients were enrolled; the complete response rate among all treated patients (n = 61) was 61%, with an objective response rate of 82%. Before ASCT, adverse events (AEs) occurred in 98% of patients, mostly grades 1 and 2. Infusion-related reactions (IRRs) occurred in 44% of patients overall, with 41% of patients experiencing an IRR during at least 1 infusion of BV. Five patients (8%) were treated with systemic steroids for immune-related AEs. A reduction of peripheral T-cell subsets including regulatory T cells was observed after the first dose of BV, and reduced serum levels of thymus- and activation-regulated chemokine concurrent with an increase in proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were seen after the first BV plus Nivo infusions. The combination of BV plus Nivo was an active and well-tolerated first salvage regimen, potentially providing patients with R/R HL an alternative to traditional chemotherapy. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT02572167.
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