A Study of Pembrolizumab and Bavituximab in Patients With Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • End date
    Apr 1, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    David Hsieh
Updated on 13 May 2022
ct scan
platelet count
systemic therapy
measurable disease
hepatitis b surface antigen
antiviral therapy
antiviral drugs


This is a non-randomized, open-label, multi-site phase II therapeutic trial of pembrolizumab and bavituximab in patients with locally advanced HCC. Locally advanced or metastatic HCC is defined as disease that is not amenable to surgical and/or locoregional therapies. Subjects must not have received prior systemic therapy for advanced HCC in keeping with the first-line setting of this study.


This is a non-randomized, open-label, multi-site phase II therapeutic trial of pembrolizumab and bavituximab in patients with locally advanced HCC. Locally advanced or metastatic HCC is defined as disease that is not amenable to surgical and/or locoregional therapies. Subjects must not have received prior systemic therapy for advanced HCC in keeping with the first-line setting of this study. Overall response rate (ORR) as assessed by the investigators and using RECIST 1.1 criteria, will be the primary endpoint.

Prior to initiation on treatment, all patients will sign an informed consent form. Only patients with histological proved HCC will be eligible for treatment. Tissue, either from archival formalin fixed paraffin embedded samples or a new biopsy of a target lesion will be needed.

Study therapy is defined as treatment with both pembrolizumab and bavituximab. Patients will receive trial treatment until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, death or discontinuation from the study treatment for any other reason. Subjects will be allowed to continue study therapy after an initial investigator-assessed RECIST 1.1 defined progression as long as they meet the following criteria: 1) investigator assessed clinical benefit and 2) subject is tolerating study therapy. Subjects will be discontinued from study therapy upon the evidence of further progression, defined as an additional 10% or greater increase in tumor burden from time of initial progression (including all target lesions and new measurable lesions). New lesions are considered measurable if the longest diameter is at least 10 mm (except for pathological lymph nodes, which must have a short axis of at least 15 mm). Any new lesion considered non-measurable may become measurable and therefore included in the tumor burden measurement if the longest diameter increases to at least 10 mm (except for pathological lymph nodes, which must have an increase in short axis to at least 15 mm. For statistical analyses that include the investigator-assessed progression date, subjects who continue treatment beyond initial investigator-assessed, RECIST 1.1-defined progression will be considered to have investigator-assessed progressive disease at the time of the initial progressive event irrespective of confirmation on subsequent imaging. Patients will be followed for survival regardless of treatment discontinuation for any reason, unless they withdraw their consent to be followed for survival.

Treatment Phase

The treatment phase for each patient will begin on the initiation of study drug on Cycle 1 Day 1 (C1D1). Patients will continue study treatment until disease progression (or until discontinuation of study therapy in patient receiving pembrolizumab and bavituximab beyond progression), discontinuation due to toxicity, withdrawal of consent, or the study ends. A safety follow-up is mandatory at 30 days post the last dose.

Efficacy, safety, and correlative assessments will be performed as outlined in the Schedule of Visits and Procedures (section 6.0). Safety assessments will include hematology, biochemistry, and thyroid tests as well as ongoing evaluations of adverse events. Tumor response will be assessed radiographically every 9 weeks for the first 54 weeks, then every 12 weeks thereafter until disease progression (or until discontinuation of study therapy in patients receiving pembrolizumab or bavituximab beyond progression), loss to follow-up, or withdrawal of consent. Patients with radiological progression using RECIST may continue on study treatment if in the investigator's assessment the patient is experiencing clinical benefit and tolerating the treatment.

Dose Limiting Toxicity:

Initially, enrollment will be limited to 10 patients with no more than two patients enrolled per week. A safety committee comprised of the investigators and institutional GI Disease Orientated Team will monitor the occurrence of dose limiting toxicities (DLTs) for the first 10 patients prior to enrolling the remainder of the trial. The period for evaluating DLTs will be from the time of the first administration of study treatment through Study Day 28. DLTs will follow the guidelines provided in the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 4.03.

If three or more DLTs occur during this period, enrollment will be suspended and the safety committee will make a determination of whether to reduce the bavituximab dose to 1 mg/kg. After the DLT safety assessment period for the initial 10 patients, enrollment may proceed for the remainder of the trial provided at least one patient has either a complete or partial response by RECIST 1.1 and patient safety will be evaluated on a regular basis by the institutional data safety monitoring committee (DSMC). A DLT will be defined as any treatment related toxicity in the list below that occurs during the DLT evaluation period. Toxicity that is clearly and directly related to the primary disease or to another etiology is excluded from this definition. The following will be considered DLTs:

  • Any grade 4 immune-related adverse events (irAE)
  • Any ≥ grade 3 colitis
  • Any grade 3 or 4 noninfectious pneumonitis irrespective of duration
  • Any grade 2 pneumonitis that does not resolve to grade 1 within 5 days of the initiation of maximum supportive care
  • Any grade 3 irAE, excluding colitis or pneumonitis, that does not downgrade to grade 2 within 5 days of the event despite optimal medical management including systemic corticosteroids or does not downgrade to grade 1 or baseline within 14 days
  • Liver transaminase elevation >8 x ULN or total bilirubin > 5 x ULN
  • Any ≥ grade 3 non-irAE, except for the exclusions listed below

The definition excludes the following conditions:

  • Grade 3 fatigue ≤ 7days
  • Grade 3 endocrine disorder (thyroid, pituitary, and/or adrenal insufficiency) that is managed with or without systemic corticosteroid therapy and/or hormone replacement therapy and the patient is asymptomatic
  • Grade 3 inflammatory reaction attributed to a local antitumor response
  • Concurrent vitiligo or alopecia of any grade
  • Grade 3 infusion-related reaction (first occurrence and in the absence of steroid prophylaxis) that resolves within 6 hours with appropriate clinical management
  • Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia that is not associated with fever or systemic infection that improves by at least 1 grade within 3 days. Grade 3 or 4 febrile neutropenia will be considered a DLT regardless of duration or reversibility
  • Grade 3 or 4 lymphopenia
  • Grade 3 thrombocytopenia that is not associated with clinically significant bleeding that requires medical intervention, and improves by at least 1 grade within 3 days
  • Isolated grade 3 electrolyte abnormalities that are not associated with clinical signs or symptoms and are reversed with appropriate maximal medical intervention within 3 days
  • Isolated grade 3 amylase or lipase abnormalities that are not associated with clinical signs/symptoms or findings on imaging consistent with pancreatitis.

Survival follow-up phase

Patients who are no longer receiving any study treatments and have experienced disease progression will enter survival follow-up, regardless of whether they have initiated subsequent anticancer therapy. Survival follow-up information (by chart review, phone call or clinic visits) will be collected approximately every 3 months until death, loss to follow-up, withdrawal of consent or study termination.

Condition Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Treatment Pembrolizumab, Bavituximab
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03519997
SponsorDavid Hsieh
Last Modified on13 May 2022


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