IMMULAB - Immunotherapy With Pembrolizumab in Combination With Local Ablation in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)

  • End date
    Jun 2, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Institut für Klinische Krebsforschung IKF GmbH at Krankenhaus Nordwest
Updated on 4 October 2022
measurable disease
neutrophil count
pet scan


This is a multicenter, single arm, prospective, open-label phase II trial investigating the clinical activity of peri-interventional treatment with the anti-PD1 antibody pembrolizumab in HCC patients who are candidates for local ablation via either radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or microwave ablation (MWA) or brachytherapy or combination of TACE with RFA, MWA or brachytherapy.


The multimodal approach of combining peri-interventional administration of an immune checkpoint inhibitor and local ablation via RFA / MWA / brachytherapy or combination of TACE with RFA, MWA or brachytherapy harbors the potential to satisfy the unmet need for an improvement in the outcomes of HCC patients treated with RFA / MWA/ brachytherapy or combination of TACE with RFA, MWA or brachytherapy. Furthermore, early clinical data indicates that the combination of immune checkpoint inhibition with RFA, MWA or brachytherapy displays an acceptable safety profile, resulting in a positive benefit-risk ratio of this trial.

Condition Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
Treatment brachytherapy, Pembrolizumab, Microwave Ablation (MWA), Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA), Transarterial Chemoembolisation (TACE)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03753659
SponsorInstitut für Klinische Krebsforschung IKF GmbH at Krankenhaus Nordwest
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Histologically confirmed diagnosis of HCC
Has a Child-Pugh Classification score 6 for assessed liver function within 7 days before allocation (Appendix 4: Child-Pugh Score)
Candidate for local ablation (via either RFA or MWA or brachytherapy or combination of TACE with RFA, MWA or brachytherapy [ablation technique according to Investigator's choice]), i.e
According to Investigator's assessment an R0 state can be obtained after a
maximum of two RFA/MWA interventions (initial ablation + one additional re-
ablation at maximum)
\. Patients (including high risk patients) with
Presence of 5 tumor nodules with diameters 7cm [longest axis] each OR
Vascular infiltration 5. Has received no prior systemic therapy for HCC NOTE: Patients who have received prior local therapy by transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) are not excluded if TACE has been performed >8 weeks before study allocation. 6. Have measurable disease based on RECIST 1.1. Lesions situated in a previously treated (e.g. irradiated or subject to TACE) area are considered measurable if vital tumor has been demonstrated by contrast enhanced imaging in such lesions. 7. Male/female participants who are at least 18 years of age on the day of signing informed consent will be enrolled in this study. 8. A female participant is eligible to participate if she is not pregnant (see Appendix 3), not breastfeeding, and at least one of the following conditions applies
Not a woman of childbearing potential (WOCBP) as defined in Appendix 3 OR
A WOCBP who agrees to follow the contraceptive guidance in Appendix 3 during the treatment period and for at least 120 days after the last dose of study treatment
A male participant with female partner of childbearing potential is eligible
to participate if he agrees to follow the contraceptive guidance in Appendix 3
during the treatment period and for at least 120 days after the last dose of
study treatment
\. The participant (or legally acceptable representative if applicable)
provides written informed consent for the trial
\. Have provided archival tumor tissue sample or newly obtained biopsy of a
tumor lesion not previously irradiated for mandatory pre-treatment evaluation
Newly obtained biopsies are preferred to archived tissue (archived specimen 6 months may be acceptable)
Core or excisional biopsies mandatory (fine needle aspiration and bone metastasis samples are not acceptable)
Formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue blocks are preferred to slides
If submitting unstained cut slides, newly cut slides should be submitted to the central pathology lab within 14 days from the date slides are cut
Availability of baseline tumor biopsy samples has to be ensured by site before first dose of study medication is administered
Specimens have to be sent to central pathology lab for accompanying research project. 11. Have an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 to 1. Evaluation of ECOG is to be performed within 7 days prior to the date of allocation/randomization. 12. Have adequate organ function as defined in the following table. Specimens must be collected within 7 days prior to the start of study treatment
Adequate Organ Function Laboratory Values
Absolute neutrophil count (ANC) 1500/L
Platelets 100 000/L
Hemoglobin 9.0 g/dL or 5.6 mmol/L(a)
Creatinine OR 1.5 Upper Limit of Normal (ULN) OR Measured or calculated(b) creatinine clearance (GFR can also be used in place of creatinine or CrCl) 30 mL/min for participant with creatinine levels >1.5 institutional ULN
Total bilirubin 2.5 ULN OR direct bilirubin ULN for participants with total bilirubin levels >2.5 ULN
aspartate aminotransferase [AST (SGOT)] and alanine aminotransferase [ALT (SGPT)] 5 ULN
International normalized ratio (INR) OR prothrombin time (PT) Activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) 1.5 ULN unless participant is receiving anticoagulant therapy as long as PT or aPTT is within therapeutic range of intended use of anticoagulants 13. If patient has concurrent Hepatitis B virus (HBV) or Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, meets the following criteria
Patients with HBV or HCV infection should be monitored for viral levels during study participation
Patients with detectable hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) or detectable HBV DNA should be managed per local treatment guidelines. Controlled (treated) hepatitis B subjects will be allowed if they started treatment at the time point of enrollment into the study by the latest and treatment is continued during study participation
Patients with detectable HCV RNA are usually not treated for their HCV infection. However, patients treated for HCV are considered suitable for inclusion if antiviral therapy has been completed prior to first administration of study drug

Exclusion Criteria

Extrahepatic disease
Known fibrolamellar HCC, sarcomatoid HCC, or mixed cholangiocarcinoma and HCC
Presence of tumor thrombus involving main trunk of portal vein
Has at Screening and/or has had any prior history of Grade 2 hepatic encephalopathy
Has at Screening pericardial effusion, uncontrollable pleural effusion, or clinically significant ascites defined as meeting either of (a) detectable ascites on Screening physical examination OR (b) has at Screening ascites requiring paracentesis
A WOCBP who has a positive urine pregnancy test within 72 hours prior to allocation (see Appendix 3). If the urine test is positive or cannot be confirmed as negative, a serum pregnancy test will be required
Note: in the event that 72 hours have elapsed between the screening pregnancy
test and the first dose of study treatment, another pregnancy test (urine or
serum) must be performed and must be negative in order for subject to start
receiving study medication
\. Has received prior therapy with an anti-Programmed cell death protein 1
(anti-PD-1), anti-Programmed death-ligand 1 (anti-PD-L1), or anti PD L2 agent
or with an agent directed to another stimulatory or co-inhibitory T-cell
receptor (eg, Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), OX 40
\. Has received prior systemic anti-cancer therapy including investigational
agents within 4 weeks or at least 5 half-lives of the respective drug/IMP
(whichever is longer) prior to allocation
Note: Participants must have recovered from all AEs due to previous therapies
to Grade 1 or baseline. Participants with Grade 2 neuropathy may be eligible
Note: If participant received major surgery, they must have recovered
adequately from the toxicity and/or complications from the intervention prior
to starting study treatment
\. Has received prior radiotherapy within 4 weeks of start of study
treatment. Participants must have recovered from all radiation-related
toxicities, not require corticosteroids, and not have had radiation
pneumonitis. A 1-week washout is permitted for palliative radiation (2 weeks
of radiotherapy) to non-central nervous system (CNS) disease
\. Has received a live vaccine within 4 weeks or for a period of at least 5
half-lives of the respective drug/IMP (whichever is longer) before Screening
and during Screening for this trial prior to the first dose of study drug
Examples of live vaccines include, but are not limited to, the following
measles, mumps, rubella, varicella/zoster (chicken pox), yellow fever, rabies
Bacillus Calmette-Gurin (BCG), and typhoid vaccine. Seasonal influenza
vaccines for injection are generally killed virus vaccines and are allowed
however, intranasal influenza vaccines (e.g. FluMist) are live attenuated
vaccines and are not allowed
\. Is currently participating in or has participated in a study of an
investigational agent or has used an investigational device within 4 weeks or
for a period of at least 5 half-lives of the respective drug/IMP (whichever is
longer) before Screening and during Screening for this trial
Note: Participants who have entered the follow-up phase of an investigational
study may participate as long as it has been 4 weeks or at least 5 half-lives
of the respective drug/IMP (whichever is longer) after the last dose of the
previous investigational agent
\. Has a diagnosis of immunodeficiency or is receiving chronic systemic
steroid therapy (in dosing exceeding 10 mg daily of prednisone equivalent) or
any other form of immunosuppressive therapy within 7 days prior to the first
dose of study drug
\. Has a known additional malignancy that is progressing or has required
active treatment within the past 3 years. Note: Participants with basal cell
carcinoma of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or carcinoma in
situ (e.g. breast carcinoma, cervical cancer in situ) that have undergone
potentially curative therapy are not excluded
\. Has known active CNS metastases and/or carcinomatous meningitis
Participants with previously treated brain metastases may participate provided
they are radiologically stable, i.e. without evidence of progression for at
least 4 weeks by repeat imaging (note that the repeat imaging should be
performed during study screening), clinically stable and without requirement
of steroid treatment for at least 14 days prior to first dose of study
\. Has severe hypersensitivity (Grade 3) to pembrolizumab and/or any of its
\. Has active autoimmune disease that has required systemic treatment in the
past 2 years (i.e. with use of disease modifying agents, corticosteroids or
immunosuppressive drugs). Replacement therapy (eg., thyroxine, insulin, or
physiologic corticosteroid replacement therapy for adrenal or pituitary
insufficiency, etc.) is not considered a form of systemic treatment
\. Has a history of (non-infectious) pneumonitis that required steroids or
has current pneumonitis
\. Has an active infection requiring systemic therapy (exception: HBV
infection - see inclusion criteria)
\. Has a history of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (mandatory testing
for HIV during screening is required)
\. Has a known history of active tuberculosis(Bacillus Tuberculosis)
\. Has a history or current evidence of any condition, therapy, or
laboratory abnormality that might confound the results of the study, interfere
with the subject's participation for the full duration of the study, or is not
in the best interest of the subject to participate, in the opinion of the
treating Investigator
\. Has known psychiatric or substance abuse disorders that would interfere
with cooperation with the requirements of the trial
\. Is pregnant or breastfeeding, or expecting to conceive or father children
within the projected duration of the study, starting with the screening visit
through 120 days after the last dose of trial treatment
\. Legal incapacity or limited legal capacity
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