NPC - AXEL Study : Axitinib-Avelumab

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2027
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Chinese University of Hong Kong
Updated on 4 October 2022


Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is the most common head and neck cancer in South China and South East Asia. Worldwide, there are 80,000 incident cases and 50,000 deaths annually. In Hong Kong, NPC ranked as the tenth most common cancer in man. Up to 30% of NPC patients will develop recurrence or metastases after primary radiotherapy or chemoradiation. Platinum-based chemotherapy regimen has been the main stay of first line treatment for recurrent or metastatic NPC. However, the duration of response is short and currently there is no recommended standard second line chemotherapy. Axitinib is a highly potent and selective inhibitor of VEGF receptor. Selectively targeting a single growth factor receptor pathway provides the potential to rationally adjust dosages and combine drugs directed at specific parts of the pathway to minimize toxicity and achieve the optimum therapeutic benefit. In the phase 2 axitinib monotherapy in recurrent or metastatic NPC who failed at least one line of chemotherapy, the clinical benefit rate (CBR, complete response + partial response + stable disease) was 78.4% at 3 months but decreased to 43.2% at 6 months. However, the confirmed objective response rate (ORR) by RECIST was only 2.7% and unconfirmed ORR of 18.9%, with no complete response.Recently, the promising clinical activity of immune check point inhibitors has been demonstrated in NPC. The ORR was 25.9% (7 partial responses out of 27 patients) for single agent pembrolizumab, and 20.5% (including 1 complete response and 7 partial responses out of 44 patients) for single agent nivolumab,9 in recurrent or metastatic NPC who failed at least first line chemotherapy.

The combination of axitinib and avelumab has been studied in renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Based on the above promising and positive results in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), the investigators hypothesize that the combination of axitinib and avelumab in the second line setting of NPC will achieving a more complete, deep and durable response than either agent alone, without a significant increase in toxicity.

This is an open-label, single arm, phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the activity and safety of the combination of axitinib and avelumab in recurrent or metastatic NPC patients who failed at least one line of platinum-based chemotherapy.

Condition Recurrent or Metastatic NPC
Treatment Avelumab, Axitinib
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04562441
SponsorChinese University of Hong Kong
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Histologically confirmed diagnosis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) (either at initial diagnosis or at recurrence)
Available fresh or archival tumor tissue for biomarker study
Patients with recurrent or metastatic NPC that has progressed following one line of prior platinum-based chemotherapy
Disease must be not amenable to potentially curative radiotherapy or surgery
At least one measurable lesion as defined by RECIST v1.1 that has not been previously irradiated
Age 18 or above
ECOG performance 0 or 1
Adequate bone marrow, renal and hepatic reserve

Exclusion Criteria

Prior therapy with immune check point inhibitors or VEGF pathway inhibitors
Presence of local recurrence
Presence of neck lymph node recurrence invading vascular structure
Presence of central lung lesions involving major blood vessels
History of hemoptysis or epistaxis within 4 weeks
Preexisting uncontrolled hypertension defined as more than 140/90 mmHg despite adequate medical therapy
Gastrointestinal abnormalities, including inability to take oral medication or malabsorption syndrome
Concurrent use or anticipated need for treatment with known potent CYP3A4 inhibitors or CYP3A4 /CYP1A2 inducers
CNS metastases requiring systemic steroid
Active autoimmune disease
Pregnant or lactating female
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