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Lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab versus lenvatinib plus placebo for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (LEAP-002): a randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial

Llovet, JM; Kudo, M; Merle, P; Meyer, T; Qin, S; Ikeda, M; Xu, R; ... Finn, RS; + view all (2023) Lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab versus lenvatinib plus placebo for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (LEAP-002): a randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial. The Lancet Oncology , 24 (12) pp. 1399-1410. 10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00469-2.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Systemic therapies have improved the management of hepatocellular carcinoma, but there is still a need to further enhance overall survival in first-line advanced stages. This study aimed to evaluate the addition of pembrolizumab to lenvatinib versus lenvatinib plus placebo in the first-line setting for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. METHODS: In this global, randomised, double-blind, phase 3 study (LEAP-002), patients aged 18 years or older with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma, Child Pugh class A liver disease, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1, and no previous systemic treatment were enrolled at 172 global sites. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) with a central interactive voice-response system (block size of 4) to receive lenvatinib (bodyweight <60 kg, 8 mg/day; bodyweight ≥60 kg, 12 mg/day) plus pembrolizumab (200 mg every 3 weeks) or lenvatinib plus placebo. Randomisation was stratified by geographical region, macrovascular portal vein invasion or extrahepatic spread or both, α-fetoprotein concentration, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status. Dual primary endpoints were overall survival (superiority threshold at final overall survival analysis, one-sided p=0·019; final analysis to occur after 532 events) and progression-free survival (superiority threshold one-sided p=0·002; final analysis to occur after 571 events) in the intention-to-treat population. Results from the final analysis are reported. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03713593, and is active but not recruiting. FINDINGS: Between Jan 17, 2019, and April 28, 2020, of 1309 patients assessed, 794 were randomly assigned to lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab (n=395) or lenvatinib plus placebo (n=399). Median age was 66·0 years (IQR 57·0-72·0), 644 (81%) of 794 were male, 150 (19%) were female, 345 (43%) were Asian, 345 (43%) were White, 22 (3%) were multiple races, 21 (3%) were American Indian or Alaska Native, 21 (3%) were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 13 (2%) were Black or African American, and 46 (6%) did not have available race data. Median follow up as of data cutoff for the final analysis (June 21, 2022) was 32·1 months (IQR 29·4-35·3). Median overall survival was 21·2 months (95% CI 19·0-23·6; 252 [64%] of 395 died) with lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab versus 19·0 months (17·2-21·7; 282 [71%] of 399 died) with lenvatinib plus placebo (hazard ratio [HR] 0·84; 95% CI 0·71-1·00; stratified log-rank p=0·023). As of data cutoff for the progression-free survival final analysis (April 5, 2021), median progression-free survival was 8·2 months (95% CI 6·4-8·4; 270 events occurred [42 deaths; 228 progressions]) with lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab versus 8·0 months (6·3-8·2; 301 events occurred [36 deaths; 265 progressions]) with lenvatinib plus placebo (HR 0·87; 95% CI 0·73-1·02; stratified log-rank p=0·047). The most common treatment-related grade 3-4 adverse events were hypertension (69 [17%] of 395 patients in the lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab group vs 68 [17%] of 395 patients) in the lenvatinib plus placebo group), increased aspartate aminotransferase (27 [7%] vs 17 [4%]), and diarrhoea (25 [6%] vs 15 [4%]). Treatment-related deaths occurred in four (1%) patients in the lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab group (due to gastrointestinal haemorrhage and hepatorenal syndrome [n=1 each] and hepatic encephalopathy [n=2]) and in three (1%) patients in the lenvatinib plus placebo group (due to gastrointestinal haemorrhage, hepatorenal syndrome, and cerebrovascular accident [n=1 each]). INTERPRETATION: In earlier studies, the addition of pembrolizumab to lenvatinib as first-line therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma has shown promising clinical activity; however, lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab did not meet prespecified significance for improved overall survival and progression-free survival versus lenvatinib plus placebo. Our findings do not support a change in clinical practice. FUNDING: Eisai US, and Merck Sharp & Dohme, a subsidiary of Merck.

Type: Article
Title: Lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab versus lenvatinib plus placebo for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (LEAP-002): a randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial
Location: England
DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00469-2
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1470-2045(23)00469-2
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute > Research Department of Oncology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10187246
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