Will Bristol-Myers Squibb Checkmate Colorectal Cancer Now?

Zach Hartman profile picture
Zach Hartman


  • BMY is a dominating player in the immune checkpoint inhibitor space.
  • Its lead PD-1 inhibitor, nivolumab, has changed the standard of care for many forms of cancer, and it is being tested in a wide swath of tumor types.
  • At ASCO 2016, BMY is presenting highly promising interim findings of immune checkpoint inhibition in colorectal cancer.
  • CheckMate 142 speaks well for the future of nivolumab in CRC.

Immunotherapy has taken the world of cancer therapy by storm. Leading the vanguard of this revolution is Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:NYSE:BMY) with the approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors like ipilimumab and nivolumab. These agents have altered the standard of care for tumors like melanoma, lung cancer and renal cancer.

Now, they're striking out to all kinds of other forms of cancer, especially tumor types that don't have a strong standard of care.

At ASCO, we are getting an interim look at CheckMate 142, a phase 1/2 study designed to assess nivolumab alone and nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab for colorectal cancer. Patients in this analysis also had a biomarker called microsatellite instability, a genomic aberration that can increase the rate of mutations and make for poor prognosis.

In the results of this study, 27% and 15% of the enrolled patients in the nivolumab and combination arms, respectively, achieved a response. Furthermore, 24% and 67% had stable disease at the time of analysis. This means that patients achieved disease control at high rates when given either nivolumab or nivolumab+ipilimumab.

Progression-free and overall survival data are in the early stages. However, the four-month progression-free survival rate was 55% and 80% for the nivolumab and combination arms, respectively. Five-month overall survival was 75% and 100%, respectively. These findings, while not definitive, point to benefit for the combination arm.

CheckMate 142 also is assessing these treatments in patients without microsatellite instability, but the ASCO abstract has not detailed these results yet, except for a median progression-free survival of 1.4 months across all treatment arms. Microsatellite instability occurs in approximately 15% to 20% of sporadic cases of CRC, so if immune checkpoint inhibitors are effective only in this population, it still represents a large pool of patients needing therapy options.


These interim findings for CheckMate 142 bode well for the treatment of colorectal cancer with microsatellite instability. Both treatment arms were well tolerated and yielded high rates of disease control.

If BMY can attain approval for nivolumab in colorectal tumors, it would be another very important jewel in the immune checkpoint inhibitor crown. I feel that these data are highly promising for that possibility.

This article was written by

Zach Hartman profile picture
I am a former PhD scientist-turned-writer focused on cancer education. My writings in Seeking Alpha have been devoted to helping people identify promising investment opportunities in cancer research through commentary of recent events. Readers can learn more about other aspects of cancer research by visiting my site Invest Against Cancer.I also collaborate with Avisol Capital Partners on their Marketplace service known as the Total Pharma Tracker (TPT). Some of my work will be available to TPT subscribers either exclusively, or in advance. If you are interested, please click the link above!

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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