Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has announced the first results from its investigational Opdivo (nivolumab) plus Yervoy (ipilimumab) cohorts of the Phase I/II CheckMate -040 study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting 2019.

The early stage study evaluated the combination in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) previously treated with sorafenib, and found that in arm A of the trial, patients experienced a median overall survival (OS) of 22.8 months with a 30-month OS rate of 44%.

The objective response rate (ORR) was 31% in the overall patient population and the safety profile of the combo was consistent with the previously known safety profile.

“We are encouraged by these early results which demonstrate a benefit/risk profile for the efficacy observed with the nivolumab plus ipilimumab combination in this cohort of CheckMate -040 that warrants further investigation,” said Faisal Mehmud, executive medical director, Bristol-Myers Squibb, UK and Ireland.

He continued, “We are committed to the future of hepatocellular carcinoma treatment, by continuing to research and develop potentially life-extending medicines in this area of huge unmet need.”

Liver cancer affects over 5,700 new patients in the UK each year and incidence rates are expected to rise by 38% within the next 16 years. In the UK, up to 40% of cases present with HCC as the first indication of underlying liver disease, and as such, it is often diagnosed in the advanced stage, where effective treatment options are limited.