The NeoN trial is coordinated through Breast Cancer Trials (ANZ) and will investigate if using an immunotherapy drug alone prior to the combination of immunotherapy and standard chemotherapy is safe and effective in treating breast cancer before surgery.

Standard treatment of triple negative breast cancer typically consists of surgery, chemotherapy and usually a course of radiotherapy. Often chemotherapy treatment is given prior to breast surgery (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy) as it is effective in reducing the size of the breast cancer while providing useful information about the effectiveness of the treatment being given.

Researchers are working to identify more effective treatment options for triple negative breast cancer patients. The purpose of this study is to see if using the immunotherapy drug (nivolumab) together with standard chemotherapy (paclitaxel and carboplatin) is safe and effective in treating breast cancer before surgery. Immunotherapy drugs developed to block these immune checkpoint signals have shown anti-cancer activity across multiple solid tumours such as melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. One such immunotherapy drug is 'Nivolumab', which works by blocking PD-1 signalling.

In this study nivolumab was given in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin to treat triple negative breast cancer. Everyone in the study received standard chemotherapy and also the immune therapy however participants had a 50:50 chance (randomly allocated) of receiving an additional immunotherapy dose prior to chemotherapy ('Lead in') or an additional immunotherapy dose after chemotherapy ('Lead out'). Nivolumab is not an approved treatment for early breast cancer in Australia. The study design will help us understand if the nivolumab 'lead in' dose can effectively activate the body's immune response before the addition of chemotherapy. This may contribute to better outcomes and result in a new standard treatment for triple negative breast cancer patients.

This trial is now closed but you can read more about it here.

15 May 2023