Final results of urelumab, an anti-CD137 agonist monoclonal antibody, in combination with cetuximab or nivolumab in patients with advanced solid tumors

March, 03, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted treatments for cancer is common; thus, novel immunotherapy agents are needed. Urelumab is a monoclonal antibody agonist that binds to CD137 receptors expressed on T cells. Here, we report two studies that evaluated urelumab in combination with cetuximab or nivolumab in patients with select, advanced solid tumors.


CA186-018: Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) were treated in a dose-evaluation phase with urelumab 0.1 mg/kg (urelumab-0.1) every 3 weeks (Q3W)+cetuximab 250 mg/m2 (cetuximab-250) weekly; and in a dose-expansion phase with urelumab 8 mg flat dose (urelumab-8) Q3W+cetuximab-250 weekly. CA186-107: The dose-escalation phase included patients with previously treated advanced solid tumors (or treated or treatment-naive melanoma); patients received urelumab 3 mg flat dose (urelumab-3) or urelumab-8 every 4 weeks+nivolumab 3 mg/kg (nivolumab-3) or 240 mg (nivolumab-240) every 2 weeks. In the expansion phase, patients with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, or SCCHN were treated with urelumab-8+nivolumab-240. Primary endpoints were safety and tolerability, and the secondary endpoint included efficacy assessments.


CA186-018: 66 patients received study treatment. The most frequent treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) were fatigue (75%; n=3) with urelumab-0.1+cetuximab-250 and dermatitis (45%; n=28) with urelumab-8+cetuximab-250. Three patients (5%) discontinued due to TRAE(s) (with urelumab-8+cetuximab-250). One patient with SCCHN had a partial response (objective response rate (ORR) 5%, with urelumab-8+cetuximab-250).

CA186-107: 134 patients received study treatment. Fatigue was the most common TRAE (32%; n=2 with urelumab-3+nivolumab-3; n=1 with urelumab-8+nivolumab-3; n=40 with urelumab-8+nivolumab-240). Nine patients (7%) discontinued due to TRAE(s) (n=1 with urelumab-3+nivolumab-3; n=8 with urelumab-8+nivolumab-240). Patients with melanoma naive to anti-PD-1 therapy exhibited the highest ORR (49%; n=21 with urelumab-8+nivolumab-240). Intratumoral gene expression in immune-related pathways (CD3, CD8, CXCL9, GZMB) increased on treatment with urelumab+nivolumab.


Although the addition of urelumab at these doses was tolerable, preliminary response rates did not indicate an evident additive benefit. Nevertheless, the positive pharmacodynamics effects observed with urelumab and the high response rate in treatment-naive patients with melanoma warrant further investigation of other anti-CD137 agonist agents for treatment of cancer.

Trial registration numbers

NCT02110082; NCT02253992.

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