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Protocol Details

Phase I Study of Recombinant Interleukin 15 in Combination With Checkpoint Inhibitors Nivolumab and Ipilimumab in Subjects with Refractory Cancers

This study is currently recruiting participants.

Summary | Eligibility | Citations | Contacts




Sponsoring Institute

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Recruitment Detail

Type: Participants currently recruited/enrolled
Gender: Male & Female
Min Age: 18 Years
Max Age: N/A

Referral Letter Required


Population Exclusion(s)



T Cells;
Checkpoint Inhibitor;
Combination Therapy

Recruitment Keyword(s)



Metastatic Solid Tumors;
Treatment-Refractory Cancers

Investigational Drug(s)

Recombinant Human IL-15

Investigational Device(s)



Drug: rhIL-15
Drug: Ipilimumab
Drug: Nivolumab

Supporting Site

National Cancer Institute


The drug IL-15 activates the immune system. The drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab unblock immune cells. The drugs together may allow immune cells to recognize and attack cancer cells, causing tumors to shrink.


To test the effects and maximum dose of IL-15, nivolumab, and ipilimumab.


People ages 18 and older who have cancer that does not respond to treatment


Participants will be screened with:

-Medical history

-Physical exam

-Heart, blood, and urine tests


Tumor biopsy: A small needle removes a tumor sample.

Participants will be in 1 of 3 treatment groups:

-IL-15 with nivolumab

-IL-15 with ipilimumab

-IL-15 with nivolumab and ipilimumab

Participants will take the drugs in four 6-week cycles. IL-15 is injected under the skin. The other two drugs are injected into an arm vein over 60-90 minutes. Participants may need to stay at the hospital 2-3 hours after the first dose of any drug to watch for side effects.

Each cycle will include:

-Weekly blood and urine tests

-5 IL-15 injections

-1 ipilimumab injection if applicable

-3 nivolumab injections if applicable

-Scans and a tumor biopsy on day 42

After cycle 4, participants will stop taking IL-15. They will continue the other drugs until they can no longer tolerate the side effects or their cancer gets worse. Those cycles will include:

-Blood tests on 3-4 days

-Urine tests on 1 day

-1 ipilimumab injection if applicable

-3 nivolumab injections if applicable

-Scans every other cycle

After participants stop treatment, their doctor will monitor their side effects for 4 months or until they go away.

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Subjects must have histologically confirmed solid tumor malignancy that is metastatic or treatment refractory cancers which are not curable or do not have known measures or treatments that are associated with a survival advantage (as defined by the subject or the physician investigator). Enrollment of subjects with tumors that can be safely biopsied is encouraged.

Subjects must have evaluable, or measurable disease defined as greater than or equal to 1 lesion that can be accurately measured in greater than or equal to 1 dimension (longest diameter to be recorded for non-nodal lesions and short axis for nodal lesions) as greater than or equal to 20 mm with conventional techniques or as greater than or equal to 10 mm with a spiral computed tomography (CT) scan.

Subjects must have recovered to less than or equal to grade 1 NCI Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) or stabilized from toxicity of prior chemotherapy or biologic therapy administered more than 4 weeks or 5 half-lives earlier, whichever is shorter.

Subjects on bisphosphonates/denosumab for any cancer or on hormone therapy for prostate cancer may continue this therapy. However, subjects with prostate cancer must have confirmed metastatic disease that has progressed despite hormonal therapy or refused or is intolerant of hormonal therapy.

Age greater than or equal to 18 years.

ECOG performance status less than or equal to 2 (Karnofsky or Lansky greater than or equal to 70%.

Subjects must have normal organ and marrow function as defined below:

-leukocytes greater than or equal to 2,000/mm^3

-absolute neutrophil count (ANC) greater than or equal 1,500/mm^3

-platelets greater than or equal to 100,000/mm^3

-total bilirubin less than or equal to 1.5 times institutional upper limit of normal (ULN)

-AST/ALT less than or equal to 1.5 times institutional upper limit of normal (ULN) or if liver metastasis, less than or equal to 2.5 times ULN

-Serum creatinine less than or equal to 1.5 times institutional ULN, OR Creatinine clearance greater than or equal to 50 mL/min/1.73 m2 for subjects with serum creatinine levels greater than 1.5 times higher than institutional normal

-For patients with evidence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the HBV viral load must be undetectable on suppressive therapy, if indicated.

-Patients with a history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection must have been treated and cured. For patients with HCV infection who are currently on treatment, they are eligible if they have an undetectable HCV viral load.

Subjects with inactive central nervous system (CNS) metastasis are eligible. Inactive CNS metastasis is defined as: no symptoms of brain metastases after successful definitive treatment of brain metastases (surgical resection, whole brain irradiation, stereotactic radiation therapy, or a combination of these) with stable or improved radiographic appearance on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan at least 1 month after completion of treatment.

Subjects may have previously progressed on treatment with one of the 3 agents being used in this trial or treatment with other checkpoint inhibitors, as long as they have recovered from previous toxicity. Subjects that previously progressed on treatment with a combination of any 2 of the 3 agents being used in this trial are eligible for the triplet cohort only.

The effects of ipilimumab, nivolumab, and rhIL-15 on the developing human fetus are unknown. For this reason, women of child-bearing potential and men must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry, during the treatment portion of the study, and for a minimum for 5 months (women) and 7 months (men) after the last dose of study drug. Should a woman become pregnant or suspect she is pregnant while she or her partner is participating in this study, she should inform her treating physician immediately.

Ability to understand and the willingness to sign a written informed consent document.

Willingness to provide blood and biopsy samples for research purposes if on the expansion phase of the study.


Subjects who have received any prior cytotoxic therapy, immunotherapy, major surgery, antitumor vaccines or monoclonal antibodies in the 4 weeks or 5 half-lives, whichever is shorter, prior to C1D1 (6 weeks prior for checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-CTLA-4 or anti-PD1/PD-L1 and for nitrosoureas or mitomycin C). Subjects must not have received radiotherapy in the 2 weeks prior to C1D1. Subjects who had grade greater than or equal to3 irAE (excluding endocrinopathies) during previous treatment with one of the checkpoint inhibitors are excluded from the trial; subjects who had grade 1 or 2 irAE (including serious AEs) that have resolved to grade 1 are eligible at the discretion of the PI.

Subjects with primary brain cancers or active CNS metastases should be excluded from this clinical trial because of their poor prognosis and because they often develop progressive neurologic dysfunction that would confound the evaluation of neurologic and other adverse events.

History of allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to any of the agents on this trial.

Concurrent anticancer therapy (including other investigational agents) with the exception of hormone therapy for breast or prostate cancer. Patients that have received treatment for a different cancer previously and have been disease-free for less than one year are excluded.

Uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, cognitive impairment, active substance abuse, or psychiatric illness/social situations that, in the view of the Investigator, would preclude safe treatment or the ability to give informed consent and limit compliance with study requirements.

Inability or refusal to practice effective contraception during therapy or the presence of pregnancy or active breastfeeding. Because there is no significant preclinical information regarding the risk to a fetus or newborn infant, pregnant or breastfeeding women will be excluded from participation in this trial.

Documented HIV infection or positive serology. Since rhIL-15 treatment stimulates the subjects immune system to attack their tumor, the defective immune systems of subjects with HIV makes responses to this treatment much less likely to provide benefit and these subjects are not eligible for this trial.

History of severe asthma (subjects with a history of mild asthma that are on or can be switched to non-corticosteroid

bronchodilator regimens are eligible).

Patients with active autoimmune disease or history of autoimmune disease that might recur, which may affect vital organ function or require immune suppressive treatment including systemic corticosteroids, should be excluded. The use of inhaled corticosteroids is allowed.

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Brahmer JR, Tykodi SS, Chow LQ, Hwu WJ, Topalian SL, Hwu P, Drake CG, Camacho LH, Kauh J, Odunsi K, Pitot HC, Hamid O, Bhatia S, Martins R, Eaton K, Chen S, Salay TM, Alaparthy S, Grosso JF, Korman AJ, Parker SM, Agrawal S, Goldberg SM, Pardoll DM, Gupta A, Wigginton JM. Safety and activity of anti-PD-L1 antibody in patients with advanced cancer. N Engl J Med. 2012 Jun 28;366(26):2455-65. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200694. Epub 2012 Jun 2.

Lipson EJ, Drake CG. Ipilimumab: an anti-CTLA-4 antibody for metastatic melanoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Nov 15;17(22):6958-62. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1595. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Conlon KC, Lugli E, Welles HC, Rosenberg SA, Fojo AT, Morris JC, Fleisher TA, Dubois SP, Perera LP, Stewart DM, Goldman CK, Bryant BR, Decker JM, Chen J, Worthy TA, Figg WD Sr, Peer CJ, Sneller MC, Lane HC, Yovandich JL, Creekmore SP, Roederer M, Waldmann TA. Redistribution, hyperproliferation, activation of natural killer cells and CD8 T cells, and cytokine production during first-in-human clinical trial of recombinant human interleukin-15 in patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2015 Jan 1;33(1):74-82. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.3329. Epub 2014 Nov 17.

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Principal Investigator

Referral Contact

For more information:

Jibran Ahmed, M.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
(240) 781-3320

Ashley B. Bruns
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institutes of Health
Building 10
Room 8D53
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
(240) 858-3162

NCI Referral Office
National Institute of Health Clinical Center (CC), 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, United States: NCI Clinical Trials Referral Office

Clinical Trials Number:


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