We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of dual inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with nimotuzumab (EGFR monoclonal antibody) plus gefitinib (EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after platinum-based chemotherapy. An open label, randomized, phase II trial was conducted at 6 centers; 160 patients were randomized (1:1) to either gefitinib alone or nimotuzumab (200 mg, i.v. weekly) plus gefitinib (250 mg p.o. daily) until disease progression or intolerable toxicity. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) at 3 months. Of the total 160 enrolled patients, 155 (77: gefitinib, 78: nimotuzumab plus gefitinib) received at least one dose and could be evaluated for efficacy and toxicity. The majority had adenocarcinoma (65.2%) and ECOG performance status of 0 to 1 (83.5%). The median follow-up was 22.1 months, and the PFS rate at 3 months was 48.1% in gefitinib and 37.2% in nimotuzumab plus gefitinib (P = not significant, NS). The median PFS and OS were 2.8 and 13.2 months in gefitinib and 2.0 and 14.0 months in nimotuzumab plus gefitinib. Combined treatment was not associated with superior PFS to gefitinib alone in patients with EGFR mutation (13.5 vs. 10.2 months in gefitinib alone, P=NS) or those with wild-type EGFR (0.9 vs. 2.0 months in gefitinib alone, P=NS). Combined treatment did not increase EGFR inhibition-related adverse events with manageable toxicities. The dual inhibition of EGFR with nimotuzumab plus gefitinib was not associated with better outcomes than gefitinib alone as a second-line treatment of advanced NSCLC (NCT01498562).
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