The accumulation of immune-suppressive myeloid cells is a critical determinant of resistance to anti–programmed death-1 (PD-1) therapy in advanced clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). In preclinical models, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sitravatinib enhanced responses to anti–PD-1 therapy by modulating immune-suppressive myeloid cells. We conducted a phase 1-2 trial to choose an optimal sitravatinib dose combined with a fixed dose of nivolumab in 42 immunotherapy-naïve patients with ccRCC refractory to prior antiangiogenic therapies. The combination demonstrated no unexpected toxicities and achieved an objective response rate of 35.7% and a median progression-free survival of 11.7 months, with 80.1% of patients alive after a median follow-up of 18.7 months. Baseline peripheral blood neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio correlated with response to sitravatinib and nivolumab. Patients with liver metastases showed durable responses comparable to patients without liver metastases. In addition, correlative studies demonstrated reduction of immune-suppressive myeloid cells in the periphery and tumor microenvironment following sitravatinib treatment. This study provides a rationally designed combinatorial strategy to improve outcomes of anti–PD-1 therapy in advanced ccRCC.
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