Quantitative systems pharmacology model predictions for efficacy of atezolizumab and nab-paclitaxel in triple-negative breast cancer

Hanwen Wang, Huilin Ma, Richard J. Sové, Leisha Emens, Aleksander S. Popel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Immune checkpoint blockade therapy has clearly shown clinical activity in patients with triple-negative breast cancer, but less than half of the patients benefit from the treatments. While a number of ongoing clinical trials are investigating different combinations of checkpoint inhibitors and chemotherapeutic agents, predictive biomarkers that identify patients most likely to benefit remains one of the major challenges. Here we present a modular quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) platform for immuno-oncology that incorporates detailed mechanisms of immune-cancer cell interactions to make efficacy predictions and identify predictive biomarkers for treatments using atezolizumab and nab-paclitaxel. Methods A QSP model was developed based on published data of triple-negative breast cancer. With the model, we generated a virtual patient cohort to conduct in silico virtual clinical trials and make retrospective analyses of the pivotal IMpassion130 trial that led to the accelerated approval of atezolizumab and nab-paclitaxel for patients with programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) positive triple-negative breast cancer. Available data from clinical trials were used for model calibration and validation. Results With the calibrated virtual patient cohort based on clinical data from the placebo comparator arm of the IMpassion130 trial, we made efficacy predictions and identified potential predictive biomarkers for the experimental arm of the trial using the proposed QSP model. The model predictions are consistent with clinically reported efficacy endpoints and correlated immune biomarkers. We further performed a series of virtual clinical trials to compare different doses and schedules of the two drugs for simulated therapeutic optimization. Conclusions This study provides a QSP platform, which can be used to generate virtual patient cohorts and conduct virtual clinical trials. Our findings demonstrate its potential for making efficacy predictions for immunotherapies and chemotherapies, identifying predictive biomarkers, and guiding future clinical trial designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere002100
JournalJournal for immunotherapy of cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 12 2021


  • breast neoplasms
  • computational biology
  • immunotherapy
  • systems biology
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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