Advanced ICU Care and UAB Medicine Enter Strategic Telemedicine Partnership

ST. LOUIS, Mo., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Advanced ICU Care, the nation’s leading provider of high-acuity telemedicine services, announced a large strategic telemedicine partnership with UAB Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in patient care, research and training. The technology, operations, and care partnership encompasses the entire UAB Health System including University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, the third largest public hospital facility in the U.S. The relationship initiates with the development of a new tele-ICU operations center in Birmingham and envisions serving up to 750 ICU beds in Alabama and surrounding states.

The new partnership brings together leading healthcare innovators to advance the practice and operational models of tele-ICU care. UAB Medicine’s desire to provide state-of-the-art tele-ICU services for its ICU units led to extensive evaluation of tele-ICU options. Advanced ICU Care has developed unique assets and experience in its fifteen years of offering telemedicine care.

In particular, Advanced ICU Care’s proprietary HUB workflow management software platform uniquely addresses the challenges associated with the customized delivery of acute patient care at high volumes across multiple care venues. In addition, the company’s technical, operational, and clinical expertise draw upon its care of over a half million tele-ICU patients and care partnerships with more than 100 hospitals nationwide. UAB Medicine brings to the relationship additional clinical expertise as a national leader in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

 “Advanced ICU Care’s clinical and operational expertise and proprietary HUB workflow management software are assets that are well aligned with UAB’s vision for our tele-ICU programs,” said Reid Jones, CEO of UAB Medicine. “Telehealth and tele-ICU have become increasingly important vehicles for healthcare delivery, and we look forward to leveraging Advanced ICU Care’s assets to deliver high-acuity telemedicine to patients across Alabama and beyond.”

“The size and scope of this unique tele-ICU services partnership is indicative of the forward looking, innovation-oriented cultures of both organizations,” said Lou Silverman, CEO of Advanced ICU Care. “As a technology-enabled healthcare services organization, we have successfully implemented and managed more tele-ICU programs than any other provider in the nation. We see this partnership as an endorsement of the successes we have achieved to date and as a validation of our vision for the future of telemedicine. We look forward to collaborating closely with the UAB Medicine team in this inspired project.”

About UAB Medicine

UAB Medicine comprises the School of Medicine and the $4.3 billion UAB Health System that includes all of the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s patient-care activities and 2,300 licensed beds in six hospitals, one of which is UAB Hospital — the third-largest public hospital in the United States, winner of the Women’s Choice award, and one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals. UAB, a part of the University of Alabama System, is the state of Alabama’s largest single employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50. UAB is the

Balstilimab, Zalifrelimab Active in Advanced Cervical Cancer

Checkpoint blockade with the PD-1 inhibitor balstilimab, alone or in combination with the anti-CTLA-4 drug zalifrelimab, showed activity in women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, preliminary results from two phase II trials indicated.

In patients treated with balstilimab alone, the overall response rate (ORR) was 14%, including complete responses in 2%, reported David O’Malley, MD, of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus.

And in those who received both investigational agents — balstilimab plus zalifrelimab — the ORR increased to 22%, including complete responses in 6%.

“What is really interesting about the combination arm is that while we did see a median duration of response in the single-agent [arm] that was a very impressive 15 months, the duration of response has not been reached in the combination arm,” O’Malley told MedPage Today.

He said that the tripling of the complete response rate as well as the better duration of response suggest that combination immunotherapy may be “the future of cervical cancer treatment.”

Each of the studies involved women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer from cancer centers across the U.S. and Europe who previously received platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line treatment.

“These are the two largest trials of immunotherapy in recurrent metastatic cervical cancer that have been reported thus far,” he said.

In the single agent trial, 160 women were given balstilimab at 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks, while in the second trial balstilimab was evaluated in 155 women at the same dosage in combination with zalifrelimab at a dose of 1 mg/kg every 6 weeks. Findings from the trials were recently presented by O’Malley at the 2020 European Society for Medical Oncology virtual congress.

O’Malley emphasized that in both trials there were responders who were PD-L1 negative. In the single agent trial the ORRs were 19% for those with PD-L1-positive disease and 10% for those with PD-L1-negative disease, while in the combination trial those rates were 27% and 11%, respectively.

Furthermore, O’Malley noted, when broken down by histology, the ORR was higher in patients with squamous cell carcinoma who received the combination therapy (27% vs 18% with balstilimab alone), while the ORRs were higher with single-agent balstilimab for patients with adenocarcinoma, adenosquamous, or other histology (8% vs 5% with the combination).

Histology may be a main predictor of response rather than PD-L1 status, O’Malley suggested.

“We reported similar response rates in our squamous cell carcinoma patients as we saw in the PD-L1-positive patients,” he said. “But when we looked at the adenocarcinoma and adenosquamous patients, we saw the rates were similar to PD-L1-negative patients. This calls into question whether the better predictor of response is histology rather than PD-L1 status, and that may be something to look at in the future.”

Regarding a comparison of balstilimab with pembrolizumab (Keytruda), O’Malley pointed out that pembrolizumab has only been approved for women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1.

“We know that these drugs are more similar than they