New Data Evaluating KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Chemotherapy for First-Line Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Demonstrate Response Rates Ranging from 48 to 71 Percent

Excerpt:

“Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced findings from an initial proof-of-concept study of KEYTRUDA®(pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, combined with standard treatments, one with bevacizumab and others without, in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) including chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with NSCLC; the study showed overall response rates (ORR) ranging from 48 to 71 percent, depending on the therapy used. These data, from the phase 1/2 KEYNOTE-021 trial, will be presented today at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) by Dr. Shirish Gadgeel of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute (Abstract #9016) from 8:00 – 11:30 a.m. CDT (Location: Hall A) and in a poster discussion from 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. CDT (Location: E354b).

“ ‘Combining KEYTRUDA and chemotherapy in the first-line lung cancer treatment setting is an important part of our effort to develop more treatment options for patients with non-small cell lung cancer,’ said Dr. Roger Dansey, senior vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology late-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories. ‘This study has helped us to identify chemotherapy options for combination with KEYTRUDA regardless of PD-L1 expression to take forward in phase 3 trials.’ ”

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Combining Radiation With Immunotherapy Showing Promise Against Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Combining radiation treatments with a new generation of immunotherapies is showing promise as a one-two-punch against melanoma, Loyola Medicine researchers report in the Journal of Radiation Oncology.

“Radiation kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Immunotherapies work by harnessing a patient’s immune system to attack and kill cancer cells. When combined, the two therapies appear to have synergistic effects, according to the article by James S. Welsh, MD and colleagues.

“Dr. Welsh is a professor in the department of radiation oncology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.”

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Video: Dr. Ribas on Triplet Regimens in Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, professor of Hematology and Oncology and director of the Tumor Immunology Program Area at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses triplet therapies for patients with melanoma and the sequencing challenges associated with the approvals of additional agents in the field.

“Though current immunotherapy regimens are showing significant activity in patients, Ribas says the response rate is not 100%; therefore, there needs to be investigations of other ways to modulate the immune system. Patients who benefit from PD-1 monotherapy should not receive any more, as it will lessen treatment-related toxicities, he adds.”

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Melanoma Combinations: Going Beyond Ipilimumab/Nivolumab

Excerpt:

“Ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo) may be getting plenty of buzz; however, the dual immunotherapy regimen is certainly not the only combination making a significant impact in the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma, explains Omid Hamid, MD.

“ ‘On the heels of the ipilimumab/nivolumab combination having such a high response rate and while we are still awaiting survival data, we have been looking to find other standard combinations for advanced melanoma,’ says Hamid, chief of Translational Research and Immunotherapy, director of Melanoma Therapeutics, The Angeles Clinic. ‘That is not to say that ipilimumab/nivolumab is not a standard; it is a breakthrough in showing that we can combine these types of agents and have good outcomes. However, it makes a lot of sense to look at these other combinations.’ ”

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Opdivo® (nivolumab) in Combination with Yervoy® (ipilimumab) for Treatment of Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) announced today that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended the approval of Opdivo in combination with Yervoy for the treatment of advanced (unresectable or metastatic) melanoma in adults. The CHMP also added an informative statement to the broad indication that relative to Opdivo monotherapy, an increase in progression-free survival (PFS) for the combination of Opdivo with Yervoy is established only in patients with low tumor PD-L1 expression. This CHMP recommendation will now be reviewed by the European Commission (EC), which has the authority to approve medicines for the European Union. Opdivo monotherapy is already approved by the EC for advanced melanoma and previously treated advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and was recommended for approval by the CHMP in February for previously treated advanced or metastatic non-squamous NSCLC and renal cell carcinoma (RCC).”

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Cancer Immunotherapies and Radiation Form Powerful Combination Therapy, Researchers Say

Excerpt:

“Cancer immunotherapy relies on the stimulation of the patient’s own immune system for an effective and lasting anti-tumor response, targeting and eliminating cancer cells. Both the research and clinical communities believe that combining cancer immunotherapy with more traditional anti-cancer treatments, such as radiation, is one of the more exciting new research areas in cancer treatment.

Charlie Garnett Benson, who is working on tumor immunity at Georgia State University, recently wrote about cancer immunity and combination therapy, the cutting-edge research areas listed in the new National Cancer Moonshot initiative highlighted by President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union address.

“Current cancer therapies include some combination of radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy for most patients. Ionizing radiation, one of the oldest and more commonly used types of cancer treatment, consists of high energy waves that damage the DNA of cancer cells leading to cell death, called cell suicide or apoptosis. But radiation can also affect the healthy cells surrounding tumor tissues, so there is a limit of how high a dose a patient can receive without leading to healthy cellular damage and death.”

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"Radiation Combined With Immune-Stimulating Drugs Could Pack a Powerful Punch Against Cancer Cells"

Excerpt:

“In his final State of the Union address, President Obama tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading a new National Cancer Moonshot initiative. The hope is that this will put America on course to be ‘the country that cures cancer once and for all.’ Listed among the cutting-edge research areas of the initiative is a class of treatments called cancer immunotherapy and combination therapy.

“Cancer immunotherapies are treatments that stimulate the immune system to target and attack cancer. Researchers now believe that combining immunotherapy with traditional therapies could open up new possibilities for cancer treatment.

“For instance, radiation is one of the oldest and most commonly used forms of cancer treatment out there. But there are limits to how much radiation a person can receive, and it can’t kill every cancer cell. However, in combination therapy, radiation could be paired with immunotherapy to pack a one-two punch against .”

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Talimogene Laherparepvec, Pembrolizumab Combination Safely Treats Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Patients with advanced unresectable melanoma can safely receive combination therapy with full doses of talimogene laherparepvec and pembrolizumab, according to study results presented at HemOnc TodayMelanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies.

“In previous studies, talimogene laherparepvec (Imlygic, Amgen) — a herpes simplex virus-1-based oncolytic immunotherapy — significantly improved durable response rate in patients with advanced melanoma. Also, pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck) — an anti–PD-1 antibody — showed superiority over ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol Meyers Squibb) in patients with stage III or IV melanoma.

“Both drugs appeared tolerable and demonstrated nonoverlapping adverse event profiles…”

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EBCC-10 NEWS: Combination of Lapatinib and Trastuzumab Shrinks HER2 Positive Breast Cancer Significantly in 11 Days After Diagnosis

“Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Approximately a quarter of women with HER2 positive breast cancer, who were treated with a combination of the targeted drugs lapatinib and trastuzumab before surgery and chemotherapy, saw their tumours shrink significantly or even disappear, according to results from a clinical trial.

“Professor Nigel Bundred told the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-10) today (Thursday): ‘This has ground-breaking potential because it allows us to identify a group of patients who, within 11 days, have had their tumours disappear with anti-HER2 therapy alone and who potentially may not require subsequent chemotherapy. This offers the opportunity to tailor treatment for each individual woman.’

“Prof Bundred, who is Professor of Surgical Oncology at The University of Manchester and the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UK), was presenting results from the UK EPHOS-B multi-centre, clinical trial, in which 257 women with newly-diagnosed, operable, HER2 positive disease were recruited between November 2010 and September 2015.”