“Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of updated overall survival (OS) findings, a secondary endpoint, from the phase 3 KEYNOTE-024 trial evaluating KEYTRUDA®(pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as a first-line monotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express high levels of PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] of 50 percent or more). The study included patients with squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. Findings – which are based on more than two years of follow-up – will be presented in an oral presentation at the 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan (Abstract OA 17.06).”
“Triplet therapy for advanced, BRAF V600-mutant melanoma led to objective responses in 73% of a small group of patients enrolled in a phase I trial, according to updated results reported at the 2017 ESMO Annual Congress in Madrid.
“Ongoing follow-up in the trial showed that 11 of 15 patients responded to the combination of pembrolizumab (Keytruda), dabrafenib (Tafinlar), and trametinib (Mekinist). Seven of the 11 responding patients had not progressed after a median follow-up of 20 months. ‘Updated results of the phase I portion of the KEYNOTE-022 trial confirmed previously reported efficacy of this triplet combination,’ said Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, surgery, and molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California at Los Angeles. ‘The results demonstrated durability of responses. No late or unexpected toxicities occurred with longer follow-up. The randomized phase II portion of KEYNOTE-022 is ongoing.’ ”
“A majority of patients with advanced melanoma responded to the combination of pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and the investigational IDO1 inhibitor epacadostat, as reported at the European Society of Medical Oncology congress in Madrid.
“In phase I/II results from the ECHO-202/KEYNOTE-037 trial, the combination induced objective responses in 29 of 53 (55%) efficacy-evaluable untreated patients, including seven complete responses. Twenty-two of 38 evaluable patients (58%) responded to the recommended phase II dose of epacadostat (100 mg).”
“Merck’s abstract $MRK on its big study of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) combined with chemo hit early at ESMO, attracting considerable attention for the impressive progression-free survival data the pharma giant posted as a frontline therapy for non-small cell lung cancer.
“The scoop: The median PFS hit 19 months for the combo arm compared to 8.9 months for chemo alone. The 18-month overall survival rate was 70% with pembro + chemo and 56% with chemo. That was an easy winner at the FDA and the new mark to beat in the hottest competition in drug development.”
“Adding the IDO inhibitor indoximod to pembrolizumab (Keytruda) led to an overall response rate (ORR) of 61% in patients with advanced melanoma, according to updated phase II data scheduled to be presented at the Third International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference in Frankfurt/Mainz, Germany.
“The updated data include a higher complete response (CR) rate of 20% compared with the 12% CR rate previously reported at the 2017 AACR Annual Meeting.1 The median progression-free survival (PFS) with the combination was 12.9 months, with a 1-year PFS rate of 56%.”
“Immunotherapy is a promising approach in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer; but for most patients, immunotherapy drugs so far have failed to live up to their promise and provide little or no benefit. In a phase 1b clinical trial with 21 patients, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of combining the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab with an oncolytic virus called T-VEC. The results suggest that this combination treatment, which had a 62% response rate, may work better than using either therapy on its own. The study appears September 7 in the journal Cell.”
“Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) induced an overall response rate (ORR) of 33% in patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), according to findings from the open-label, phase Ib KEYNOTE-028 trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“One patient (4.2%) experienced a complete response, 7 (29.2%) had partial responses, and 1 (4.2%) had stable disease for less than 6 months. Thirteen patients (54.2%) experienced disease progression as the best overall response.”
“The combination of the programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibitor nivolumab at a reduced dose (1 mg/kg) with the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) inhibitor ipilimumab at standard dose (3 mg/kg) for four doses followed by standard-dose nivolumab alone is a standard of care for patients with advanced, previously untreated melanoma. This is based on results from the phase III CheckMate-067 trial that confirmed combination therapy is significantly more effective than single-agent nivolumab or ipilimumab. However, improvement in efficacy is associated with increased treatment-related grade 3/4 adverse events and treatment discontinuation in nearly 40% of patients.”
“Improvements in OS, but not PFS, indicate that maintenance treatment with pembrolizumab may benefit a subset of patients with small cell lung cancer, and biomarkers are needed to identify individuals in whom pembrolizumab may be effective, according to findings presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
” ‘The standard of care for these patients – 4 to 6 cycles of platinum plus etoposide – has not changed in the United States in the last 30 years,’ Shirish Gadgeel, MD, of the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, said during a presentation. ‘Despite a high response rate with this therapy, overall outcomes for these patients are quite poor. There is a need to identify other agents that can provide benefit in these patients.’ ”