Merck Wins Early U.S. Approval for Keytruda in Untreated Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

Merck & Co has won U.S. approval to market its immunotherapy Keytruda for use in previously untreated lung cancer patients two months ahead of schedule, making it the only such drug cleared for first-line treatment.

“The green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced by the U.S. drugmaker late on Monday, confirms Merck’s leading position in the hot area of medicines that fight tumors by harnessing the body’s immune system.

“Keytruda’s latest approval is for treating first-line metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients with high-levels of a protein called PD-L1, which makes them more receptive to immunotherapy.”

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A Treatment Vaccine for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer

Excerpt:

“A Louisiana-based biopharmaceutical company is betting that its experimental immunotherapeutic vaccine can keep previously untreated prostate cancer in check.

“The company, OncBioMune Pharnaceuticals, Inc, in Baton Rouge, is planning to test the vaccine, dubbed ProscaVax, in a phase 2 trial for patients with previously untreated prostate cancer and in a second trial for patients with recurrent or hormone-refractory disease.

“The trial of a treatment vaccine in untreated, low-risk prostate cancer patients is novel.”

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Jason Luke on Significance of Biomarker Development for Immunotherapy in Melanoma

“Although nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy) together demonstrate superior survival in previously untreated patients with advanced melanoma, the combination comes with additional toxicity and an increased price tag, says Jason Luke, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“ ‘There have been several studies designed around trying to predict which patients are most likely to benefit from anti–PD-1 or immunotherapy combinations. I really think that is going to be an essential part of the future approach to treatment, says Luke. ‘Not all patients respond to these treatments. There are additional toxicities with the combinations, and there are also cost issues because of how catastrophically expensive these drugs are. We really need to know which patients are most likely to respond and which aren’t.’ “


FDA Grants Priority Review of Opdivo plus Yervoy in Previously Untreated Advanced Melanoma

“The FDA has accepted a supplemental biologics license application for the Opdivo plus Yervoy regimen to include data from a phase 3 trial of patients with previously untreated advanced melanoma, according to a press release from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“The agency also granted priority review of the application, with a target action date of Jan. 23, according to the release

” ‘Findings from CheckMate -067 provide additional evidence that the combination of the two immuno-oncology agents, Opdivo [nivolumab] and Yervoy [ipilimumab], may provide improved outcomes for patients with advanced melanoma, and has the potential to become the basis of how this devastating disease is treated,’ Michael Giordano, senior vice president, head of development for oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in a press release. ‘We saw significant clinical benefit from the Opdivo+Yervoy regimen in these patients, including an increase in the time patients lived without disease progression, and we look forward to working with the FDA to review this data.’ “