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Recently updated findings from the phase 1b KEYNOTE-028 study investigating the use of Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) were featured in an oral presentation at the 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the United States, Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is an uncommon form of lung cancer where little progress has been made in recent years—the majority of patients with advanced stage lung cancer still die from their disease. New treatments are needed. Precision medicine continues to impact the lives of lung cancer patients with research into genomics and genetics leading to unprecedented progress in improving outcomes. Tailored treatments have emerged to match a person’s genetic make-­up or a tumor’s genetic profile. As a result, patients with lung cancer now typically receive molecular testing that guides their physicians in determining which therapies are more likely to boost the chances of survival while limiting the potential for adverse effects. Results from studies evaluating immunomodulatory approaches using anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies have demonstrated promising results and are advancing the standard of care for lung cancer.

PD-1 is a protein that inhibits certain types of immune responses. Drugs that block PD-1, such as Keytruda, may enhance the ability of the immune system to fight cancer. Keytruda, an anti-PD1 therapy, was reported to have clinical activity and durable responses in some patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.

KEYNOTE-028 is an ongoing early stage clinical trial evaluating the safety, tolerability, and anti-tumor activity of Keytruda in more than 450 patients with PD-L1 positive cancers.

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The clinical trial results were presented by Dr. Evan Alley, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania. The updated findings from heavily pre-treated patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma demonstrated a confirmed response rate of 20%. All responses were partial responses and 13 patients had stable disease. The median duration of response was 12.0 months.

The therapy was well tolerated and reported side effects were consistent with that observed in previously reported studies. These long-term data show meaningful response rates and durable responses in certain patients. “With these findings, we are advancing understanding of the potential for immunotherapy to make a difference for these patients.”

The manufacturer of Keytruda, Merck, has initiated a larger trial, KEYNOTE-158, to further evaluate Keytruda in advanced SCLC and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Reference: Alley E.W., Lopez J, Santoro A, et al. Long-term Overall Survival for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on Pembrolizumab Enrolled in KEYNOTE-028. Abstract #OA13.03, presented at 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer.

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