As per the global study led by Yale Cancer Center, a tiny amount of biomarker known as PD-L1 can predict long-term survival benefits from pembrolizumab. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is one of the first inhibitors to be used in the treatment for lung cancer. These recent findings have been published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The findings come from phase III Keynote-010 clinical trial which was conducted in 202 academic centers. The study included patients who have previously been treated unsuccessfully with chemotherapy for stage 3 or 4 non-small cell lung cancer.
In this study, the researchers compared the use of pembrolizumab in 690 patients to treat docetaxel chemotherapy in 343 patients. Out of 690 patients, 79 patients who received two years of pembrolizumab, overall survival rate was 99% one year after discontinuing treatment. The investigators estimate that 75% of NSCLC patients express PD-L1 protein on their cancer cells. Within this group, up to 25% express a high amount.
“The response that we have seen from pembrolizumab, in a subset of patients’ years after treatment ended, is remarkable, especially since their chemotherapy had initially failed,” said Roy S.Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center. Some patients whose cancer recurred after an initial two years of treatment responded to pembrolizumab when the drug was offered again, he added.
Herbst said, “It is too soon to say that pembrolizumab is a potential cure for a substantial number of patients whose tumors express PD-L1, and we know that it doesn’t work for all patients, but, the agent remains very, very promising. The majority of patients who completed two years of treatment remain in remission, and those who had recurrence could be retreated with pembrolizumab at the time of progression and still achieve disease control.”
Pembrolizumab is first checkpoint inhibitor for testing the ability of biomarker to determine disease control outcomes. With this study, there’s hope for finding the best way for use of pembrolizumab for treating lung cancer patients.
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