PD-1 pathway blockade with pembrolizumab may effect frequent, durable responses in Merkel cell carcinoma patients

April 19, 2016



Publication Date

April 19, 2016


Liz Meszaros


New Orleans, LA, April 19, 2016—Frequent and durable responses occurred in patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) after first-line treatment with pembrolizumab, a humanized IgG4 anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, according to data presented here at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2016. Researchers also found that response rates were similar among patients with virus-positive and virus-negative tumors.

MCC is an aggressive form of skin cancer that has been associated with UV exposure and the Merkel cell polyomavirus.

“MCC is a disease for which there are no known FDA-approved therapies. Because chemotherapy often has the ability to shrink the cancer, but does not produce lasting benefit for more than a couple percentage of patients, the status of where we were for treating MCC was extremely unsatisfactory,” explained primary researcher Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD.

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