Merck’s Breast Cancer Drug Proves Effective

The NYU’s Langone Medical Center announced that Merck’s pembrolizumab has been found to be effective in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer

The most common side effects in both patient populations were fatigue and nausea

 

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American Society of Clinical Oncology’s #ASCO Annual Meeting is taking place June 2 to June 6 in Chicago. Several pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology companies are presenting their new drugs and/or present progress on the status of their drugs under development. Merck is one of those companies.

The New York University’s Langone Medical Center announced that #Merck’s #pembrolizumab has been found to be effective in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer, according to an international clinical trial led by the center.

The trial investigated the drug in two separate cohorts of patients: Cohort A, which included 170 patients with heavily pretreated metastatic triple negative breast cancer regardless of PD-L1 expression, and Cohort B, which included 52 patients with PD-L1-positive tumors who received it as first-line therapy.

In #Cohort A, pembrolizumab shrunk tumors by more than 30 percent in eight of 170 patients, or five percent, and stabilized the disease in 35, or 21 percent, of those previously treated for mTNBC. Of the eight who experienced tumor reduction, all of them lived at least another year. The remaining patients in this cohort had a lower chance of survival.

In Cohort B-those who received pembrolizumab as first-line therapy-12 of 52 patients, or 23 percent, saw tumors shrink by more than 30 percent, while the disease was stabilized in nine of them, or 17 percent.

Study presenter Sylvia Adams pointed out that Cohort A is the first phase II study of an immunotherapy for triple negative breast cancer to be reported and represents the largest cohort of patients with mTNBC treated with immunotherapy to date.

“The goals of Cohort B, for which survival data are not yet complete, were, primarily, to prove pembrolizumab’s safety and, secondarily, to explore its efficacy as a first-line treatment. Both goals appear to have been met,” the center said.

Merck $MRK funded this clinical trial.

Pembrolizumab, marketed under the name #Keytruda, was well tolerated by both cohorts at a 200mg dose every three weeks, according to study results.

Only 12 percent of patients in Cohort A experienced severe side effects and only eight percent experienced them in Cohort B.

The most common side effects in both patient populations were fatigue and nausea. Although side effects led to discontinuation of treatment in seven patients from Cohort A, no patients in Cohort B discontinued treatment due to adverse side effects.

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