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Hopeful news about first PD-1 inhibitor

Home/News, Research/Hopeful news about first PD-1 inhibitor

Hopeful news about first PD-1 inhibitor

Another exciting, new immunotherapy may be on the horizon: Keytruda

In meetings of well informed patient activists and experts after ASH, several in the group were excited about a new class of drug called PD-1 inhibitors. Jenny Ahlstrom was practically doing back flips over it.

Here’s info on the first of let’s hope are several new PD-1 based therapies. Check out the first half of an article I found online and saved after ASH:

Merck Immunotherapy Keytruda Shows Promise In Multiple Myeloma Trial

Dec 7, 2015 –

Merck(Reuters) – Merck & Co’s immunotherapy Keytruda led to a high response rate for patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma when added to standard therapy in a small, early stage trial, according to data presented on Monday.

The Phase I study tested Keytruda in combination with Celgene’s Revlimid and the corticosteroid dexamethasone in patients whose disease had progressed after they had already received several other treatments, including several who were not helped by previous treatment with Revlimid.

Among 17 patients available for evaluation in the ongoing 50-patient trial, the overall response rate was 76 percent, meaning 13 of the 17 had a meaningful reduction in the cancer.

Of those, four had a so-called very good partial response, where the level of abnormal “M” proteins in the blood decreased by at least 90 percent.

“This is very preliminary but really promising data,” said Dr. Jesus San Miguel, the study’s lead investigator who presented the results at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Orlando.

“We have patients who haven’t responded to any other drugs and they have responded to this combination,” added San Miguel, professor of hematology at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain…

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has already been approved to treat lung and skin cancer. According to Reuters, it is currently being tested to see if it works for 30 different cancers.

Normally, multiple myeloma patients aren’t helped much by drugs like this that are used for solid tumors or other blood cancers. Used in combination, Keytruda may be a positive exception.

If so, the good news is the drug is already FDA approved, so it could be used off-label right away.

In the meantime, Keytruda’s manufacturer, Merck, plans to ramp things up to Phase 3 myeloma trials right away. The company can do that because there’s already existing safety profiles from their work in other cancers.

Wouldn’t this be awesome if 1) the drug works, and 2) it could be approved in a year or so. Both awesome hopes are possibilities if everything goes right.

Feel good and keep smiling! Pat