Sunday, October 9, 2016

'New Day' in Lung Cancer Treatment

Merck & Co scored a double hit on Sunday with new clinical data showing its Keytruda immunotherapy offered big benefits in previously untreated lung cancer patients, either when given on its own or with chemotherapy.

As a monotherapy, Keytruda halved the risk of disease progression and cut overall deaths by 40 percent compared to chemotherapy alone in pre-selected patients whose tumors had been tested using a biomarker.

And when given with two older chemotherapy drugs in non-selected patients, it was almost twice as likely to shrink tumors as chemotherapy alone.

Another similar drug from Roche also demonstrated broad efficacy as a so-called second-line option in patients who had received prior treatment.

"Remember this day. It's a new day for lung cancer treatment," Stefan Zimmermann of Lausanne's University Hospital told reporters at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress as the results were presented.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the Merck monotherapy results were published, said Keytruda could become "a new standard of care". (...)

Roger Perlmutter, Merck's head of research, said both trials suggested Keytruda could offer a broad array of patients meaningful improvement over standard platinum-based chemotherapy, which is now more than two decades old.

Drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo work by taking the brakes off the immune system and allowing the body's natural killer cells to home in on tumors.

by Ben Hirschler, Reuters | Read more:
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