The latest results from the KEYNOTE-426 trial of PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with Pfizer’s VEGF-targeting Inlyta (axitinib) come to support initial findings regarding overall performance and superior survival rates compared to the standard treatment course for renal cell carcinoma which is sunitinib (Sutent) monotherapy.
“Keytruda, in combination with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor Inlyta, resulted in significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall survival, progression-free survival and objective response in this Phase 3 study. This marks the first time that combination treatment with an anti-PD-1 therapy has achieved the dual primary endpoints of overall survival and progression-free survival as first-line therapy in advanced renal cell carcinoma”, said in the press release Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories.
About 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. The disease is almost twice as common in men as in women. A wide selection of factors can contribute to its development, including smoking, obesity, exposure to certain chemical substances or even high blood pressure. There are more than 400.000 new cases diagnosed worldwide each year.
The Keytruda treatment is considered overall quite safe, with some adverse effects possible, among them rashes, fatigue, nausea, pain and chest problems.
As Dr. Perlmutter noted, “there is significant need for improved therapies for this disease”. Even though earlier this year the pairing of Opdivo (nivolumab) and CTLA4 inhibitor Yervoy (ipilimumab) was approved by the FDA, it is used only in intermediate- and poor-risk patients.
Oncologists expect the Pembrolizumab course to become the first choice of regimen for previously-untreated patients.