Merck in Clinical Pact for Cancer Drug Keytruda

Merck & Co. Inc. and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have entered into a strategic clinical research collaboration to evaluate Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or antitumor medicines.

Under the agreement, collaborative studies will be conducted over three years in the following tumor types: gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The first studies are scheduled to start enrolling later this year. The agreement aims to define what combination modalities will work best with Keytruda in these types of tumors by exploring promising new alternatives. The studies will be conducted in parallel, in order to determine optimal regimens.

Keytruda is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2. By binding to the PD-1 receptor and blocking the interaction with the receptor ligands, Keytruda releases the PD-1 pathway-mediated inhibition of the immune response, including the anti-tumor immune response. Keytruda is indicated in the United States at a dose of 2 mg/kg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma and disease progression following ipilimumab and, if BRAF V600 mutation positive, a BRAF inhibitor. Merck is advancing a broad clinical development program for Keytruda with more than 100 clinical trials, across more than 30 tumor types and enrolling more than 16,000 patients, both as a monotherapy and in combination with other therapies.

Source: Merck & Co. Inc.

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