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Keytruda with chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival for rapidly growing lung cancer during clinical trial

US pharmaceutical giant  Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) today announced that the recent trial of Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy,  pembrolizumab, marketed as Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy met its primary endpoint of overall survival (OS) for the first-line treatment of patients with unresectable advanced or metastatic malignant pleural mesothelioma.

In a statement, Merck said that in the multi-country trial, the combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival (OS) compared to chemotherapy alone among the participants.

Pointing out that malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rapidly progressing cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and has a poor prognosis, senior vice president, head of global clinical development and chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories, Dr Eliav Barr, said, “Patients need new treatments that can improve survival outcomes, and these positive results support the potential of Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with the most common form of malignant mesothelioma.”

 “There have been few treatment advances for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, which can be challenging to treat through surgery and radiation alone,” said Dr Quincy Chu, CCTG’s study chair of the trial.

“The results from the trial have the potential to make a difference for patients with this disease who have had limited treatment options available to them,” he added.

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It may be noted that malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that starts in the linings of certain parts of the body, including the chest, abdomen, heart and testicles, while pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs, is the most common form of malignant mesothelioma, accounting for about 75% of all case.

According to experts, this rapidly progressing cancer has a 12% five-year survival rate.

According to available data, more than 30,000 new cases of malignant mesothelioma were diagnosed worldwide in 2020, and more than 26,000 people died from the disease.

Among the environmental triggers, continued use and exposure to asbestos have resulted in rising global rates of this aggressive disease.

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