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Dr. Wilky on Pembrolizumab Plus Axitinib in Sarcoma

Breelyn Wilky, MD
Published: Friday, Feb 17, 2017



Breelyn Wilky, MD, an associate professor of Medicine, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Care, University of Miami Health System, discusses a phase II trial exploring concurrent axitinib (Inlyta) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in advanced alveolar soft part sarcoma and other soft tissue sarcomas.

This study is designed to carry immunotherapy one step further, Wilky explains. Although immunotherapy has been found to have some dramatic responses in the field, it does not work for all patients. One of the reasons for the lack of efficacy, she adds, may be due to challenges getting the immune cells into the tumor.

Researchers have shown that the VEGF protein, which most people believe as being responsible for forming new blood vessels to feed tumors, also has direct effects on shutting down the immune system in tumors. Therefore, the concept of the phase II trial, she adds, is to use a VEGF blocker to prime the tumor microenvironment and get immune cells into the tumor. Then, the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab can be used to turn them on.


Breelyn Wilky, MD, an associate professor of Medicine, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Care, University of Miami Health System, discusses a phase II trial exploring concurrent axitinib (Inlyta) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in advanced alveolar soft part sarcoma and other soft tissue sarcomas.

This study is designed to carry immunotherapy one step further, Wilky explains. Although immunotherapy has been found to have some dramatic responses in the field, it does not work for all patients. One of the reasons for the lack of efficacy, she adds, may be due to challenges getting the immune cells into the tumor.

Researchers have shown that the VEGF protein, which most people believe as being responsible for forming new blood vessels to feed tumors, also has direct effects on shutting down the immune system in tumors. Therefore, the concept of the phase II trial, she adds, is to use a VEGF blocker to prime the tumor microenvironment and get immune cells into the tumor. Then, the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab can be used to turn them on.

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