Dr. Nghiem on Challenges With Immunotherapy in Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>SCCA</b>

Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD, Michael Piepkorn Endowed Chair in Dermatology Research, professor of Dermatology/Medicine at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medicine, discusses challenges with immunotherapy in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma

Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD, Michael Piepkorn Endowed Chair in Dermatology Research, professor of Dermatology/Medicine at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medicine, discusses challenges with immunotherapy in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

The 2-year efficacy and safety results from part A of the JAVELIN Merkel 200 study showed that the anti—PD-L1 monoclonal antibody avelumab (Bavencio) induced durable responses and meaningful survival outcomes in patients with metastatic MCC. These findings, which were presented at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting, showed a confirmed overall response rate of 33%.

Nghiem says that the next step in metastatic MCC is figuring out how to treat those who do not respond to either chemotherapy or single-agent immunotherapy. There is no go-to or obvious consensus on how these patients should be treated. Additionally, there is no way to predict who will or will not respond to immunotherapy in MCC. That being said, 60% of patients will respond and stay in response to their first-line treatment, so the proportion of patients who do not respond is a relatively small population.