Dr. Nghiem on Immunotherapy in Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Jul 25, 2018

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 immunotherapy for the treatment of 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 immunotherapy for the treatment of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). He presented 2-year efficacy and safety data from the JAVELIN Merkel 200 trial at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting.

MCC is considered by many to be a chemotherapy-sensitive disease. Although over 50% of patients will initially respond to chemotherapy, less than 5% will benefit beyond 1 year, Nghiem says. Part A of the single-arm trial focused on the patient population with the biggest need—those who are chemotherapy-refractory.

Patients were treated with the PD-1 inhibitor avelumab (Bavencio). Progression-free survival was 26% after 2 years, and the objective response rate of 33% remained unchanged after a follow-up of 1 year and 18 months. Nghiem says the biggest difference between immunotherapy and chemotherapy is that 70% to 80% of patients stay in response with immunotherapy, according to these data.

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