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Keytruda offers significant hope in subset of prostate cancer

Published on 04/06/18 at 09:47am

Up until present, no studies had shown that immunotherapies could offer potential treatment for men with prostate cancer; however, at ASCO, a team from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust were able to use MSD’s Keytruda to good effect in 38% of men.

There were 258 men on the study for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and 38% of those were still alive after a year, with a further 11% of those still receiving treatment and had not seen their cancer grow.

In an even smaller subset, of 5% of recipients saw their tumours entirely disappear or shrink after treatment.

The researchers found that those individuals who exhibited such a strong response to the treatment were more likely to have DNA repair mutations in their tumours.

Professor Johann de Bono, Director of the Drug Development Unit at the ICR, and at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In the last few years immunotherapy has changed the way we treat many advanced cancers – but up to now no one had demonstrated a benefit in men with prostate cancer. Our study has found that immunotherapy can benefit a subset of men with advanced, otherwise untreatable prostate cancer, and these are most likely to include patients who have specific DNA repair mutations within their tumours.”

He continued, “We are planning a new clinical trial, specifically in men with prostate cancer whose tumours have mutations in DNA repair genes, to see if immunotherapy can become a standard part of their treatment. It’s exciting that immunotherapy could offer some men more time with their loved ones where they have such advanced disease that they have run out of existing treatment options.”

This new trial could potentially open up a new indication pathway for Keytruda, if the subset of advanced prostate cancer patients prove receptive to the treatment – opening up a small portion of a large treatment market.

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and is the most common cause of cancer death in men; overall, it is the third leading cause of cancer death in the UK, after statistics revealed that it has overtaken breast cancer.

Ben Hargreaves

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