New study found that Keytruda (pembrolizumab), the immune therapy drug may extend the lifetime of the people suffering with advanced lung cancer. Keytruda is used to treat other types of tumors.
Researchers compared Keytruda to the chemotherapy drug docetaxel in over 1,000 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. All patients fighting with tumors had advanced even after chemotherapy. Non-small cell lung cancer is the major form of the disease.
Tumors in patients has produced a protein termed as PD-L1, which can protect the tumor from immune system attack, stated Dr. Roy Herbst, professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
Among patients with the greater levels of PD-L1, those who received Keytruda survived twice when compared to those who received docetaxel alone. Also, patients with low levels of PD-L1 also benefited from Keytruda.
Moreover, associated side effects were less in patients who had Keytruda compared to those with docetaxel, the study found. However, cost is the key factor to be contemplated in Keytruda.
The research was funded by Keytruda’s maker, Merck & Co. The findings recommend that the drug can be given to patients to a specific lung tumor, stated Herbst the chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, Conn.
He stated that patients should be given the best available drugs. As we know that which patients would benefit from the anti-PD-L1 strategy, we should move this drug to the earlier setting stages, added Herbst.
Experts opined that the findings mark an advance against lung cancer. This is a great improvement in cancer treatment that uses targeted immunotherapy instead of standard chemotherapy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Keytruda as a treatment for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors has PD-L1 and whose cancer developed after receiving platinum-containing chemotherapy.