On Thursday, the first drug in a new class of cancer medicines that work with the stimulation of immune system was approved by the U.S regulators. It’s a Merck drug that has been developed for the treatment of skin cancer.
As per the FDA, accelerated approval was granted for the use of Keyrtruda, the immune-oncology drug of Merck & Co. It is also known as Pembrolizumab as a treatment for the patients with advance melanoma, who no longer give a response to other therapies.
This drug is the first in a new class of antibody-based drugs that work on by taking a brake off the immune system so that cancer cells can be better recognized and attacked. With this drug, cancer is fend off by the immune system of the body by blocking a protein named PD-1 or Programmed Death receptor or PD-L1- a related target, used by tumors for evading the disease fighting cells.
This is latest in a string of major breakthroughs in the treatment of melanoma which will galvanize the field of research of melanoma and treatment of cancer, said Wendy Selig, the CEO and Research Alliance President of Melanoma. The real potential of saving the lives of late-stage melanoma patients who had very little hope for survival has been demonstrated by Pembrolizumab.
Melanoma, which is considered to be a deadliest form of skin cancer is seen in around 76,000 Americans every year and leads to the death of around 10,000 annually as per the National Cancer Institute.
In a statement, FDA said that the Clinical trials of Keytruda showed that tumors were shrank in around 24 percent of patients having advanced melanoma whose disease worsened after the prior treatment.
Keytruda was designated by the agency as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ and the drug was approved nearly 2 months before an October 28th deadline.