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Crizotinib/Pembrolizumab Combo to Be Tested in Lung Cancer Patients

Pharma giants join forces

Pfizer and Merck have entered into an agreement to explore the therapeutic potential of the combination of Pfizer’s crizotinib (Xalkori) with Merck’s investigational anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) antibody pembrolizumab in a phase Ib trial evaluating the safety and tolerability of the combination in patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced or metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The open-label study is expected to begin in 2015. Pfizer will conduct the study.

Both companies previously announced plans to evaluate the safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab in combination with Pfizer’s small-molecule kinase inhibitor axitinib (Inlyta) in patients with renal-cell carcinoma.

Separately, pembrolizumab plus Pfizer’s PF-2566, an investigational immuno-oncology agent that targets the human 4-1BB receptor, will be evaluated in multiple cancer types. These studies are expected to begin enrollment later this year.

Pembrolizumab is an investigational humanized monoclonal antibody against PD-1 designed to reactivate anti-tumor immunity. The drug exerts dual ligand blockade of the PD-1 pathway by inhibiting the interaction of PD-1 on T-cells with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2.

Pembrolizumab is currently being evaluated in more than 30 types of cancer as monotherapy and in combination with other treatments. It is anticipated that by the end of 2014, the pembrolizumab development program will include more than 24 clinical trials, enrolling an estimated 6,000 patients worldwide.

Crizotinib is a kinase inhibitor indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors are ALK-positive, as detected by an FDA-approved test.

Source: Pfizer; August 26, 2014.

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