Avelumab Induces Durable Responses in Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Treatment with avelumab induced durable responses among, and was well tolerated by, patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma.
Treatment with avelumab induced durable responses among, and was well tolerated by, patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma, according to a study published in The Lancet Oncology.1
Avelumab is an investigational, anti-PD-L1 IgG1 monoclonal antibody. Oncogenesis is associated with Merkel cell polyomavirus integration and ultraviolet-radiation-induced mutations; researchers evaluated PD-L1/PD-1 pathway inhibition with avelumab in patients with stage 4 Merkel cell carcinoma that had progressed after chemotherapy.
For this international, open-label, phase 2 trial, investigators enrolled 88 patients with stage 4 chemotherapy-refractory Merkel cell carcinoma. All patients received avelumab every 2 weeks.
Median follow-up was 10.4 months; 31.8% of patients achieved an objective response, including 8 complete responses and 20 partial responses.
At the time of analysis, 82% of the 28 responses were ongoing.
Four patients reported grade 3 treatment-related adverse events, including lymphopenia in 2 patients, elevated blood creatine phosphokinase in 1 patient, increased aminotransferase in 1 patient, and elevated blood cholesterol in 1 patient.
Serious treatment-related events were observed in 5 patients and included enterocolitis, infusion-related reaction, increased aminotransferase, chondrocalcinosis, synovitis, and interstitial nephritis.
RELATED: Pembrolizumab Is Promising for Future Merkel Cell Cancer Treatment
The findings suggest that PD-L1/PD-1 pathway inhibition with avelumab may represent a novel treatment option for patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Kaufman HL, Russell J, Hamid O, et al. Avelumab in patients with chemotherapy-refractory metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma: a multicentre, single-group, open-label, phase 2 trial. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Sep 1. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(16)30364-3 [Epub ahead of print]