(ORDO NEWS) — A clinical study at the University of Cincinnati that added an immunotherapy drug to standard treatment regimens showed an increase in the survival of patients with intermediate-risk head and neck cancer.
Wise-Draper, author of the study, says the trial focused on adding the drug pembrolizumab to patients’ usual standard of care. Pembrolizumab, sold under the trade name Keytruda, is an antibody used in cancer immunotherapy that treats a variety of cancers, including head and neck cancer.
The drug was developed as a treatment for a variety of cancers, and Wise-Draper said it showed early success in treating head and neck cancers that have spread or returned after initial treatment, with early studies showing efficacy in about 20% of patients. .
Because early data looked promising, the UC clinical trial sought to see if the drug would work as an initial treatment that would prevent the cancer from recurring.
Patients with head and neck cancer who are treated with standard surgery, radiation, and possibly chemotherapy if risk factors warrant it, typically get it again in 30% to 50% of cases, Wise-Draper said. “*So we decided to see if we could add pembrolizumab immunotherapy and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.”
The results of the work look promising: in many subjects, the tumors disappeared even after the first dose of the prescribed treatment. In the group of patients where the drug began to work before surgery, the results showed a 100% absence of relapses.
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