Pfizer, Merck team up to develop metastatic cancer immunotherapy
- Pfizer's Xalkori is an FDA-approved kinase inhibitor used to treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors are anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive.
- Merck's pembrozilumab (MK-3475) is being studied for at least 30 different indications. It is a humanized, monoclonal antibody against PD1 and is designed to reactivate the immune system’s anti-tumor activity.
- In addition to testing the Kalkori/pembrolizumab combo in patients with NSCLC, the two companies are also evaluating pembrolizumab in combination with Pfizer’s small molecule kinase inhibitor Inlyta (axitinib).
By the end of this year, the pembrolizumab clinical trial program is expected to consist of 24 trials worldwide involving 6,000 patients enrolled at 300 clinical trial sites.
Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, and chief medical officer at Pfizer Oncology, notes that large companies are willing to collaborate to advance therapeutic development of medication to address hard-to-treat cancers -- that's one reason why the standard-of-care for cancer treatment is improving.
The companies' other major immunotherapy collaboration, with pembrolizumab and Inlyta, will be used on renal cell carcinoma patients, while yet another set of trials involving Pfizer’s investigational compound PF-05082566 (PF-2566) will be conducted across a variety of cancers.