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Innovation Observatory > Reports > Drugs > Pembrolizumab in Combination with Epacadostat for Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma

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Pembrolizumab in Combination with Epacadostat for Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma


Cancer and Palliative Care

January 2018

Melanoma is a cancer of the skin and can occur anywhere on the skin. Unusual moles, exposure to sunlight and sunburn can affect the risk of having melanoma. When the cancer has spread into the bones, the lymph nodes or glands nearby it is said to be at the advanced (metastatic) stage. Often at this stage the cancer cannot be removed surgically (unresectable). Symptoms of metastatic
melanoma may include weight loss, loss of appetite and feeling extremely tired (fatigued).

Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy. It stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Pembrolizumab targets and blocks a protein called PD‐L1 on the surface of certain
immune cells called T‐cells. Blocking the PD‐L1 protein triggers the T‐cells to find and kill cancer cells. Epacadostat is an agent that blocks an enzyme called IDO1, which is implicated in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Pembrolizumab is administered by injection while epacadostat is administered orally. If approved, pembrolizumab and epacadostat have the potential to prolong
survival without cancer progression in patients with metastatic or unresectable malignant melanoma who have not been treated previously.

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