Pembrolizumab in addition to chemotherapy for perioperative treatment of gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction adenocarcinoma

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Therapeutic Areas: Gastrointestinal Cancer
Year: 2019

Pembrolizumab in addition to chemotherapy is in clinical development for gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer. Gastric cancer is cancer that starts anywhere inside the stomach or the stomach wall. Initial symptoms of disease are similar to other stomach conditions but symptoms of advanced stages may include a lack of appetite and subsequent weight loss; fluid in the abdomen and blood in the stool. Because of the nature of symptoms, gastric cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Surgery is a treatment option and often combined with chemotherapy given before (neo-adjuvant) and after (adjuvant) the surgery to improve treatment outcomes.
Pembrolizumab, is a monoclonal antibody, a protein that has been designed to recognise and block a receptor called PD-1. By blocking PD-1, pembrolizumab stops the cancer switching off immune cells, thereby increasing the immune system’s ability to kill the cancer cells. The addition of pembrolizumab to chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant/adjuvant setting may benefit patients with locally advanced gastric or gastrooesophageal junction adenocarcinoma as positive results have been found in studies on other types of cancers.