Pembrolizumab in addition to platinum-pemetrexed chemotherapy is in clinical development for epithelial growth factor receptor (EGRF) mutation positive metastatic non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC makes up the majority of lung cancers in the UK. Stage IV (advanced or metastatic) NSCLC is when the cancer has spread beyond the lung which was initially affected to other organs. Overexpression of EGFR is known to accelerate the growth of cancer cells. The majority of NSCLC patients will develop resistance to first-line treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors so there is a need to develop effective second line treatments.
Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy delivered intravenously that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Pembrolizumab targets and blocks a protein called PD-1 that is expressed on the surface of certain immune cells called Tcells. Blocking PD-1 triggers the T-cells to find and kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab in addition to platinum-pemetrexed may offer a second line treatment option for patients whose disease has progressed on or after prior EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy.