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he drug Pembrolizumab (Trade name: Keytruda) has now gotten a thumbs up by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

It is the first cancer drug to be approved by the FDA which is based on the genetics of the disease (a genetic biomarker) and not on the tumour location. Keytruda belongs to a novel class of drugs which aids the immune system to fight cancer by blocking the mechanism of the tumour which helps it evade detection. These PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitors have previously been approved by the FDA to treat classical Hodgkin lymphoma and advanced melanoma.

This Merck & Co’s miracle drug claims to be useful in the treatment of children and adults who carry a particular genetic feature, taking into consideration the location of origin of the disease.

The approval is predominantly aimed at patients whose cancer has progressed despite treatment and also those who do not have alternative options, and solid tumours ineligible for surgery or have spread that are identified as to having a biomarker called microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR).

Merck plans to conduct further studies to fully understand this drugs’ unexplored potential and in order to confirm its anticipated benefit.


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