Trial of Plinabulin, Keytruda, Docetaxel Kicks Off in Lung Cancer


The first patient was enrolled in a three-drug clinical trial, which researchers hope will lend insight into immunotherapy resistance in lung cancer.

The first patient was enrolled in the phase 2 clinical trial investigating plinabulin plus Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and docetaxel in patients with previously treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease got worse after immunotherapy (PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitors) with or without platinum-doublet chemotherapy, according to BeyondSpring, the manufacturer of plinabulin.

Patients enrolled on the trial will receive all three drugs intravenously in three-week cycles.

“While PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors have significantly advanced cancer treatment, patients still experience disease progression even after receiving these therapies,” said Dr. Mengzhao

Wang, the lead investigator of the trial, in a press release.

Plinabulin is a novel drug that works by targeting and cutting off blood vessels that go to the tumor, as well as killing the cancer cells themselves. Researchers are hoping that by combining it with immunotherapy, it can help overcome checkpoint blockade resistance, which is when patients’ disease stops responding to immunotherapy agents such as Keytruda.

A regimen containing the drug was previously granted a priority review for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (a condition where there are too few white blood cells called neutrophils), though the Food and Drug Administration deemed that there was not enough data to go forth with the approval.

Still, ongoing studies continue.

“This triple combination study is bringing us one step closer to helping with this unmet medical need. Plinabulin’s unique, immune-enhancing mechanism of action has a proven anti-cancer benefit that we believe will synergize with docetaxel and Keytruda and re-sensitize patients who progressed after immunotherapy. In fact, Plinabulin has shown a 40% response rate in its immune-oncology combination in non-small cell lung cancer patients who experienced disease progression after immunotherapy,” Wang said.

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