The American-Ukrainian Anti-Cancer Project KEYNOTE-042 Became One of the TOP-5 at ASCO-2018 in Chicago

2018, Medicine

The lung cancer is one of the most widespread and dangerous malignant tumors. It’s the leading disease that causes death from cancer in the world (about 1 500 000 per year), where the late diagnosis is a major barrier to improving the outcome of the treatment of this disease. Only 15% of patients live 5 years after diagnosis, and 7% do their best to live 10 years.

Medicine already has many successful achievements to treat cancer, but this area of research continues to evolve and there is still much to be studied. Nowadays the accent is especially put on the possibility to expand the access to effective treatment for all patients regardless of their financial opportunities.

ASCO and Its Mission

In June, Chicago (Illinois, USA) hosted one of the largest and important events in the sphere of oncology, i.e. ASCO 2018 Annual Congress.

ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) was founded in 1964 by a small group of doctors who felt the need to create the community dedicated to the clinical oncology. Nowadays, ASCO is the leading organization of that kind in the world, uniting nearly 45,000 oncologists, and makes an all-out effort to care for people with cancer. ASCO is working to defeat cancer through research, learning, prevention, and providing the qualified medical care to the patients. The society’s target is to create the world where cancer can be prevented or completely cured.

Unique Development KEYNOTE-042

Ukraine has also made a great contribution to the development of this field. A representative from Ukraine took part in such a large-scale event that changes the approaches to the treatment of many types of cancer.

Together with the American colleagues, the Ukrainian professor and the holder of the post-doctoral degree in medicine, Ihor Bondarenko successfully held the research KEYNOTE-042 dedicated to such a new phenomenon in cancer treatment as immunotherapy.

A new powerful immunotherapy is especially effective in the treatment of patients with lung cancer. Immunotherapy helps the body to fight cancer in various ways. Their action is based on the fact that they interrupt the chemical signals that the cancerous tumor sends to the immune system so that to "cheat" it and express itself as a healthy cell.

To hold such a great 3-phase study research KEYNOTE-024, the Americans together with Ihor Bondarenko involved 305 patients with metastatic NSCLC who were prescribed pembrolizumab as monotherapy (154 patients) or standard platinum-based chemotherapy (151 patients). Each patient participating in the program is insured and receives complete information about their disease and the general health condition at all stages of therapy within the program.

Three Phases of KEYNOTE-042

KEYNOTE-042 development had three phases. The first one was aimed at seeing the first side effects of drugs. They were implemented in small groups of volunteers, usually conducted in America. The second phase, after the successful first, extends to patients with a specific problem, in this very case, there were patients with lung cancer disease. As a rule, at this stage, it is about the selection of the optimal dose of drugs. The third phase of clinical trials included mostly comparisons. As an option, one group of patients took classical therapy, and the second took the newest one (immune stimulators).

The data presented at ASCO are based on a median 19.1 months follow-up and also includes data on 79 patients who switched from chemotherapy to pembrolizumab treatment, according to the study protocol, and 12 patients treated with PD-1 without cross-examination.

Really Promising KEYNOTE-042 Results

So, the results of the 19-month median follow-up showed a 37% reduction in the risk of death of the patients due to the treatment with pembrolizumab compared to the chemotherapy. In addition, during the diagnostic analysis, the progression-free survival was significantly higher for the patients treated with pembrolizumab than for those in the chemotherapy group.

In one of the interviews, Ihor Bondarenko stated that he is extremely proud of the colossal research made by his colleagues and is really pleased by the results they have nowadays.

Improving the access to high-quality care, using significant data on patient outcomes worldwide and conducting innovative clinical trials, Bondarenko is very optimistic and believes that such most promising treatment as immunotherapy will be available to more patients.

Cancer immunotherapy is the latest innovative direction in oncology. It is considered as being the most progressive treatment. According to the numerous researches held in this sphere, the majority of doctors were disappointed with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and, unfortunately, stated as a fact that the surgery did not give the expected 100% results, and not all types of cancers were surgical. Oncologists around the world place high hopes on immunotherapy and especially on the project KEYNOTE-042.