Pembrolizumab and its role in relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin's lymphoma: evidence to date and clinical utility.
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Published:1st Apr 2018
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Ref.:Ther Adv Hematol. 2018;9(4):89-105.
Immune evasion is a critical mechanism of malignant cell survival, and relies in part on molecular signaling through the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) axis that contributes to T cell exhaustion. Immune modulatory therapy with monoclonal antibodies against PD-1 designed to enhance antitumor immune response have shown promise in the treatment of advanced solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Classical Hodgkin's lymphoma (cHL), a unique B cell malignancy characterized by an extensive but ineffective immune cell infiltrate surrounding a small number of tumor cells, has shown significant response to anti-PD-1 directed therapy. The anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies nivolumab and pembrolizumab have shown similarly remarkable activity in relapsed/refractory cHL and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of this disease. In this article we review the rationale of targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis in cHL and the pharmacology of pembrolizumab, and summarize the data on activity and safety profile of this agent in the treatment of relapsed/refractory cHL. We also discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of using PD-1 blockade in the setting of allogeneic stem-cell transplantation, and summarize ongoing prospective trials of single-agent pembrolizumab and combination strategies as well as future directions.