Pembrolizumb (‘Pembro’) is a type of anti cancer drug called immunotherapy. It has been shown in previous studies to be effective against cervical cancer. Under normal circumstances, some potentially harmful cells are removed from the body by the immune system. Cancer cells can sometime dodge this ability of the immune system by expressing certain proteins on their surface which trick the immune system into leaving the cancer cell alone and allowing it to proliferate. Pembro blocks the cancer cells ability to do this.
In this study, the scientists investigated if adding Pembrolizumb every 3 weeks to the standard treatment for advanced cervical cancer (chemotherapy with or without bevacizumab (avastin)) would improve overall survival and progression free survival.
They found that adding Pembro increased the overall survival and progression free survival for all people in the study but there was a greater effect for those with higher levels of expression of the PD1 receptor on their cancer cells.