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Trial record 1 of 3 for:    merkel cell carcinoma pembrolizumab
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Pembrolizumab in Treating Patients With Advanced Merkel Cell Cancer

This study is ongoing, but not recruiting participants.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Identifier:
First received: October 14, 2014
Last updated: September 12, 2017
Last verified: September 2017
This phase II trial studies how well pembrolizumab works in treating patients with Merkel cell cancer that cannot be removed by surgery or controlled with treatment, or has spread to other parts of the body. Pembrolizumab may stimulate the immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells.

Condition Intervention Phase
Recurrent Merkel Cell Carcinoma Stage III Merkel Cell Carcinoma AJCC v7 Stage IIIA Merkel Cell Carcinoma AJCC v7 Stage IIIB Merkel Cell Carcinoma AJCC v7 Stage IV Merkel Cell Carcinoma AJCC v7 Other: Laboratory Biomarker Analysis Biological: Pembrolizumab Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Phase II Study of MK-3475 in Patients With Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Objective response rate (ORR) defined as the proportion of patients who have achieved complete response (CR) or partial response (PR) according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) version 1.1 [ Time Frame: Up to 3 years ]
    ORR will be estimated as the number of responders as a percent of the number of eligible participants who received at least one dose of treatment. If a substantial amount of data is missing, analyses will be performed using parametric generalized linear models fit by maximum likelihood. A generalized linear model for the ORR will use a binomial error distribution. The model will include as covariates all available baseline predictors of the missing outcomes. Responses to continued pembrolizumab will be chronicled and reported.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Duration of response (DOR) [ Time Frame: Time interval between the date of first response (CR/PR) and the date of progression, assessed up to 3 years ]
    Survival curves for DOR will be estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.

  • Incidence of adverse events (AEs) graded using the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 4.0 [ Time Frame: Up to 90 days post-treatment ]
    Safety will be assessed by quantifying the toxicities and grades experienced by subjects including serious AEs (SAEs) and events of clinical interest. Safety and tolerability will be assessed by clinical review of all relevant parameters including AEs, laboratory tests, vital signs, and electrocardiogram measurements. Adverse experiences will be summarized as counts and frequencies by toxicity grade. Summary statistics (median and range) for time to onset of first drug-related toxicity will be provided.

  • Overall survival (OS) [ Time Frame: Time interval between the start of treatment to death due to any cause, assessed up to 3 years ]
    Survival curves for OS will be estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.

  • Progression-free survival (PFS) using RECIST 1.1 [ Time Frame: Time from start of treatment to time of progression or death, whichever occurs first, assessed up to 16 months ]
    Survival curves for PFS will be estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.

Other Outcome Measures:
  • Immune correlates of the clinical activity of pembrolizumab [ Time Frame: Baseline ]
    This will include immunohistochemical and gene expression analysis focusing on delineating the immune components and immunologic milieu within the tumor before therapy.

  • Merkel polyomavirus (MCPyV)-specific immune response, assessed with enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot and serology assays [ Time Frame: After 2 years of treatment ]
    Responses will be assessed at baseline, after initiating therapy, and correlated with clinical responses over time. Among patients with corresponding MHC-peptide tetramers, pre- and post-treatment samples of circulating MCPyV-specific CD8 T cells will be isolated and subjected to deep immunophenotyping by messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression analysis.

Estimated Enrollment: 50
Actual Study Start Date: November 25, 2014
Estimated Primary Completion Date: January 20, 2018 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Treatment (pembrolizumab)

Patients receive pembrolizumab IV over 30 minutes on day 1. Treatment repeats every 21 days for up to 24 months in the absence of disease progression* or unacceptable toxicity.

* NOTE: Patients with confirmed disease progression may continue to receive treatment if they are otherwise clinically stable until there is an increase in tumor burden of 25% or more following initial confirmation of progression. Under exceptional circumstances, and with protocol P.I. and CITN P.I. approval, patients may receive treatment beyond 2 years.

Other: Laboratory Biomarker Analysis
Ancillary studies
Biological: Pembrolizumab
Given IV
Other Names:
  • Keytruda
  • Lambrolizumab
  • MK-3475
  • SCH 900475

Detailed Description:


I. To determine the clinical efficacy of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) as the first systemic intervention for patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).


I. To determine the clinical activity of MK-3475 as the first systemic intervention for patients with advanced MCC.


I. To determine the immune correlates of the clinical activity of MK-3475.


Patients receive pembrolizumab intravenously (IV) over 30 minutes on day 1. Treatment repeats every 21 days for up to 24 months in the absence of disease progression* or unacceptable toxicity.

* NOTE: Patients with confirmed disease progression may continue to receive treatment if they are otherwise clinically stable until there is an increase in tumor burden of 25% or more following initial confirmation of progression. Under exceptional circumstances, and with protocol principal investigator (P.I.) and Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN) P.I. approval, patients may receive treatment beyond 2 years.

After completion of study treatment, patients are followed up at 30 days and then every 3 months for 1 year, every 6 months for 2 years, annually until the patient has completed 3 years of follow up for disease assessment, and then every 12 weeks.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Patients must have biopsy-proven metastatic MCC or loco-regional MCC that has recurred following standard locoregional therapy with surgery and/or radiation therapy
  • Patients must have measurable disease per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) 1.1 assessed by computed tomography (CT) scan, or for skin lesions not measurable by CT scan, measurements may be performed with caliper or flexible ruler

    • Note: stage IV no evidence of disease (NED) is excluded by this criterion
  • Have a performance status of =< 1 on the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance scale
  • Life expectancy of greater than 6 months
  • Leukocytes >= 2,000/mcL
  • Absolute neutrophil count >= 1,500/mcL
  • Platelets >= 100,000/mcL
  • Hemoglobin >= 9 g/dL OR >= 5.6 mmol/L
  • Serum total bilirubin =< 1.5 x upper limit of normal (ULN) OR direct bilirubin =< ULN for patients with total bilirubin levels > 1.5 x ULN
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase [SGOT]) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase [SGPT]) =< 2.5 x institutional ULN OR =< 5 x ULN for patients with liver metastases
  • Serum creatinine =< 2.5 x ULN OR measured or calculated* creatinine clearance (CrCl) (glomerular filtration rate [GFR] can also be used in place of creatinine or creatinine clearance [CrCl]) >= 30 mL/min for subject with creatinine levels > 2.5 x institutional ULN

    • Creatinine clearance should be calculated per institutional standard
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) within institutional limits (i.e.: normal); if TSH is greater or less than institutional limits patients may participate if their T4 is within normal limits (WNL); patients may be on a stable dose of replacement thyroid medication; dose adjustments are allowed if needed
  • Patients must provide tissue from an archival tumor sample or newly obtained core, punch or excisional biopsy of a tumor lesion if deemed relatively safe and technically feasible

    • Note: newly obtained biopsy is preferable
  • Female patients of childbearing potential must have a negative urine or serum pregnancy within 72 hours before receiving the first dose of study medication; if the urine test is positive or cannot be confirmed as negative, a serum pregnancy test will be required

    • Note: women of child-bearing potential must agree to use 2 methods of birth control, or be surgically sterile, or abstain from heterosexual activity beginning with the screening visit and for the duration of study participation, through 120 days beyond last dose of MK-3475 administration; patients of childbearing potential are those who have not been surgically sterilized or have not been free from menses for > 1 year; should a woman become pregnant or suspect she is pregnant while she or her partner is participating in this study, she should inform her treating physician immediately
  • Men treated or enrolled on this protocol must agree to use 2 adequate methods of contraception starting with the screening visit, for the duration of study participation, and through 120 days after the last dose of MK-3475 administration
  • Ability to understand and willingness to sign a written informed consent document

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Patient has had prior systemic therapy for MCC

    • Note: prior systemic cytotoxic chemotherapy will be allowed if it was administered in the adjuvant setting (no clinically detectable MCC at the time) and treatment concluded more than 6 months prior to beginning study treatment
  • Patient is currently participating in or has participated in a study of an investigational systemic agent to treat MCC; or is using an investigational device within 4 weeks of the first dose of treatment

    • NOTE: if patient received major surgery, they must have recovered adequately from the toxicity and/or complications from the intervention prior to starting therapy
    • Toxicity from surgery or associated interventions that has not recovered to =< grade 1 is allowed if it meets the inclusion requirements for laboratory parameters
  • Patients with locoregional disease that have not received appropriate standard locoregional therapy with surgery and/or radiation therapy
  • Patient has had radiation therapy within 2 weeks of beginning study treatment
  • Toxicity from prior radiation therapy has NOT resolved to grade 1 or less
  • Patient has a diagnosis of immunodeficiency or is receiving systemic steroid therapy or any other form of immunosuppressive therapy within 7 days prior the first dose of trial treatment
  • Patient has had a prior monoclonal antibody for treatment of MCC
  • Patient has had a prior monoclonal antibody for a non-cancer therapy indication within 4 weeks prior to study day 1 or who has not recovered (i.e., =< grade 1 or at baseline) from adverse events (AEs) due to agents administered more than 4 weeks earlier
  • Patient has a known additional malignancy that is progressing or requires active treatment; exceptions include basal cell carcinoma of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or in situ cervical cancer that has undergone potentially curative therapy
  • Patient has known active central nervous system (CNS) metastases and/or carcinomatous meningitis

    • Patients with previously treated brain metastases may participate provided they are stable (without evidence of progression by imaging for at least 4 weeks prior to the first dose of trial treatment and any neurologic symptoms have returned to baseline), have no evidence of new or enlarging brain metastases, and are not using steroids for at least 7 days prior to trial treatment
  • Patient has a history of allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to MK-3475
  • Patient has an active autoimmune disease requiring systemic treatment within the past 3 months or a documented history of clinically severe autoimmune disease, or a syndrome that requires systemic steroids or immunosuppressive agents; patients with vitiligo or resolved childhood asthma/atopy would be an exception to this rule; patients that require intermittent use of bronchodilators or local steroid injections would not be excluded from the study; the use of physiologic doses of corticosteroids may be approved after consultation with the protocol principal investigator (PI) and Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN); patients with hypothyroidism stable on hormone replacement or Sjorgen's syndrome will not be excluded from the study
  • Patient has a history or current evidence of any condition, therapy, or laboratory abnormality that might confound the results of the trial, interfere with the patient's participation for the full duration of the trial, or is not in the best interest of the patient to participate, in the opinion of the treating investigator
  • Patient has known psychiatric or substance abuse disorders that would interfere with cooperation with the requirements of the trial
  • Patient has uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active infection, interstitial lung disease, non-infectious pneumonitis, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements
  • Patient is pregnant or breastfeeding, or expecting to conceive or father children within the projected duration of the trial, starting with the pre-screening or screening visit through 120 days after the last dose of trial treatment

    • NOTE: pregnant women are excluded from this study; breastfeeding should be discontinued if the mother is treated with MK-3475
    • Men and nonpregnant, non-breast-feeding women may be enrolled if they are willing to use 2 methods of birth control or are considered highly unlikely to conceive; highly unlikely to conceive is defined as (1) surgically sterilized, or (2) postmenopausal (a woman who is >= 45 years of age and has not had menses for greater than 1 year will be considered postmenopausal), or (3) not heterosexually active for the duration of the study; the 2 birth control methods can be barrier method or a barrier method plus a hormonal method to prevent pregnancy; subjects should start using birth control from the screening visit throughout the study period up to 120 days after the last dose of study therapy
    • The following are considered adequate barrier methods of contraception: diaphragm, condom (by the partner), copper intrauterine device, sponge, or spermicide; appropriate hormonal contraceptives will include any registered and marketed contraceptive agent that contains an estrogen and/or a progestational agent (including oral, subcutaneous, intrauterine, or intramuscular agents)
    • Patients should be informed that taking the study medication may involve unknown risks to the fetus (unborn baby) if pregnancy were to occur during the study; in order to participate in the study, they must adhere to the contraception requirement (described above) for the duration of the study and during the follow-up period described above; if there is any question that a subject will not reliably comply with the requirements for contraception, that subject should not be entered into the study
    • Pregnancy: if a patient inadvertently becomes pregnant while on treatment with MK-3475, the patient will immediately be removed from the study; the site will contact the patient at least monthly and document the patient's status until the pregnancy has been completed or terminated; the outcome of the pregnancy will be reported without delay and within 24 hours if the outcome is a serious adverse experience (e.g., death, abortion, congenital anomaly, or other disabling or life-threatening complication to the mother or newborn); the study investigator will make every effort to obtain permission to follow the outcome of the pregnancy and report the condition of the fetus or newborn; if a male patient impregnates his female partner the study personnel at the site must be informed immediately and the pregnancy reported and followed
    • Subjects who are breast-feeding are not eligible for enrollment
  • Patient is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive

Note: patients who are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive may participate IF they meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • They must be stable on their anti-retroviral regimen, and they must be healthy from an HIV perspective
  • They must have a cluster of differentiation (CD)4 count of greater than 250 cells/mcL
  • They must not be receiving prophylactic therapy for an opportunistic infection

    • Patient has known active hepatitis B (e.g., hepatitis B surface antigen [HBsAg] reactive) or hepatitis C (e.g., hepatitis C virus [HCV] ribonucleic acid [RNA] [qualitative] is detected)
  • Note: a positive hepatitis B serology indicative of previous immunization (i.e., hepatitis B surface antibody [HBsAb]-positive and hepatitis B core antibody [HBcAb]-negative) or a fully resolved acute hepatitis B infection is not an exclusion criterion

    • Has active non-infectious pneumonitis >= grade 2; or history of grade 3 non-infectious pneumonitis within the past 12 months; or any history of grade 4 non-infectious pneumonitis
    • History of other pulmonary disease such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] < 60% of predicted for height and age); pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are required in patients with prolonged smoking history or symptoms of respiratory dysfunction
    • Cardiovascular disease that meets one of the following: congestive heart failure (New York Heart Association class III or IV), active angina pectoris, or recent myocardial infarction (within the last 6 months)
    • Prior organ allograft or allogeneic transplantation, if the transplanted tissue is still in place
    • Patient has had live vaccines within 30 days before the first dose of trial treatment and while participating in the trial; examples of live vaccines include, but are not limited to, the following: measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, yellow fever, seasonal flu, H1N1 flu, rabies, bacille de Calmette et Guérin (BCG), and typhoid vaccine
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT02267603

United States, California
Stanford Cancer Institute Palo Alto
Palo Alto, California, United States, 94304
UCSF Medical Center-Mount Zion
San Francisco, California, United States, 94115
United States, Connecticut
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, United States, 06520
United States, Florida
Moffitt Cancer Center
Tampa, Florida, United States, 33612
United States, Georgia
Emory University/Winship Cancer Institute
Atlanta, Georgia, United States, 30322
United States, Louisiana
Louisiana State University Health Science Center
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, 70112
University Medical Center New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, 70112
United States, Maryland
Johns Hopkins University/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
Baltimore, Maryland, United States, 21287
United States, New York
Mount Sinai Hospital
New York, New York, United States, 10029
United States, North Carolina
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, North Carolina, United States, 27710
United States, Ohio
Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbus, Ohio, United States, 43210
United States, Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, 15232
United States, Washington
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Seattle, Washington, United States, 98109
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Principal Investigator: Paul Nghiem Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network
  More Information

Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Responsible Party: National Cancer Institute (NCI) Identifier: NCT02267603     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: NCI-2014-00848
NCI-2014-00848 ( Registry Identifier: CTRP (Clinical Trial Reporting Program) )
CITN-09 ( Other Identifier: Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network )
CITN-09 ( Other Identifier: CTEP )
P30CA015704 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
U01CA154967 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: October 14, 2014
Last Updated: September 12, 2017

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Carcinoma, Merkel Cell
Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine
Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal
Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial
Neoplasms by Histologic Type
Polyomavirus Infections
DNA Virus Infections
Virus Diseases
Tumor Virus Infections
Neuroendocrine Tumors
Neuroectodermal Tumors
Neoplasms, Nerve Tissue
Antineoplastic Agents processed this record on September 19, 2017