Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

ESMO 2020: Targeting PD-1 in Merkel Cell Carcinoma

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Retifanlimab, a humanized IgG4 monoclonal antibody targeting PD-1, has shown both activity and safety in patients who have been diagnosed with advanced or metastatic chemotherapy-naive Merkel cell carcinoma. Giovanni Grignani, MD, of the Candiolo Cancer Institute in Candiolo, Italy, presented the POD1UM-201 study at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020 on behalf of his colleagues, as well as an updated futility analysis (Abstract 1089P).

This phase II, open-label, single-arm, multicenter study enrolled 27 patients with stage IV Merkel cell carcinoma that was either locally advanced or metastatic. Patients had either never received chemotherapy (22 patients) or had received fewer than three prior chemotherapy treatments (5 patients). Retifanlimab was administered to all patients in 500-mg doses intravenously every 4 weeks.

Among the study population, 10 patients were considered to be responders, with 2 complete responses and 8 partial responses. Six of these patients had confirmed responses, with three unconfirmed ongoing responses.

Treatment-emergent adverse events were noted in 16 patients (59%), with 6 grade 3 adverse events. An additional 11 patients had treatment-related adverse events, with 3 grade 3 or higher events. Common adverse events were asthenia and pruritus, with three patients experiencing each of these symptoms. Two patients developed hypothyroidism, which was determined to be immune-related. Treatment was discontinued in two patients due to adverse events including radiculopathy and polyarthritis. No patient in the study has died.

Disclosure: For a full list of authors’ disclosures, visit

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