Phase 1 study of pembrolizumab (MK-3475; anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody) in Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors

Toshio Shimizu, Takashi Seto, Fumihiko Hirai, Mitsuhiro Takenoyama, Kaname Nosaki, Junji Tsurutani, Hiroyasu Kaneda, Tsutomu Iwasa, Hisato Kawakami, Kazuo Noguchi, Takashi Shimamoto, Kazuhiko Nakagawa

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Background This phase I study evaluated the safety and tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, immunogenicity, and antitumor activity of pembrolizumab in Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors. Methods Following an initial dose and a 28-day rest (cycle 1), pembrolizumab was administered as an intravenous infusion at escalating doses (2 or 10 mg/kg) every 2 weeks (Q2W) until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Adverse events (AEs) were assessed using CTCAE v4.0, and tumor response was assessed using both RECIST v1.1 and immune-related response criteria (irRC). Full pharmacokinetic sampling was performed during cycle 1. Results Three patients received pembrolizumab at 2.0 mg/kg and seven at 10 mg/kg. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed during cycle 1. Eighty percent of patients experienced drug-related AEs (mostly grade 1 or 2); the most common drug-related AEs were nausea, malaise, pyrexia, and aspartate aminotransferase/alanine transaminase (AST/ALT) elevations (n = 2 each). No drug-related grade 4 or 5 AEs occurred. Immune-related AEs comprised grade 3 ALT elevation (n = 1), grade 3 AST elevation (n = 1), grade 1 pneumonitis (n = 1), and grade 1 thyroid-stimulating hormone elevation (n = 1). The safety and pharmacokinetic profiles of Japanese patients were similar to those previously reported for Caucasian patients. A partial tumor response was observed in one patient with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in one patient with melanoma. Conclusions Pembrolizumab at both 2 and 10 mg/kg Q2W was well tolerated in Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors and showed encouraging anti-tumor activity against melanoma and NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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