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Expert Point of View: Charles Drake, MD, PhD


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Charles Drake, MD, PhD

Charles Drake, MD, PhD

“THIS TRIAL is a clear winner for the treatment of squamous non–small cell lung cancer [NSCLC],” stated formal discussant Charles Drake, MD, PhD, of Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York. 

“The concept underlying the combination of checkpoint inhibitor plus chemotherapy is that certain chemotherapies kill cells in a way that triggers the immune system—immunogenic cell death. In animal models, it turns out the type of chemotherapy and dose matter, but this is not clear in humans. Certain chemotherapies are immunogenic, such as oxaliplatin,” Dr. Drake continued. “It is too early to tell whether the combination is additive or triggering immunogenic cell death, which will lead to a long-term response. Human data are not consistent with animal data.” 

“The results of this trial are impressive. Median overall survival of 15.9 months for the immunotherapy combination vs 11.3 months for chemotherapy makes this a beautifully positive trial,” he shared. “Pembrolizumab plus this chemotherapy will become a standard of care for squamous NSCLC.” ■

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Drake has stock and other ownership interests in Compugen, ImmunExcite, NexImmune, Potenza Therapeutics, and Tizona Therapeutics; has a consulting or advisory role with Agenus, Astellus Medivation, AstraZeneca/Medimmune, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Compugen, Dendreon, ImmuneXcite, Janssen Oncology, Lilly, Merck, NexImmune, Pfizer, Pierre Fabre, Potenza Therapeutics, Roche/Genentech, and Tizona Therapeutics; has received institutional research funding from Aduro Biotech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Compugen, and Janssen Oncology; and has patent-licensing agreements with BMS and Potenza Therapeutics on behalf of his institution. 


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