Pembrolizumab for the first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Platinum-based chemotherapy had long played a role as standard therapy for the first-line treatment of advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab, a monoclonal antibody that prevents programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) receptor, have brought a paradigm shift in this field. Areas covered: In this article, we review the relevant literatures and ongoing trials on the first-line treatment of pembrolizumab. Especially, in two pivotal phase III trials, KEYNOTE-024 and −189, both pembrolizumab monotherapy and combined pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy significantly prolonged overall survival (OS) compared to the existing platinum-based chemotherapy. Currently, multiple trials with combination therapy of pembrolizumab and other agents have been conducted, and further evidences are expected to be created. Expert opinion: Immune checkpoint inhibitors that block the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway are essential drugs for advanced or recurrent NSCLC, among which pembrolizumab becomes one of the standards of care in the first-line of NSCLC. For further improvement in efficacy of pembrolizumab, it is necessary to clarify the identification of biomarkers exclusive to PD-L1 expression, predictive factors for patients who benefit most from the agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1021
Number of pages7
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 3 2018


  • PD-L1
  • Pembrolizumab
  • checkpoint inhibitors
  • first-line
  • non-small cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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