Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has few treatment options. Pembrolizumab showed preliminary clinical benefit in programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1)-positive MPM. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of pembrolizumab monotherapy in patients with previously treated MPM irrespective of PD-L1 status in the KEYNOTE-158 study.
The ongoing open-label, multicohort, single-arm, phase 2 KEYNOTE-158 study enrolled eligible adults (≥18 years) with MPM who had progression on or intolerance to standard therapy, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0-1, and biomarker-evaluable tumour samples. Individuals were enrolled from 35 academic facilities and community-based institutions across 14 countries in Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia. Participants received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously every 3 weeks for up to 35 cycles. The primary efficacy endpoint was objective response per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) version 1.1, based on radiological imaging every 9 weeks for the first year of the study and every 12 weeks thereafter and assessed by independent central review. Efficacy and safety were analysed in all patients who received at least one dose of pembrolizumab. This trial is registered with, NCT02628067.
Patients were enrolled in the MPM cohort between Feb 9, 2016, and Aug 16, 2016. As of June 27, 2019, 118 patients had been enrolled and received at least one dose of pembrolizumab. Ten (8% [95% CI 4-15]) patients had an objective response. Median duration of objective response was 14·3 months (range 4·0 to 33·9+), and 60% of objective responses were ongoing at 12 months. Objective responses were observed in six (8%) of 77 patients with PD-L1-positive MPM (median response duration 17·7 months [range 5·8 to 33·9+]) and four (13%) of 31 patients with PD-L1-negative MPM (10·2 months [4·0-16·6]). Median overall survival was 10·0 months (95% CI 7·6-13·4) and median progression-free survival was 2·1 months (2·1-3·9). Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 82 (69%) of 118 patients and serious adverse events that were considered to be treatment-related occurred in 14 (12%) of 118 patients. 19 (16%) patients had grade 3-4 treatment-related events, and most common of these were colitis (three patients), hyponatraemia (three), and pneumonitis (two). One patient died from treatment-related apnoea. By the end of the trial, 113 (96%) patients had discontinued pembrolizumab and progressive disease was the most common reason for discontinuation.
Pembrolizumab showed durable antitumour activity and manageable toxicity in patients with advanced MPM, regardless of PD-L1 status. Our data support the programmed death 1 (PD-1) and PD-L1 pathway as a potential therapeutic target in some patients with previously treated mesothelioma but biomarkers that can effectively identify such patients are yet to be elucidated.
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, a subsidiary of Merck & Co, Inc, Kenilworth, NJ, USA.

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