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Keytruda

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Brand name: Keytruda

Chemical name: Pembrolizumab

Class: PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor

How it works: PD-1 is a checkpoint protein on T cells, immune system cells that attack foreign invaders in the body. PD-L1 is another checkpoint protein found on many healthy cells in the body. When PD-1 binds to PD-L1, it stops T cells from killing a cell. Some cancer cells have a lot of PD-L1 on their surface, which stops T cells from killing these cancer cells. These cancers are called PD-L1-positive. An immune checkpoint inhibitor medicine such as Keytruda that stops PD-1 from binding to PD-L1 allows T cells to attack the cancer cells.

Uses: Keytruda is used:

  • in combination with chemotherapy to treat unresectable locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative, PD-L1-positive breast cancer
  • in combination with chemotherapy before surgery, and then on its own after surgery to treat early-stage triple-negative breast cancer with a high risk of recurrence (the cancer coming back)

Keytruda also may be used to treat:

  • metastatic or unresectable breast cancers that have a biomarker called microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) that have grown after previous treatment; MSI-H and dMMR tumors have abnormalities that affect how DNA is repaired
  • metastatic or unresectable breast cancers with tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) that have grown after previous treatment; TMB-H means the cancer tumor has a high level of mutations in its DNA

How it’s given: Keytruda is given as an infusion before chemotherapy.

Side effects:

Read more about Keytruda.


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