FDA approves first treatment for advanced form of the second most common skin cancer

FDAThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of patients with metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) or locally advanced CSCC who are not candidates for curative surgery or curative radiation. This is the first FDA approval of a drug specifically for advanced CSCC.

Libtayo works by targeting the cellular pathway known as PD-1 (protein found on the body’s immune cells and some cancer cells). By blocking this pathway, the drug may help the body's immune system fight the cancer cells.

"We're continuing to see a shift in oncology toward identifying and developing drugs aimed at a specific molecular target. With the Libtayo approval, the FDA has approved six immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting the the PD-1 / PD-L1 pathway for treating a variety of tumors, from bladder to head and neck cancer, and now advanced CSCC," said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This type of cancer can be difficult to treat effectively when it is advanced and it is important that we continue to bring new treatment options to patients."

CSCC is the second most common human cancer in the United States with an estimated annual incidence of approximately 700,000 cases. The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell cancer. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales and are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin. CSCC usually develops in skin areas that have been regularly exposed to the sun or other forms of ultraviolet radiation. While the majority of patients with CSCC are cured with surgical resection, a small percentage of patients will develop advanced disease that no longer responds to local treatments including surgery and radiation. Advanced CSCC may cause disfigurement at the site of the tumor and local complications such as bleeding or infection, or it may spread (metastasize) to local lymph nodes, distant tissues and organs and become life-threatening.

The safety and efficacy of Libtayo was studied in two open label clinical trials. A total of 108 patients (75 with metastatic disease and 33 with locally-advanced disease) were included in the efficacy evaluation. The study's primary endpoint was objective response rate, or the percentage of patients who experienced partial shrinkage or complete disappearance of their tumor(s) after treatment. Results showed that 47.2 percent of all patients treated with Libtayo had their tumors shrink or disappear. The majority of these patients had ongoing responses at the time of data analysis.

Common side effects of Libtayo include fatigue, rash and diarrhea. Libtayo must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes uses of the drug and its serious warnings. Libtayo can cause the immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of the body and can affect the way they work. These reactions can sometimes become severe or life-threatening and can lead to death. These reactions include the risk of immune-mediated adverse reactions including lung problems (pneumonitis), intestinal problems (colitis), liver problems (hepatitis), hormone gland problems (endocrinopathies), skin (dermatologic) problems and kidney problems. Patients should also be monitored for infusion-related reactions.

Libtayo can cause harm to a developing fetus; women should be advised of the potential risk to the fetus and to use effective contraception.

The FDA granted this application Breakthrough Therapy and Priority Review designations.

The FDA granted the approval of Libtayo to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Most Popular Now

New target for COVID-19 vaccines identified

Next generation vaccines for COVID-19 should aim to induce an immune response against 'replication proteins', essential for the very earliest stages of the viral cycle, c...

Safety concerns raised for neuroblastoma candidate…

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists looking for drugs to improve survival of children with high-risk neuroblastoma found a promising candidate in CX-5461. Th...

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine named one o…

The editors of Time announced that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been selected as one of Time's Best Inventions of 2021. The vaccine, for which Johnson & ...

Pfizer's novel COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment c…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced its investigational novel COVID-19 oral antiviral candidate,PAXLOVID™, significantly reduced hospitalization and death, based on a...

Researchers reveal a strategy for next-generation …

A study led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has revealed a guide to developing COVID-19 vaccines that both prevent the coronavirus from infecting human cells ...

A commonly found parasite could treat certain type…

Scientists have discovered that a deadly parasite, known to cause ill health in pregnant women and immunocompromised patients, could potentially be used to treat various ...

'Dancing molecules' successfully repair severe spi…

Northwestern University researchers have developed a new injectable therapy that harnesses “dancing molecules” to reverse paralysis and repair tissue after severe spinal ...

A target for potential cancer drugs may, in fact, …

In recent years, much scientific effort and funding has focused on developing drugs that target an enzyme with the unwieldy name of Src homology 2-containing protein tyro...

Abbott launches new initiative to drive diversity …

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) today announced the launch of a new initiative designed to help create a more inclusive clinical trial ecosystem through new approaches to training, ed...

Needle-free COVID-19 vaccine shows promise

A needle-free COVID-19 vaccination could be possible, with University of Queensland scientists successfully protecting mice from the virus by administering a US-developed...

Cleveland Clinic launches first-of-its kind preven…

Cleveland Clinic researchers have opened a novel study for a vaccine aimed at eventually preventing triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive and lethal form of ...

Novartis to sell its Roche stake in a bilateral tr…

Novartis has agreed to sell 53.3 million (approximately 33%) Roche bearer shares in a bilateral transaction to Roche for a total consideration of USD 20.7 billion. Vas...