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Immunotherapy in Merkel cell carcinoma: role of Avelumab

Authors Palla AR, Doll D

Received 9 December 2017

Accepted for publication 17 January 2018

Published 2 March 2018 Volume 2018:7 Pages 15—19

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/ITT.S135639

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Michael Shurin


Amruth R Palla, Donald Doll

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

Abstract: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare skin cancer, is associated with high mortality, especially in a metastatic setting. Though conventional chemotherapy with platinum and etoposide has had high response rates, many of the patients have had early relapse without any effective therapy thereafter. Recently, immune check point inhibitors have shown very good durable responses, leading to the approval of a programmed death-ligand 1 inhibitor Avelumab for these patients. We briefly review the epidemiology and immune basis of the pathogenesis of MCC, which therefore explains the excellent response to check point inhibitors, and throw light on future directions of immunotherapy for this cancer.

Keywords: Merkel cell carcinoma, T cell, PD-L1, Avelumab, immunotherapy, check point inhibitors, neuroendocrine tumor

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