A closeup photo of a microscope with various focusing lenses.

A New Phase 3 Clinical Trial for Colorectal Cancer

  • A portrait shot of Michael Hall, MD, MS, smiling at the camera.
    A portrait shot of Michael Hall, MD, MS, smiling at the camera.

    As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center offers our patients the most advanced treatment options through clinical trials, many of which are not readily available elsewhere.

    Here we highlight a phase 3 clinical trial for MSI-H or dMMR Colorectal Cancer that is led by Michael Hall, MD, MS, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase who specializes in Gastrointestinal Cancers and Cancer Genetics. The study is sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

    The trial uses pembrolizumab, which is an investigational immunotherapy that targets a protein called PD-1 found on some cells of the immune system. Pembrolizumab blocks the interaction of PD-1 with another protein called PD-L1, sometimes found on tumor cells. Blocking this interaction may help your immune system recognize tumors and attack them. The purpose of the clinical trial is to find out if pembrolizumab can improve your disease and increase progression free survival better than the standard chemotherapy doctors usually give for this disease. Doctors also look to see if there are markers or special characteristics in the cancer tissue and blood that go along with response to treatment and survival.

    About 270 patients over the age of 18 years with colorectal cancer will participate in this study. Patients must have stage IV Microsatellite Instability-High (MSI-H) or Mismatch Repair Deficient (dMMR) colorectal carcinoma that can be measured on a CT scan. Patients must have a disease that can be measured on a CT scan, and have adequate organ function demonstrated through blood results to be eligible for this study. Patients must have completed any adjuvant chemotherapy for their cancer 6 months prior, and any radiation therapy 4 weeks prior, to participating. Patients who have received prior systemic therapy for their stage IV disease or an immune checkpoint inhibitor may not participate.

    Learn more about additional eligibility requirements as well as other clinical trials offered at Fox Chase.