Merck has announced its initiation of phase 3 trials for its cancer treatment drug Keytruda. Unlike most cancer treatments, Keytruda does not involve chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Keytruda works along with your immune system to help fight cancer in a treatment method called immunotherapy. Cancer cells are able to mutate and essentially “hide” from your immune system. These mutations prevent destruction of the cell termination signals and lead to tumor growth. Keytruda helps to expose cancer cells to the immune system by blocking the PD-1 protein on cancer cells so that T cells in our immune system are able to attack them.
Keytruda has shown success in treating both skin and lung cancer and it is Merck’s second highest selling pharmaceutical drug. It is still relatively experimental, however, as it is mostly prescribed for patients that are terminally ill to extend their lives by just a few months at most.
Merck has shown a very large drop off in its recent annual report. The company’s net income has dropped drastically in the past two years as it went from pulling in $12 billion in 2014 to just over $2 billion in 2017. These numbers may not seem promising, however this could be the perfect time to invest in the powerhouse pharmaceutical company. Immunotherapy is showing huge potential in the medical field as it is being combined with the use of radiation or other chemotherapy to give cancer patients higher quality lives. Merck is currently in phase 3 development to advance Keytruda by broadening the types of cancers that it can treat, thus, giving the drug a much higher profit potential. It will help treat lymphoma, bladder, and prostate cancer, which are among the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer.