Efficacy and safety of first-line avelumab treatment in patients with stage IV metastatic merkel cell carcinoma a preplanned interim analysis of a clinical trial

Sandra P. D'Angelo*, Jeffery Russell, Céleste Lebbé, Bartosz Chmielowski, Thilo Gambichler, Jean Jacques Grob, Felix Kiecker, Guilherme Rabinowits, Patrick Terheyden, Isabella Zwiener, Marcis Bajars, Meliessa Hennessy, Howard L. Kaufman

*Corresponding author for this work
35 Citations (Scopus)


IMPORTANCE Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive skin cancer that is associated with poor survival outcomes in patients with distant metastatic disease. Results of part A of the JAVELIN Merkel 200 trial (avelumab in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma) showed that avelumab, an anti-programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) antibody, demonstrated efficacy in second-line or later treatment of patients with metastatic MCC (mMCC). OBJECTIVE To evaluate the efficacy and safety of avelumab as first-line treatment for patients with distant mMCC. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS JAVELIN Merkel 200 part B is an international, multicenter, single-Arm, open-label clinical trial of first-line avelumab monotherapy. Eligible patients were adults with mMCC who had not received prior systemic treatment for metastatic disease. Patients were not selected for PD-L1 expression or Merkel cell polyomavirus status. Data were collected from April 15, 2016, to March 24, 2017, and enrollment is ongoing. INTERVENTIONS Patients received avelumab, 10mg/kg, by 1-hour intravenous infusion every 2 weeks until confirmed disease progression, unacceptable toxic effects, or withdrawal occurred. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Tumor statuswas assessed every 6weeks and evaluated by independent review committee per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors version 1.1. The primary end point was durable response, defined as an objective response with a duration of at least 6 months. Secondary end points include best overall response, duration of response, progression-free survival, safety, and tolerability. RESULTS As of March 24, 2017, 39 patients were enrolled (30 men and 9 women; median age, 75 years [range, 47-88 years]), with a median follow-up of 5.1 months (range, 0.3-11.3 months). In a preplanned analysis, efficacy was assessed in 29 patients with at least 3 months of follow-up; the confirmed objective response rate was 62.1% (95%CI, 42.3%-79.3%), with 14 of 18 responses (77.8%) ongoing at the time of analysis. In responding patients, the estimated proportion with duration of response of at least 3 months was 93%(95%CI, 61%-99%); duration of response of at least 6 months, 83%(95%CI, 46%-96%). First-line avelumab treatment was generally well tolerated, and no treatment-related deaths or grade 4 adverse events occurred. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE High rates of response to first-line avelumab therapy in patients with distant mMCC build on previously reported antitumor activity after second-line or later treatment, and maturing progression-free survival data suggest that responses are durable. These data further support avelumab's approval in the United States and European Union and use as a standard-of-care treatment for mMCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere180077
JournalJAMA Oncology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2018

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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