Md. center begins HNSCC immunotherapy trial

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center is currently recruiting patients for a new clinical trial testing a novel treatment for patients with localized, inoperable recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

In the trial, subjects will receive radiation therapy along with MK-3475, a member of a promising new class of cancer drugs that work by activating the patient's own immune system against the tumor.

"MK-3475 has shown promise for treating head and neck cancers in clinical trials, and it's our hope that it will prove to be even more effective against this type of cancer when given in combination with radiation," Dan Zandberg, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and lead researcher of the trial, said in a statement.

Forty-eight patients will receive radiation twice daily for five weeks, with MK-3475 given intravenously every three weeks, starting on the first day of radiation. Following the completion of radiation, the drug will be continued for another three months, at which time the patients will be checked for tumor response.

The center is currently the only site of the trial, which will be the first to use MK-3475 in combination with radiation therapy to treat any form of cancer.

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