A phase 1 trial of the MEK inhibitor selumetinib in combination with pembrolizumab for advanced or metastatic solid tumors

Maxime Chénard-Poirier, Aaron R. Hansen, Martin E. Gutierrez, Drew Rasco, Yan Xing, Lin Chi Chen, Heng Zhou, Andrea L. Webber, Tomoko Freshwater, Manish R. Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MEK inhibitors have immunomodulatory activity and potential for synergistic activity when combined with PD-1 inhibitors. We evaluated selumetinib (inhibitor of MEK1/2) plus pembrolizumab (anti‒PD-1 antibody) in patients with advanced/metastatic solid tumors. In this phase 1b study, adults with previously treated advanced/metastatic solid tumors received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously every 3 weeks plus selumetinib on days 1‒14 per 3-week cycle (2 weeks on/1 week off); selumetinib dosing began at 50 mg orally twice daily with escalation in 25 mg increments for ≤ 35 cycles. Primary endpoints were dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs), adverse events (AEs), and treatment discontinuations due to AEs. Thirty-two patients were enrolled. Dose escalation was completed up to selumetinib 125 mg twice daily. The target DLT rate of 30% was not reached at any dose level. In the selumetinib 100 mg group, 2/11 patients (18.2%) experienced DLTs (n = 1 grade 3 diarrhea, n = 1 grade 3 fatigue). In the selumetinib 125 mg group, 3/14 (21.4%) experienced DLTs (n = 1 grade 2 retinal detachment, n = 1 grade 3 retinopathy, n = 1 grade 3 stomatitis). Dose-related changes in pharmacokinetic exposures were observed for selumetinib and N-desmethyl selumetinib up to 100 mg (saturation at 125 mg). Two patients achieved partial responses (1 each with selumetinib 75 mg and 125 mg) for an objective response rate of 6%. The study was stopped early because of insufficient efficacy. Although the target DLT rate was not reached at any dose level and no new safety signals were identified, selumetinib plus pembrolizumab had limited antitumor activity in this population. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03833427.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Clinical trial
  • MEK
  • Pembrolizumab
  • Selumetinib
  • Solid tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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