Last updated on June 2019

Pembrolizumab in Treating Patients With HIV and Relapsed Refractory or Disseminated Malignant Neoplasms

Brief description of study

This phase I trial studies the side effects of pembrolizumab in treating patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and malignant neoplasms that have come back (relapsed), do not respond to treatment (refractory), or have distributed over a large area in the body (disseminated). Monoclonal antibodies, such as pembrolizumab, may block tumor or cancer growth in different ways by targeting certain cells. It may also help the immune system kill cancer cells.

Detailed Study Description


I. To assess the safety and tolerability of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) in HIV-infected patients on effective antiretroviral therapy and with relapsed/refractory or disseminated acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-defining or non-AIDS defining malignancy.

II. To assess the safety and feasibility of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) administration as first systemic therapy for HIV associated Kaposi sarcoma in patients on effective antiretroviral therapy.


I. To obtain preliminary insights into clinical benefit (e.g., tumor shrinkage or stabilization >= 24 weeks) across a variety of tumors in patients infected with HIV and on effective antiretroviral therapy.

II. To evaluate the response rate in treatment naive patients with Kaposi sarcoma impacting physical and/or psychological wellbeing and not amenable to local therapy.


I. To assess the correlation of pre-therapy tumor programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression and T-cell infiltration on clinical benefit.

II. To assess the effect of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) on circulating HIV and the HIV viral reservoir in patients on effective combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART), as measured by plasma HIV single copy ribonucleic acid (RNA), cluster of differentiation (CD)4+ T-cell associated HIV unspliced RNA, CD4+ T-cell associated integrated HIV deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) provirus, ratio of HIV unspliced RNA/DNA, "Tat/Rev induced limiting dilution assay" (TILDA), and phylogenetic analysis of HIV-1 molecular evolution.

III. To evaluate the effect of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) on host gene expression in circulating blood cells.

IV. To evaluate the effect of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) on circulating HIV-specific CD8+ T-cell cytotoxicity against autologous HIV infected CD4+ T-cells in patients on effective antiretroviral therapy.

V. To evaluate the effect of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) on circulating lymphocyte and monocyte numbers and phenotypes.

VI. To assess by biopsied tumors from participants that progress by immunohistochemistry arrays and gene expression analysis to evaluate potential reasons for the lack of response to MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) or progression such as a lack of T cells within or around tumor.

VII. To evaluate the effect of pembrolizumab on KSHV viral load in the blood, KSHV seroreactivity and KSHV specific CD8+ T-cell activity.


Patients receive pembrolizumab intravenously (IV) over 30 minutes on day 1. Patients continue receiving their recommended combination antiretroviral therapy orally daily. Courses repeat every 21 days for up to 2 years in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

After completion of study treatment, patients are followed up 30 days and then every 12 weeks.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02595866

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