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Natural killer/ T-cell lymphoma (NKTL) patients failing L-asparaginase regimens have extremely poor treatment outcomes. Previous case series showed promising activity when relapsed or refractory NKTL patients were treated with anti-programmed death 1 (PD1) inhibitors. Here, we continue to unravel the molecular profiles with whole-genome sequencing (WGS) on an extended cohort of 11 pembrolizumab-treated patients (median age at diagnosis, 42 years; range, 27-66 years) with a median follow-up of 11 months (range, 2 - 25 months) since starting anti-PD1 therapy. Seven patients achieved complete response (CR) and four patients had progressive disease (PD). Using WGS, we found structural rearrangements of the PD-L1 gene, JAK3-activating mutations and ARID1B homozygous insertion in four, two and one of the CR patient's tumors, respectively. Interesting, these alterations, especially PD-L1 rearrangements, were absent in the four PD cases. Expression of PD1 ligand (PD-L1) was strong in nine patients (5 CR and 4 PD cases) and weak in two patients (both CR). PD1 blockade with pembrolizumab was a potent strategy for NKTL patients and genomic screening could potentially accompany PD-L1 immunohistochemical screening to better select patients for anti-PD1 therapy.

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