Immunotherapy an option for patients with recurrent pleural mesothelioma

14 May 2018 by under Research/Treatment

Diagram showing a build up of fluid in the lining of the lungs pleural effusion CRUK 0541 100x100 Immunotherapy an option for patients with recurrent pleural mesotheliomaA French study has found that immunotherapy may be effective in treating people with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) that has recurred after standard chemotherapy. The treatment involved the use of two immunotherapy treatment plans – nivolumab (Opdivo) or a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab (Yervoy).

MPM is a rare but deadly type of cancer that affects the lining surrounding the lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that has been used in building and industrial materials. Treatment options for MPM have had limited effect on the disease. Chemotherapy is a standard treatment, but MPM often recurs.

Immunotherapy uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases like cancer. The two types used in this study are known as immune checkpoint inhibitors.

All participants in the study had recurrent MPM after having received one or two previous treatments of chemotherapy. Each was randomly assigned to a group receiving either nivolumab alone or in combination with ipilimumab. After 12 weeks of treatment, in 44 percent of the patients who were treated with nivolumab and 50 percent of patients who received the combination therapies niovolumab and ipilimumab did not have a worsening of their cancer. Comparatively, other treatments for MPM only stop disease worsening in less than 30 percent of patients. Furthermore, nivolumab shrank tumors in 17 percent of patients and the combination of drugs shrank tumors in 26 percent of patients.

After the 10-month study, data showed that the median time it took for the cancer to worsen was 4 months for people treated with nivolumab and 5.6 months for those treated with nivolumab and ipilimumab.

Lifespan of patients with MPM is about 12 to 24 months. Researchers say that immunotherapy may give patients with this deadly and hard-to-treat disease new options after recurrence.


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