Immunotherapy Treatment Shows Encouraging Signs with Mesothelioma

July 28, 2018
Immunotherapy Treatment

Mesothelioma patients may finally have something to cheer for. In clinical trials, the disease, which is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, showed promising signs when combated with certain immunotherapy treatments. The study was conducted by the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Madrid, Spain and the results were released in September 2017.

Nivolumab by itself or in conjunction with ipilimumab controlled the effects of relapsing malignant pleural mesothelioma in certain patients. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of the disease and occurs in the lining (pleura) of the lungs.

Controlling the Disease

While the new immunotherapy treatment doesn’t provide an outright cure for pleural mesothelioma, it still manages to control the disease better than similar treatment options. It can also be used as a second- or third-line therapy for pleural mesothelioma according to the head of thoracic oncology at Paris’ Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Dr. Gerard Zalcman.

The goal of the study was to find out if nivolumab (either by itself or with ipilimumab) could enhance disease control over a period of 12 weeks. The study concluded that it was a viable option for those with relapsing malignant pleural mesothelioma.

More Choices for Patients

For patients who are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, the treatment options are generally limited. Most undergo first-line therapies like pemetrexed, platinum chemotherapy, and/or bevacizumab (Avastin). Unfortunately, these options have mixed results and often lead to a relapse of the disease.

If the disease progresses after the first-line therapy, then second- or third-line therapies are usually not recommended because they are often ineffective. In fact, the standard disease control rate for most second- or third-line treatments is only 30%. The combination therapy (nivolumab and ipilimumab) revealed a disease control rate of 50% and a longer amount of survival in most patients.

Because of this marked improvement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted orphan drug status to the combination therapy for use as a second- or third-line therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Fighting the Good Fight

The goal of all of this is to help extend lives and improve the overall quality of life of mesothelioma patients.
Medical researchers are unlocking new treatment options each day, and it may only be a matter of time before a 100% effective option is unveiled. Many mesothelioma patients, however, simply do not have the time to wait for medical advancements.

While it is unfortunate, it should at least be uplifting to some that progress is being made, even if it’s incremental. A mesothelioma diagnosis is a harrowing time for any individual and their family and friends. It’s a disease that has taken the lives of around 45,000 people in the U.S. since 1999.

Because the most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, there is a chance for some to enact justice against corporations who caused them to suffer. While it may not extend a loved one’s life, a mesothelioma lawsuit can provide peace and fairness to the affected family. If you have been affected by a mesothelioma diagnosis in any way, consider contacting a lawyer today.