There have been many different advances in medicine benefitting mesothelioma patients, and over the course of 2019, different clinical trials have shown that there is still hope for them.
One of the clinical trials in 2019 studied Nivolumab, also called Opdivo, as a first- and second-line treatment for mesothelioma. The trial used nivolumab with an adenovirus called MTG201. This treatment was used for patients who already underwent chemotherapy. The test is still being run and was started in September 2019. Another nivolumab trial occurred in November 2019 which focused on nivolumab and chemotherapy being used together before surgery. The treatment can be used intravenously before surgery to allow the immune system to find and target cancer cells more easily. Before undergoing a pleurectomy and decortication, patients go through two treatments of nivolumab and chemotherapy.
Another treatment is CAR-T Cell therapy alongside PD-1 immunotherapy. When patients undergo this treatment, their white blood cells called T Cells are removed and modified, allowing them to fight cancer cells more easily. PD-1 inhibitors then block signals within mesothelioma cells to make them easier to treat. Early clinical trials paired this treatment with chemotherapy. Each treatment was given in a sequence. First the chemotherapy was given, then the CAR-T Cell therapy, then the PD-1 immunotherapy was administered. Of the 14 people being studied, five had partial responses to the treatment while four people remained stable, meaning the cancer did not become worse. The treatment has promising results and as more patients undergo the treatment, we will see how well it works.
Tumor Treating Fields are another treatment for mesothelioma, but unlike the other treatments, this has been approved by the FDA. Electrical fields created by a machine are administered to the patient’s body. It is the first treatment to be fully approved for mesothelioma by the FDA in 10 years. When Tumor Treating Fields were studied, patients lived on average six more months compared to mesothelioma patients undergoing just chemotherapy. The fields could potentially be used with other treatments but will need to be tested further to find out different combination’s effectiveness. Tumor Treating Fields are also not invasive, making their use possible for late stage cancer patients.
These are not the end of clinical trials and treatments for mesothelioma. Doctors will continue to find ways to lengthen and improve mesothelioma sufferers’ lives.