From the blog

Cholesterol Drugs Called Statins Could Help Extend Mesothelioma Sufferers’ Lives

Published: December 18, 2020

A group of drugs called statins used for controlling cholesterol are showing that they can help mesothelioma patients taking PD-1 inhibitors survive longer. Researchers in Italy and the Netherlands found this information in an international study of 250 patients. The patients studied either had pleural mesothelioma or non-small cell lung cancer. The researchers found that the patients receiving PD-1 blocker immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda lived longer and their disease did not progress as much.

Cholesterol is needed to build healthy cells, but most people have too much, leading to fatty deposits in arteries that can cause heart disease and strokes. The cholesterol drugs called statins bring cholesterol levels down into a normal range, lowering the risk of heart disease and other problems caused by high cholesterol. Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in adults, so it is very likely that patients with pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer are taking these drugs. The study wanted to see if the cholesterol drugs have an impact on patients receiving cancer treatment.

Mesothelioma is a tough cancer to treat because it resists many different standard cancer treatments including chemotherapy. Many patients start their treatment journey with chemotherapy, but many go to different treatments because the chemotherapy does not do anything. PD-1 blockers like Keytruda are showing promising results when treating pleural mesothelioma, so many studies and treatments are utilizing it to find the best treatment regimen for patients. PD-1 is a protein in cancer cells that protects them from immune system cells, preventing them from being killed. The new study looked at the medical records of 252 cancer patients on PD-1 blockers. The patients were in two groups: pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer, with 82 having pleural mesothelioma and 179 having lung cancer. Cholesterol drugs were taken by some of the patients but not all of them.

The study found that the statin and PD-1 blocker combination was very powerful. When combined, it took tumors more than twice the amount of time to start growing again (6.7 month vs 2.4 months) in mesothelioma patients. The patients lived five months longer compared to the patients not taking statins. The correlation between statin use and longer survival and better progression free survival was confirmed by multivariable analysis. The patients taking the highest levels of cholesterol drugs responded the best to treatment. Researchers concluded that the statins give a better clinical outcome in malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer patients who also took PD-1 blockers. Patients just taking chemotherapy and statins did not see any benefit in survival.

Luca Cantini et al., “High-intensity statins are associated with improved clinical activity of PD-1 inhibitors in malignant pleural mesothelioma and advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients” European Journal of Research (February 1, 2021). [Link]
Contact Us
Have you received a diagnosis? *