From the blog

Nivolumab to Help Treat Mesothelioma

Published: April 8, 2020

A new study found that the PD-L1 inhibitor nivolumab is effective in mesothelioma. It was tested on patients and showed that it could be a safe and effective treatment for those whose first line treatments have failed.

Nivolumab is an immunotherapy drug that helps the immune system fight cancer cells. This specific drug, which is usually used in non-small cell lung cancer patients, blocks the protein PD-L1. A study of the drug in Japan has proven that it can help pleural mesothelioma sufferers live longer with manageable symptoms. This can help those who have tried other treatments that have failed live longer lives.

Typically, patients undergo pemetrexed and cisplatin chemotherapy as a first line treatment for mesothelioma, but this treatment can stop working after a certain amount of time. The new tested treatment could help those who are not responding to the treatment at first or who stop responding to the treatment. There is no approved second treatment for mesothelioma so there is no approved way to help those suffering from mesothelioma if other treatments fail. This study could help find a new treatment for those suffering from mesothelioma who do not have anywhere else to turn.

It is useful to block PD-L1 because it helps mesothelioma cells grow. It does this by making it hard for the immune system to detect the rogue cells and kill them. The immunotherapy lets the immune system see the cancerous cells which are then attacked. Sixty percent of patients tested with mesothelioma had higher levels of the PD-L1 protein. Almost thirty percent of the patients responded to the treatment, while 40 percent of the patients who had higher levels of the protein responded to the PD-L1 blocking treatment. Only 8.3 percent of the patients with normal PD-L1 levels responded well to the treatment. Nivolumab has shown to be a safe and effective treatment for second and third line mesothelioma patients. For those who tested positive for PD-L1, the treatment seemed to be more effective. There is another PD-L1 treatment study being done in the United Kingdom. It is a double blind placebo controlled phase three trial. If found to be successful, it can possibly be used to treat patients in the future.

Morihito Okada et al., Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Nivolumab: Results of a Multicenter, Open-label, Single-arm, Japanese Phase II study in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MERIT)) Clinical Cancer Research 2019 September [Link]
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