From the blog

Opdivo and Yervoy Work Together to Treat Pleural Mesothelioma

Published: May 8, 2020

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with very few treatment options. Patients have a low survival rate, but there is hope with clinical trials. If a clinical trial is found to be effective, patients could live longer and could eventually be cured.

Opdivo and Yervoy are two immunotherapy drugs that are showing success when combined as a first line treatment for mesothelioma. The drug company Bristol Myers Squibb found that patients with pleural mesothelioma lived longer when taking the drug combination compared to patients taking standard chemotherapy treatments. This could mean that more patients who are untreated have a chance to receive treatment that can extend their lives.

Opdivo and Yervoy are continually being tested for their effectiveness with chemotherapy. Opdivo is given to patients every two weeks while Yervoy is given every six weeks for a total of four times. The treatment lasts for a maximum of two years but is stopped earlier if unacceptable toxicity is found or it is not effective. The clinical trial will exist until April 2021 and will be used to test survival, response rate, disease control rate, and progression-free survival. A similar combination of drugs was tested as a second line treatment and was found to help patients. The disease control rate was 50 percent and a progression free survival ended up being 6.2 months. A different study had better results including an overall survival of 15.9 months and progression free survival of 5.6 months.

Opdivo and Yervoy can help extend patient’s lives. The drugs help the immune system fight cancer by targeting surface proteins. Once the proteins are targeted, the immune system can effectively find and kill the cancer cells in the body. The drugs work effectively as single treatments, so when they are combined they work more effectively to kill cancer. The combination was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat metastatic melanoma in 2015 and are being tested as a combination to treat renal cell carcinoma, metastatic colorectal cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Disselhorst, MJ, “Ipilimumab and nivolumab in the treatment of recurrent malignant pleural mesothelioma (INITIATE): results of a prospective, single-arm, phase 2 trial.” The Lancet (January 16, 2019). [Link]
“Study of Nivolumab Combined With Ipilimumab Versus Pemetrexed and Cisplatin or Carboplatin as First Line Therapy in Unresectable Pleural Mesothelioma Patients (CheckMate743)” Clinical Trials (September 14, 2020). [Link]
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