Promising news regarding new treatment for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma emerges with the release of two immunotherapy drugs, Keytruda and Opdivo. Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is a product of Merck & Co. and Opdivo (nivolumab) is created by Bristol-Myers Squibb. These drugs have recently been approved by the FDA to be used in fighting non-small cell lung cancer. Both Keytruda and Opdivo target PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins (specific proteins that prevent the body’s immune system from attacking cancer cells). These same proteins are found in mesothelioma patients with the shortest survival times, meaning for them, hope for a fighting chance at survival and recovery.
In a research study lasting from 2002-2014, the PD-L1 protein in tissue samples of 20% of 119 malignant mesothelioma patients were studied. Those with the highest levels of the PD-L1 protein had the shortest survival time, averaging only 4.79 months. Those patients who were not found to have the PD-L1 protein had an average survival time of 16.3 months. These findings were presented this past September at the European Society of Medical Oncology by Dr. Susana Cedres of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology. The findings indicate that possible new treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.
The PD-1 protein, which works alongside the PD-L1 protein, has been pursued by researchers in attempts to ultimately slow down the progression of cancer. The two proteins together work as immune system suppressants, stopping the body from fighting off the cancer, which is why mesothelioma researchers believe that these drugs that target these proteins will allow the immune system to effectively fight back and raise their chances of survival.
Immunotherapy drugs are a growing trend in cancer therapy for many different types of cancer. In September, the FDA granted accelerated approval for pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for untreatable or advanced melanoma. Pembrolizumab is also being used in lung cancer clinical trials and is proving to be effective, significantly improving the patient’s overall survival time. This is reflective of the success of other various anti-PD-L1 drugs currently being tested, as they are all producing similar results of life extension in various types of cancer patients.
Until recently, PD-L1 had never been associated with mesothelioma. In fact, the immunotherapy treatment model was largely unknown until recently, with emphasis on pursuing and improving existing cancer treatment models like radiation and chemotherapy. However, the side effects of drugs like pembrolizumab are minimal by comparison of other existing treatment models. There is no toxic intake that can cause adverse reactions, as the cancer defense becomes the body’s own defense system restored. These discoveries of immunotherapy effectiveness and benefits are too significant to ignore. With the release of Keytruda and Opdivo and the rapidly growing research on other immunotherapy medications and the success rates to back them up, it is expected that we will continue to see these positive changes in cancer treatment approaches further explored and implemented for the beneficence of cancer patients everywhere.
If you or your family has been affected by mesothelioma, you need an experienced mesothelioma lawyer on your side. Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler are experienced with these types of cases and can work to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Our team will fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled so that you may pursue the best medical treatment you deserve. Call us at 800-369-0899 or submit an online inquiry to schedule a free case review.