Immunotherapy has recently become a hot topic in mesothelioma research. Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to treat, as it is resistant to many common cancer therapies. Advancements in immunotherapy are showing positive results in clinical trials, and a recent study published in The Lancet Oncology shows the effectiveness of immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, marketed under the name Keytruda. This is good news for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients, who currently have few treatment options.
Researchers tested Keytruda, which is owned by Merck & Co., in an ongoing clinical trial involving patients with a variety of advanced malignant cancers, including 25 patients suffering from pleural mesothelioma. Patients were over the age of 18 and had either received chemotherapy or were not eligible for it. The results were promising. Patients tolerated the drug well, experiencing only some minor side effects, and evidence showed that pembrolizumab could be helpful in the long-term management of mesothelioma. There were 13 research sites representing six countries involved in the study, including the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Patients began receiving biweekly treatments of pembrolizumab two years ago. Of the 25 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, 14 saw a reduction in tumor size. Patients experienced an average of six months without disease progression. While the typical life expectancy for mesothelioma patients who undergo second-line treatment is six to seven months, study participants saw an average survival rate of 18 months.
Checkpoint Inhibitors May Be Key to Beating Mesothelioma
Pembrolizumab is a checkpoint inhibitor drug, which negates the effects of the PD-L1 protein in cancer cells. PD-L1 binds to the protein PD-1 in T cells, preventing the immune system from functioning normally and allowing cancerous cells to proliferate unchecked. Adding a checkpoint inhibitor to a cancer treatment plan can help the body’s own defenses eradicate the disease. Studies show that checkpoint inhibitors are succeeding wherein other drugs have failed in treating other forms of cancer, and researchers are hopeful about their use in combating mesothelioma.
The research team is considering pembrolizumab as a strong contender for second-line treatment of mesothelioma. First-line treatment plans typically include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While these methods may be effective in short-term management of mesothelioma, experts agree that they are not a solution for long-term control of the disease. There are no approved second-line treatments for mesothelioma; pembrolizumab is still being tested in a number of ongoing trials, but it may be the advancement that researchers have been looking for.
Approximately 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer effecting the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen and chest cavity. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which can get lodged in the pleura that lines the chest wall and damage surrounding cells. There is no cure for mesothelioma, and patients typically have a short life expectancy once diagnosed.
South Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Fight for Rights of Asbestos Exposure Victims
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos–related disease, our asbestos lawyers in South Jersey at Shein Law are here to help. Our knowledgeable, dedicated lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault for your asbestos exposure and fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, we represent mesothelioma patients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) or contact us online to discuss your case with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.