2022 Mesothelioma Advances | More Immunotherapy Progress

Study patients receiving Opdivo+Yervoy reported quality of life improvements that included:

  • Improved symptoms: ICI patients tended to report improved mesothelioma symptoms. Chemotherapy patients mostly reported worsening symptoms.
  • Improved overall health: ICI patients reported improved health over time. Chemotherapy patients’ health either remained the same or worsened.
  • Longer sustained health: ICI patients had longer periods before a drop in health than chemotherapy patients.

Previous research already indicated the benefits of ICIs on survival. The results of this study suggest that these drugs may also provide lifestyle and health benefits.

Checkpoint Inhibitor Treatment Made Patient Eligible for Surgery

A case report from October 2022 described a stage 3 pleural mesothelioma patient’s positive response to ICIs. Doctors treated the patient with Opdivo+Yervoy. Before this treatment, doctors considered the patient’s case inoperable. After treatment with ICIs, they determined that the patient could undergo surgery.

Doctors performed surgery to remove all visible tumor tissue. When they later tested this tissue, they found less than 1% living mesothelioma cells. These findings mean the ICIs may have killed up to 99% of mesothelioma cells before surgery. Five months after surgery, the patient had no signs of cancer.

This case provides early evidence that ICIs may become a way for mesothelioma patients to qualify for surgery. A treatment plan involving surgery is often the most effective way to treat mesothelioma.

Cancer Vaccines Show Early Potential to Treat Mesothelioma

Cancer vaccines are another type of immunotherapy. These vaccines are designed to help train the body to fight cancer. Some have shown early promise in treating mesothelioma.

In June of this year, a small trial published results from using a vaccine plus Opdivo to treat pleural mesothelioma. The treatment was a second-line therapy for patients whose tumors grew after chemotherapy. It reported positive outcomes in pleural mesothelioma patients, including:

  • Improved survival: Study patients lived around 11 months. These patients experienced about 35% longer survival than has been reported for other second-line therapies.
  • Period without tumor growth: Study patients experienced about 3 months without tumor growth.

There is currently no approved second-line treatment for mesothelioma. Past research into second-line therapy has failed to improve survival. The results of this study indicate that this could change in the future.

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