It’s been less than a year since the FDA approved the use of nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy) for first line treatment of malignant mesothelioma, and with each passing day more is learned about its best uses. A report published in the journal EBioMedicine indicates that despite optimism about improved survival time, the immunotherapy drug combination is most effective when administered to patients who test positive for specific T-cells.
Netherlands Researchers Find Certain Mesothelioma Patients See Greatest Benefit
The FDA approval of the combined immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of unresectable malignant mesothelioma generated significant excitement in the medical community, as it had been nearly two decades since the last medication approval for the rare, asbestos-related disease. But according to researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, some patients are likely to see more benefit from the new protocol than others, and the team devised a test to identify those specific patients.
In an effort to identify which mesothelioma patients would derive the greatest benefit from the new treatment, the Erasmus team conducted immune cell profiling on a group of patients, then treated them with the immunotherapy combination to gauge the different responses associated with the profiles. According to lead author Joanne Mankor, “Patients that responded to combination treatment had low frequencies of naive CD8 T cells and high frequencies of effector memory CD8 T cells that re-expressed RA (TEMRA) at screening.” The TEMRA cells she refers to are the key to successful treatment. Though they are usually associated with cord blood rather than adult blood, they have previously been shown to provide protection from illness in adults who have higher levels of them.
Greater Understanding of Immunotherapy Response Will Help Mesothelioma Patients
As monoclonal antibodies, Yervoy and Opdivo work together to help T-cells slow the growth of mesothelioma tumors. Each of the two drugs has its own specific action to either help the T-cells find tumor cells or to activate them and cause them to proliferate. Based on the research from the Rotterdam team, physicians treating patients with mesothelioma should test TEMRA levels before choosing between the immunotherapy protocol and the more traditional chemotherapy treatment.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, knowing which treatment is most appropriate for your condition is essential. For more information on state-of-the-art research, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.