Mesothelioma researchers in the United States have been encouraged by the results of studies exploring the effect of combining two immunotherapy treatments — Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilumumab) — on malignant pleural mesothelioma. Following preliminary results of this research, the European Medicines Agency has announced that they will be reviewing the research, and possibly approving the regimen for use throughout the European Union.
Positive Trial Results for Mesothelioma Drugs Spur Review
Though the European Medicines Agency is not a regulatory authority in the same way that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is, its review process is highly respected and granting approval for the new mesothelioma regimen would be a significant development. Its announced review follows the release of data from a Phase 3 clinical trial that has reportedly yielded an extension of overall survival from a median of 14.1 months with standard chemotherapy treatment to 18.1 months.
The study began more than two years ago and included 605 patients diagnosed with inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. Since that time researchers have determined that 41% of patients who were given the combination treatment were still alive, while only 27% of those who were provided standard chemotherapy of cisplatin or carboplatin plus pemetrexed were still alive. This represents a 26% reduced risk of death following use of the protocol under consideration.
European Mesothelioma Rates Drive Need for Effective Treatment
In expressing his high hopes for the approval of the immunotherapy combination, Sabine Maier, MD, vice president of oncology clinical development at Bristol Myers Squibb, pointed to Europe’s high rates of mesothelioma as reason for concern. “We look forward to working with urgency alongside the EMA towards the goal of bringing this dual immunotherapy combination to patients in Europe, which faces one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the world,” he said in a press release.
Both Opdivo and Yervoy have proven effective in the treatment of a number of other cancers that have characteristics similar to malignant pleural mesothelioma. The immune checkpoint inhibitors each block different proteins that cancer cells use to protect themselves from the body’s immune system. Defanging these proteins’ actions helps make cancer-killing medications more effective.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma, much of your hope is focused on innovative treatments like immunotherapy. For more information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.