Combining Immunotherapy Drug With Mesothelioma Drug Yields Longer Survival

It has been more than a decade since the combined use of the drug Alimta (pemetrexed) and the platinum-based drug cisplatin was approved for use in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, and since that time there has been little progress in finding additional effective drug protocols.

In recent years, the immunotherapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has been getting a good deal of positive attention for its impact on numerous types of cancers, and the results of a new study indicate that it might prove helpful in treating mesothelioma as well.

The most recent news on Keytruda involved clinical tests conducted on 614 patients suffering from non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer, but using a combination of the immunotherapy drug and the standard protocol for mesothelioma.

Keep in mind that lung cancer and mesothelioma are different illnesses. However, the tumors that form in both types of cancer produce a protein called PD-1. This protein has been found to be over expressed in 72.4% of mesothelioma patients. It effectively masks the cancerous cells from being detected by the body’s immune system and leads to shorter survival times.

Keytruda’s specific action is to stop the protein from being formed, thus allowing the body a better chance of fighting back against the malignancy.

In his summary of this latest test, the president of Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, said, “KEYNOTE-189 showed significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival for patients receiving KEYTRUDA in the first-line setting in combination with traditional chemotherapy, compared with those receiving chemotherapy alone.”

Previous tests of the drug conducted specifically on mesothelioma patients showed that 76 percent of patients responded to it and roughly 25% had their tumors shrink after being treated with it.

Though malignant mesothelioma continues to be classified as a terminal illness, modern medical technology has been able to provide many patients with longer survival times and improved quality of life.

For information on how you can access state-of-the-art medical care, contact the Patient Advocates at today at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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