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Drug that Saved Jimmy Carter’s Cancer May Be Used for Mesothelioma

mesotheliomaThe same drug that was used to stop former President Jimmy Carter’s malignant melanoma has just received approval for use in treating metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, and experts believe that it will soon receive the same nod of approval for treatment of those with malignant mesothelioma. Keytruda, or pembrolizumab, is an immunotherapy drug that has specifically targets cancer cells and tumors that express the PD-L1 protein. This protein has been found in almost 50 percent of mesothelioma tumors.

Keytruda was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of melanoma, but since its success in treating that form of cancer, it has also been tested through clinical trials in other forms of the challenging disease.  In its testing for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer,  researchers were able to achieve a median progression-free survival rate of 10.3 months, an increase of over four months from chemotherapy alone. As a result the drug has been moved from being approved as a second-line treatment of lung cancer to a first-line treatment where the tumors are found to express the PD-L1 protein. The immunotherapy drug is also being tested on mesothelioma through a dedicated phase II study being conducted at the University of Chicago, as well as through Merck’s special Patients Access Program at cancer centers around the country, including at the Abramson Cancer Center.

The Abramson Cancer Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania, and they have been testing the drug on 25 patients whose mesothelioma expressed the PD-L1 protein. Their results yielded 76 percent disease control. The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has been testing the drug on other cancers with similar results, and Dr. Tawee Tavetyanon has hopes that it may soon be used to good affect on the rare asbestos-related cancer. “It could take a while yet, and we still don’t have enough data to say for sure, but yes, it could become the next big thing for mesothelioma. It might not be the home run, but it seems to work well in certain cases.”

Mesothelioma patients who are seeking information about whether the Keytruda clinical trial is an option for them can speak to  their oncologist. For information about the legal options that may be available, contact Danziger & De Llano Legal Advocates today at 1-800-692-8608 or visit our website, https://mesothelioma.net/mesothelioma-attorneys/.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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