One of the malignant mesothelioma treatment protocols generating the most enthusiasm is immunotherapy: the idea of weaponizing the body’s immune system against the aggressive form of cancer is truly exciting, especially when clinical trials of immunotherapeutic drugs deliver positive results. That is exactly what has happened with the Phase 1 clinical trial of immune checkpoint inhibitor Bavencio (Avelumab). A study recently published in the journal JAMA Oncology reported that the drug showed long-term disease control and durable clinical activity when tested on a notoriously challenging population: heavily pretreated malignant mesothelioma patients
Drug Provides Broad Activation of Immune System in Previously Treated Patients
According to the study, the drug, which is the result of a collaboration between Merck and Pfizer, exhibited extremely positive results, controlling the disease in more than half of malignant mesothelioma patients in the trial and providing 17 percent of them with a full year or more without their disease progressing. It is particularly notable that these patients experienced successful responses to the drug after already having been given first and second-line treatments. According to researchers, the study of Bavencio’s impact on the group indicates that it spurs a more robust activation of the immune system than has been seen from other immunotherapy drugs such as Opdivo or Keytruda.
Patients With Two Previous Treatments Had Best Responses
The Phase 1 trial set out to determine what dosage of the drug was safe for patients. Participants received incrementally increasing doses of the medication in order to find what level was both safe and effective, and once that dosage was identified it was administered to more patients to confirm the initial findings. In total there were 53 patients enrolled in the study. All had previously been treated using the first-line treatment of Alimta and Cisplatin at least once, with over one third having been treated three or more times. Out of the 53, 9% exhibited a response, with those who had previously been treated twice responding more positively than those treated just once or three times. Importantly, in addition to the 9% who responded, an additional 49% of patients experienced stabilization of their disease, 17.4 percent of who were alive a year later, without their condition worsening. Those patients whose tumors had tested positive for the PD-L1 biomarker had the best responses to treatment, with a median survival of 20.2 months. In addition to providing positive responses, the drug also proved to be safe and well tolerated in its first clinical trial, with most adverse effects being described as mild or moderate. Nine percent did experience severe or life-threatening adverse effects, most of which were infusion-related reactions.
Scientists continue to make great strides forward in the treatment of mesothelioma, inspiring optimism and hope. If you need information on mesothelioma treatment or resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.