Renowned Mesothelioma Researcher Discusses Promise of Immuno-Oncology

Malignant pleural mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, continues to challenge scientists. Despite the dedication and persistence of researchers from around the world, the median survival time following chemotherapy treatment stubbornly remains at fifteen or sixteen months. But according to renowned cancer researcher Paul Baas, MD, PhD of the Department of Thoracic Oncology at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, positive results are beginning to emerge from the field of immuno-oncology.

Immuno-Oncology May Be the Future of Mesothelioma Treatment

In a recent interview with the online scientific publication OncLive, Dr. Baas reports that though studies of single immunotherapy drugs Keytruda and Opdivo as first-line treatments for mesothelioma have been disappointing, tests that use the two in combination have provided better results, and even extended survival times.

According to Baas, chemotherapy has been the most prevalent treatment provided to mesothelioma patients for the past five decades, and it continues to be considered the gold standard treatment despite the poor survival outcomes that it yields. But he points to a press release issued three months ago by Bristol Myers Squibb announcing extended survival following first-line treatments with a combination of two immunotherapy drugs, nivolumab and ipilimumab.

Dual Immunotherapy Treatment May Increase Mesothelioma Survival

The Bristol Myers Squibb press release issued in April reported that a first-line study comparing the use of two immune checkpoint inhibitors against chemotherapy may have a dramatic impact on the choice of first-line therapies for mesothelioma patients. The full details will be released at the upcoming 2020 World Lung Conference during the Presidential Symposium, which will take place virtually in January of 2021.

He also pointed to a study that combined the use of chemotherapy with another immunotherapy drug called Imfinzi, which yielded a median overall survival of 20 months, representing a 33% improvement over the median for chemotherapy alone.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information on the best treatments available for you, 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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