Inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the protective lining of the lungs or pleura, often caused by exposure to asbestos. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which was almost May 29-31, 2020, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center presented findings from a multicentre study evaluating the efficacy of an immunotherapy-plus chemotherapy combination for the disease.
According to Patrick Forde, MBBCh., Associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of the Kimmel Center’s thoracic cancer clinical research program and a Bloomberg ~ Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy researcher, the study looked at 55 patients from 15 US cancer centers that received the immunotherapy drug durvalumab in combination with two anti-cancer chemotherapies – cisplatin and pemetrexed – to create a new first-line treatment.
The patients received six treatments of the combination therapy every three weeks, followed by treatment with durvalumab alone, for a total of up to one year. The chemo-immunotherapy combination improved overall survival to 20.4 months from the historically expected 12-month survival with chemotherapy alone. This is the first study to demonstrate survival times of more than 20 months for patients with inoperable mesothelioma. The treatment was generally well tolerated and no unexpected side effects were reported.
“Inflammation is key to the development of pleural mesothelioma and as such it is an important target for immunotherapy. In addition to previous studies showing promising results with the same immunotherapy drug in previously treated cases, we have investigated the combination.” Forde says. “Due to the promising results, we are in the process of starting a phase 3 study to confirm the benefit of this approach.” This study will begin collecting patients in the United States and Australia in late 2020.
The researchers studied tissue samples from patients receiving the combination therapy and found that it prevented the PD-L1 protein from forming a “protective armor” around cancer cells. The researchers say that’s because immunotherapies known as checkpoint blockers, such as durvalumab, fight PD-L1 and therefore disrupt a cancer cell’s ability to prevent detection and destruction by immune cells.
Material provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine Note: Content can be edited based on style and length.
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