Immunotherapy as Possible Treatment for Malignant Mesothelioma

While we often hear people talk about how some types are worse than others, it basically doesn’t get much worse than malignant mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is virtually always caused when a victim is exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.  The fibers become embedded in a layer of protective tissue known as the mesothelium, where they can metastasize into the deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

treatmentThe reason mesothelioma is so horrific is because only 10 percent of patients on average each year are diagnosed before the cancer has fully has metastasized. For the other 90-plus percent of mesothelioma victims, the cancer is already in stages one through four, and there is no cure and are not very many effective treatment options.  To get an idea of how serious malignant mesothelioma is, most patients will be dead within one year of receiving an initial diagnosis.As for treatment options, most are highly invasive and, in the best cases, will only extend a patient’s life a year or two at a tremendous cost to his or her quality of life in the time remaining.  As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys have seen in many cases over the years, the treatments involve the use of powerful chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, and often surgery.  In many cases, the patient will undergo a combination of two or three of these options at the same time. This is often unbearable for mesothelioma victims and their families.

That being said, researchers and surgeons are constantly working on new treatments and hope one day they will achieve more effective options for patients who are very sick due to the negligence of others who were far more concerned about making money than they were about the health and safety of these victims.

According to a recent news article from Cure, a possible new treatment option for mesothelioma, an immunotherapy drug, may hold some promise.  As for drugs, the only frontline approved drug in the vast majority (over 90 percent) of mesothelioma patients is chemotherapy.  There are not currently approved drugs for second line treatment of these mesothelioma victims.

However, there is currently a study that is showing promising results using an immunotherapy drug in a clinical trial.  The study is named KEYNOTE-28 and is testing what is what is known as a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor.  This particular drug is expected to be marketed under the name Keytruda.  The generic name for this drug is pembrolizumab.  Under current guidelines, drugs ending with a “mab” suffix were designed primarily to treat cancer, but may be approved for the treatment of other serious medical conditions such as Chron’s disease.

This particular clinical trail is testing safety and effectiveness on patients that have malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).  MPM is where the mesothelioma has formed in the patient’s lungs.  However, it can quickly spread to other parts of the patient’s body.  Mesothelioma also forms in the abdomen and the chest cavity in many cases. If it forms in the chest, it is known as malignant pericardial mesothelioma, and, if it forms in the abdomen, it is known as malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Immunotherapy May Be a Treatment Option for Mesothelioma, April 2, 2017, By Allie Casey, Cure

More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog

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