A groundbreaking immunotherapy drug that effectively treats skin cancer melanomas has also stopped tumor growth in 76 percent of patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a recent study shows. While promising, there are always exceptions and in numerous mesothelioma victims the treatment is not effective.
Recently researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reported at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) 2015 annual meeting in Philadelphia, their findings involving Pembrolizumab, a drug/marketed under the brand name Keytruda.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer) recommends a treatment plan that is most likely to have the greatest benefits and the fewest risks or side effects. That initial treatment, called first-line treatment or first-line therapy, is usually chosen based on what worked best in clinical trials for patients with the same type and stage of cancer.
However, every person responds differently to treatment. If the first-line treatment does not work, starts but then stops working, or causes serious side effects, an oncologist may recommend a second-line treatment (also called second-line therapy), which is a different treatment that is likely to be effective. In some cases, the patient may be a candidate for third-line therapy or additional rounds of treatment after that.
Twenty-five patients with mesothelioma whose disease had progressed after receiving first-line or standard chemotherapy participated in the study. Researchers administered those patients a second-line treatment.
As to the second-line treatment with Pembrolizumab, results were impressive: Seven patients experienced tumor shrinkage, and 12 reported no tumor growth. Only four patients experienced tumor growth after taking the drug.
"The 76 percent disease control rate is very promising and represents a signal of efficacy in the treatment of this disease," lead study researcher Dr. Evan Alley said in a press release. "The study has provided an early glimpse of the potential benefits."
The University Of Chicago Medical Center also recently opened a phase II clinical trial involving Pembrolizumab and malignant Mesothelioma and currently is recruiting new patients. A mesothelioma victim’s physician would need to contact the University Of Chicago Medical Center to see if they qualify for the program.
If admitted to the program, the patients will receive the drug every 21 days for up to 24 months in the absence of disease progression. Researchers are hoping for an estimated 65 patients, including those whose disease has progressed following standard chemotherapy.
Currently, there is no FDA Approved Second-Line Therapy and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulators have not approved mesothelioma treatment that progresses after firstline therapy, which typically includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
The FDA did approve Pembrolizumab in 2014 for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, a rare form of skin cancer. The drug now is being tested on a variety of other cancers, including mesothelioma.
The attorneys at Wallace and Graham will continue to follow the developments closely as this affects so many of our clients who have been stricken with mesothelioma, in most cases, as a result of corporate misdeeds, cover-ups, and negligence.
In addition to announcing the success of using Pembrolizumab, AACR officials reported the drug's success in treating lung cancer. It stopped cancer growth in 19 percent of 495 lung cancer patients. The drug unmasks the tumor cells and simultaneously activates the immune system to destroy the foreign cells. Last year, it became the first FDA approved, antiPD1drug on the market.
As the attorney at Wallace & Graham have reported in the past, Immunotherapy is key to stopping progression of the disease and extending the quality of a person’s life. It is the next medical wonder and is helping more and more cancer victims. It is an exciting development and one that will be watched carefully.
Most researchers and oncologists agree the future of cancer care will involve more immunotherapy and less toxic chemotherapy and radiation. It hopefully will have less side effects and less adverse reactions and will be able to help a larger group extend their lives while lessening the pain and suffering.
If you or a family member have questions about occupational cancers such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestos or other disease or injuries please do not hesitate to contact Wallace & Graham for a free, no obligation consultation. 1-800-849-5291 and ask for any of the attorneys.
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