Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has shown impressive results in treating several different types of cancer. Researchers are now trying to bring this amazing treatment option to malignant mesothelioma patients.

Using the Immune System to Fight Mesothelioma

This is a phase II trial testing pembrolizumab, which is the generic name of Keytruda. The trial is being tested for both peritoneal and pleural patients with any of the three major cell types (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic).

Some of the newest and most innovative ways of fighting cancer involve using the body’s immune system. These are called mesothelioma immunotherapy treatments. Usually this type of treatment results in fewer side effects than traditional cancer treatments because the immune system is able to target specific cells without affecting healthy cells.

What to Expect

  • Keytruda
    Keytruda (pembrolizumab) – On the first day, patients will receive Keytruda intravenously (IV) for 30 minutes. This treatment is repeated every 21 days for up to 2 years. If the patient has disease progression after stopping Keytruda, they may be eligible for up to 1 year of additional treatments.

Unlike other immunotherapy drugs, Keytruda works to keep the cancer cells from tricking the immune system. Rather than attacking the cancer, Keytruda blocks the proteins that cancerous cells use to suppress the immune system.

Get Help Enrolling in This Trial

Get Help Enrolling in This Trial - Form Image
Keytruda has shown a lot of promise in trials and in treating several types of cancer. This phase II trial hopes to prove that Keytruda can be an effective treatment for mesothelioma.

Reasons to Consider This Trial:
  • Accepts all three major cell types
  • Is already proven in treating other cancers
  • Offers a new treatment option to patients who didn’t respond well to standard chemotherapy

How Keytruda Works

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) was developed by the global healthcare company, Merck. It is an antibody drug that has been shown to improve a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis.

PD-L1 is a protein in some people’s bodies that suppresses their immune system. Cancer cells use this protein to keep the immune system from realizing that they are dangerous. If the immune system doesn’t see the threat, it won’t attack the cancer cells.

Keytruda works to block the PD-1 receptor on cancer cells, keeping proteins like PD-L1 from being effective. Without the PD-L1 the immune system recognizes the cancer cells as a threat and can work to destroy them.

Early Results:

  • Early findings showed 48 percent of patients were able to stabilize their condition and 28 percent of patients saw improvement in their condition. In other words 76 percent of patients had their condition under control because of Keytruda.
  • In another study, Keytruda was able to reduce tumor size in 14 of 25 mesothelioma patients. The median progression free survival was 5.4 months. The median overall survival was 18 months.

Who Is This Trial For?

This trial is available for patients with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Patients with epithelial, sarcomatoid, or biphasic cell types are all eligible. This trial is especially helpful for patients who have received chemotherapy in the form of Alimta (pemetrexed) and a platinum, either cisplatin or carboplatin. However, treatment naive patients will be considered.

General eligibility criteria includes:

  • Diagnosed pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma
  • Treated with no more than 2 types of chemotherapy
  • Had disease progression after/while taking chemotherapy
  • Wait two weeks after radiation or chemotherapy
  • Free of active hepatitis B, HIV, or some autoimmune diseases


  • University of Chicago Cancer Center

    University of Chicago Cancer Center

    Principal Investigator: Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler
    Dr. Kindler is renowned for her work with mesothelioma and sees over 100 mesothelioma patients per year. She has been the principal investigator for several important trials at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. UCCCC is home to one of the largest mesothelioma treatment programs in the country.

Getting Enrolled in This Trial

Dr. Kindler is a top mesothelioma doctor and the UCCCC is a top facility. This expert care along with the promising drug Keytruda is an impressive combination. This trial could be life-changing for mesothelioma patients. If you think this trial may be for you, contact us for more information about participating.