Consider how far we’ve come in 20 years. Back in 2002, mesothelioma rates were rising and the FDA hadn’t approved any therapies for this cancer. Little was known about mesothelioma.
Now, as 2021 closes and 2022 begins, we have a better understanding of the cancer, plus multiple therapies to provide patients with precious months with friends and family.
There’s more work to be done this year and in years to come.
We at Mesothelioma Guide see potential in 2022 to take more steps forward to help patients. Here are three wishes for 2022 to help the mesothelioma community against this cancer.
Progression of ONCOS-102 in Clinical Testing
ONCOS-102, an oncolytic virus therapy, is a promising option for malignant mesothelioma. In essence, it’s a virotherapy that breaks cancer cells apart and releases antigens, which cause dendritic cells to signal to T cells.
ONCOS-102 is currently in a holding pattern for pleural mesothelioma. The median survival from a phase 1/2 trial is 25 months – confirmed by Mesothelioma Guide last month. This life expectancy is far better than how mesothelioma patients respond to chemotherapy. Close to half of patients live for at least two years.
In 2022, we hope ONCOS-102 progresses to a phase 3 trial. This type of study is the make-or-break test to get FDA approval. There’s also discussion of pairing ONCOS-102 with an immune checkpoint inhibitor, such as Opdivo (nivolumab). Opening up a study involving ONCOS-102 would be a huge plus in 2022.
Affirmation of Durvalumab for Mesothelioma
Durvalumab is an immune checkpoint inhibitor focused on PD-L1 blockage. The immunotherapy drug is credited with a median survival of 16 months and 20 months, from two separate phase 2 studies.
Opdivo (nivolumab) is an FDA-approved PD-L1 inhibitor paired with Yervoy (ipilimumab, a CTLA-4/B7 inhibitor). This combination has a comparable median survival to durvalumab.
Some patients don’t respond well to specific types of immunotherapy, at times due to side effects. More options for patients is always a good thing. The DREAM3R study, a phase 3 trial for durvalumab, is now accepting patients. We hope the results affirm durvalumab is needed for mesothelioma.
Opening the Doors of Immunotherapy for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
The previous two wishes are furthering the advancements made for pleural mesothelioma. Both ONCOS-102 and durvalumab are close to FDA approvals for this type of mesothelioma.
People with peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the abdominal lining) are best-treated with HIPEC cytoreductive surgery. If not that, they rely on systemic chemotherapy.
Many doctors are pushing for trials with immunotherapy drugs, like Opdivo and Yervoy. A handful of trials are opening soon, or already bringing in patients. We hope in 2022 these trials start showing data supporting immunotherapy drugs for peritoneal mesothelioma.
Bonus Wish: Asbestos Ban Resurfaces
At the end of 2020, a ban of asbestos in the United States seemed plausible, if not likely. A bill got approval from a House of Representatives committee and was slated for discussion among the entire legislative branch.
It stalled and never again reached the House agenda. 2021 felt like a lost year in the advocacy for a complete ban of asbestos. Close to 70 countries already have one, and the U.S. is one of the last first-world countries to not take this measure.
As a bonus wish, we hope 2022 brings outlawing asbestos back to center stage. Even if using asbestos in new materials is frowned upon and outdated, prohibiting the manufacturing, sale and use of the substance formally would shut the door for good. This type of action would protect us, our neighbors, our friends, our family and all current generations of U.S. residents.
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