A new clinical trial could help many recently diagnosed pleural mesothelioma patients.
The study, hosted by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will combine immunotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. The trial, which is in Phase 1, will first test the safety of the combination.
The trial is currently recruiting and has an estimated completion date of November 2022. To learn if you qualify, contact our patient advocate team. Karen Ritter is a registered nurse who can help you enroll in this study or another one that best fits your diagnosis. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of the New Clinical Trial
Researchers will pair chemotherapy and immunotherapy prior to the patient undergoing surgery. They hope the trial can help extend survival time, mimicking the combination’s success in treating other cancers.
The participants will receive a combination of:
- Nivolumab (an immunotherapy drug commonly known by the brand name Opdivo)
- The mesothelioma chemotherapy drug pemetrexed
In addition to pemetrexed, patients also will receive either cisplatin or carboplatin.
Following the administration of these treatments, patients will undergo pleurectomy with decortication. The plan is for patients to have the surgery within 30 days of the initially scheduled operation.
Since Phase 1 of clinical trials focuses on safety, the scientists will pay attention to whether the immunotherapy-chemotherapy combination has detrimental effects that delay the surgery.
Patients must be eligible for mesothelioma surgery to enroll in this trial. Those who are newly diagnosed and have an early stage of mesothelioma are likely the best candidates.
How the Clinical Trial Works
Nivolumab focuses on the body’s immune system, explicitly making it attack the mesothelioma cells rather than ignore them. When mesothelioma forms in the pleural cavity, the small space between the chest wall and lung cavity, the cancer cells essentially shut down the immune system’s defenses.
The immune system has T-cells, which are supposed to sniff out and attack diseases such as mesothelioma. However, the diseased cells include a protein canned PD-L1, which interacts with the T-cells’ PD-1 protein. This interaction causes the T-cells to believe the mesothelioma is harmless incorrectly.
Nivolumab prevents this connection from forming, which helps the immune system find and attack mesothelioma cells. Immunotherapy has been a popular experimental treatment in many mesothelioma clinical trials.
Chemotherapy is well-known as a cancer treatment. The form of care aims to kill cancer cells and stop tumor growth. Pleurectomy with decortication involves the removal of the pleura, part of the diaphragm and potentially the pericardium.
By combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy, researchers could contain the cancer to the pleura. Then the hope pleurectomy with decortication effectively removes most or all of the tumors.
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