After years of medical studies, we now know immunotherapy can help fight malignant mesothelioma — at least for some people. The challenge is figuring out who those “some people” are ahead of time.
The answer could be in their breath.
European researchers looked into whether breath analysis from electronic technology could dictate who should receive immunotherapy for mesothelioma. The results were published in the European Journal of Cancer.
The focus was on immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are the class of immunotherapy drugs for mesothelioma. These include Keytruda, Opdivo and Yervoy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two immune checkpoint inhibitors, Opdivo and Yervoy, for non-surgery cases of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Opdivo and Yervoy were the focus of the breath study.
eNose Tool Used to Analyze Breath
The research was part of a study involving the effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors. These immunotherapy drugs block immune checkpoints and allow the body’s immune system to act freely against tumors and other diseases.
This subset study assessed the accuracy of exhaled breath analysis using eNose. NASA considered a version of this technology to detect COVID-19 coronavirus in people’s breath.
The idea for mesothelioma is to detect, or not detect, something in the patient’s breath that implies a response to immunotherapy. Some patients have different levels or volumes of the PD-L1 cancer protein, which is the immune checkpoint that Opdivo blocks. Other patients have low volumes of the cancerous B7 protein, which Yervoy blocks.
For patients with low volumes of the protein, immunotherapy is less effective. For those with higher volumes, immunotherapy can help tremendously.
The mesothelioma study analyzed breath data of 31 malignant pleural mesothelioma patients who received Opdivo plus Yervoy. There were 16 with a response after six months of treatment and 15 without a response.
Stunningly, the breath profiles “significantly differed between responders and non-responders.”
“An eNose is able to discriminate at baseline between responders and non-responders to nivolumab plus ipilimumab … thereby potentially identifying a subgroup of patients that will benefit from (immunotherapy) treatment,” the authors wrote.
Sources & Author
- Nose in malignant mesothelioma—Prediction of response to immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment. European Journal of Cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(21)00270-7/fulltext. Accessed: 06/07/2021.
- NASA’s E-Nose Device Advanced to “Sniff” COVID-19 from Human Breath. NASA. Retrieved from: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/e-nose. Accessed: 06/07/2021.
Sources & Author