Treating Mesothelioma with Durvalumab and Tremelimumab

A recent clinical trial sponsored by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is providing hope to pleural mesothelioma patients. The goal of the study is to test the efficacy and safety of treating patients with two different immunotherapy drugs, tremelimumab and durvalumab.

  • IV Icon
    Durvalumab – is an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody. It is typically used to treat patients whose cancer hasn’t spread to nearby tissues or can’t be treated surgically, but didn’t get worse when treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Durvalumab works by helping the immune system to slow or prevent cancer cells from growing.
  • Medicine Bottle Icon
    Tremelimumab – is an anti-CTLA4 monoclonal antibody. It works by blocking a receptor on immune cells that are normally suppressed.

Both of these drugs have been used in previous clinical trials to treat mesothelioma, but they’ve never been used together. This clinical trial will further investigate the effect that tremelimumab and durvalumab have on patients when paired together to combat mesothelioma.

Drug Combination Piques Interest in European Trial

Previously, this clinical trial occurred in Europe. European researchers studied the drug combination in 40 inoperable pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

All of the participants in the trial were able to complete at least one dose of the tremelimumab and durvalumab combination as first or second line therapy. The drug combination was given every four weeks for four cycles and then followed by nine cycles of maintenance durvalumab.

Highlights of the study included:

  • 55% of patients were free from progression at 6 months and 28% at 12 months
  • 63% of patients had disease control with a median overall survival of 16.6 months

The treatment drugs appeared safe, and patients seemed to have a positive response. Treatment-related toxicities were controllable in all but 3 participants.

“The availability of new checkpoint inhibitors and the interest of pharmaceutical companies in testing drugs for malignant pleural mesothelioma means that the future of these patients looks brighter than ever before,” the researchers from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam commented at the end of the study.

The hopeful researchers concluded that more testing needs to be conducted using the drug combination as a treatment option for mesothelioma patients.

U.S. Clinical Trial Recruits Pleural Mesothelioma Patients

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute hope to see positive results just like the European clinical trial. Currently, the institution is openly-recruiting participants for their location in Boston, MA. This phase II trial anticipates being completed by 2024.

The study plans to enroll 40 patients. Enrollees must have unresectable or inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. They must have also had disease progression after receiving chemotherapy.

Individuals enrolled in the trial will receive durvalumab and tremelimumab by IV. They will receive both drugs once a day for 28-day cycles. Patients will receive tremelimumab for potentially up to 4 doses. On day one of cycle 5, they will continue taking durvalumab on its own until dismissed from the study.

Meet Mesothelioma Expert Dr. Awad

Mark Awad, photo from Brigham and Women's HospitalLead investigator of the study is Dr. Mark M. Awad. He is a medical oncologist at the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology located at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Awad’s area of interest includes cancer immunotherapy and targeted therapy. He is actively involved in clinical trials and researching new methods of treating mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Image of Nurse JennaFor more information about this clinical trial or other recruiting trials, please contact Jenna Campagna RN. You may reach out to her by emailing or by calling 888-385-2024 extension 102.

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    Sources & Author

  1. Tremelimumab combined with durvalumab in patients with mesothelioma (NIBIT-MESO-1): an open-label, non-randomised, phase 2 study. PubMed. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  2. Tremelimumab. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  3. Durvalumab. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  4. Durvalumab Injection. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  5. A Phase 2 Study of Durvalumab in Combination With Tremelimumab in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  6. Mark Awad, MD, PhD. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  7. MARK M. AWAD, MD, PhD. DF/HCC Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/07/2018.
  8. Tremelimumab plus durvalumab active in unresectable mesothelioma. Medicine Matters. Retrieved from: Accessed: 06/12/2018.
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About the Writer, Nicole Godfrey

Nicole Godfrey is the Senior Content Writer for Mesothelioma Guide. She writes and edits pages to make sure that mesothelioma patients and their families receive the most current and significant information about mesothelioma.