When news of a breakthrough in the treatment of mesothelioma hit the headlines, it was a cause for celebration for those living with the debilitating and often fatal cancer. Scientists have discovered that a combination of two immunotherapy drugs, ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo), have shown remarkable promise in treating mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen, caused by exposure to asbestos. It is notoriously difficult to treat and, until now, had limited treatment options. The combination of the two drugs, however, have been shown to be highly effective in extending the lives of patients and improving their quality of life.
The two drugs are both immunotherapy drugs, meaning they strengthen the body’s own immune system to fight against cancer. Ipilimumab works by blocking a protein called CTLA-4, which helps to regulate how the immune system responds to cancer. Nivolumab, on the other hand, works by blocking a different protein called PD-1, which can also stop the immune system from attacking cancer cells. By using both drugs together, the body can be tricked into attacking the cancer cells more effectively.
The results of the clinical trial of the two drugs were remarkable. Patients who were treated with the combination of the two drugs had a median survival time of 25.7 months, compared to 14.1 months for those who were treated with just one of the drugs or none at all. Furthermore, the two-drug combination was found to be more effective in treating certain types of mesothelioma.
While the news of a breakthrough in mesothelioma treatment is certainly exciting, it is important to remember that the two-drug combination is still in the early stages of research. More clinical trials will need to be conducted to confirm the effectiveness of the two immunotherapy drugs. In the meantime, it is encouraging to know that there is hope for those living with mesothelioma.