Updates on Mesothelioma Treatments

In our lifetimes, medicine, science, and technology have advanced at unprecedented rates. New drugs, immunotherapies, genetic discoveries, and technologies allowing earlier diagnosis and prevention of disease and illness have saved or improved countless lives.

What’s more, the trajectory of these changes is accelerating. With digital collection of massive amounts of health data, artificial intelligence, and other scientific and medical advances, those with all sorts of medical issues are hopeful that the future promises breakthroughs that can aid in their treatment. This includes those suffering with mesothelioma.

In this article, we will look at some recent news providing hope that new and improving treatments for mesothelioma are on the horizon.

Durvalumab

Patients with malignant inoperable pleural mesothelioma could previously be treated with chemotherapy. Now, AstraZeneca has developed an immunotherapy drug called durvalumab (the brand name is “Infinzi”) that is still undergoing clinical trials, but so far has shown promising results in addition to those previously received from chemotherapy.

Between June 2017 and June 2018, participants were enrolled into a Phase II trial combining durvalumab with chemotherapy. The results showed a median survival rate of 20.4 months. That’s more than 8 months longer than those in studies who received only chemotherapy. Moreover, more than 40 percent of the trial participants were still living two years after starting treatment. Patients did not experience unexpected toxicities. 

Researchers found the results to be “remarkable,” justifying a Phase III trial. The clinical trial is called DREAM3R and is taking place in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Nivolumab

In a recently concluded Phase III trial of immunotherapy with nivolumab (brand name “Opdivo”), patients with relapsed mesothelioma experienced improved overall survival (OS) and improved progression-free survival (PFS).

According to researchers, when compared with placebo, nivolumab increased OS by 28 percent and PFS by 39 percent. Dr. Dean Fennell states the treatment is safe and effective and “should be considered a new treatment option for patients with relapsed mesothelioma.”

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a topic we have all heard discussed the last few years across several industries and use cases. One of the benefits of artificial intelligence is that it can gather large volumes of data and interpret it quickly. The Leicester Mesothelioma Research Programme has recently used artificial intelligence to analyze DNA-sequenced mesotheliomas.

"Using AI to interrogate genomic 'big data',” says the Director of the program, “this initial work shows us that mesotheliomas follow ordered paths of mutations during development, and that these so-called trajectories predict not only how long a patient may survive, but also how to better treat the cancer … .”

This is an excellent example of a manner in which technology can assist the medical profession in understanding, predicting, and treating mesothelioma.

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