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Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Reports Good News

mesothelioma clinical trialMesothelioma clinical trial results were announced recently by the major American pharmaceutical company Merck and the news is good. Merck tested its new cancer-fighting drug Keytruda in 25 patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma, a fatal cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma typically affects the cells that line the lungs but can also occur in cell linings of the abdomen and other organs.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Key: Blocking Cell Death Protein

In this mesothelioma clinical trial, as with the clinical trials for the 20 other difficult types of cancer being tested with Keytruda treatments, the key mechanism involves Keytruda’s ability to block an immune-suppressing protein called PD-1.

Keytruda, Merck’s registered trademark name for pembrolizumab, is part of a new class of drugs that is proving to be effective at blocking PD-1. Blocking PD-1 gives the body’s own immune system the opportunity it needs to attack tumors and stop the spread of cancer.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Results

The early findings for Merck’s mesothelioma clinical trial with Keytruda showed an overall response rate (confirmed and unconfirmed) of 28 percent in patients with tumors that expressed PD-1. Additionally, 48 percent of patients had stable disease, resulting in an overall disease control rate of 76 percent. At the time of Merck’s report, 40 percent of patients – 10 out of 25 were still receiving the treatment.

These Keytruda mesothelioma clinical trial results are being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting by Dr. Evan Alley, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, and also were highlighted in the AACR’s official press conference.

“This presentation at AACR marks the first time that data involving an anti-PD-1 therapy have been presented in pleural mesothelioma, which is a hard-to-treat cancer with very limited treatment options,” said Dr. Alley, clinical associate professor of medicine, Abramson Cancer Center. “While early, the disease control rates observed in this study are very encouraging, and indicate that further study is warranted to evaluate the potential role of Keytruda in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

It is worth noting that the mesothelioma clinical trial results reported that no mesothelioma patients discontinued Keytruda due to negative side effects, and there were no treatment-related deaths.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Ushers In New Era in Cancer Treatment

Mesothelioma clinical trial results until now have typically generated favorable or unfavorable scientific results that were limited only to the treatment of mesothelioma. With an innovative approach that recognizes that some of the basic processes for cancer are similar across all types of cancers and that a treatment for one cancer can be effective in many types, Merck has undertaken a new vast clinical trial program for Keytruda that includes more than 85 simultaneous clinical trials – encompassing over 30 tumor types and over 14,000 patients – both as the sole type of treatment and in combination with other therapies.

The results from the Keytruda mesothelioma clinical trial will not only help mesothelioma patients but will contribute to an important new body of vital knowledge on the treatment of all types of cancer through the PD-1 inhibitor mechanism.

PD-1 pathway inhibitors show the potential to “change the landscape of cancer immunotherapy,” an article in the journal Cancer Control stated just in the last year. “The PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in cancer is implicated in tumors escaping immune destruction and is a promising therapeutic target. The development of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 agents marks a new era in the treatment of cancer with immunotherapies,” the article predicted.

Now with the promising results shown in the Keytruda mesothelioma clinical trial and also in a Keytruda melanoma clinical trial, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, that new era in cancer treatment may at long last finally be here.

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