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Researchers test potentially effective treatment for mesothelioma

Even though the use of asbestos peaked between the 1960s and 1980s, the truth is that you can still find this deadly material in many homes today -- especially in homes that haven't been renovated in the last 30+ years. Couple this with the fact that asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma can take decades to manifest themselves, it is no wonder why asbestos continues to claim thousands of lives every year.

Fortunately, however, early research suggests that a clinical trial in France may have found an effective immunotherapy treatment for fighting the progression of mesothelioma.

Details of the clinical trial

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a relatively rare form of cancer typically linked to asbestos exposure. Sadly, no effective therapeutic options for MPM currently exist, and patients only have an average life expectancy of 13 to 15 months. However, according to a recent press release, the clinical trial in France is hoping to change all that.

This particular trial involves 125 patients with advanced MPM. The median age of the patients is 72, with 80 percent of them being male. As part of the trial, the patients were randomly assigned one of two immunotherapy treatment options: 1) a drug called nivolumab or 2) nivolumab with another drug known as ipilimumab (Yervoy).

According to preliminary results from the first 108 patients treated during this trial, these forms of immunotherapy may actually slow the growth of MPM after relapse. In fact, the percentage of patients whose cancer either shrank or did not grow was 44 percent for those who received nivolumab alone and 50 percent for those who took both nivolumab and ipilimumab.

The lead author of this study, Arnaud Scherpereel, MD, PhD, was quoted in the recent press release as stating, "Our findings suggest that immunotherapy may provide new hope to patients with relapsed mesothelioma." Hopefully, he is right.

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