Malignant pleural mesothelioma or MPM is a rare cancer, but its incidence has been rising. This cancer is usually associated with asbestos exposure, and patients have a median life expectancy of only 13-15 months. All patients relapse despite initial chemotherapy, more than 50% of them within six months after stopping treatment. There are currently no effective therapeutic options for patients with MPM. Early findings from an ongoing phase II clinical trial in France, MAPS-2, show that immunotherapy may slow the growth of MPM after relapse. At 12 weeks, cancer had not worsened in 44% of patients who received nivolumab (Opdivo) and in 50% of those who received nivolumab with ipilimumab (Yervoy). The study will be featured in a press briefing on June 5, 2017 and presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. "Our findings suggest that immunotherapy may provide new hope to patients with relapsed mesothelioma," said lead study author Arnaud Scherpereel, MD, PhD, Head of the Pulmonary and Thoracic Oncology Department at the University Hospital (CHU) of Lille in Lille, France. "This randomized phase II trial may be enough to support the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in this setting, but it is too early to conclude whether nivolumab alone or the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab is better." This multi-center clinical trial enrolled 125 patients with advanced MPM who had received up to two prior treatments, including standard platinum-based chemotherapy.
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