The recently FDA-approved cancer drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab), for the treatment of for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), has prompted investigators in Toronto, Canada to release a report with an outline of the drug and its potential as treatment for other cancers, such as mesothelioma. Surviving Mesothelioma has just published an article on the new report.
Keytruda works by targeting the cellular pathway known as PD-1/PD-L1 (proteins found on the body’s immune cells and some cancer cells). By blocking this pathway, Keytruda may help the body’s immune system fight the cancer cells.
Since malignant pleural mesothelioma expresses the same protein, Dr. Safiya Karim and Dr. Natasha Leighl have examined the “current landscape and future directions” for Keytruda as a treatment for mesothelioma in an article titled “Pembrolizumab for the treatment of thoracic malignancies: current landscape and future direction,” published in the British medical journal Future Medicine.
“Pembrolizumab is a PD-1 inhibitor that has shown clinical activity in a variety of solid tumors,” the researchers noted according to a recent news release.
“Because there are so few viable treatment options for patients with mesothelioma, the mesothelioma community is naturally very excited about the future possibilities for Keytruda. We’ll be following news of this drug closely,” added Alex Strauss, Surviving Mesothelioma’s Managing Editor.
Merck’s Keytruda began to gain national attention as a potential mesothelioma treatment after the results of a mesothelioma clinical trial were released earlier this year.
In that trial, 76% of mesothelioma patients responded to treatment with Keytruda – a figure that the researchers called “unprecedented.” Mesothelioma tumors temporarily stopped growing in about half of the patients and about a quarter of the patients actually saw their mesothelioma tumors begin to shrink.
Keytruda also produced fewer serious side effects than conventional chemotherapy for mesothelioma.
More information about the Canadian report and data of mesothelioma trials with the drug, can be found at Mesothelioma Community Hopeful About Newly Approved Immunotherapy Drug, available on the Surviving Mesothelioma website.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common anatomical site for mesothelioma is the pleura but it can also arise in the peritoneum, the pericardium or the tunica vaginalis (a sac that surrounds the testis)