Baylor College of Medicine has launched a new trial that will combine Opdivo, a cancer drug, and injections of MTG201, a modified virus. The immunotherapy trial will include 12 patients that had pleural mesothelioma return after chemotherapy.
The combination of treatment was first tested on mice with positive results. Researchers claim that if the same results are experienced in humans, it will improve the outcome for many people suffering from malignant mesothelioma.
Opdivo blocks PD-1 in cancer cells, which is a protein. Researchers have found that the protein is responsible for helping mesothelioma cells evade the immune system. The drug, which is often prescribed to patients suffering from lung cancer, was once thought to be a promising medication to fight back against mesothelioma. A clinical trial on Opdivo proved that on its own that the drug was not effective at treating mesothelioma.
Researchers hope that MTG201 injections will enhance the effectiveness of Opdivo on pleural mesothelioma.
The team at Baylor claims that MGT201 is able to target and kill cancer cells and is made out of a modified version of the adenovirus. When the cancer cells are dying, they will release tumor antigens, which MGT201 is able to target.
Patients in the new study will have MGT201 injected directly into the tumor using a series of four injections. The patients will also have Opdivo infusions one per month in an approach that was highly successful in animals.
Baylor’s team claims that the approach was able to kill tumors in mice with mesothelioma. The new treatment is unlikely to be a cure for pleural mesothelioma sufferers but may be able to increase the survival rate, which stands at 18 months on average.
The treatment offers an additional option for cancer patients who undergo traditional forms of therapy with little success. The trial was also be able to determine which types of patients will be best suited for the new form of therapy.