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Another Win for Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Drug Keytruda

There has been another win for one of the most promising new drugs for mesothelioma, the immunotherapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

The makers of Keytruda today announced  that, when combined with the mesothelioma drug Alimta (pemetrexed) and the platinum-based drug cisplatin, it significantly extended the survival of lung cancer patients.

According to Bloomberg, the news will likely make Keytruda an even more popular choice among immunotherapy drugs, which are believed to offer the greatest chance for curing cancers such as lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Keytruda and Cancer Survival

Keytruda inhibits a protein called PD-1, which is produced by lung cancer and mesothelioma tumors as a way to evade detection by the immune system.

PD-1 inhibitors have become an important focus of mesothelioma research in the past two years because its overexpression is so common. A recent Australian study determined that 72.4% of mesothelioma patients overexpress PD-1 and that these patients tended to experience shorter survival than patients without this overexpression.

In the latest trial, Keytruda was tested as a first-line treatment in 614 patients with non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer.

“KEYNOTE-189 showed significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival for patients receiving KEYTRUDA in the first-line setting in combination with traditional chemotherapy, compared with those receiving chemotherapy alone,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories in a statement.

KEYNOTE-189 is just the latest in a long line of clinical trials of Keytruda. In 2015, Keytruda gained national attention as a potential mesothelioma treatment after 76 percent of mesothelioma clinical trial participants showed a response to it. In about a quarter of those patients, Keytruda actually shrunk their mesothelioma tumors.

Keytruda Mesothelioma Survival Story

Jim McHutchison is one such Keytruda success story. The Maine man was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma more than four years ago, after having been told he had just months to live.

In a 2016 interview, three years after his diagnosis, McHutchison told Surviving Mesothelioma, “The news just keeps getting better and better with each CT. Everything has diminished on Keytruda.”

Like other mesothelioma survivors, McHutchison recommends that mesothelioma patients fight their disease as individuals, rather than looking for a one-size-fits-all approach.

To find out how the world’s longest-living mesothelioma survivor, Paul Kraus, has done it, Click Here to claim a free copy of his best-selling survival story.


“Merck’s KEYTRUDA(R) (pembrolizumab) Significantly Improved Overall Survival and Progression-Free Survival as First-Line Treatment in Combination with Pemetrexed and Platinum Chemotherapy for Patients with Metastatic Nonsquamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (KEYNOTE-189)”, January 16, 2018, Merck website

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