In a recent study, scientists wanted to see if a medicine called ramucirumab could make another medicine, called nivolumab, work better for people with mesothelioma. They thought that using both of these medicines together might help more than using nivolumab alone.
Breaking Down the Science
Mesothelioma is a rare and serious type of cancer that affects a special lining in our bodies called the mesothelium. This lining covers our organs like the lungs and stomach. It is caused by breathing in tiny bits of a mineral called asbestos. It can take a long time for symptoms to show up, making it hard to catch early.
To test how well ramucirumab and nivolumab work as a treatment, the scientists gathered a group of 34 patients with mesothelioma that could not be removed with surgery. These patients had already tried a type of medicine called pemetrexed, but it did not work for them. The scientists gave the patients ramucirumab and nivolumab through a vein every two weeks for up to two years.
Ramucirumab and Nivolumab Fight Mesothelioma
The scientists watched how the patients’ bodies responded to the treatment. They were especially interested in whether the tumors got smaller, how long it took for the cancer to start growing again, and how long the patients lived.
They found over one-fifth of all the patients’ tumors got smaller, which was better than what was seen with nivolumab alone. Almost half of the patients’ tumors did not get bigger during the treatment and about a third of the patients’ cancers didn’t start growing again for at least 24 weeks.
On average, the cancer didn’t start growing again for a little over four months and the patients lived for about 12.5 months after starting the treatment. Plus, the treatment did not cause any serious side effects.
In the end, the scientists found that using nivolumab and ramucirumab together was safe and seemed to help the patients more than using nivolumab alone. They think that more studies on this type of treatment could be a big step forward in successfully treating patients with mesothelioma.
Dudek AZ, Xi MX, Scilla KA, et al. Phase II trial of nivolumab and ramucirumab for relapsed mesothelioma: HCRN-LUN15-299. JTO Clin Res Rep. 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.jtocrr.2023.100584. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666364323001273