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Could ONCOS-102 Be a New First-Line Mesothelioma Treatment?

first-line mesothelioma treatment

A new first-line mesothelioma treatment has moved a step closer to becoming reality. 

New data show that the immunotherapy drug ONCOS-102 continues to look promising, nine months into a Phase I/II clinical trial. The drug was especially helpful to mesothelioma patients who had not yet had any treatment. 

Norweigian drug maker Targovax made the announcement earlier this month. ONCOS-102 is an experimental drug based on a modified virus. The virus helps it target mesothelioma cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

The latest results show ONCOS-102 helps standard mesothelioma chemotherapy work better. Targovax says the next step will be a larger test of the combination as a first-line mesothelioma treatment. 

Clinical Trial of ONCOS-102

The power of ONCOS-102 comes from the genetically modified virus. When the virus gets inside mesothelioma cells, it replicates itself many times over. This triggers an immune response. 

The new clinical trial tests ONCOS-102 with chemotherapy as a both a second-line and first-line mesothelioma treatment. Some of the patients in the trial had tried other treatments. Others had not. 

Twenty mesothelioma patients received chemotherapy along with ONCOS-102. Eleven patients had only standard chemotherapy. Preliminary results released in January showed that patients who got ONCOS-102 had a better immune response. As a result, the growth of their cancer slowed down. 

Now that all of the patients in the trial have had at least nine months of treatment, Targovax released updated data. According to the newest report, “The median Progression Free Survival (mPFS) remains in line with previously published data and compares favorably with historical control.”

ONCOS-102 appears to work especially well as a first-line mesothelioma treatment. Targovax says they plan to focus on untreated mesothelioma patients in a future trial. 

New Combinations for First-Line Mesothelioma Treatment

Most newly-diagnosed pleural mesothelioma patients receive a combination of Alimta and Platinol (cisplatin). But first-line mesothelioma treatment with chemotherapy does not usually extend life by more than a few months.  Immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda help some patients live longer. But even Keytruda does not work for all patients. 

Another Targovax trial tests ONCOS-102 in combination with Keytruda for melanoma patients. That might be the next step for their mesothelioma trials, too.

“We are very pleased to see the encouraging early progression-free survival figures holding up in the 9-month analysis,” says Dr. Magnus Jäderberg, Chief Medical Officer of Targovax. “The data look particularly promising for first-line patients, and the preparations for a subsequent checkpoint inhibitor combination trial in this population with a big pharma collaboration partner are progressing according to plan”. 

Targovax expects to release more detailed 12-month trial results later this year. 

Alimta (pemetrexed) is the only drug approved for first-line mesothelioma treatment. 


“Targovax releases update for mesothelioma trial combining ONCOS-102 and chemotherapy”, Targovax News Release, May 4, 2020, Targovax website, Accessed May 28, 2020, https://www.targovax.com/en/targovax-releases-update-for-mesothelioma-trial-combining-oncos-102-and-chemotherapy/

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