Immunotherapy is now one of many treatment options available to treat mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer affecting the lungs, heart and abdomen that usually develops due to asbestos exposure. In fall 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opdivo® (nivolumab) in combination with Yervoy® (ipilimumab) for the initial treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed with surgery. When combined, Opdivo and Yervoy act as an immune checkpoint inhibitor. This combination has previously been approved to treat lung cancer, renal cell cancer and melanoma.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is an innovative treatment method that uses a person’s own immune system to fight off cancer. In some cases, immunotherapy is aimed at strengthening the immune system so that it’s better equipped to combat cancer. In other instances, immunotherapy involves specifically training the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Some cancers produce proteins that allow them to avoid being detected by the immune system’s checkpoints. An immune checkpoint inhibitor—like the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy used for mesothelioma immunotherapy—blocks these proteins from interacting with the immune system, so the immune system can identify and attack the cancerous cells as intended.
Mesothelioma immunotherapy at Moffitt
Moffitt Cancer Center, a leader in cancer research, is proud to have taken part in the clinical trials for mesothelioma immunotherapy. Our Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center—one of the country’s only treatment centers focusing on mesothelioma—includes surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and a number of other mesothelioma specialists. We place the highest priority on ensuring that each patient receives a comprehensive and individualized treatment experience.