Keytruda is the brand name for the drug pembrolizumab, manufactured by Merck & Co. pharmaceuticals. Many are optimistic that Keytruda will be a viable and powerful treatment option for those suffering from pleural mesothelioma. The FDA recently approved Keytruda for use in combination with two common chemotherapy drugs, pemetrexed and carboplatin.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the protective membrane that lines the body’s internal organs. Most cases of mesothelioma begin in the pleural mesothelium located in the chest cavity, but the condition is also known to begin in the abdomen or around the heart. The main risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. When people are exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, it is usually due to the type of work they perform, with construction work being a common occupation that results in exposure.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug that helps the body’s immune system identify and destroy cancer cells. It has been used in over 400 clinical trials across the world. It has never before been studied specifically with respect to its effect in treating mesothelioma when used in conjunction with chemotherapy. The FDA has recently approved Keytruda for use in treating melanoma, head and neck cancers, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
A protein known as PD-L1 is common in many types of cancer, but only in half of mesothelioma patients. This recent FDA approval is the first time Keytruda has been approved for use in treating tumors that do not express the PD-L1 protein.
A recent clinical trial demonstrated that patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancers like mesothelioma exhibited much better results than those who had not taken Keytruda. These results prompted the FDA to approve Keytruda’s use in mesothelioma patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Over half of the patients taking Keytruda responded well, compared to just 29 percent who took chemotherapy alone. According to a research scientist at Pacific Mesothelioma Center, these clinical trials have shown that the combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy could result in a new first-line treatment for mesothelioma.
The results of the clinical trials have a lot of people feeling optimistic. The median progression-free survival was 13 months for those who received the combination, and just 8.9 months for those who only received chemotherapy. According to the lead researcher of the clinical trial, this is an important milestone in treating all types of lung cancer, not just mesothelioma.
The lead researcher noted that physicians should continue to consider each patient on a case-by-case basis when deciding whether Keytruda is right for them. They should continue assessing each patients’ biomarker status, histology, and other clinical factors in determining the best course of treatment.
The most common side effects in patients taking Keytruda were nausea, fatigue, and constipation. A small percentage suffered acute kidney problems.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help you identify the responsible parties and hold them accountable. To schedule a consultation, contact the respected Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today at 302-656-5445 or 800-355-1818 or complete our online contact form. We represent clients in asbestos exposure cases in Dover, Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, as well as those throughout the state.