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Researchers Believe FDA Approved Immunotherapy Drug, Multimodal Treatment Combination Could Pave Path to Mesothelioma Cure

Dr. Bernardo H.L. Goulart, a prominent medical oncologist and principal investigator at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), believes a multimodal regimen of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, combined with the immunotherapy drug Tecentriq (atezolizumab), could pave the path to a cure for mesothelioma.

Approved in 2016 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Tecentriq is the first FDA-approved anti-PDL1 cancer immunotherapy. This monoclonal antibody works by affecting the actions of the body's immune system. It strengthens the immune system to help the body fight against tumor cells. The drug, which is administered by injection into a vein through IV, is most often given slowly and it can take up to 60 minutes to complete. It is usually given once every three weeks until the body no longer responds to the medication. In general, Tecentriq is given after other cancer medicines have been tried without success.

Dr. Bernardo is currently recruiting patients with patients with stage I-III malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) for a clinical trial that will include four chemotherapy (pemetrexed disodium, cisplatin) and Tecentriq infusions, once every three weeks. This is the pre-surgery phase of the trial. According to SCCA, monoclonal antibodies, such as Tecentriq, “may interfere with the ability of tumor cells to grow and spread. Pemetrexed disodium may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth.”

“Drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, work in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells, by stopping them from dividing, or by stopping them from spreading.” Giving Tecentriq, pemetrexed disodium, and cisplatin before surgery may make the tumor smaller and reduce the amount of normal tissue that needs to be removed. Giving Tecentriq after surgery may kill any remaining tumor cells.

After surgery, patients will be given a 60-minute infusion every three weeks for up to 12 months. Depending on the type of surgery, patients may or may not receive radiation treatment. Dr. Bernardo and his research team hope to recruit at least 28 surgical candidates nationwide.

Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the trial, Atezolizumab, Pemetrexed Disodium, Cisplatin, and Surgery With or Without Radiation Therapy in Treating Patients With Stage I-III Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma, will be conducted at more than 140 sites across the U.S.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to your doctor about participating in a clinical trial. Trials such as the Tecentriq study could be helpful in treating your specific type of mesothelioma. Talk to your doctor about clinical trials today.


Sources U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018. Web. 13 Aug. 2018.

Goulart, Bernardo H.L. Atezolizumab, Pemetrexed Disodium, Cisplatin, and Surgery With or Without Radiation Therapy in Treating Patients With Stage I-III Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma,” Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), 2018. Web. 13 Aug. 2018. Genetech USA, Inc., A Member of the Roche Group, 2018. Web. 13 Aug. 2018.

“What is Tecentriq?”, 2000-2018. Web. 13 Aug. 2018.