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Drug Combination Nearly Doubles Survival Rates for Mesothelioma Patients

Jun 11, 2020 by Kamran Ahmed

The survival rate of pleural mesothelioma cancer patients increased dramatically when ramucirumab, a new immunotherapy drug, was combined with chemotherapy drug gemcitabine during clinical trials in Italy.

Ramucirumab restricts the protein that promotes blood vessel growth within the tumor. Marketed by Eli Lilly and Company as Cyramza, ramucirumab is an antibody that tends to form a clone (monoclonal).

Clinical trial doubles survival rate for mesothelioma patients

"These positive data may be the beginning to change the clinical practice in the choice of second-line therapy for pleural mesothelioma," said oncologist Dr. Maria Pagano, a researcher at General Hospital Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova in Reggio Emilia, Italy. 
Dr. Pagano's views confirm that while the drug is still in the clinical trial stage, the results are already promising. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had previously approved the use of ramucirumab for the treatment of liver, stomach, and colorectal cancers. 

Human trials of ramucirumab have been ongoing for more than 13 months. Of the total 161 participants, 81 were treated with a combination of ramucirumab and gemcitabine, while the remaining 80 were given only gemcitabine.

After six months, survival rates for the group that received the combo drug stood at 74.7%, while the group treated with only gemcitabine had a 63.9% chance of survival. The survival rate changed to 56.5% and 33.9%, respectively, after twelve months. Moreover, those patients who were given the combination of drugs showed a progression-free survival edge over the group that received only gemcitabine.

The trials are still underway at some healthcare facilities in the U.S. as well, with new participants still being accepted. 

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