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Innovation Observatory > Reports > Drugs > Nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab for malignant pleural mesothelioma – first line

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Nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab for malignant pleural mesothelioma – first line


Cancer and Palliative Care

February 2019

Nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab is in development as first-line treatment in adult patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). MPM is rare a type of cancer that affects the outer linings of the lungs and the internal chest wall. Mesothelioma is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and surgery is not always possible. Treatment is usually given to keep symptoms under control (palliative care) for as long as possible, although patients tend to respond poorly to current chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Nivolumab works by improving the activity of white blood cells (T-cells) thereby increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Ipilimumab works in a different way but also to increase the activity of T-cells. It is thought that when used in combination, both drugs may be more effective than each drug on its own. Both drugs given by injection are already used in combination to treat advanced cancers in the kidney and skin. If licenced, nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab has the potential to improve long-term outcomes in MPM patients who currently have limited first-line treatment options.

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