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Norwegian biotech company’s immunotherapy drug shows promise for mesothelioma patients who undergo chemotherapy

A Norwegian biotechnology company recently announced that the 21-month followup data from its clinical stage immunotherapy trials revealed promising results for mesothelioma patients who are also undergoing chemotherapy to treat their rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The results of the study show that at least half of the patients who took the company’s immuno-oncology drug while undergoing chemotherapy are still alive, compared to an average survival rate of just over a year for those who did not.

Targovax ASA’s phase I/II trial of its ONCOS-102 aims to assess the safety, immune activation and clinical efficacy of the drug taken in combination with a patient’s chemotherapy regimen compared to those who underwent the standard chemotherapy only. The study examined 31patients in total, with 20 receiving the ONCOS-102 immunotherapy drug which targets hard to kill mesothelioma tumor cells. “It is most encouraging that survival continues to track so well in the ONCOS-102-treated first line group,” said Targovax’s chief medical officer . “We have earlier seen and reported how ONCOS-102 drives profound remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. It is now becoming clear that this is translating into long-term survival benefit.”

Mesothelioma has a latency period of anywhere from 20 to 50 years, which means decades can pass after exposure to asbestos before doctors are able to make a diagnosis, leaving many patients with diminished treatment options. Oftentimes, surgery is not an option to kill mesothelioma tumors, and patients are left with only chemotherapy as an option, which can take a toll on the individual’s overall health.

In recent years, researchers have been studying immunotherapy treatments to teach the patient’s own immune system to target mesothelioma tumors specifically and leave healthy tissue alone. One of the biggest challenges of chemotherapy is that it not only kills tumor cells, but also some of the surrounding healthy tissue, which can create serious side effects for patients undergoing the treatment. Across the world, scientists are studying the efficacy of adding an immunotherapy treatment to traditional cancer-killing chemotherapy in order to prevent the tumors from spreading from the lungs and abdominal cavity to other vital organs and prolong the patient’s life.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug combination in several years to treat mesothelioma, which Targovax’s chief medical officer noted in the company’s press release. “The survival data also holds up well to the recently FDA-approved ipilimumab and nivolumab combination, confirming the relevance of immunotherapy in mesothelioma and strongly suggesting combining ONCOS-102 with checkpoint inhibition could further boost efficacy in this highly malignant and difficult-to-treat cancer.”

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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