Durvalumab is becoming one of the fast-rising immunotherapy drugs for both malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer, two diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
Durvalumab is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for mesothelioma. It is approved for both non-small-cell lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer.
Recent studies using durvalumab for both types of thoracic malignancies show how it can help patients who cannot undergo surgery right away – or ever.
Durvalumab for Mesothelioma
Durvalumab for mesothelioma was tested in the DREAM clinical study. The drug led to a median survival of 20.4 months, which is better than chemotherapy by at least six months for most patients. Nearly half of patients lived for two years.
The DREAM3R study is recruiting patients to see if durvalumab and chemotherapy can join together to lengthen survival even more. Other studies test durvalumab with other immunotherapies, such as tremelimumab and ipilimumab.
Durvalumab for Lung Cancer
In the PACIFIC clinical trial, durvalumab was used after chemotherapy and radiation therapy for lung cancer. It helped with survival for these patients, who had locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (meaning stage 2 or stage 3 cancer).
A study in Brazil tested durvalumab on 177 patients with stage 3 NSCLC. The median overall survival was 34.9 months, which is nearly 3 years. This is much improved from the usual survival expectancy for stage 3 NSCLC.
A study in Croatia of 42 lung cancer patients had a median survival of more than three years thanks to durvalumab. Two-thirds of the patients were alive after 32 months, which was the study’s data cutoff. The progression-free survival was two years.
The POSEIDON phase 3 clinical trial used durvalumab with tremelimumab, another immune checkpoint inhibitor, plus chemotherapy. The median survival for using the two with chemotherapy was 14 months, compared to just 11 months for people receiving only chemotherapy. More remarkable was the 3-year survival rate bump: 25% for chemotherapy, durvalumab and tremelimumab; 13.6% for chemotherapy on its own.
This is all hopeful survival data for patients with asbestos lung cancer. Durvalumab is one of many immune checkpoint inhibitors approved for lung cancer.
What Is Durvalumab?
Durvalumab is an immunotherapy drug that targets the PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins. These two proteins link together when PD-L1 is expressed on a cancer cell. PD-1 is a protein on T cells.
When the proteins bind together, T cells are subdued and don’t respond appropriately to the presence of the cancer cell. This allows the cancer to flourish and spread inside the body without any resistance from the immune system.
Durvalumab is an immune checkpoint blockade drug. It separates these two proteins and prevents them from binding, which takes off the brakes for the T cells. The immune system is empowered to act accordingly when the cancer cell is spotted.
Sources & Author
About the Writer, Devin Golden
Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin’s objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.
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