At Asbestos Justice, we are regularly reaching settlements with Defendants which include their formal agreement to pay for our clients’ future, private immunotherapy costs. Treatments are changing by the day and it is hoped that positive results from ongoing clinical trials will pave the way for more effective disease control.
Annual death rates due to mesothelioma have increased to around 2,500 per year and it is anticipated that the figure will remain at this level for a number of years before gradually dropping to around 2,000 death per annum by 2030.
The figures are frightening but the ever changing treatment field could well offer significant hope for sufferers and their families.
Immunotherapy drugs have been widely used since about 2016 and have been used to treat a fatal form of skin cancer known as melanoma. Around the same time, early clinical trials involving the use of Pembrolizumab (also known as Keytruda) returned with positive results in the treatment of mesothelioma, despite the drugs not yet being licensed in the UK.
By 2017 the MAPS 2 trial uncovered that treatment of mesothelioma with two immunotherapy drugs known as Nivolumab and Ipilimumab was considered to be more effective when compared to treating a patient with one of the drugs alone. However, such combination therapy has been considered to be more toxic and often leads to more side-effects. Costs are also higher than single drug therapy.
Immunotherapy and vaccine therapy can be extremely expensive and it is therefore vital that specialist asbestos disease solicitors protect their clients by securing their right to claim for recommended treatments.
It is feared that as the treatment options for mesothelioma patients widens in the private sector, the NHS will have some catching up to do.
Costs of private immunotherapy treatment for Keytruda have remained pretty much the same at between £120,000.00 to £140,000.00 per annum, with combination drug therapy costing as much as £200,000.00 per year. You can see how vital it is to ensure that your specialist asbestos disease solicitor protects your right to claim mesothelioma compensation to cover the cost of any private medical treatment, recommended by your treating oncologist.
Some of our clients’ have received private medical treatment in the comfort of their own home but some specialist treatment centres prefer patients to attend at hospital to receive the therapy, to be monitored in case of reactions and side-effects.
It is thought that the results of two clinical phase III trials known as PROMISE-meso and CHECKMATE-743 will be available for specialists to consider within the next 2 years. We will continue to monitor the results and report on our site.
Trials involving the randomised use of Keytruda and Nivolumab as a first line form of treatment, as well as being used as second and third line treatments post chemotherapy, are still ongoing. It is hoped that the combination of new drugs with chemotherapy will improve quality of life, stabilise disease and increase life expectancy for mesothelioma patients.
Recent trends have been for specialist treatment centres to recommend DNA testing of a patient’s tumour to tailor the patient’s treatment to the precise make up of their disease. Patients have also regularly undergone testing for certain proteins which are potential markers for how a person will respond to treatment. We succeeded in a mesothelioma claim for a client who underwent testing to assess whether he would benefit from Keytruda treatment in a first line setting. His protein PD-L1 expression was very high at over 80%, and by receiving the treatment he survived for well over 12 months more than had been anticipated.
Another novel clinical trial which aims to harness the body’s immune system to attach mesothelioma cells is currently ongoing, with 235 participants taking part in Antwerp, Ancona, Lille, Amsterdam and Leicester, here in England. The trial aims to assess the effectiveness and anti-tumour activity of MesoPher, a vaccine which combines a patient’s own dendritic immune cells with an engineered cell line. The eminent Dr D Fennell the principal clinical trial investigator and Professor of Thoracic Medical Oncology at the University of Leicester, has described expectations as being high. He added:
“I use the sniffer dog, the kind you see at the airport. Those dogs are trained to recognise an odour and then go after it. That’s what we’re doing with the cells, first priming them outside the body to recognise what mesothelioma looks like, so when they go back into the body, they can orchestrate an immune response to attack the cancer.”
On the MesoPher trial, patients on Arm A will receive 2 bi-weekly injections of MesoPher after chemotherapy and will also receive an additional injection at weeks 18 and 30 into the trial. Patients on Arm B will only be provided with supportive care after their chemotherapy but both arms will also receive Keytruda as its use has revealed early positive results in the treatment of asbestos-related mesothelioma. Professor Fennell continued:-
“What this trial offers to a patient is the possibility of being able to control their tumour. I’d say there is a very, very good chance that we may see an extension of disease control, beyond the typical 6 months you see with chemotherapy.”
The Mesopher treatment, engineered by a biotechnology company called Amphera, starts with the process of collecting blood from patients in hospital. Next dendritic cells within the blood are then separated and are affectively injected with a laboratory prepared cell line designed to ignite the immune system to identify and attack the asbestos-related cancer. The final drug product is administered via a series of injections.
With advances in technology and medical science it is anticipated that median survival, post diagnosis will increase from the current 12 month period and we will continue to keep you informed of any updated developments. It is also very much hoped that these ground-breaking techniques will leave the days of chemotherapy treatment on its own, or radical surgery in combination, behind.
If you have any questions regarding the making of a mesothelioma claim to cover private treatment costs or believe you have a valid asbestos claim for any other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.
Amphera (18/03/19). Amphera Recruits First Patients to Pivotal Phase II/III study of MesoPher to treat Pleural Mesothelioma. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/03/18/1756545/0/en/Amphera-Recruits -First-Patients-to-Pivotal-Phase-II-III-study-of-MesoPher-to-treat-Pleural-Mesothelioma.html