University involved in new trial to fight cancer caused by asbestos
Patients with a hard-to-treat type of cancer are being given new hope in a ground-breaking clinical trial.
Researchers at our University working with the University of Southampton are trialling a drug that could boost the body’s immune system to fight off mesothelioma, which can be caused by asbestos.
The trial will be one of many to be conducted at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology, which will be the UK’s first and only centre dedicated to cancer immunology research.
Mesothelioma rates are rising. Since the late 1970s, mesothelioma incidence rates have increased almost six-fold (497 per cent increase) in Great Britain. There were around 2,700 new cases of mesothelioma in the UK in 2013 – more than seven cases diagnosed every day.
Current treatment methods include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery and are mainly aimed at keeping the cancer under control.
The phase III randomised controlled trial, which is funded by Cancer Research UK and supported by Bristol Myers Squibb, will test whether nivolumab, a drug already used to successfully treat advanced melanoma and advanced kidney cancer, can be used to target mesothelioma.
The trial, which is being run in collaboration with the clinical lead Professor Dean Fennell at the University of Leicester, plans to recruit 304 patients, who have relapsed mesothelioma, across 20 UK-wide sites including Southampton and Leicester.
Professor Fennell said: “Preliminary studies targeting PD-1 in mesothelioma have shown promising activity. CONFIRM aims to definitively assess the true benefit of nivolumab for patients with relapsed mesothelioma in a setting where there is an unmet need. Critically, we aim to understand why patients respond (or not) to this drug, and identify biomarkers to ensure that we can personalise therapy to maximize the benefit for patients.”