As researchers continue to search for a cure for mesothelioma, they are also constantly finding new and innovative ways to treat this deadly disease. More cutting-edge cancer treatments are being tested in clinical trials to see how effective they are in treating mesothelioma. Get information about notable treatments that made headlines in the fall of 2021.

New Treatments for Mesothelioma Patients

Researchers are continuing to find new and possibly more effective treatments for malignant mesothelioma as they work to find a cure.

Common mesothelioma treatment methods for patients generally include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Recent research has focused on treatments that combine more than one therapy (multimodal treatments). Newer studies have incorporated immunotherapy, gene therapy, and other cutting-edge methods.

These types of multimodal treatment have been proven effective in clinical trials for malignant mesothelioma patients. Researchers continue to find ways to refine these treatment options in hopes of releasing them to the general public.

Learn more about several up-and-coming mesothelioma treatments for fall 2021.

1. Gemcitabine With Ramucirumab

Researchers in Italy have found that gemcitabine (Gemzar) with or without ramucirumab (Cyramza) is effective in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma, according to an October 2021 study. This treatment combines a chemotherapy drug with a monoclonal antibody, a form of targeted therapy.

The phase II clinical trial treated 161 patients with gemcitabine plus ramucirumab or gemcitabine plus a placebo drug.

During the follow-up at 21 months, the study found that the median overall survival for patients treated with gemcitabine plus ramucirumab was 13 months compared to the gemcitabine plus placebo with a median overall survival of 7 months.

Overall, gemcitabine with ramucirumab was proven effective in improving overall survival for pleural mesothelioma patients in conjunction with first-line chemotherapy.

2. Cisplatin, Pemetrexed, and Atezolizumab

According to a study out of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a first-line combination of chemotherapy drugs cisplatin (PARAPLATIN) and pemetrexed (ALIMTA) with immunotherapy drug atezolizumab (TECENTRIQ®) has been proven safe in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma.

This combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs has been tested with 25 patients in a phase I clinical trial.

According to the study, the majority of patients were treated with the combination and underwent surgery. Although the median overall survival has not been determined at the 20-month follow-up, patients’ cancer did not grow for an average of 18.6 months.

This treatment is in the very early stages of research and development. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) will assess this treatment combination to see how effective it is.

3. Pembrolizumab and Nintedanib

The immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) plus nintedanib (Ofev®) has been proven beneficial to patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

According to a study from the European Society for Medical Oncology, the combination of the anti-angiogenic agent (prevents new blood vessel growth) and immunotherapy drug was used to prevent tumor growth in 29 mesothelioma patients.

During the median follow-up period at 14.8 months, the percentage of patients with no cancer growth that were treated with pembrolizumab and nintedanib was 68.4% at 3 months and 46.6% at 6 months.

Biopsies performed during the median follow-up also found that all patients boosted their T-cell count to fight off cancer cells when they were treated with pembrolizumab and nintedanib.

4. Gavo-Cel

In September, TCR² Therapeutics announced their novel-T cell therapy of gavo-cel (gavocabtagene autoleuce) was beneficial for patients with different types of cancers, including mesothelioma.

This clinical trial tested one single gavo-cel therapy dose on 12 malignant mesothelioma patients, 4 ovarian cancer patients, and 1 bile duct cancer patient.

The gavo-cel therapy has proven effective for mesothelioma patients with an average overall survival of 11.2 months overall and an average progression-free survival rate of 5.9 months.

This novel-T cell therapy is continuing to be studied and tested in hopes of becoming available to both malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

The Importance of New Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

The new treatment methods listed above are only a handful of the many being tested in hopes of improving life expectancies for mesothelioma patients.

As of right now, there is no cure for mesothelioma. This aggressive disease often leaves patients with a poor prognosis.

Thankfully, cancer experts are working tirelessly to refine existing treatment options, test cutting-edge therapies to improve survival rates, and find a cure.

There are plenty of clinical trials that are looking for participants to test new mesothelioma treatments. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, reach out to your mesothelioma doctor or cancer center today.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. BioSpace. (2021, September 17). TCR² therapeutics announces positive interim results from ongoing phase 1/2 trial of gavo-cel for treatment refractory mesothelin-expressing solid tumors. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from 

  2. Danlos, F., Baldini, C., Varga, A., Mouraud, S., Job, B., Letourneur, D., . . . Marabelle, A. (2021). 1732mo Pembrolizumab and nintedanib for patients with advanced mesothelioma. Annals of Oncology, 32. doi:10.1016/j.annonc.2021.08.1976

  3. Pinto, C., Zucali, P. A., Pagano, M., Grosso, F., Pasello, G., Garassino, M. C., . . . Ceresoli, G. L. (2021). Gemcitabine with or without ramucirumab as second-line treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma (rames): A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial. The Lancet Oncology, 22(10), 1438-1447. doi:10.1016/s1470-2045(21)00404-6

  4. Susman, E. (2021, September 12). Triplet therapy proves safe in resectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from

  5. TCR² therapeutics receives FDA orphan drug designation for gavo-cel for the treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma. (2021, September 2). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from

  6. Varga, A., Zalcman, G., Gomez-Roca, C., Ammari, S., Caramella, C., Gounant, V., . . . Planchard, D. (2019). Ma05.11 safety and efficacy of nintedanib in combination with pembrolizumab in patients with refractory/relapsing malignant pleural mesothelioma. Journal of Thoracic Oncology, 14(10). doi:10.1016/j.jtho.2019.08.537

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