A study by Penn Med in Philadelphia published March 10, 2017 in the prestigious medical journal Lancet found that the drug Pembrolizumab was well tolerated and might confer anti-tumor activity in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. The exposure can be occupational (insulators, shipyard workers, electricians, pipe fitters, machinists, etc) but can also occur when the worker brings the asbestos home on work clothes; then family members can be diagnosed with mesothelioma as well. The standard first-line therapy treatment involves chemotherapy and currently there is no approved second-line therapy. Checkpoint inhibitors are being studied by Evan Alley, MD, PhD, Chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Penn Presbyterian Hospital, and other researchers there. They are designed to free the body's immune system to fight back against cancer.