A research team at Oslo University Hospital in Norway has opened a mesothelioma clinical trial using the novel UV1 cancer vaccine alongside a promising immunotherapy combination. This is the first time UV1 will be studied with mesothelioma cancer, but it already has shown safety and signs of efficacy when on malignant melanoma, prostate cancer and lung cancer in studies worldwide.
It will be used with the immunotherapy combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab, also known by brand names Opdivo and Yervoy, respectively.
“Even if we can’t promise efficacy at this point, we believe mesothelioma is a relevant cancer in which to test this vaccine,” Dr. Jens Bjorheim, chief medical officer at Ultimovacs, told The Mesothelioma Center, “ The hope is clinical efficacy and overall survival benefit.”
The phase II, randomized study involves treatment in a second-line setting after tumor progression with first-line chemotherapy for those with unresectable disease. UV1 works by targeting telomerase, a cancer antigen that helps cancer cells divide uncontrollably.
“The vaccine helps the immune system do its job,” Bjorheim said. “Hopefully the vaccine further enhances what the immune system is designed to do – kill cancer cells.”
Like most in the medical community, Bjorheim believes that the future of cancer care involves immunotherapy. Finding the right combinations, though, has been difficult, especially for rare cancers such as mesothelioma.