Bristol-Myers Squibb’s immunotherapy combination treatment Opdivo (nivolumab) plus Yervoy (ipilimumab) improved survival in patients with previously untreated, malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

In the Phase III CheckMate-743 trial, Opdivo plus Yervoy reduced the risk of death by 26%, demonstrating a median overall survival rate of 18.1 months versus 14.1 months for platinum-based standard of care therapy.

After two years of follow-up, 41% of patients treated with Opdivo plus Yervoy combination were alive, compared to 27% of patients treated with chemotherapy.

In mesothelioma, patients with non-epithelioid cancer types generally experience poorer outcomes. In the CheckMate-743 trial, Opdivo plus Yervoy showed improvements in survival across both non-epithelioid and epithelioid MPM, although a more significantt benefit was observed in the non-epithelioid subgroup.

“An aggressive cancer with a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, malignant pleural mesothelioma has shown resistance to many clinical treatments,” said Paul Baas, Department of Thoracic Oncology, Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Leiden.

“Now, for the first time, we have evidence that a dual immunotherapy combination showed a superior, sustained overall survival benefit compared to chemotherapy in the first-line treatment of all types of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The CheckMate -743 data support the potential for Opdivo plus Yervoy to become a new standard of care,” he added.

“These data in malignant pleural mesothelioma follow on the established long-term efficacy of Opdivo plus Yervoy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and further demonstrate the combination’s potential to change survival expectations in thoracic cancers,” said Sabine Maier, Vice President, Oncology Clinical Development, Bristol Myers Squibb.

“For more than 15 years, no new systemic treatment options that can extend survival have been approved for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. We look forward to discussions with global health authorities over the coming months about the positive results from CheckMate -743,” Maier added.