Researchers at Cancer Research UK’s Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (SCTU) have made a major breakthrough which may help patients with mesothelioma survive for longer.

The new immunotherapy drug, Nivolumab, had impressive trial results, reducing the participants cancer progressing by 39 percent and not worsening for three months.

Professor Gareth Griffiths, Director of the Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton, said: “This trial shows clear evidence of benefit and marks a major breakthrough in the treatment of mesothelioma, a disease where there are currently very few options for patients when first-line chemotherapy has stopped working and prognosis is often very poor.

“This is the first study ever to show improved survival and we therefore believe that nivolumab could be a game-changer for treating mesothelioma patients in the future.”

More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK, which is usually linked to breathing in Asbestos fibres.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Nearly half a century ago, Cancer Research UK scientists added to the understanding of just how dangerous asbestos could be. This research helped change regulations, reducing workers exposure to this deadly substance. But mesothelioma can take over 40 years to develop, and the long and painful legacy of asbestos use is still sadly being felt today.

“It’s wonderful news to hear that we may have found a new treatment for people with mesothelioma who have run out of options, when there has been so little progress over the years. We hope that NICE considers nivolumab as a treatment option, which will give people with mesothelioma precious extra time with their loved ones.”

You can find out more information at the University Of Southampton’s website.