Southampton based scientists have made a breakthrough in the treatment of mesothelioma to help patients survive longer.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer, linked to breathing asbestos fibres, currently with seven percent of people living with the disease for five years or more.
The team of scientists, based both in Southampton and Leicester and funded by Cancer Research UK, found an immunotherapy drug used for other cancers called nivolumab also works for mesothelioma.
This breakthrough could give people valuable extra time with their loved ones.
A total of 332 patients, whose tumours were still growing after receiving chemotherapy and who were unable to have surgery, took part in the randomised trial over a 12 month period.
This is the first study to show a treatment that can improve survival in patients with mesothelioma that has returned after chemotherapy.
Those given nivolumab reduced the risk of their cancer progressing by 39 per cent.
Professor Gareth Griffiths, director of the Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton, said: “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.”
Every year, around 90 people are diagnosed with mesothemlioma in Hampshire alone.