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Nivolumab versus placebo in patients with relapsed malignant mesothelioma (CONFIRM): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, phase 3 trial

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posted on 17.11.2021, 09:13 by Dean Fennell, Sean Ewings, Christian Ottensmeier, Raffaele Califano, Gerard Hanna, Kayleigh Hill, Sarah Danson, Nicola Steele, Mavis Nye, Lucy Johnson, Joanne Lord, Calley Middleton, Peter Szlosarek, Peter Chan, Aarti Gaba, Liz Darlison, Peter Wells-Jordan, Cathy Richards, Charlotte Poile, Jason Lester, Gareth Griffitsh
No phase 3 trial has yet shown improved survival for patients with pleural or peritoneal malignant mesothelioma who have progressed following platinum-based chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of nivolumab, an anti-PD-1 antibody, in these patients.

This was a multicentre, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel group, randomised, phase 3 trial done in 24 hospitals in the UK. Adult patients (aged ≥18 years) with an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1, with histologically confirmed pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, who had received previous first-line platinum-based chemotherapy and had radiological evidence of disease progression, were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive nivolumab at a flat dose of 240 mg every 2 weeks over 30 min intravenously or placebo until disease progression or a maximum of 12 months. The randomisation sequence was generated within an interactive web response system (Alea); patients were stratified according to epithelioid versus non-epithelioid histology and were assigned in random block sizes of 3 and 6. Participants and treating clinicians were masked to group allocation. The co-primary endpoints were investigator-assessed progression-free survival and overall survival, analysed according to the treatment policy estimand (an equivalent of the intention-to-treat principle). All patients who were randomly assigned were included in the safety population, reported according to group allocation. This trial is registered with Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT03063450.

Between May 10, 2017, and March 30, 2020, 332 patients were recruited, of whom 221 (67%) were randomly assigned to the nivolumab group and 111 (33%) were assigned to the placebo group). Median follow-up was 11·6 months (IQR 7·2–16·8). Median progression-free survival was 3·0 months (95% CI 2·8–4·1) in the nivolumab group versus 1·8 months (1·4–2·6) in the placebo group (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·67 [95% CI 0·53–0·85; p=0·0012). Median overall survival was 10·2 months (95% CI 8·5–12·1) in the nivolumab group versus 6·9 months (5·0–8·0) in the placebo group (adjusted HR 0·69 [95% CI 0·52–0·91]; p=0·0090). The most frequently reported grade 3 or worse treatment-related adverse events were diarrhoea (six [3%] of 221 in the nivolumab group vs two [2%] of 111 in the placebo group) and infusion-related reaction (six [3%] vs none). Serious adverse events occurred in 90 (41%) patients in the nivolumab group and 49 (44%) patients in the placebo group. There were no treatment-related deaths in either group.

Nivolumab represents a treatment that might be beneficial to patients with malignant mesothelioma who have progressed on first-line therapy.


Stand up to Cancer–Cancer Research UK and Bristol Myers Squibb.



The Lancet Oncology, Volume 22, Issue 11, November 2021, Pages 1530-1540

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Leicester Cancer Research Centre, University of Leicester


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