Opdivo, also known as nivolumab, is a monoclonal antibody drug. It has been successful in treating multiple kinds of cancer. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2020 to be used in combination with Yervoy to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma.1

Opdivo’s Success in Treating Other Cancers

Opdivo has been successful in treating several different cancers, including

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Urinary tract cancer

Opdivo is commonly used in a multimodal approach, meaning it is combined with other immunotherapy drugs, like Yervoy, and other cancer therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Combination treatment generally leads to better outcomes than what can be achieved with one drug or one kind of cancer therapy alone.

Opdivo Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma: How It Works

As a form of cancer immunotherapy, Opdivo stimulates the immune system to target and kill cancer cells. Specifically, Opdivo is a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, meaning that it enhances the activation and proliferation of T-cells. (T-cells are a type of white blood cell. They stimulate the immune system and kill foreign cells, infected cells, and cancer cells.) Combining Opdivo with Yervoy, a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor, results in even greater T-cell function.

Combination Treatment with Yervoy

Opdivo, in combination with Yervoy, is a first-line therapy for unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was approved as such by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on October 2, 2020. The clinical trial that supported its use found Opdivo with Yervoy to be significantly more effective than chemotherapy in improving overall survival. The results of another clinical trial suggest that Opdivo with Yervoy is also effective in treating relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma.2

Side Effects of Opdivo

Common side effects of Opdivo include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Electrolyte abnormalities (affecting calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium)
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Elevated pancreatic enzymes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol
  • Hormonal abnormalities (affecting the thyroid)
  • Joint pain
  • Low blood counts (white blood cells, healthy red blood cells, and platelets)
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Nerve pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Opdivo Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma