As mesothelioma diagnoses continue to occur every single day in the U.S., dedicated researchers stay focused on their quest to develop a drug that could potentially treat this deadly cancer. Fortunately, biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca recently made a promising advancement when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an orphan drug designation for the company’s anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody, tremelimumab.

What Is an Orphan Drug Designation?

“Orphan status” can be granted to drugs and biologics that are being developed to treat, diagnose, or prevent a rare disease or condition. The FDA considers a rare disease to be one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Every year, approximately 3,200 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Receiving an orphan drug designation qualifies the sponsor of the drug for development initiatives such as tax credits. This helps encourage companies to work hard to create drugs that treat rare diseases like mesothelioma.

What You Should Know About Tremelimumab

Tremelimumab: the name is a mouthful, but it could be music to the mesothelioma community’s ears if continued research and development initiatives prove successful. The drug is a form of immunotherapy, which many experts believe could become the 4th pillar in effective cancer treatment (along with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation). Immuno-oncology drugs are designed to use a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

AstraZeneca is studying tremelimumab as a treatment option on its own, but the company is also seeing how it works in combination with a few other oncological drugs that are in development as well.

We will update this blog if any additional information becomes available.