June is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month. Innovative treatments like immunotherapies are available through clinical trials and help expand mesothelioma patients’ options. Immunotherapy is a category of cancer treatments that cooperate with the body’s immune system. Certain immunotherapies have shown promise in treating mesothelioma.

Access Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Treatments

Immunotherapy treatments are available through clinical trials. Clinical trials are an important option for mesothelioma patients to have. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer with few FDA approved treatments. All new and innovative mesothelioma treatments are only available through clinical trials.

The easiest way to find a clinical trial is by using our clinical trial search tool. The tool allows you to search through mesothelioma clinical trials. You can input your specific diagnosis information to find a trial that fits your needs.

Promising Mesothelioma Immunotherapies

  • Keytruda (pembrolizumab)

    Keytruda is a monoclonal antibody & checkpoint inhibitor. Keytruda is FDA approved for several cancers. It was recently approved for first-line treatment of metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with chemotherapy. Researchers hope that Keytruda will eventually be approved for pleural mesothelioma treatment.

    According to a recent report, Keytruda has reduced cancer size in 14 out of 25 pleural mesothelioma patients in an ongoing clinical trial.

    T cells have a receptor on their surface called PD-1 which absorbs the protein PD-L1. Cancer cells can release PD-L1 to trick the T cell into ignoring the cancer instead of attacking it. Keytruda blocks the PD-1 receptor, allowing the T cells to identify and attack the cancer cells.

  • CRS-207

    CRS-207 is a cancer vaccine. This drug is intended to induce an immune response. CRS-207 is created from a strain of Listeria. Listeria is a bacteria that sometimes contaminates food. Researchers edit the Listeria so that it can no longer cause infection.

    In an ongoing CRS-207 trial, 94 percent of pleural mesothelioma patients achieved disease control.

    Researchers also edit the Listeria to express mesothelin, an antigen that is often expressed by mesothelioma tumors. CRS-207 can train the immune system to target mesothelin. Once the immune system begins targeting mesothelin, it will begin to attack the cancer cells that express it.

  • Galinpepimut-S

    Galinpepimut-S is a cancer vaccine. Last year, the FDA granted Fast Track designation to Galinpepimut-S for treatment of pleural mesothelioma. This designation indicates that the FDA wants to get this mesothelioma treatment to patients as quickly as possible.

    Pleural mesothelioma patients participating in a phase II trial of galinpepimut-S had a median overall survival of 24.8 months. The control arm in the trial had a median overall survival of 16.6 months.

    Galinpepimut-S is also known as the WT1 vaccine because of the antigen it works against. The WT1 antigen is common in cancers but not common in normal adult tissues. The goal of the vaccine is to convince the immune system to protect the body from the WT1 antigen. Since mesothelioma is high in WT1, the immune system will attack the cancer.

Types of Cancer Immunotherapy

There are many different types of immunotherapy and researchers are constantly improving them and developing new ones.

Here are some main types of immunotherapy:

  • Monoclonal antibodies bind to specific targets in the body. Monoclonal antibodies often work as immune checkpoint inhibitors. Cancers can sometimes use specific pathways or “checkpoints” on the immune system’s t-cells to avoid being attacked. Checkpoint inhibitors can block this interaction, allowing the t-cells to attack the cancer.
  • T-cell therapy is a process that involves modifying t-cells. T-cells are the soldiers of the immune system and attack threats to the body. Researchers take t-cells from a patient’s blood and modify them to improve their anti-cancer abilities. Once the t-cells are reintroduced to the body they should be able to fight off cancer more effectively.
  • Cancer vaccines work by using antigens to train the immune system to attack cancer cells. Antigens can be anything that the immune system recognizes as a threat to the body and attacks. A cancer vaccine teaches the immune system to attack certain antigens and related materials that are associated with the cancer.
  • Non-specific immunotherapies use cytokines to treat cancer. Cytokines stimulate a broad immune-response rather than targeting a specific part of the cancer. Cytokines are proteins made naturally by a patient’s cells. There are two main types of cytokines: interferons and interleukins.
  • Other types of immunotherapy work in different ways. All immunotherapy treatments work to help the immune system fight cancer better. Researchers continue to develop new and innovative immunotherapy treatments.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. Understanding Immunotherapy. Cancer.Net. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/immunotherapy-and-vaccines/understanding-immunotherapy. Accessed: 5/31/17.
  2. Immunotherapy. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy. Accessed: 5/31/17.
  3. Pembrolizumab May Help Combat Mesothelioma. Oncology Nurse Advisor. Retrieved from: http://www.oncologynurseadvisor.com/lung-cancer/checkpoint-inhibitor-shows-antitumor-activity-in-mesothelioma/article/648001/. Accessed: 5/31/17.
  4. SELLAS™ Life Sciences Receives FDA Fast Track Designation of Galinpepimut-S for the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. PR Newswire. Retrieved from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sellas-life-sciences-receives-fda-fast-track-designation-of-galinpepimut-s-for-the-treatment-of-malignant-pleural-mesothelioma-300329701.html. Accessed: 5/31/17.
  5. Aduro Biotech Announces Clinical Collaboration with Merck to Evaluate the Combination of Aduro’s CRS-207 with Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (Pembrolizumab) for the Treatment of Mesothelioma. Aduro Biotech. Retrieved from: http://investors.aduro.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=242043&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2273583. Accessed: 5/31/17.

About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.