CAR T‑cell therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors seem to work together for malignant mesothelioma.

A phase 1 clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center ended with positive results for 25 cases. The conclusion lends to future studies involving CAR T‑cell therapy, some of which are already starting. The cancer center is hosting a dose‑escalation trial for CAR T‑cell therapy with 30 spaces available.

If you’d like to join this trial or another, please email nurse Karen Ritter at


Explaining CAR T‑Cell Therapy for Mesothelioma

CAR T‑cell therapy is a unique form of immunotherapy. “CAR” stands for chimeric antigen receptor, a mesothelin‑targeting drug. It latches to mesothelin, which is overexpressed in mesothelioma tumors, and helps the body’s T‑cells respond to cancer.

This specific CAR T‑cell therapy, called IcasM28z, includes a fail‑safe gene called Icaspase‑9. If a patient responds negatively to the therapy, this gene kills the CAR T‑cells in the body. However, it wasn’t needed.

The authors reported this type of mesothelioma immunotherapy was “safe and well‑tolerated” for the 25 malignant mesothelioma cases. The therapy was detectable in the blood for more than 100 days in 39% of patients.


Adding an Immunotherapy Drug to Treatment

Doctors added pembrolizumab, the generic name for Keytruda, to the treatment. Only 18 of the 25 patients received this addition, and their median survival was 23.9 months. The one‑year survival was 83%.

Mesothelioma tumors stopped spreading for six months in eight of the patients, and two showed disease regression.

Prasad S. Adusumilli is the thoracic surgery deputy chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was a co‑author of the report, along with Dr. Marjorie Zauderer and Dr. Valerie Rusch.

    Sources & Author

    • A phase I trial of regional mesothelin-targeted CAR T-cell therapy in patients with malignant pleural disease, in combination with the anti-PD-1 agent pembrolizumab. Cancer Discovery. Retrieved from: Accessed: 07/19/2021.
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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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