There are many types of immunotherapy drugs for treating mesothelioma. Some enhance the body’s immune system so it can more effectively fight diseases. Others prevent the cancerous cells from disrupting the immune system’s process.
Then there are the immunotherapy drugs — called monoclonal antibodies — which are active in directly attacking the tumors.
A new clinical trial will investigate the effectiveness of the immunotoxin LMB-100, which targets the cells that produce a protein called mesothelin. This protein is common in mesothelioma.
The National Cancer Institute is sponsoring the trial, which started earlier in August. While mesothelioma is not the only cancer involved in the trial, the mesothelin focus means this specific disease is front and center.
Mesothelin’s Role in Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma forms in three areas of the body: the pleura, the peritoneum and the pericardium. The pleura is the thin lining between the chest wall and lung cavity. The peritoneum lines the abdomen. The pericardium lines the heart.
These three areas are comprised of mesothelial cells (hence the name of the disease). These cells express mesothelin and can mutate when exposed to asbestos. The mutation is how mesothelioma tumors form and then spread throughout the body at a rapid rate.
Some immunotherapy clinical trials focus on disrupting the deactivation of T-cells, the immune system’s primary weapon in defending the body of cancer. Dr. Raffit Hassan, a specialist at the National Cancer Institute, has led numerous trials involving LMB-100 targeting mesothelin.
If scientists can find a drug that is effective at singling out mesothelin producers and killing them, then the immune system may have some help.
Details of the New Trial
The National Cancer Institute’s study involves 45 participants, who will receive LMB-100 along with tofacitinib. The immunotherapy trial is in Phase I and is intended for people with one of many cancers: pancreatic, bile-duct or any solid-tumor disease that involves mesothelin. Mesothelioma fits the description.
The trial is solely for patients who did not respond well to treatment or were ineligible for treatment. The participants will receive the drugs in three 21-day cycles. Each cycle includes three injections of LMB-100.
The researchers and doctors hope to find a safe dosage of LMB-100 with tofacitinib, along with how the two drugs affect the patients’ bodies.
If you have mesothelioma, you could be eligible to enroll. The trial is still recruiting, and our patient advocate Jenna Campagna, RN can help you sign up. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this study along with clinical trials testing other potential new treatments for mesothelioma patients.
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- Mesothelin-Targeted Immunotoxin LMB-100 in Combination With Tofacitinib in Persons With Previously Treated Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma, Cholangiocarcinoma and Other Mesothelin Expressing Solid Tumors. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04034238. Accessed: 08/13/19.