Mesothelioma, like many types of cancer, does not have a universal cure. There is no singular treatment that kills all tumors or completely removes the disease from the body.
We at Mesothelioma Guide think there will be a cure one day — hopefully soon. Why? Because research will eventually find the treatment formula to solve the mesothelioma riddle.
May is observed in the United States as National Cancer Research Month. Additionally, the date of this article’s publication is May 20, which is International Clinical Trials Day. Clinical trials are one of the backbones to cancer research and the method for testing mesothelioma treatment on willing participants.
To recognize National Cancer Research Month and International Clinical Trials Day, our staff has compiled examples of the mesothelioma research and tests that may one day save lives. These teams and doctors are inching closer to finding the cure to this cancer.
If you’re interested in joining any of these trials — or another study — email our patient advocate staff. Jenna Campagna is a registered nurse, and she can help you enroll in a trial. Contact her at email@example.com.
Brand New Trial Tests Cancer Vaccine Prior to Mesothelioma Surgery
Dr. Raja Flores is the director of thoracic surgery at New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. He is the lead investigator of a brand new clinical trial, one which utilizes virotherapy and immunotherapy for pleural mesothelioma.
The clinical trial, which is currently in Phase 1, involves an injection of the novel cancer vaccine “poly-ICLC”. This treatment is a double-strand RNA virus that is put directly into the tumor.
The hope, as Dr. Flores described to Mesothelioma Guide, is that the virus becomes “incorporated into the membrane of the tumor cells.” Afterward, the immune system may target the mesothelioma cells as it recognizes the presence of a foreign invader, the poly-ICLC virus.
Dr. Flores and his team will inject the virus into the tumor a few weeks before the patient undergoes surgery. He’ll then remove the tumors during operation and evaluate if the poly-ICLC treatment worked. If immune system cells are present in tumors, then the therapy was successful.
The trial, which opened for enrollment this month, will include a maximum of 18 participants. Dr. Flores and his team are looking for patients who can undergo aggressive surgery.
Experimenting With Immunotherapy Before and After Surgery
Dr. Patrick Forde is a mesothelioma specialist and thoracic oncologist leading a clinical trial testing immunotherapy before and after surgery.
“Giving immunotherapy prior to surgery has shown to lead to a regression of the tumor and to an infiltration of the immune system attacking the cancer,” Dr. Forde said in a podcast interview earlier this year.
Dr. Forde works at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. He and his team are pairing nivolumab and ipilimumab before pleural mesothelioma surgery. Immunotherapy treatment resumes after the operation.
Nivolumab and ipilimumab each help the immune system in different ways. Nivolumab prevents mesothelioma tumors from masking themselves from the body’s cancer-fighting T-cells. Ipilimumab targets a different protein receptor, CTLA-4, which subdues the body’s cancer-fighting white blood cells.
Dr. Forde said that he and his team can examine the tumors removed during surgery and “see how they responded to immunotherapy.”
The study, which is enrolling up to 30 participants, has three locations:
- Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (Baltimore)
- Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
- University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)
ONCOS-102 Benefits Late-Stage Patients in Study
ONCOS-102 is a combination of virotherapy and immunotherapy. The treatment is an adenovirus that includes immune system-stimulating proteins called cytokines. These proteins communicate to the immune system that diseased cells are present in the body.
The virus is injected into the tumors, which then break apart. The cytokines are then released and relay the warning signal to the immune system. After breaking apart, the tumors release antigens that the immune system uses as an identifier to seek and attack similarly structured tumors.
Researchers are testing ONCOS-102 with chemotherapy. Patients thus far have experienced progression-free survival of nine months, and around 90% of them either had a stable disease or one reduced in size.
This Europe-based trial should expand to the U.S. soon. The sponsor company, Targovax, said earlier in 2020 that there would be a second clinical trial involving ONCOS-102 for pleural mesothelioma.
There is a U.S. trial for peritoneal mesothelioma patients involving ONCOS-102. The study, which combines the therapy with an immunotherapy drug, is enrolling up to 78 participants.
Show Sources & Author
- Direct Injection of Poly-ICLC (Hiltonol®) Vaccine In Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Clinicaltrials.gov. Retrieved from:
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04345705. Accessed: 05/14/2020.
- Neoadjuvant Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Resectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Clinicaltrials.gov. Retrieved from:
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03918252. Accessed: 05/14/2020.
- A Phase 1/2 Study to Investigate the Safety, Biologic and Anti-tumor Activity of ONCOS-102 in Combination With Durvalumab in Subjects With Advanced Peritoneal Malignancies. Clinicaltrials.gov. Retrieved from:
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02963831. Accessed: 05/14/2020.
- ONCOS-102. Immuno-Oncology News. Retrieved from:
https://immuno-oncologynews.com/oncos-102/. Accessed: 01/28/2020.