Immunotherapy in Treating Mesothelioma

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is associated almost exclusively with prior exposure to asbestos. Many of those who were exposed were so unknowingly – asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye, odorless, tasteless, and were used in many common products before its 1989 ban. This, along with the extended latency period of asbestos-related illnesses, about 20-50 years, renders the detection and treatment of mesothelioma extremely difficult. The prognosis of malignant mesothelioma, though different for every patient, is currently expected to be less than one year. If caught early, however, during the first stage of the cancer, life expectancy can be upwards of five years.

The importance of early detection cannot be understated, which is why researchers are so adamantly investigating new methods of detection and treatment. If presented with an initially unfavorable prognosis, patients should not resign to their fate without hope; traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are now being supplemented with new techniques, such as palliative therapies, body-stress reduction, and immunotherapy.

Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are hopeful that new technology and techniques will improve the lives of those inflicted with mesothelioma. If you developed a disease such as mesothelioma or asbestosis as the result of exposure to asbestos, get in contact with an asbestos lawyer immediately to discuss your legal right to compensation.

Although there is currently no standard cure for mesothelioma, treatments, it is widely recognized that the immune system can play a fundamental role in the control of tumor growth within an organism, and especially within the context of surveillance during relapse. Despite poor prognosis even after aggressive therapies, MPM patients with anti-tumor immune responses survive longer.

While different approaches are available, studies suggests that an effective immunotherapy may result from a treatment that will both enhance the anti-tumor activity and dampen the pro-tumor effects of the immune system. Immunotherapy offers a promising therapeutic approach, either alone or in concert with current standard-of-care treatments for MPM. Perhaps more importantly, as MPM is a regionally aggressive disease, investigating the usefulness of regionally administered therapies may prove effective in delivering high-power treatment while minimizing general toxicities.

Currently, immunotherapy includes the application of viral proteins, vaccines or antibody- and cell-based therapies. Immunotherapy is a conceptually attractive approach, because it is highly specific and can deal with a spread disease with minimal impact on normal tissues. Ability to induce immune responses in patients with cancer is now well established in early-phase clinical trials using a variety of immunotherapeutic approaches. The objective is to favor the recognition of tumor cells by cells of the immune system, to activate specific antigens to cancer cells and to produce immunological memory to ensure long-term remission. Anti-tumor immunotherapy can be performed in two ways: passive immunotherapy and active immunotherapy. Passive immunotherapy or adoptive immunotherapy, does not aim to activate the immune system in the site of origin, but relies on effectors isolated and activated in the lab before their re-injection. Active immunotherapy, or adaptative immunotherapy, also called “vaccination,” although it is therapeutic, presents one or several antigens in an ideal situation of stimulation so as to trigger an immune response.

Recently, the existence of a spontaneous body-serum response that is shared with few other types of cancer has been confirmed, not only in the case of mesothelioma, but also in the case of ovarian cancer. Reports of a high level of anti-mesothelin antibodies, a glycoprotein expressed at the surface of several types of tumor cells, including mesothelioma, ovary and pancreas. Nearly 40% of patients suffering from mesothelioma and 42% of patients suffering from ovarian cancer present a high level of serum antibodies. Besides showing that the antibodies recognize mesothelin as producing a high immune respose, this analysis also shows a strong potential for patients suffering from mesothelioma to build up an immune response to this relatively specific marker with antigenic properties.

Clinical trials investigating new trends in the treatment of stage I and II malignant mesothelioma have shown both immunotherapy and systemic chemo-immunotherapy to be efficacious. In addition, recent progresses in early detection techniques also provide hope that patients can be treated efficiently, at an earlier stage and well monitored. Thus, immunotherapy of cancer is undoubtedly a highly promising but also very challenging approach in the treatment of a disease that has slipped through the defense lines of the immune system.

Mesothelioma is one of the many possible consequences of asbestos inhalation, and is not expected to reach its peak until 2020. If you were exposed to asbestos and developed a related illness, contact a mesothelioma attorney today for a free consultation.

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