Immunotherapy Treatment Shows Promise in Mesothelioma Patients

Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm always keep a watchful eye out for new, progressing or breakthrough clinical trials aimed at mesothelioma treatment and therapy. Results from one of the latest trials in this field is for a new immunologic antibody, known as tremelimumab, and was recently published in The Lancet Oncology.

Tremelimumab is a monoclonal antibody to the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (known as CTLA4), which is present in many different types of tumors, including mesothelioma. In the study, researchers in Austria enrolled patients with advanced malignant, unresectable (unable to be surgically removed) malignant mesothelioma.

Nearly 30 patients received 15 mg doses of tremelimumab intravenously every 90 days. Two patients (7%) had a durable partial response, one of which lasted about 18 months. Nine patients (31%) experienced disease control, demonstrating a progression-free survival of over six months and median overall survival of nearly 11 months. Seven patients also demonstrated disease stabilization.

The most common side effects from tremelimumab were rash, colon swelling, diarrhea, and itching. Though the Phase II trial was small, the clinical findings of tremelimumab effectiveness in mesothelioma tumors were encouraging and patients generally tolerated the treatment safely.

Researchers on the East Coast are making headway in mesothelioma-targeted treatments, as scientists at the University of Vermont also use antibodies in clinical trials. In a report recently published in BMC Cancer, UV researchers coated silica microparticles with a special antibody which is designed to seek out cells that overproduce mesothelin (the protein that is overexpressed in mesothelioma).

This allows chemotherapy drugs to specifically target and destroy mesothelioma cells. Systemic chemotherapy and radiation is the traditional and most-often prescribed treatment for mesothelioma, despite its low success rates. At the time they are diagnosed, most mesothelioma patients are given less than one year to live.

Fortunately, UV researchers reported increased mesothelioma cancer destruction in patients using the targeted delivery system than in those using chemotherapy alone. Because the chemo drug, doxorubicin, sought out cancer cells specifically, physicians were able to prescribe less of the drug. It thus destroyed less healthy cells, producing fewer negative side effects in those patients. There was also a noticeable drop in tumor cell spread and growth. Laboratory mice who received the targeted treatment were also able to maintain relatively good health and weight throughout chemotherapy treatment.

Recent reports have shown that patients who were administered hyperthermic IP chemotherapy (doxorubicin in combination with another chemo drug, cisplatin) after surgical resection of mesothelioma tumors had an increased survival rate of about five years. If a targeted treatment for mesothelioma can be developed and proven effective in patients, mesothelioma could become a manageable cancer instead of an inordinately fatal one.

Mesothelin is also overexpressed in lung cancers, ovarian cancers, and pancreatic/biliary adenocarcinomas. Therefore, these findings and any subsequent studies on the subject are relevant not only to mesothelioma patients but to treatment of other intracavitary tumors as well.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on clinical trials, published reports, and analyses of new treatments for this asbestos-caused cancer. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos on the job or otherwise, and developed a related illness, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, or wrongful death. Contact an experienced asbestos exposure attorney today for a free legal consultation.

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