Groundbreaking Clinical Trial for Mesothelioma Patients

The researchers and scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center excitedly announced a new clinical trial that combines immunotherapy and surgery for the treatment of mesothelioma. This is the first time that these two treatments have been combined and scientists and researchers are hopeful for positive results.

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that is designed to work with the body’s own immune system and fight diseases in a more natural way. Immunotherapy treatments focus on improving the immune system using elements created within the body, but treatments can also be man-made. Typically, immunotherapy works by stopping the spread and growth of cancer cells, all while improving the immune system’s strength.

Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects the lining of the lungs or the abdomen, is difficult to treat and once diagnosed the average person typically has under a year to live. Chemotherapy treatments offer some relief, but with fatality rates as high as they are, it became apparent that other treatment options were needed. Research shows that pleural mesothelioma could be an immunogenic tumor, which is a tumor that provokes an immune response from the body. It is because of this, according to Dr. Bryan Burt, assistant professor of surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine, that there is a heightened focus on immunotherapy treatments.

The clinical trial itself involves investigating two different types of immunotherapy treatments and their outcomes. One of the treatments uses monotherapy with one type of checkpoint inhibitor, while the other uses combination therapy with two types of checkpoint inhibitors. The purpose of a checkpoint inhibitor is to target the tumor by reactivating the immune system by blocking negative signals that are coming from the tumor. Patients involved with the clinical trial will undergo biopsies for their tumors. After that, each patient is given one of the immunotherapy treatments. Once the treatment is administered, patients will then have surgery to remove all the visible tumors.

Researchers, scientists, and doctors are hopeful that this new combination of treatment will improve longevity of a mesothelioma patient. This study is the first of its kind as a checkpoint inhibitor and has not been administered to patients pre-operation before.  The trial results will reveal if the boost to the immune system before surgery is effective – ultimately altering treatment options for those suffering with mesothelioma.

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Sources:

Dana Benson, “Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Launches Clinical Trial for Cancer Patients,” Baylor College of Medicine (September 6, 2016). [Link]

Cancer.Net Editorial Board, “Understanding Immunotherapy” American Society of Clinical Oncology (05/2016). [Link]

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Last update: March 06, 2014. 08:41:31 pm.