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Mesothelioma Research Demonstrates Power of Intrapleural Immunotherapy

X-ray showing location of intrapleural immunotherapyNew metadata suggests that intrapleural immunotherapy is a powerful, targeted way to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma.  

Pleural mesothelioma is a deadly cancer of the lining around the lungs. It is caused by asbestos exposure and is notoriously difficult to treat.

Now, a new study suggests that delivering immunotherapy treatments directly into the pleural space where mesothelioma tumors form may help these drugs work even better.

What is Intrapleural Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy treatments harness the immune system to help fight cancer. Immunotherapy works alone or in combination with other treatments like chemotherapy or surgery.

Many researchers and doctors believe that immunotherapy is the future of mesothelioma treatment.

Intrapleural immunotherapy is a more targeted way to deliver these cancer-fighting messengers. It does not effect the whole body. Instead, intrapleural immunotherapy is delivered where mesothelioma tumors form.

Types of Intrapleural Immunotherapy

Cancer researchers at the NYU School of Medicine reviewed studies and conference reports on intrapleural immunotherapy for mesothelioma.

The reports all involved either malignant pleural mesothelioma patients or people with cancer cells in their lung fluid (malignant pleural effusions).

The team found 26 clinical trials on intrapleural immunotherapy between 1998 and 2018. Three other trials are still going on.

Some of the novel intrapleural immunotherapy approaches studied include:

  • Oncoloytic virus therapy – Viruses that trigger an immune response against cancer cells
  • Gene-mediated cytotoxic immunotherapy – Viruses that deliver cancer-killing genetic information into cells
  • Direct cytokine-mediated immunotherapies – Uses molecular messengers to help immune system cells mount a more coordinated attack on cancer
  • Innate immunomodulators – Drugs that modulate the immune system
  • Adoptive transfer of intrapleural chimeric antigetn receptor T-cell therayp (CAR-T cell therapy) – Uses altered T-cells to attack meosthelioma tumors

The Conclusion

After reviewing all of the different approaches to intrapleural immunotherapy for mesothelioma, the researchers concluded that they all deserve a closer look.

“Intrapleural immunotherapies for pleural malignancy have demonstrated promise with regards to generating durable tumor-specific immune responses with possible clinical benefits which merit further investigation as part of multimodal chemo- and immunotherapeutic regimens,” writes study author Vivek Murthy.

One treatment approach is rarely enough to fight mesothelioma. Most mesothelioma patients receive several different types of treatment.


Murthy, V, et al, “Intrapleural Immunotherapy: An Update on Emerging Treatment Strategies for Pleural Malignancy”, February 27, 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/crj.13010


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