Promising Immunotherapy Treatment for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to a toxic mineral called asbestos. It is hard to diagnose mesothelioma because its symptoms could also be caused by more common diseases. It usually requires many tests to diagnose mesothelioma. The delay in diagnosis also delays treatment.
Conventional treatments for mesothelioma generally consist of chemotherapy, surgery, and sometimes radiation therapy. Of all three, chemotherapy is the most one-size-fits-all approach because only one chemotherapy drug combination is FDA-approved for mesothelioma. Surgery requires the most expertise and there are only a handful of surgeons in the United States who are skilled and experienced with resecting mesothelioma tumors.
A newer type of treatment is called immunotherapy. This treatment uses the patient’s immune system to damage and kill cancer cells. This is the type of treatment explored in this new study published in Clinical Cancer Research.
Cytokine Factories Show Promise in Mesothelioma
Researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine tested something they call “cytokine factories”, which are tiny drug-producing beads. These beads produce an immunotherapy drug called interleukin-2 (IL-2) and are placed right next to tumors. IL-2 helps white blood cells to communicate with each other. As IL-2 is created by the beads, they encourage white blood cells to attack the tumor.
At this stage in their research, the researchers tested the cytokine factories in mice with great results. After a week of treatment, the tumors in the mice had shrunk and their immune system was stronger. There were also no bad side effects.
Based on these positive results, the researchers will be able to conduct more studies in human patients with mesothelioma. They are especially excited about using this treatment for mesothelioma in the lungs, which can be hard to treat surgically.
Nash AM, Aghlara-Fotovat S, Castillio B, et al. Activation of Adaptive and Innate Immune Cells via Localized IL2 Cytokine Factories Eradicates Mesothelioma Tumors. Clin Cancer Res. 2022;28(23):5121-5135. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-1493. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc9713361/