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The Power of Immunotherapy: T Cells and Mesothelioma Treatment

The Power of Immunotherapy: T Cells and Mesothelioma Treatment

Mesothelioma patients with more immune cells called CD8+ T cells might respond better to immunotherapy.

This is the finding of a team of scientists from Japan. Their study was published in the scientific journal Thoracic Cancer.

Typical Treatment Plan

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is both rare and aggressive. It grows in the cells lining the surface of organs like the lungs. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to a toxic mineral called asbestos.

Because it is rare and grows quickly, mesothelioma can be hard for doctors to diagnose and treat. A patient usually needs to have many tests before a doctor can diagnose them with mesothelioma. This can include imaging scans, blood tests, and biopsies.

Once mesothelioma has been diagnosed, a typical treatment plan will include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Unlocking the Power of Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy has emerged in the last decade as a new treatment option. It is also referred to as biological therapy. It uses the patient’s immune system to treat mesothelioma.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are a form of immunotherapy. One of the reasons mesothelioma tumors can grow out of control is their ability to trick the immune system. Immune checkpoint inhibitors block mesothelioma’s built-in resistance to immune system attack. They are among the most promising approaches to combating this aggressive cancer.

In this new study, scientists wanted to find out why some patients respond well to immune checkpoint inhibitors while others do not. They looked at tissue samples from 22 patients who were treated with a specific immune checkpoint inhibitor called nivolumab. Out of these patients, four had a good response to the treatment, and 18 did not.

Next, the scientists examined different types of immune cells in the tumors. They found that patients who responded well to the treatment had more of a specific type of immune cell called CD8+ T cells.

This might mean that the types of immune cells and their location in the tumor may help doctors predict how well a patient will respond to immunotherapy.


Yin Y, Sakakibara R, Honda T, et al. High density and proximity of CD8+ T cells to tumor cells are correlated with better response to nivolumab treatment in metastatic pleural mesothelioma [published online ahead of print, 2023 May 30]. Thorac Cancer. 2023;10.1111/1759-7714.14981. doi:10.1111/1759-7714.14981. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1759-7714.14981

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