In the face of a disease as challenging as malignant mesothelioma, it is easy to understand why patients and physicians alike would be tempted to use every available tool to bombard the cancer’s cells in the hopes of eradicating it or extending survival time. Unfortunately, what feels like it makes the most sense may not actually work, and the truth of this has been borne out by a series of tests conducted by researchers at the University of Antwerp.
Belgian Mesothelioma Study Tests Chemoimmunotherapy With Mixed Results
It has long been known that a multi-modality approach combining chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy provides the longest survival times for patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. But as the use of immunotherapy in treating cancer has drawn more positive attention, researchers have tried to determine where the innovative treatment fits into the established protocol.
Researchers from the University of Antwerp set out to see whether combining chemotherapy with the new treatment enhanced its impact. The blend of treatments is known as chemoimmunotherapy, and though some view it as the future of mesothelioma treatment, the Belgian researchers found that it yielded mixed results in their testing.
Immunotherapy in Mesothelioma
In all types of cancer, immunotherapy applies checkpoint inhibitors that block proteins that help cancer cells hide from the immune system. In mesothelioma, the specific targets are the proteins PD-1, LAG-3 and TIM-3. By blocking these proteins, drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo allow the immune system to do their job and kill mesothelioma cells. The researchers wanted to know whether adding chemotherapy would make it more effective, less, or whether the impact would be unchanged.
In testing the three chemotherapy drugs most frequently used in treating mesothelioma, the researchers found that only cisplatin made a positive difference, making the malignant cells susceptible to immunotherapy according to lead author Elly Marcq. Still, despite this finding, the scientists concluded that there is much more study to be done and a great deal that remains unknown.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, there are many innovative treatment protocols available to you. For information on how to access them, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.