New Cancer Discovery May Help Mesothelioma Patients

In a report published this week, researchers announced the discovery of a new tool that counters immunotherapy resistance in cancer, and there is hope that its benefit will extend to mesothelioma patients. The researchers determined that by blocking a specific protein with an antibody, they were able to boost immune cells’ ability to destroy tumors.

Antibody Combined with Immunotherapy May Lead to Mesothelioma Tumor Destruction

Malignant mesothelioma is one of many cancers that are resistant to immunotherapy. Though recent studies combining multiple immunotherapy drugs have yielded extended survival, that approach has not entirely eradicated the tumors. The newly released research that was published in the journal Cell details the use of antibodies that block the TREM2 protein found in high levels deep inside of resistant tumors. Once these antibodies block the protein, the tumors were treated with an anti-PD-1 immunotherapy drug and were completely eliminated.

The researchers’ approach was guided by their knowledge that immunotherapy resistant tumors like those found in mesothelioma patients manage to evade the impact of T-cells in the immune system. According to senior author Marco Colonna, M.D., professor of pathology at Washington University in St. Louis, “Essentially, we have found a new tool to enhance tumor immunotherapy.”

Protein Creates Immuno-Suppressive Environment Around Tumors

The protein that is attacked by the antibodies is TREN2, which creates an environment within tumors like mesothelioma that fend off the immune response from T-cells. Though immunotherapy activates T-cells to attack tumors, it does little good if the internal environment of the tumor fends them off. The researchers determined that by sending antibodies into the tumor where the TREM2 was located, they were able to counter this defense.

Dr. Colonna said, “When we looked at where TREM2 is found in the body, we found that it is expressed at high levels inside the tumor, and not outside of the tumor. So it’s actually an ideal target, because if you engage TREM2, you’ll have little effect on peripheral tissue.” Once TREM2 was inhibited by the antibody, the T-cells’ tumor-killing powers were restored. Dr. Colonna went on to say, “The nice thing is that some anti-TREM2 antibodies are already in clinical trials for another disease. We have to do more work in animal models to verify these results, but if those work, we’d be able to move into clinical trials fairly easily because there are already a number of antibodies available.”

Every day researchers learn more about how to treat malignant mesothelioma. For information on the latest advances, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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