Cancer Immunotherapy Month 2022
June is Cancer Immunotherapy Month. Immunotherapy is a great option for treating multiple types of cancer because it helps the immune system. There are multiple ways that immunotherapy can fight cancer. Immunotherapy can either educate the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, boost immune system cells to help the elimination of cancer, or give the body certain tools to enhance the immune response. There are many benefits to immunotherapy. The immune system is precise, which helps it target only cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone. The immune system is also good at adapting to different conditions. If cancer cells adapt and evade detection, the immune system can change its approach and adapt to fight the evolving cancer cells. The immune system can also remember cancer cells, allowing it to recognize and attack cancer if it returns.
One immunotherapy study is proving that immunotherapy is more effective for mesothelioma patients who cannot receive surgery compared to chemotherapy. The study examined nivolumab and ipilimumab (Opdivo and Yervoy respectively). The study, known as Checkmate 743, proved that the immunotherapy combination is an effective therapy for patients. It improved the quality of life and survival of patients. This is great news for mesothelioma patients because many patients cannot receive the standard treatment of surgery and chemotherapy, so there is still hope for improved survival and quality of life, thanks to immunotherapy.
Another immunotherapy treatment that is showing promise for mesothelioma is a combination of checkpoint inhibitors. The treatment consists of durvalumab, a checkpoint inhibitor that blocks PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins and tremelimumab, a checkpoint inhibitor that blocks the CTLA-4/B7 protein. The durvalumab group saw an improved median overall survival of 14 months while data from the combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab could not be recorded because more than half of the patients were still alive. This is very good news for patients because it shows the study is improving survival in patients and is improving survival long enough to slow down the gathering of results.
Another study utilizing CAR-T cell therapy is showing promising results in mesothelioma patients. CAR-T cell therapy is an immunotherapy that utilizes a person’s T-cells. They are removed from the body and changed to target cells that express large amounts of mesothelin, which includes mesothelioma cells. This treatment prevents mesothelioma cells from escaping the immune system and stops cancer cells from growing in the first place. Researchers have proven that there is potent anti-tumor activity against mesothelin expressing cancers including pleural mesothelioma and pancreatic cancers.
Immunotherapy is a very promising section of cancer treatment. As more immunotherapy studies are done for mesothelioma and other cancers, cancer care will continue to improve tremendously, allowing patients to live longer and have a better quality of life while being treated.
Cecile Schiffer-Mannioui, “143 Mesothelin (MSLN) targeting allogeneic CAR T cells engineered to overcome tumor immunosuppressive microenvironment” Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer [Link]
“What Is Cancer Immunotherapy?” Cancer Research Institute [Link]