From the blog

A Vaccine to Prevent and Treat Mesothelioma Could be Possible in the Future

Published: March 3, 2023

A vaccine for lung cancer could possibly lead to a vaccine for mesothelioma. The lung cancer immunotherapy drug CIMAvax-EFG is making great progress, and because of this progress, researchers are utilizing the treatment in new ways. The researchers are trying to see how the vaccine can be used to prevent cancer instead of just treating it. The treatment works by attaching to the epidermal growth factor protein, which can slow down the growth of lung tumors. Researchers performing the study want to see if CIMAvax-EGF could potentially be used to alter biomarkers in the lungs and even be used to lower the risk of lung cancer.

The lung cancer vaccine study is being performed at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. It is seeking people from 50 to 79 years old. Participants are split into two groups. Group 1 consists of people who have not had lung cancer but are considered high risk because of smoking, family history, diagnosis of COPD or pneumonia within the last five years, or an occupational history to substances like asbestos or radon. It is to see if the vaccine can prevent cancer in high risk populations by changing the cellular genetics of the lungs.  Group 2 consists of people diagnosed with lung cancer up to stage 3A, have completed treatment for at least three months, and show no disease present within 6 months of treatment. Group 2 is to see if the vaccine can treat already existing lung cancer.

Participants in the study must go through a complete screening before participating which includes bronchoscopy, pulmonary function test, chest CT scan, and complete physical assessment (blood test, nasal swabs, and full health history review. Some of the tests and screenings will be done multiple times throughout the study to determine if patients are responding. After participants are allowed to participate, four doses of the CIMAvax vaccine are injected, one in each arm and leg. This will be done every two weeks for two months and will then be followed by monthly treatments.

Progress on the lung cancer vaccine is great news for the cancer treating community, but it is especially good for mesothelioma sufferers. The vaccine helps by preventing the growth of unwanted cancer cells by working with the immune system. It can be hard for the body to do this without help from treatments because cancer cells grow from natural tissue, making it hard for the immune system to recognize them as harmful. The cancer vaccines could help the immune system notice cancer cells and kill them, preventing the growth, spread, and return of cancer cells. Researchers could use the lung cancer vaccine as a jumping off point for a mesothelioma vaccine. Mesothelioma is a hard cancer to treat and it is very aggressive. Using a vaccine could help people exposed to asbestos from developing it in the first place.

The vaccine could be good news for mesothelioma patients because the cancers are in similar regions of the body. The most common form of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, grows near the lungs, so the lung cancer vaccine could help in other areas surrounding the lungs. The use of immunotherapy is growing in popularity for mesothelioma. The clinical trial for lung cancer utilizes an immunotherapy drug that is injected as a vaccine. Though not the same cancer, success of immunotherapy on lung cancer could be beneficial for mesothelioma patients in the future. If the vaccine is successful for lung cancer, researchers could look at similar techniques to treat and possibly prevent mesothelioma.

“A vaccine to prevent lung cancer?” Roswell park (February 1, 2023). [Link]
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