From the blog

Drug Factories Treatment Being Tested for Mesothelioma

Published: September 2, 2022

Researchers have found a treatment that can eradicate advanced stage mesothelioma tumors within a few days. The research is being done at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. The treatment utilizes implants known as “drug factories” and a checkpoint inhibitor drug. Mesothelioma is a tough to treat cancer of the mesothelium, which is a lining of multiple areas of the body including the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. The most common form is pleural mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the pleura, or lining of the lungs. The main cause of this illness is asbestos exposure, which is a fibrous mineral used for its heat and fire-resistant properties.

The results of the study were published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. The treatment consists of drug producing beads no larger than the head of a pin being placed next to tumors. The beads administer continuous, high doses of interleukin-2 (IL-2), which is a natural compound that stimulates white blood cells to fight against cancer cells. Rice bioengineer Omid Veiseh’s lab created the treatment, which is showing promising results and has just been approved for clinical trials by the Food and Drug administration for ovarian cancer patients. The treatment was designed for multiple types of immune system disorders and cancers.

The treatment utilizes cytokine factories, which consist of alginate beads that have thousands of genetically modified cells that create the natural cytokine known as IL-2, one of two cytokines approved to treat cancer. The factories are 1.5 millimeters wide and are easily implanted with minimally invasive surgery, which then release high doses of IL-2 to tumors. The beads were implanted next to tumors and inside the pleura, the thin membrane that covers the lungs. Animal studies of ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer impressed researchers, who then decided to see if the treatment could be used on mesothelioma. When the treatment was used on advanced stage ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer tumors, the tumors were eradicated in less than one week.

When tested on mesothelioma, the drug factories were used by themselves and paired with a checkpoint inhibitor that targets the PD-1 protein. Checkpoint inhibitors are not usually effective by themselves, but when combined with other treatments, they can help train the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Researchers have not seen such an effective treatment for mesothelioma before this study. When the factories were used by themselves, they eliminated tumors in more than 50 percent of the treated animals. When combined with the checkpoint inhibitor, the drug factories killed the tumors completely in all seven of the mice tested. Mesothelioma is a very hard cancer to kill in humans and mice, so the combination killing the mesothelioma tumors in all mice tested is very promising. The IL-2 producing implants and PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor combination could also be very helpful at training memory T cells to remember mesothelioma cancer cells and fight them if they recur.

A second clinical trial is justified due to the preclinical data that was reported. The researchers have met with the FDA to inquire about a second trial for mesothelioma, which should be expected in the second half of 2023. The researchers created a spinout company called Avenge Bio for the treatment. It was given clearance for ovarian cancer patients who will be treated in the next few months. The treatment also received a grant by the American Heart Association to be tested on heart injuries caused by heart attacks.

“’Drug factory’ implants show promise in eradicating mesothelioma tumors” News Medical and Life Sciences (August 22, 2022). [Link]
Contact Us
Have you received a diagnosis? *