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Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Can Improve Survival in Mesothelioma Patients

Published: May 31, 2024

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is hard to treat. There is a poor prognosis for people diagnosed with mesothelioma, but there is hope in the form of immune checkpoint inhibitors. There could be a chance of better outcomes in mesothelioma patients. A new article in Open Respiratory Archives provides a historical look at recent advances in immunotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients.

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs known as the pleura. It is mainly caused by asbestos exposure. When people are exposed to asbestos, they inhale microscopic fibers which are then lodged in the lungs and mesothelium called the pleura. Once they become lodged in human tissue, they cannot be removed by the body, so they sit there and cause inflammation and DNA changes in cells. Over time, healthy mesothelial cells turn into cancerous mesothelioma cells.

Mesothelioma is a complex and diverse cancer. There are three different cell types including epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. There are multiple treatments that can be used on mesothelioma, one of which is immunotherapy, which uses the immune system to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapies stimulate an immune response and help the immune system see and fight cancer cells. Multiple immunotherapies have been used on mesothelioma. One type of immunotherapy involves checkpoint inhibitors. Some checkpoint inhibitors that are promising for mesothelioma treatment are PD-1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors. These treatments are called nivolumab and ipilimumab. When the checkpoint inhibitors are combined, they can boost survival in patients. Other advancements in mesothelioma treatment have also revealed the complex genes behind mesothelioma. This could potentially lead to new treatments. Multiple different mutations on different genes including CDKN2A, NF2, and BAP1 could be exploited by different treatments and could lead to new and exciting treatments.

Mesothelioma is a challenging cancer to treat and has historically had limited treatment options. Immunotherapy is changing this though and is giving hope to mesothelioma sufferers. More research is needed so we can find a possible cure for the disease. Through different types of research, scientists could possibly find a new treatment that works better than treatments that came before it. This is why clinical trials are so important. We would not have the treatments we have today without clinical trials that helped to discover treatments not only for mesothelioma, but other hard to treat cancers. As more clinical trials are completed, we will be one step closer to treating and helping those with mesothelioma and other hard to treat cancers live longer, better lives.

Rafael Lopez-Castro et al., Advances in Immunotherapy for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: From Emerging Strategies to Translational Insights” Open Respiratory Archives (July-September 2024). [Link]
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