From the blog

Immunotherapy Drug Tremelimumab Not As Effective As Hoped

Published: March 3, 2017

Mesothelioma’s aggressive nature makes it difficult to treat with common cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Scientists and researchers are constantly looking for new ways to treat mesothelioma outside of chemotherapy and radiation, such as gene therapy or immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is a novel approach and sometimes a more viable option for those suffering from mesothelioma. Immunotherapy works with your body’s own immune system by strengthening and stimulating it so it can kill off cancer cells without the harsh use of chemotherapy drugs. By using the body’s natural defenses, only the cancer cells will be treated and healthy normal cells will remain untouched; keeping the patient healthy when receiving treatment. Immunotherapy treatments are still in the clinical trial stage but scientists and researchers are hopeful that once an immunotherapy treatment is approved, it has the potential to be a more powerful and targeted therapy.

While there has been some initial success with immunotherapy treatments, there have been some setbacks as well. Researchers from the University of Salford in the UK recently published a special report taking a look at the immune checkpoint inhibitor called tremelimumab and determined it questionable as a line for treatment for mesothelioma patients.

Tremelimumab binds to the protein called CTLA-4 and is designed to help the immune system locate and attack the cancerous cells by interfering with the way cancerous cells conceal themselves. Initial studies of tremelimumab offered promising results, but after more trials, results have been mixed and now there concern about the drug’s effectiveness, the safety, and tolerability as well.  Results from tremelimumab studies have disappointed scientists and researchers but tremelimumab may just be a treatment that works better in combination with other immunotherapies or chemotherapy.

Last year, immunotherapy treatment Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) had an overwhelmingly positive response rate. Phase II of the clinical trials have been initiated by Merck.


Guazzelli A, Bakker E, Krstic-Demonacos M, Lisanti MP, Sotgia F, Mutti L, “ Ani-CTLA-4 Therapy for Malignant Mesothelioma,” Immunotherapy (March 2017). [Link]

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