Combination treatment therapies are common for those suffering from mesothelioma because the aggressive nature of this asbestos-caused disease makes it difficult to treat effectively. Ongoing developments and advancements in medicine have also helped mesothelioma patients extend their life and manage pain throughout the years. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, a recent study published in Oncoimmunology reports that a new combination treatment involving a potential cancer vaccine, may make the traditional chemotherapy treatments more effective as results from the study indicated a decline in tumor growth and tumor shrinkage.
There is no cancer vaccine, but the potential for one is not entirely out of reach according to the biopharmaceutical company Oxford BioMedica, whose lead product, TroVax is in Phase III development as a cancer vaccine for multiple solid cancers. TroVax produces a protein called 5T4, which has been found in abundance in mesothelioma cells other cancers. TroVax when administered allows the immune system to look for 5T4 and kill cancer cells. It has also been able to shrink tumors.
The combination of vaccines and chemotherapy have been shown to be safe in certain types of tumors so the scientists and researchers from BioMedica and Cardiff University in the UK began their own investigation of administering TroVax to mesothelioma patients before and during their chemotherapy treatment. The study included 27 mesothelioma patients who had advanced tumors, or tumors that had metastasized. Patients were given nine injections of TroVax two weeks before chemotherapy treatment started and continued with the injections six months after chemotherapy began.
Results from the study were generally positive, with 70 percent of patients seeing a stoppage of tumor growth. However, tumors did begin to grow again within 6.8 months on average. Seventeen percent saw their tumors actually decrease in size. Side effects from receiving both treatments remained largely the same as those who had only received chemotherapy. Overall survival was 10.8 months which is enough to warrant future studies, and a Phase III clinical trial.
A mesothelioma diagnosis is serious, but treatments are available. The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on the size of the cancer, where the cancer is, how far the cancer has spread, how the cancer cells look under the microscope, how the cancer responds to treatment, and the patient’s age. As with most types of cancer, early diagnosis is an excellent first step in fighting the disease.
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you should learn about available treatments, seek out specialists in treating your asbestos-related disease, and make sure your legal rights are being protected.
Lester JF, et. al., “A Single Centre Phase II Trial To Assess The Immunological Activity Of Trovax® Plus Pemetrexed/Cisplatin In Patients With Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma – The Skopos Trial,” Oncoimmunology (September 2018). [Link]