In a study published recently in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found that treating patients who have resectable malignant pleural mesothelioma, meaning that their tumor can be removed with surgery, with immunotherapy ahead of surgery resulted in favorable clinical outcomes. The study lays the groundwork for neoadjuvant immunotherapy in mesothelioma.
[This Clinical Cancer Research medical study report is “A Phase II Window of Opportunity Study of Neoadjuvant PD-L1 versus PD-L1 plus CTLA-4 Blockade for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma“.]
“Mesothelioma is a devastating disease with low survivability,” said Dr. Bryan Burt, professor and chief of the David J. Sugarbaker Division of Thoracic Surgery in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor and senior author of the paper. “Traditionally, this disease has defeated all standard therapies.”
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that activate the immune system to fight cancer. They have revolutionized the treatment of cancer in general, but only recently have been recognized to have some efficacy in mesothelioma. Recent research on the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with unresectable mesothelioma showed favorable outcomes, which led Burt and colleagues to study this approach in patients with resectable mesothelioma.
“Surgery itself may not be curative, however combining surgery with some other modality of therapy often provides benefit,” said Burt, who also is a member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor. “Our trial is an important step to evaluate whether checkpoint inhibitors are safe and feasible to give before surgery.”
One reason to give a therapy that increases the immune reactivity to a tumor pre-operatively is that the immunotherapy can activate an immune response that will persist after the tumor is resected. If the tumor tries to recur, the body has an existing memory immune response to fight it.
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