Several forms of mesothelioma treatment, such as the drug Alimta®, gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and multimodality therapy, are still in their experimental stages. We invite you to read the following articles on experimental therapies for malignant mesothelioma.
Many strategies of gene therapy are currently being investigated. Even though the results in animal experiments have been remarkable, they have proven to remain disappointing in humans. Other agents, such as onconase, thalidomide, and lovastatin, have been used as single therapy or in combination with chemotherapy with various results.
This therapy is a treatment option that allows a person to use his/her own immune system to fight cancers, such as mesothelioma. Immunotherapy involves two distinct approaches—either the stimulation of a person’s immune system to force it to work harder and be “smarter” in attacking cancer cells or the introduction of man-made immune system proteins into a person’s body to provide him/her with additional immune system components aimed at assisting the immune system with the process of identifying and attacking cancer cells. There are currently four main types of immunotherapy being utilized in the treatment of cancer: monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, cancer vaccines, and nonspecific immunotherapies. Emerging immunotherapy treatment options, such as Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), are showing promising results for mesothelioma patients in clinical trial studies.
This therapy involves the use of a drug that makes the cancer cells sensitive to a particular wavelength of light. The drug is administered before the surgical procedure. The results have been disappointing, and no survival benefit has been shown in studies so far.
Doctors are always learning more about the best way to treat patients with mesotheliomas. The roles of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy in the treatment of mesothelioma are highly debated. Treatments which use some combinations of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, called multimodality therapy, are now being studied and may provide the most promising option for some patients.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Immunotherapy.
David Sugarbaker, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Lary A. Robinson, M.D., Director, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery