New Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Clinical Trial at Baylor University

Illustration of mesothelioma research

A new clinical trial at the Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center in the Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center has begun, which combines immunotherapy and surgery. The Mesothelioma Treatment Center is one of America’s largest mesothelioma treatment centers, providing over 200 consultations annually.

“This trial is one of the first of its kind in which immunotherapy is given before surgery,” said Dr. Bryan Burt, Principal Investigator of the trial and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “And from it, we expect to learn an enormous amount about this disease.”

The clinical trial is the first in-human neoadjuvant (meaning prior to surgery) study of a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy given before a surgical resection of patients with pleural mesothelioma.

Checkpoint inhibitors block the negative signals tumor cells tell the immune system. As a result, the system is reactivated and the tumor is targeted. With this study, it’s hoped that if the tumor tries to come back, the immune system will then have a quick memory response to attack the tumor.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this trial to our patients,” said Dr. Burt. “Much of our own data suggests that pleural mesothelioma may be a more immunogenic tumor than previously realized, and I predict that immunotherapy will rise to become a critical component of multimodality therapy for mesothelioma patients.”

This trial will lay the foundation for multimodality therapy that uses a patient’s immune system paired with innovative, cytoductive surgical techniques. The MEDI4736 alone (one checkpoint inhibitor) will be compared to the MEDI4736 plus tremelimumab (two types of checkpoint inhibitors).

For the trial, the tumors will be biopsied and patients get the MEDI4736 with one or two checkpoint inhibitors. After administration of the drug and immune system reactivation, the surgery occurs to remove all visible tumors. The research team investigates these tumors.

According to Dr. David Sugarbaker, Director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and Professor of Surgery and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Baylor, “This clinical trial is only one of many mesothelioma treatment protocols available at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and builds upon a strong foundation of mesothelioma research at Baylor College of Medicine.”

“Our direct affiliation with the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, facilities innovative and sophisticated research protocols such as this one,” said Dr. Sugarbaker.

The trial began today. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can connect with a cancer center to look at potential clinical trials.