A newly-announced mesothelioma study at the University of Zurich hopes to locate a way to use the facility of T-cells while minimizing the risk of toxicity. T-cells are part of the immune system. The process of temporarily removing them and ‘reprogramming’ them to attack exact cells (such as cancer cells) is a type of immunotherapy. Together with other new approaches such as gene therapy ad virotherapy, immunotherapy is of distinct awareness to mesothelioma researchers because there's so few viable treatment choices for mesothelioma patients.
Malignant mesothelioma occurs in the thin tissue that surrounds the lungs or lines the abdomen. It can be triggered almost solely by contact with asbestos. Like most cancers, mesothelioma takes hold in your body partly by evading the detection of immune system cells that are supposed to seek out and destroy invaders and aberrant cells. In a branch of immunotherapy called adoptive T-cell transfer, T-cells are removed from the patient’s blood and reprogrammed to seek out and destroy cancer cells that express a specific antigen (in this case, FAP).
Although the strategy has shown promise within the treatment of some sophisticated solid tumors, including melanoma and colorectal cancer, critical toxicity has every so often occurred when cells other than the tumor cells unexpectedly began to supply the target antigen. When altered T-cells inadvertently begin attacking healthy cells, the effects can be deadly.
In an effort to avoid this puzzle in their latest mesothelioma trial, the University of Zurich researchers want to inject the reprogrammed FAP-seeking T-cells directly into the fluid encircling the lungs of mesothelioma patients. By keeping the T-cells close to the target mesothelioma cells, the researchers hope to keep them from spreading to other parts of our bodies and possibly attacking other cells.
Only mesothelioma patients who are consider inoperable are eligible to engage in the new study. To ensure their safety, the test will move very gradually, administering only one dose of altered T-cells and waiting two weeks to verify there are no critical adverse effects before treating the next mesothelioma patient. Each patient is going to be closely monitored for side effects and drug reactions for thirty five days. Researchers hope to not just determine a maximum safe dose for adoptive T-cell transfer in mesothelioma patients, but also to judge the feasibility of this type of treatment and also the effectiveness of immune system checking.
Immunotherapy refers to any particular treatment that tries to work with the patient’s own immune system to combat an illness. It may involve treatments that stimulate the immune system to attack certain types of cells, along with those that suppress precise aspects in the immune system. For the treatment of cancers such as mesothelioma, the effectiveness of immunotherapy is greater when it's pooled with traditional treatment methods including chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The University of Zurich-based trial is scheduled to start in April 2013 and to conclude in October 2014.
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