Mesothelioma Immunotherapy has been shown as having the potential to stop the cancer’s spread in clinical trials. One of the most difficult aspects of treating any cancer, including mesothelioma, is that the malignant cells, because they are mutated body cells, have fooled the autoimmune system into treating them as if they’re normal, healthy cells. Immunotherapy is a form of treatment in which the doctor uses drugs, synthesized proteins, and antibodies to provoke the body’s immune system into responding to the cancer cells.
The chemicals used by oncologists for mesothelioma immunotherapy are called biological response modifiers (BRMs). They work by unmasking the chemical camouflage behind which those cancerous cells are hiding. The body naturally produces BRMs, but sometimes in the case of a long siege of illness, the body doesn’t produce as many as are necessary. Scientists have replicated these BRMs so that doctors can increase the levels in patients fighting mesothelioma.
Some of the common BRM therapies for mesothelioma Immunotherapy are —
- Interleukin 2, a synthesized body protein that enhances immune function.
- Antiangiogenics, which slow the blood flow to tumors by stopping the growth of blood vessels. Tumors need the nutrients in blood to grow.
- Monoclonal antibodies, or synthesized proteins that serve as the body’s warriors, seeking out unnatural cells and killing them.
- Interferon, one of the original treatments in the immunotherapy arena. Interferon boosts the immune system, so that it will stop the growth and spread of the cancer cells.
When talking about the future of treatment with Mesothelioma Immunotherapy, other areas of immunotherapy being studied are tumor cell vaccines. These include antigen vaccines, dendritic cell vaccines, vector-based vaccines, and DNA vaccines. Because of mesothelioma’s complex nature and the way the disease can attach to many different types of cells, some of these treatments are created from the patient’s own blood or tumor cells and are then used only in that patient. These types of treatments are currently highly experimental.
It is often more successful to combine Mesothelioma Immunotherapy with other forms of treatment, attacking the cancer on multiple fronts. It is most often combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Treatment is often self-administered in pill form, although sometimes injections are used. Side effects may include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, chills, low blood pressure, muscle aches, and bone pain. Currently Mesothelioma Immunotherapy is being studied in clinical trials and is not yet widely available.