Combining two cancer immunotherapy drugs – a novel immune modulator and a therapy that activates the anti-tumor immune response – more than doubled the survival rates of laboratory mice with malignant mesothelioma, according to a report published in Cancer Immunology Research.
Researches from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital added AMD3100, a treatment approved to stimulate stem cell production prior to bone marrow transplantation, to the investigational drug VIC-008, which significantly improved survival rates of the mice.
Mesothelioma is a rare but very aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or other organs, depending on the type. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a dangerous mineral that was commonly used in building material and other industry products.
Mesothelioma generlly proves deadly within 12 to 18 months after diagnosis. “Since the advent of cancer immunotherapy, people have tried to apply immunotherapeutic drugs to mesothelioma with limited success,” said Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, director of the MGH-VIC and senior author of the report. “We are very excited at the prospect that this drug combination may be much more effective in prolonging patients’ lives.”
VIC-008 is a fusion protein that combines an immune-activating protein from the tuberculosis bacteria with a small antibody fragment targeting mesothelin, a protein expressed in several types of tumor, including mesothelioma.