The body’s immune system offers a strong line of defense against malignant tumors. But the presence of asbestos fibers in the lungs can cause genetic mutations to DNA that silence immune system cells that typically suppress tumors. Immunotherapy is an emerging field of therapy for patients with mesothelioma to re-activate the immune system to fight cancer.
Aduro BioTech, Inc., a California biotechnology company that is developing multiple cancer vaccines, has started a second round of clinical trials on a new cancer vaccine known as CRS-207 for mesothelioma patients, according to a company press release. The vaccine utilizes a weakened strain of Listeria monocytogenes, a virus associated with foodborne illness that produces a potent immune system response.
The new Listeria-based vaccine has been engineered to induce immune system T cells to target cancer cells that express mesothelin. Mesothelin is a protein found in higher amounts in certain types of cancer cells including mesothelioma, non-small-cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Aduro BioTech is enrolling patients newly diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma who are not candidates for surgery in a Phase 1B clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the experimental cancer vaccine. Patients enrolled in the trial will receive the vaccine followed by chemotherapy treatment involving pemetrexed and cisplatin. Pemetrexed and cisplatin are the standard chemotherapy regimen to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The vaccine was evaluated in an earlier trial involving 17 patients with end stage cancers including mesothelioma. According to research results published in Clinical Cancer Research, six of the 17 patients treated with the CRS-207 vaccine lived 15 months or more, much longer than the average length of survival for patients with end-stage cancer.