Immunotherapy is a relatively new field of cancer treatment
including mesothelioma. It’s considered a fourth modality or way to treat cancer. Immunotherapy concentrates on boosting the immune system
to fight off cancer growth. In relation to mesothelioma
, the body sees the mesothelioma cells as being normal. Therefore, the immune system refuses to fight them off because they don’t recognize the cells as being dangerous.Immunotherapy
, besides boosting the immune system, can help to prevent the cancer
from spreading throughout the body by regulating and suppressing the body’s ability to grow new cancer cells. New research is trying to use immunotherapy to stop the cancer cells
ability to multiply. There are several different forms of immunotherapy in use today. Interferon is one of these methods.
Interferons are naturally occurring proteins that inhibit the growth of malignant cells at the same time as they boost the immune system. They ‘interfere’ with the malignant cell’s ability to reproduce.
This treatment has shown to have some significant effect in treating mesothelioma. It has been shown in the tests that low concentrations of interferon can help boost natural killer T cells. With some tumors
, the interferons have helped to inhibit the development of the blood vessels that lead to and feed the tumors. If these blood vessels could be killed off then the tumors themselves couldn’t grow either.
Current research is looking at combining Interferon with chemotherapy. A Turkish study found moderately favorable results (a response rate of 24%) through combining Interferon with Cisplatin (lungcancerclaims.com). Some studies support the idea the using Interferon to improve the chemotherapy
results. One recent study at UCLA has also shown the same promising results.
PACHLAB Research projects currently planned for interferon include interferon combination with interleukin-2 prior to surgical
removal of tumors. This is to be conducted at UCLA and other mesothelioma treatment centers
across the US. Another project will explore the combination of interferon and COX-2 inhibition therapy
also to be conducted at UCLA and other mesothelioma
centers across the country. (mesthel.com)
The FDA approved the use of interferon for hepatitis C
in 1991 and has now approved its use as a treatment for many cancers. Interferon is given as an injection. Generally, there is only minor discomfort at the injections site. Side effects observed with interferon use include flu
-like symptoms, increased body temperature, feeling ill, tiredness
, headaches, muscle pains, dizziness and possible depression. All effects are minor and usually disappear within a few days of the treatment.
With the ongoing research, we can expect to hear news on further benefits of interferon immunotherapy for mesothelioma patients.
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