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Novel T-cell therapy targets peritoneal mesothelioma

While CAR T-cell therapy has been successful in treating blood and bone-marrow cancers, a new trial is targeting the treatment's effectiveness against peritoneal mesothelioma.

The trial is being conducted at The National Cancer Institute in Maryland and Washington University in Missouri. It looks at the effectiveness of modifying a patient's T cells to help the immune system kill cancer after a post-chemotherapy relapse.

Use against mesothelioma is new

While the Food and Drug Administration first approved CAR T-cell therapy for pediatric leukemia in 2017, this is the first time the technique has been used against mesothelioma.

T cells are white blood cells designed to fight an infection. Some cancers use surface proteins to trick T cells into leaving them alone. The T cells used in this study will be genetically modified to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CAR). Millions of CAR T cells are grown in a laboratory and injected into the patient. These cells latch on to cancer cells and attack.

The modified T cells will be dosed directly to the tumor site. They are more transient which allows faster redosing to minimize side effects. It will also use a new drug developed by MaxCyte, a pharmaceutical company in Maryland.

The trial is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2020.

The trial will use about 15 patients who have a life expectancy of at least three months and are at least four weeks from previous therapy.

Two other trials

A trial to test CAR T-cell therapy on pleural mesothelioma will start at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia fueled by a $10 million grant from the National Cancer Society. The trial will target a protein found in 90 percent of tumors.

Another trial testing CAR T-cell therapy against pleural mesothelioma will start at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

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