Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Trial Accepting Enrollees

Georgia Regents University’s (GRU) Cancer Center in Augusta, Georgia, wants to hear from you if you have unresectable mesothelioma and would like to help test a new immunotherapy vaccine.

The catch is that you must have previously received mesothelioma chemotherapy, but not more than twice.

GRU recently announced it has opened a Phase 2 mesothelioma clinical trial of the drug tremelimumab.

Tremelimumab is an immunotherapy agent that boosts the strength of your natural immune system and allows it to destroy cancer cells. Think Popeye after he squeezes open the can of spinach.

In more scientific terms, tremelimumab binds to a protein labeled CTLA-4. This protein is bad news.

It shows up naturally on immune system cells called T lymphocytes. It stops them from doing what T lymphocytes are supposed to do, which is wipe out cancer cells.

Tremelimumab is intended to stop CTLA-4 from having that effect on T lymphocytes. When it binds to CTLA-4, tremelimumab basically shuts off the power.

That frees the T lymphocytes to storm right into battle.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Enrollment Details

Researchers tested this earlier on a handful of patients. Now they want to study how well it works on a larger population.

This is where you come in, if you qualify. You may be eligible to enroll in the clinical trial if:

  • You are confirmed to have either pleural malignant mesothelioma or peritoneal malignant mesothelioma.
  • The mesothelioma features at least one tumor big enough to be correctly measured by CT or MRI scanning — your mesothelioma doctor will have to clue you on this one.
  • You had chemotherapy at least once but no more than twice in the past.
  • The chemotherapy they gave you was pemetrexed and platinum.
  • Three or more years have passed since you exhibited symptoms of a chronic inflammatory or autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, but vitiligo doesn’t count.


Enrollees in this clinical trial will be given tremelimumab once every four weeks over a span of six months.

After that, the vaccine will be given once every 12 weeks until the researchers are satisfied that it either works or it doesn’t. But if it works, expect the tremelimumab therapy to continue indefinitely.

Also, enrollees will from time to time undergo imaging studies.

The schedule calls for CT or MRI scanning at three month intervals during the first six month stretch. Then, it’s every 1 1/2 months for the rest of the first year. From there, once every three months.

Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Focus

The clinical trial is being conducted at the GRU Cancer Center, which operates from a $54-million, five-story, 167,000-square-foot cancer research facility.

The researchers at this facility work collaboratively and are focused on immunology as the way to go when it comes to fighting cancers like mesothelioma.

According to GRU, “Immunotherapy holds the promise of delivering safe and potent cancer treatments that are less toxic to patients.”

The concept of immunotherapy as it applies to mesothelioma and other cancers is to prevent the tumor from resisting attack by the body’s natural defenses. And, at the same time, to boost the strength of those natural defenses.

“It means developing vaccines that will rally the immune system to fight an existing tumor,” the center says.

It also means developing “preventative vaccines that would repair defective cells before they turn cancerous,” the center adds.

In the tremelimumab clinical trial, the principle investigator is Samir Khleif, M.D., who serves as director of the GRU Cancer Center,

For more information, contact study coordinator Robin Dobbins, a registered nurse, at (706) 721-2154.