Combined treatment with two cancer immunotherapy drugs – one a novel immune modulator and one that focuses and activates the antitumor immune response – significantly prolonged survival in mouse models of the aggressive cancer malignant mesothelioma. In their report published in Cancer Immunology Research, a team from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) describes how adding AMD3100 (plerixafor) – previously approved for the stimulation of stem cell production prior to bone marrow transplantation – to their investigational drug VIC-008 more than doubled the animals’ survival time. Among the mechanisms identified as underlying the combination treatment’s effects was changing a population of immunosuppressive T cells into a type that could enhance an antitumor immune response.
“Mesothelioma, a tumor that is caused by asbestos exposure, has been extremely hard to treat; and patients usually survive only 12 to 18 month after diagnosis,” says Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, director of the MGH-VIC and senior author of the report. “Since the advent of cancer immunotherapy, people have tried to apply immunotherapeutic drugs to mesothelioma with limited success. We are very excited at the prospect that this drug combination may be much more effective in prolonging patients’ lives.”
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