Mesothelioma Vaccine Holds Promise

Scientists have proved that a new vaccine against mesothelioma has tested safely with human test subjects. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that comes from asbestos exposure in the workplace or home. Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been used by industrial companies for the past one hundred years in America and overseas. When asbestos fibers become friable, or airborne, they can be breathed into the lungs where they remain for decades. Possibly leading to the development of cancerous tumors, and even a diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer

The vaccine uses what are known as “dendritic cells” (DC) that are combined with antigen (microscopic molecules) from the patient’s tumor, and then placed back into the body. Dendritic cells are immune cells that exist naturally in the human body. Their purpose is to process antigen material and expose it to the surface of other cells, alerting the immune system to the threat within the body. As a result of the reintroduction of these dendritic cells, the immune system is not only prepared for cancerous mesothelioma tumors, but can actually repel them. The vaccine is designed to increase T-cell response against mesothelioma tumors in the body more so than it could on its own. This practice is called Immunotherapy; which uses the body’s natural immune system to target and destroy foreign threats to the body, such as viruses and cancers.

All patients from the human testing course who were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, showed an increase in cytotoxicity (the level of toxic material in cells) against their mesothelioma tumors as a result of the vaccines introduction. Three of the four patients tested showed signs of tumor regression. In addition to the tumor regression and T-cell increase, there were also no serious side effects reported with the study. Although one patient developed some flu-like symptoms, the symptoms dissipated after a day or so, and no signs of autoimmune diseases were brought on by the vaccine. This is important news because most medical professionals believe that due to its decades–long latency period mesothelioma diagnoses will increase until the year 2020.

“Possible Vaccine for Mesothelioma Proven Safe” ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2010)