BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2021 May 5 [Link]
Steven G Gray
Background: The role of immunotherapy in cancer is now well-established, and therapeutic options such as checkpoint inhibitors are increasingly being approved in many cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare orphan disease associated with prior exposure to asbestos, with a dismal prognosis. Evidence from clinical trials of checkpoint inhibitors in this rare disease, suggest that such therapies may play a role as a treatment option for a proportion of patients with this cancer.
Main text: While the majority of studies currently focus on the established checkpoint inhibitors (CTLA4 and PD1/PDL1), there are many other potential checkpoints that could also be targeted. In this review I provide a synopsis of current clinical trials of immunotherapies in MPM, explore potential candidate new avenues that may become future targets for immunotherapy and discuss aspects of immunotherapy that may affect the clinical outcomes of such therapies in this cancer.
Conclusions: The current situation regarding checkpoint inhibitors in the management of MPM whilst encouraging, despite impressive durable responses, immune checkpoint inhibitors do not provide a long-term benefit to the majority of patients with cancer. Additional studies are therefore required to further delineate and improve our understanding of both checkpoint inhibitors and the immune system in MPM. Moreover, many new potential checkpoints have yet to be studied for their therapeutic potential in MPM. All these plus the existing checkpoint inhibitors will require the development of new biomarkers for patient stratification, response and also for predicting or monitoring the emergence of resistance to these agents in MPM patients. Other potential therapeutic avenues such CAR-T therapy or treatments like oncolytic viruses or agents that target the interferon pathway designed to recruit more immune cells to the tumor also hold great promise in this hard to treat cancer.