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Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Launches Clinical Trial for Cancer Patients

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The Baylor College of Medicine Mesothelioma Treatment Center (MTC) at CHI St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) announced today that it has opened a new clinical trial that combines immunotherapy and surgery for the treatment of mesothelioma. Affiliated with the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the MTC is one of the nation’s largest mesothelioma treatment centers.

This is the first in-human study of neoadjuvant (before surgery) administration of a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy followed by surgical resection in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The treatment focuses on the use of a preoperative boost to the immune system and cytoductive surgery with state-of-the art surgical techniques to combat the disease.The groundbreaking protocol will lay the foundation for multimodality therapy that includes using the patient’s own immune system in combination with surgical resection.

The area of the body that includes the tumor and the immediately surrounding tissues is called the “tumor microenvironment.” The microenvironment comprises several types of immune cells, including T-cells. For this study, two therapies will be compared: MEDI4736 alone (monotherapy with one type of checkpoint inhibitor) and MEDI4736 + tremelimumab (combination therapy with two types of checkpoint inhibitors). Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that “take the brakes off the immune system” by blocking the negative signals that tumor cells display to the body’s immune system. By blocking such negative signals, the immune system is re-activated and the tumor is removed. If the tumor tries to recur, the goal is that the immune system, by its previous reactivation by the drugs, will display a quick memory response to eradicate the recurring tumor.

During the procedure, the tumors are first biopsied and the patients will receive one of the two doses of immunotherapy. Following medication delivery and immune reactivation, patients undergo surgical resection with contemporary surgical techniques to remove all visible tumors, which are also collected for investigation by Dr. Burt and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center research team.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this trial to our patients. Much of our own data suggests that pleural mesothelioma may be a more immunogenic tumor than previously realized, and I predict that immunotherapy will rise to become a critical component of multimodality therapy for mesothelioma patients,” said Bryan Burt, MD, principal investigator on the trial and thoracic surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St. Luke’s. “This trial is one of the first-of-its-kind, in which immunotherapy is given before surgery, and from it, we expect to learn an enormous amount about this disease.”

“This clinical trial is only one of many mesothelioma treatment protocols available at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and builds upon a strong foundation of mesothelioma research at Baylor College of Medicine,” added David Sugarbaker, MD, Chief of Thoracic Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine and Program Director, The Mesothelioma Treatment Center. “The Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St Luke’s and Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation’s largest mesothelioma treatment centers providing consultations to over 200 patients per year. Our direct affiliation with the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, facilitates innovative and sophisticated research protocols such as this one.”

For more information regarding the clinical trial or the Mesothelioma Treatment Center, please visit or call 713-798-6376.

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