Remodelling Mesothelioma Cells May Improve Responsiveness to Immunotherapy

 By Kathy Cooke.  18th January 2022

Immunotherapy treatment is one of the best options available for Malignant pleural mesothelioma patients. It is a method of treating disease by using the body’s natural immune response. There are several clinical immunotherapy trials in mesothelioma including epigenetic alterations.

Epigenetic Mesothelioma

Epigenetic Alterations are changes in the chemical structure of DNA that does not change the DNA coding sequence.

They occur in the body when chemical groups called methyl groups are added to or removed from DNA or when changes are made to proteins called histones that bind to the DNA in chromosomes.

In contrast to advances in the treatment of lung cancer, diagnostic and prognostic biomarker research is a relatively new field in mesothelioma cancer. Epigenetic alterations and modifications play an important role in the regulation of mesothelioma phenotypes and histological subtypes.

Altering the Immune Microenvironment Through Epigenetics

Italian researchers at University Hospital of Siena have been investigating the manipulation the gene expression of mesothelioma cells that may improve the responsiveness to immunotherapy, i.e attract more immune cells to the site of the cancer. The study focused on epigenetic drugs to change the mesothelioma tumour micro-environment to see if any of these drugs could improve responsiveness to immunotherapy.

Lead researcher Dr Lofiego and her colleagues tried different epigenetic drugs on several types of mesothelioma in the lab. Results obtained showed an improvement of HLA class I antigens in all pleural mesothelioma cells treated with the drug Guadecitabine as compared to untreated cells. The drug can modulate pleural mesothelioma phenotype (individual's observable traits) making it more responsive to immunotherapy.

Although the number of investigated mesothelioma cell lines was limited, the sensitivity to epigenetic drugs treatment was more evident in the most aggressive Sarcomatoid pleural mesothelioma subtype. This supports the need to develop personalised combination therapies to render these aggressive tumours more responsive to immunotherapy.

The study has laid the groundwork for further investigation on the potential of guadecitabine-based immunotherapeutic strategies for MPM treatment.

Dr. Lofiego commented . . .

“ Our results contribute to providing the rationale to develop new epigenetically-based immunotherapeutic approaches for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients, potentially tailored to the specific histologic subtypes ”

If you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and would like to talk to someone about whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation, please call us on the number below and ask for Kathy or Warren

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Epigenetic Immune Remodeling of Mesothelioma Cells: A New Strategy to Improve the Efficacy of Immunotherapy

Epigenetic Immune Remodeling of Mesothelioma Cells


Kathy Cooke

Kathy Cooke   MA. BSc

Cancer consultant and advisor

Kathy has worked in the cancer field for over 30 years. She was course leader for the MSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology at University of Hertfordshire. Then pre-treatment radiotherapy manager at the Cromwell Hospital in London and Partnership Quality Lead for Macmillan Cancer Support..   Read more >

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