Immunotherapy involves manipulating the immune system to fight disease. Some types of cancer, including mesothelioma, take hold in the body in part by ‘shutting down’ the natural immunotoxins, or cell killers, that would normally attack them. Now, scientists are working with a number of molecules designed to jump start the immune system and help it recognize, target, and even ‘remember’ invading mesothelioma cancer cells.
Using a mouse model of mesothelioma, Harvard researchers investigated the roles of three factors effecting immunity: regulatory T-cells, intratumoural transforming growth factor (TGF)-â and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA4). The researchers then treated the mesothelioma with a combination of monoclonal antibodies and a TGF-â soluble receptor, specifically designed to target these three immune system factors.
With this ‘triple treatment’, the team reports, not only did the tumors clear up long term, but the cancer-killing immune cells appeared to retain a memory of the mesothelioma tumor cells that would prepare them to ward off future invasion. The report goes on to suggest that clinical application of immunotherapies against mesothelioma “may be improved by simultaneously targeting multiple mechanisms of immune suppression”.
Another recent study of the regulatory T-cells, for example, suggests that their manipulation may be a way to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for mesothelioma.
I think there are already TGF trials underway in this country, so progress is being made. It does look as though this line of treatment is where there is currently greatest focus so lets hope results come through sooner rather than later.
Inspired by other blog comments we drove to see the snowdrops at Heale House, we wandered round the ground and although the spring bulbs were lovely, the high point was definitely the very cheeky cockerels. One was really full of himself, following us round the grounds crowing, he even managed a stand off with the peacock.
Ray is feeling well at the moment, he still has discomfort in his chest, where it feels tight or achy, but nothing more than it has been in the past so we take that as positive. On the way back we stopped off at a country pub for lunch then walked for about an hour around the neighboring woods ( where Ray pointed out we could see lots of snowdrops for free) .
Off the the New Forest in a couple of weeks so hope the weather is good. Glad to hear about Mave’s trip on the Orient Express which sounded wonderful.
A good day all round. Our trip into town ended up at a pub where we watched the england v wales rugby game. The pub clientele were a mixturebof polish, south africans, austrailian and myself as the token welsh. Good to see all united in supporting wales.
Then back home via a local restauranr, cote, where we had a lovely meal, chicken with gratin potato and a chocolate fondant to finish. It must have been goodcas even ray had a pudding. Excellent bottle of win to share and then acshort stroll home.
One of the few times he talked about he now felt , while this hasnt changed him as a person it has made realise even more about whats important and how petty a lot of things are that upset you. He doesnt think he is brave just stubborn about keeping going, the memory of the three months to live diagnosis is still very vivid so we view everything now has a bonus. He also said that as a result of meso , he has come into contact with some amazing people.
Beautiful spring day , sunny, warm, no headwind. In fact an all round good day to go for the cycle ride Ray has been planning as soon as the weather improved. Unfortunately he didn’t go today – he went yesterday!
The intended trip was around 12 miles in total, although it did include a couple of challenging hills. The idea was to cycle 6 miles to an old norman church, going mainly uphill. Take a breather and the have an easier trip home.
Part A went to plan, although he did have jelly legs by the time he got to the church and in his words was drooling so much from the exertion , he closely resembled an Irish Wolfhound. After a breather he decided to head back – at which point he made a decision I think is a beautiful illustration of the difference between men and women.
I would have ridden back the same way, having already done teh hard work and along a route I knew. Ray on the other hand, sees an off road cycling track and thinks it should take him back a across country on a shorter more direct route.
Not only did the route wind all round some woods , virtually doubling the ride home, it also crossed a very muddy field, to the extent that his cycle wheels couldn’t go round they were so clogged with mud. Then just to make sure it was truly memorable , it started raining.
It was a very muddy, dishevelled figure that finally returned home .
Sad news of another meso warrier today from our spanish based friends. In memory of Johnny a brave, sweet man , at least now there is no more pain . Our thoughts are with his equally brave wife and family.
Well the sunshine this morning spurred us into making some plans for the day. We were feeling a little delicate possibly due to one to many glasses of wine the night before! So brunch and then the Sunday papers were in order.
Let’s make sure we go for a good walk this afternoon, to make the most of the sunshine. Needless to say by mid afternoon , there were a few dark clouds overhead. Maybe better to wait until it clears, we don’t want to get caught in any rain. Good to see a few hours later it was clear again, but now found the temperature had dropped by quite a few degrees, so staying in suddenly seemed much more attractive. We will go for a walk – just not today.
It does sometimes feel that if we don’t make definite plans the days do slip away from us a bit. So must do better next week.
After all the trauma of scans and appointments, life has settled down again. Although we are actively looking at things to do. Feel suitably inspired by Linda and Steve ‘s great blog this week about their trip to Rome.
We went a couple of years ago and had a great time, so was really good to see all their photos , brought back lots of good memories. Plus they went to the rugby game, somehow, hearing about the mayhem of gettng back doesn’t suprise me. Steve must be feeljng fit, the main thing we remembered about all the walking round that we did was that it is definitely built on seven hills.
Good to know Fuimicino airport was its usual self. We also had a nightmare time checking in and getting through security. They flatly refused to accept electronic tickets and we ended in filling in our names on a sheet of A4- then having to run for our plane despie only having hand luggage.
Been looking into some places in somerset and the cotswolds where we coukd go for some breaks, one looks wonderful with a great spa as well.
An Italian court has convicted a Swiss tycoon and a Belgian baron of negligence over some 2,200 asbestos-related deaths.
Stephan Schidheiny and Jean-Louis de Cartier each got 16 years in prison.The Turin court said the two had failed to comply with safety rules at building firm Eternit, where they were key shareholders. They denied the charges.
Prosecutors argued that thousands had died from contact with asbestos fibres processed in four of the firm’s plants.Swiss Schmidheiny, 64, and Belgian De Cartier, 90, were sentenced in absentia on Monday.
Their charges carry a maximum 12-year term, but during the trial the prosecutors had pushed for a harsher punishment, arguing that the fallout continued to affect victims.
They also said Eternit’s plants had spread asbestos fibres over parts of northern Italy by allowing powder left over from production of roof coverings and pipes to waft through the air.Some 1,500 relatives and supporters of the victims watched the final day of the trial on large TV screens set up in Turin.
“This trial will go down in history… but it will not bring my dad back,” Piero Ferraris, whose father Evasio died in 1988 of lung cancer after working in a local Eternit factory, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
Eternit closed its operations in Italy in 1986 – six years before asbestos was banned in the country.
Good to see just how seriously this has been taken in Italy , a few jail sentences rather than fines might make a major difference in this country when only last year building contractors were still being fined for negligence
Wow- how cold is it today , we went for a short walk and even then our toes were numb and our faces felt as though they were sheets of ice. Although is does make getting back home feel cosy. Just about to sit down to some onion soup that Ray made yesterday- just what we need to warm us up. It was from my Leiths cookbook and is fantastic. Spurred on by our cooking theme we bought the new Heston Blumentein book, cooking at home , which he promises doesn’t need any special equipment. That may be true but he obviously has a lot of time on his hands as his onion soup involved cooking the onions for 7 hours in the oven- think we will pass on that recipe!!
The good news is Ray feels really positive at the moment, the relief of getting the scan results has lifted a big weight, although we know come May we will be going through it all again, right now that seems a long way off. We have booked some time away in the New Forest at the end of February, with the hope of some good long walks.( hopefully not too cold).
Ray has also been thinking about how he can put something back. We have both received a huge amount of support over the last year. Initially from HASAG ( the Hampshire asbestos support group) who were fantastic about sorting out all his benefit forms , blue badge etc. Then we have also had a great medical team, the specialist support nurses have really worked together across hospitals and have really made us feel as though we have our own medical team all fighting with us.
Plus of course there have been the people we have met through the Macmillan forum, who are all going on the same journey but still manage to be an inspiration to others.
He is currently looking into different challenges so watch this space
University College London
A very interesting annual catch up with the surgeon at the end of last week, who was also very encouraging about the last scan. We were able to look at a direct comparison with the July scan and could see the area lighting up around the base of the lung was unchanged. So everything looks stable at the moment.
Interestingly you could also see the lesions and scarring to the lung from the pneumonia, although this is improving so his lung is healing well.
As everything is stable, no trials etc needed at the moment which is good news as you can get a bit sick of hospitals. However, of even more interest is a major research project now underway in conjunction with University College London, where they are looking to identify whether various cancers have specific genetic markers. They already know some tumours have different markers ( eg the ADAMS trial at Barts is looking at one specific protein) and apparently mesothelioma has some areas in common with pancreatic and ovarian cancers. So the thought is what works in one could benefit all.
Ideally once they identify the markers, the aim is to then use targeted drugs , which have been modified to work with your immune system. ( I think I have grasped the science) They are currently starting by looking at tissue samples of the tumours so Ray signed a release form to say they could examine his tumour tissue.
As the surgeon explained, what is really interesting is why some meso doesn’t progress as quickly in some people as others. He does the same surgical procedure on all his patients , some regress within the year others seem to hold the regrowth at bay for a number of years. They think this may be due to the make up of the tumour and the patients immune system, so this is where the research is now focussing.
The funding for this has come from various charitable foundations and organisations such as the June Knighton fund, so all those donations really do make a difference. There may never be a good time to be diagnosed with meso , but maybe within the next 5 years it will be a lot better.
Ideally these treatments will replace chemotherapy as well, and that would definitely be a plus!!
So this weekend it’s good to know there are so many really clever people working to stop meso in its tracks.