05 March 2010

Vaccine for asbestos-related cancer looks safe

An investigational vaccine for the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma is safe, according to a new study.


This article has not necessarily been edited by Health24.

THURSDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- An investigational vaccine for the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma is safe, according to a new study.

Researchers in the Netherlands tested the vaccine -- which infuses a patient's own dendritic cells with antigen from the patient's tumor -- on 10 patients and found that it induced an immune T-cell response against mesothelioma tumors.

This is the first time DC-based immunotherapy has been tested in patients with mesothelioma, which typically occurs in the lungs but can arise at other body sites. The study was published online March 4 in advance of an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Asbestos has been banned in developed countries for decades, but the incidence of mesothelioma is expected to continue to increase until 2020. Median survival after mesothelioma diagnosis is about 12 months. The standard chemotherapy treatment improves survival by about three months.

"The possibility to harness the potency and specificity of the immune system underlies the growing interest in cancer immunotherapy," study author Dr. Joachim Aerts, a pulmonary physician at Erasmus Medical Center, said in a news release. "One such approach uses the patient's own [dendritic cells] to present tumor-associated antigens and thereby generate tumor-specific immunity."

Dendritic cells are a form of immune system cell.

"The major problem in mesothelioma is that the immunosuppressive environment caused by the tumor will negatively influence our therapy so we are now working on a method to lower this immunosuppressive environment," Aerts said. "We hope that by further development of our method it will be possible to increase survival in patients with mesothelioma and eventually vaccinate persons who have been in contact with asbestos to prevent them from getting asbestos related diseases."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about mesothelioma.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules