Immunotherapy and radiation therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a particularly aggressive thoracic malignancy with limited survival following combination chemotherapy. As a result, there has been increased interested in immunotherapy for mesothelioma, both in the first-line and salvage settings. Early investigations of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon alfa-2a/b have been limited by modest response rates and toxicity, whereas cytokine gene therapy is currently being investigated and shows early promise. The most prominent class of immunotherapies to be trialed with mesothelioma in the past half-decade has been immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPI). Early results are encouraging, particularly for agents targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathways. With the increasing recognition of the immune potential of mesothelioma, interest in the immunomodulatory properties of radiation therapy has emerged. The combination of immunotherapy and radiation therapy may allow for complimentary immunologic effects that can enhance antitumor response. This article reviews the existing literature on the efficacy of immunotherapy for MPM, describes the rationale for combining immunotherapy with radiation therapy, and discusses early literature on this treatment combination.