On April 18, 2019, Harpoon Therapeutics, Inc. announced the dosing of their first patient with HPN536. HPN536 is a type of lab-created protein that causes T cells — special cells in the immune system — to target and attack mesothelioma and other cancer cells.

Part 2 of the clinical trial will involve volunteers with mesothelioma. If this treatment proves safe and effective, it could have many advantages for mesothelioma patients.

Immunotherapy Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma

Immunotherapy is a promising new medical treatment that improves the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

While most forms of immunotherapy are too new to be the standard treatment for cancer, mesothelioma patients can participate in clinical trials to try new treatments and, hopefully, improve their prognosis.

What Is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a type of research study performed on volunteers to test how safe and helpful a new treatment is. If the trial’s results suggest that a treatment is safe and effective, that treatment may become the preferred method of medical care for an illness.

Clinical trials may be especially appealing to mesothelioma patients who don’t respond well to or cannot undergo standard treatment methods like surgery and chemotherapy.

Regardless of an experimental treatment’s effectiveness, volunteering for a clinical trial helps the medical community figure out better ways to treat mesothelioma and other illnesses.

Key Facts About the HPN536 Immunotherapy Trials

Mesothelioma patients should know a few key things about this new anti-cancer treatment.

The Treatment Uses the Body’s Immune System to Attack Cancer Cells

HPN536 is a new type of protein created by Harpoon Therapeutics to fight cancer. It works by directing a patient’s T cells to target mesothelin (MSLN), a protein found in malignant mesothelioma cells and some other cancers.

Once these modified T cells find the cancer cells, they attack them, presumably slowing, stopping, or even eliminating the cancer.

Harpoon Therapeutics hopes that their HPN536 immunotherapy will be longer-lasting and far less damaging than traditional treatments like chemotherapy and surgery. They also hope that it will be more effective than other types of immunotherapy at destroying solid tumor cancers like mesothelioma.

There Is Already Evidence of Benefits to Using This Kind of Treatment

In one 2018 clinical trial, 52 out of 63 patients with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) went into remission after being treated with the T cell therapy Tisagenlecleucel.

However, while T cell immunotherapies have fared well against blood cancers, they have proven less effective at treating solid tumor cancers like mesothelioma.

This is where researchers are hoping HPN536 will make a difference.

According to data presented at the American Association of Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019, mesothelin-targeting T cells that had certain proteins removed were able to destroy solid tumors in mice.

Harpoon’s similar HPN536 therapy is optimized for treating solid tumors, and each dose remains active in the body for a longer time, meaning patients may not need to be treated as often.

Part 2 of the Trial Will Involve Mesothelioma Patients

While Part 1 of Harpoon Therapeutics’ clinical trial involves figuring out the right dose of HPN536 to use, Part 2 will determine a safe and effective dose for different types of cancer — including mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma patients who volunteer will receive the HPN536 once a week via intravenous (IV) infusion.

If the treatment seems promising, Harpoon will continue with the clinical trial, opening it up to more volunteers.

Mesothelioma Patients Can Still Get Involved in the Trial

While the clinical trial has already begun, mesothelioma patients still have time to volunteer for Part 2 as of the publishing of this article.

Mesothelioma patients may be qualified to participate if they:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have epithelioid mesothelioma
  • Have adequate kidney and liver function
  • Do not have an autoimmune disease
  • Meet several other factors listed under the eligibility criteria

The clinical trial is taking place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Nashville, Tennessee. Part 2 of the trial is scheduled to end on May 1, 2021.

Find Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Near Me

Even if you can’t participate in the HPN536 study, hundreds of other clinical trials are being conducted that may help mesothelioma patients live longer, healthier lives.

You can find mesothelioma clinical trials near you by visiting clinicaltrials.gov.

Always remember to talk to your doctor about any clinical trial treatment you’re considering.

View Author and Sources

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  2. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (n.d.). What is a Clinical Trial. Retrieved September 24, 2019, from https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/clinical_trials/explanation.aspx
  3. Wesche, H., Aaron, W., Austin, R., Baeuerle, P. A., Jones,A., Lemon, B., … Harpoon, T. U. (2018). TriTACs are novel T cell-engaging therapeutic proteins optimized for treatment of solid tumors and long serum half-life [PDF file]. Retrieved September 24, 2019, from https://www.harpoontx.com/file.cfm/43/docs/AACR_2018_Poster_TriTAC_Platform.pdf
  4. Austin, R., Aaron, W., Baeuerle, P. A, Jones, A., Jones, S. D., Law, C., … Harpoon, T. U. (2018).
    HPN536, a T cell-engaging, Mesothelin/CD3-specific TriTAC for the treatment of solid tumors [PDF file]. Retrieved September 24, 2019, from https://www.harpoontx.com/file.cfm/43/docs/AACR_2018_Poster_TriTAC_Platform.pdf
  5. Seo, H., Chen, J., Das, A., Bhandoola, A., Rao, A. (2019, July). Abstract 938: Disruption of TOX overcomes CAR T-cell dysfunction function in solid tumor. Retrieved September 24, 2019, from doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2019-938
  6. Vairy, S., Garcia, J. L., Teira, P., & Bittencourt, H. (2018). CTL019 (tisagenlecleucel): CAR-T therapy for relapsed and refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Drug design, development and therapy, 12, 3885–3898. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S138765

Last modified: January 24, 2020