Tremelimumab immunotherapy is not a first-line or approved off-label treatment for mesothelioma. It is still being researched for this purpose. In particular, tremelimumab is being studied in combination with other immunotherapies to determine its efficacy and safety in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma within the clinical trial setting.1

Tremelimumab Studies for Other Cancers

Tremelimumab has been studied for its efficacy and safety in treating other cancers, including 

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Gastric adenocarcinoma
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Renal cell carcinoma

It is not a first-line or approved off-label treatment for any of these cancers. 

Tremelimumab is often studied using a multimodal approach, in which the drug is used in combination with other cancer therapies such as immunotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Combination treatment generally leads to better quality of life and life-expectancy outcomes than what can be achieved with one drug or one kind of cancer therapy alone.

How Tremelimumab Works

Tremelimumab works to inhibit the CTLA-4 receptor found on T-cells. (T-cells are a type of white blood cell. They stimulate the immune system and kill foreign cells, infected cells, and cancer cells.) This receptor is like an “off” switch. It prevents T-cells from fighting and killing other cells, including cancer cells. By inhibiting CTLA-4, tremelimumab activates the immune system to function at a higher level. 

Side Effects of Tremelimumab

Tremelimumab’s side effects are still under investigation. Some reported side effects of tremelimumab include 

  • Autoimmune hepatitis: inflammation of the liver
  • Cellulitis: deep infection of the skin
  • Colitis: inflammation of the colon
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Elevated pancreatic enzyme (lipase)
  • Fainting 
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypophysitis: inflammation of the pituitary gland or stalk, often resulting in pituitary gland failure 
  • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura: a blood disorder with a decreased number of platelets, resulting in easy or excessive bruising and bleeding
  • Leukocytoclastic vasculitis: inflammation and damage of small blood vessels, resulting in purple-red skin lesions
  • Nausea
  • Skin itching, peeling, rash, and discoloration
  • Swelling

Tremelimumab Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma