Immunotherapy has two main approaches. There are specific, or targeted, immunotherapy. This targets particular antigens (a substance usually a protein that can trigger an immune response) on the tumour. Non-specific tumour immunotherapy uses agents that modify the immune biology of a tumour in such a way as to bring about an anti-tumour effect. Active immunotherapy for malignant mesothelioma has been restricted by the lack of identified malignant mesothelioma specific antigens. Research has indicated that no single antibody used in immunohistochemistry can be considered malignant mesothelioma specific. Nevertheless, extensive work on malignant mesotheliomas has identified antigens which are useful for the diagnosis of epithelioid malignant mesothelioma.
There have been a number of studies exploring immune therapy in general, and specifically in relation to malignant mesothelioma.
There is a requirement for large clinical trials in immunotherapy. However, the advances in chemotherapy have meant that this treatment and the benefits it can bring is concentrating most medical attention.