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Mesothelioma Vaccine

Although they’re still being researched, vaccines for mesothelioma have shown promise in preventing and treating this type of cancer. Mesothelioma vaccines can boost the immune system’s response so the asbestos-related cancer can be destroyed. Mesothelioma Hope can help you or a loved one access vaccines and other emerging treatments through clinical trials.

Fact-Checked and Updated by: Jenna Tozzi, RN

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About Mesothelioma Cancer Vaccines

Vaccines for mesothelioma help the body to target and destroy cancer cells.

Mesothelioma cancer vaccines are a type of immunotherapy, a treatment that creates an anti-tumor immune response by boosting the body’s natural defenses.

No mesothelioma vaccines have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as of 2024. However, researchers are working to develop and test vaccines in clinical trials to see how they can help patients with mesothelioma.

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How Mesothelioma Vaccines Work

At this time, most mesothelioma vaccines are used to treat patients who already have cancer. However, there are some studies testing whether mesothelioma vaccines can be used to prevent this disease altogether.

Treating Mesothelioma

Vaccines treat cancer by boosting the body’s immune response. Though the immune system normally kills bad or harmful cells, cancer cells can still sneak past the body’s defenses.

The concept behind vaccines for mesothelioma treatment is that cancer cells contain substances called antigens. Antigens are substances that trigger an immune response.

Antigens are not present or less present in healthy cells. Mesothelioma vaccines allow the body to recognize and react to these antigens so the cancer cells can be destroyed.

Preventing Mesothelioma

Many preventative vaccines work by injecting an antigen before someone develops cancer or another disease. Research is being done to see if a preventative mesothelioma vaccine could work.

For example, a 2020 report published by the University of Hawai’i looked at how a treatment vaccine called TVAX could possibly be used to lay the framework for prevention by targeting cancer antigens.

Other cancer vaccines have already been approved for human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B — two diseases can cause other types of cancers.

We can help you enroll in clinical trials to receive mesothelioma vaccines. Contact us now to get started.

Types of Mesothelioma Cancer Vaccines

Cancer vaccines generally work by boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy mesothelioma cancer cells, though they are relatively new and still being researched.

Cancer vaccines generally fall into two main categories:

  • Preventive (prophylactic) vaccines: These are designed to prevent certain types of cancer by targeting the materials, viruses, or bacteria that can cause them.
  • Therapeutic vaccines: These are intended to treat existing cancer by stimulating the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Therapeutic cancer vaccines aim to improve the body’s natural defenses against cancer, either by using specific tumor antigens or by boosting the immune response.

Scientists are exploring different approaches to develop effective cancer vaccines, such as:

  • Dendritic cell vaccines: These preventive vaccines use immune cells called dendritic cells to present cancer antigens, triggering an immune response against the cancer.
  • Gene-based vaccines: therapeutic These vaccines deliver genetic material into cells to trigger the production of antigens and an immune response.
  • Peptide vaccines: These therapeutic vaccines use specific protein fragments (peptides) from cancer cells to stimulate the immune system’s response.

Researchers are dedicated to advancing these areas of study to create effective cancer vaccines for the treatment and prevention of mesothelioma and other types of cancer.

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Mesothelioma Vaccines Being Tested in Trials

To provide a better understanding of how mesothelioma vaccines work, our team has compiled notable ones being studied in clinical trials.

Galinpepimut-S Vaccine

Galinpepimut-S (GPS) is a protein-based vaccine that targets the Wilms Tumor 1 protein, an antigen often found in mesothelioma cells.

GPS, when combined with another immunotherapy drug Opdivo® (nivolumab), has improved life expectancy for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

In a 2023 phase I clinical trial, GPS and Opdivo  tripled overall survival — from 9 months to 27.8 months — in patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Notably, these patients had already been treated with chemotherapy, but their cancer did not respond or had come back after treatment.

HSV-1716 Vaccine

In 2022, a study published in Lung Cancer Journal explored the use of a virus-derived vaccine called HSV-1716 to treat pleural mesothelioma — and showed promising results.

HSV-1716 is an oncolytic virus developed from the herpes virus. This type of virus has the ability to invade and destroy cancerous tumor cells while sparing healthy cells.

About half of the patients’ mesothelioma tumors stopped growing temporarily within around 8 weeks of getting the vaccine. The treatment caused very few side effects, making it easier for patients to tolerate.

A specialist can determine whether you’re eligible to get mesothelioma vaccines being tested in clinical trials. Use our Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match to find a specialist near you.

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MV-NIS Vaccine

MV-NIS is a mesothelioma vaccine created from the measles virus. Clinical trials are underway to see if intrapleural measles virus therapy is an effective way to treat pleural mesothelioma.

Investigators propose that the measles vaccine will:

  • Allow the measles virus to infect and destroy cancer cells
  • Avoid injuring any healthy cells in the process, unlike other cancer treatments
  • Trigger an immune response to help destroy tumor cells

Studies of the MV-NIS vaccine have found that cancer stopped spreading in 67% of patients, helping them to survive for 15 months on average.

Poly-ICLC Vaccine

Poly-ICLC (also known by the brand name Hiltonol®) that helps the body build an effective immune response to kill cancer using RNA. These types of vaccines send signals into immune cells so mesothelioma can be destroyed.

New York’s Mount Sinai Health System is currently leading a clinical trial into how poly-ICLC can help pleural mesothelioma patients.

Those qualified to join the trial will receive an injection of the poly-ICLC vaccine right into a tumor so it’s easier to kill. Then, the patient will undergo mesothelioma surgery to remove the cancer.

Stem Cell Vaccine for Mesothelioma

A stem cell vaccine for mesothelioma cancer is being developed that’s shown promise in animal-testing trials.

These stem cell mesothelioma vaccines involve:

  • Extracting induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells from a patient
  • Genetically remodifying the IPS cells in a lab
  • Creating an immune response by injecting patients with these modified cells

This type of vaccine could prove useful for many types of cancer, including asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma, according to Dr. Joseph Wu, researcher and study director at Stanford University.

UV1 Vaccine

One ongoing clinical trial involves a protein-based vaccine called UV1. In this study, recipients received the UV1 vaccine as well as two immunotherapy drugs to stimulate the immune system: Opdivo and Yervoy® (ipilimumab).

As a second-line treatment for patients, the UV1 mesothelioma vaccine works by stimulating cytotoxic T-cells to spot and destroy cells that express telomerase, which is over-expressed in cancer patients.

In phase II of the UV1 clinical trial, patient life expectancy improved by 27%, and nearly one-third of patients experienced partial or complete remission.

Contact our Patient Advocates to get help enrolling in clinical trials for mesothelioma vaccines.

Mesothelioma Vaccines and the FDA Approval Process

The FDA has not yet approved any mesothelioma vaccines. However, the FDA granted the UV1 vaccine Fast Track designation in February 2024, which could help the vaccine move faster through the research and review process. This could help the vaccine reach patients sooner if it passes each step of the FDA approval process.

Mesothelioma cancer vaccines must go through the following steps to obtain FDA approval:

  1. Discovery and development: Research for the vaccine begins in the lab.
  2. Preclinical research: The vaccine undergoes animal and lab testing to answer basic questions about safety.
  3. Clinical research: Researchers test the vaccine on people to ensure safety and efficacy.
  4. FDA review: FDA review teams will examine the submitted data about the vaccine and decide whether to approve it.

Side Effects and Risks of Cancer Vaccines

As with all treatments, cancer vaccines may cause side effects. Side effects will depend on the type of vaccine and usually only last a short time.

Common side effects associated with cancer vaccines include:

  • Chills and fever
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Inflammation at injection site, including swelling, pain, redness, or rash
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting

Get Help Finding the Best Treatment for You

The news of a mesothelioma diagnosis can quickly overwhelm and you and your family. That’s where Mesothelioma Hope comes in.

For over 20 years, our team has helped mesothelioma patients and their loved ones find personalized medical guidance, financial assistance, and supportive care.

Call (866) 608-8933 to reach a Patient Advocate or try our Free Doctor Match now to get started.

Mesothelioma Vaccine FAQs

What is the cancer vaccine for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma vaccines are still in the experimental stages.

One of the promising approaches involves using dendritic cell vaccines. Dendritic cells are extracted from the patient’s body, exposed to mesothelioma tumor antigens (substances that the immune system can recognize as foreign), and then reintroduced into the patient.

This process aims to “train” the immune system to recognize and attack mesothelioma cells more effectively.

Another approach under investigation is the use of peptide vaccines. These vaccines are designed to introduce specific peptides (short chains of amino acids) that are present on mesothelioma cells.

The immune system is then stimulated to recognize and attack cells displaying these peptides.

Are we closer to a cure for mesothelioma?

We become closer to a cure for mesothelioma each year as scientists study newer treatments like vaccines and how to improve existing ones.

Vaccines are currently not a full mesothelioma cure, but studies have suggested that they can greatly improve patients’ overall survival rates and quality of life.

What is the new drug for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma vaccine therapy is the new type of drug or treatment option for this type of asbestos-related cancer, though it’s still being tested in clinical trials.

Like immunotherapy, vaccines for mesothelioma cancer aim to improve your immune system’s ability to defend against current cancer cells in the body and prevent future growth.

Will there be a cure for mesothelioma in the future?

Possibly. Right now, most mesothelioma treatments help patients just live longer. For example, studies have shown that mesothelioma vaccines can stabilize disease progression.

However, additional research is required to determine whether mesothelioma vaccines and other treatments will totally cure this cancer.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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  1. American Association for Cancer Research Journals. (2017, December 14). Clinical Cancer Research. A Randomized Phase II Trial of Adjuvant Galinpepimut-S, WT-1 Analogue Peptide Vaccine, After Multimodality Therapy for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  2. American Cancer Society. (2019, December 27). How Immunotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  3. BioSpace. (December 2023). SELLAS Life Sciences Reports Positive Follow-Up Immune Response and Survival Data in Completed Phase 1 Study of Galinpepimut-S Combined with Opdivo® in Advanced Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
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  6. Cell Stem Cell. (2018). Autologous iPSC-Based Vaccines Elicit Anti-tumor Responses In Vivo. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 3). Cancers Associated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  8. Danson, S. J., et al. (December 2020). Lung Cancer. Oncolytic herpesvirus therapy for mesothelioma – A phase I/IIa trial of intrapleural administration of HSV1716. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  9. Healio. (2016, March 1). FDA grants orphan drug designation to WT1 cancer vaccine for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
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  11. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. (January 2017). OA13.07 Intrapleural Modified Vaccine Strain Measles Virus Therapy for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
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  14. National Library of Medicine: Evaluation of CRS-207 With Pembrolizumab in Previously Treated Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM). Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  15. National Library of Medicine: Nivolumab and Ipilimumab +/- UV1 Vaccination as Second Line Treatment in Patients With Malignant Mesothelioma (NIPU). Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  16. SELLAS Life Sciences Group. SELLAS Life Sciences Reports Encouraging Updated Clinical Data Indicating Increased Survival from Ongoing Phase 1 Mesothelioma Study of Galinpepimut-S Combined with Opdivo. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  17. Ultimovacs ASA. (2023, October 17). Ultimovacs Announces NIPU Results Presented at ESMO 2023: Significant and Clinically Meaningful Improvement in Overall Survival for Patients Receiving UV1 Cancer Vaccine in Phase II NIPU Trial in Malignant Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
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  20. Zauderer, M. G., et al. (2017, December 15). HHS Author Manuscripts. A Randomized Phase II Trial of Adjuvant Galinpepimut-S, WT-1 Analog Peptide Vaccine, after Multimodality Therapy for Patients with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
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