New therapeutic strategies for malignant pleural mesothelioma

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Graphical abstractMalignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare and aggressive malignant disease affecting the mesothelium, commonly associated to asbestos exposure. Therapeutic actions are limited due to the late stage at which most patients are diagnosed and the intrinsic chemo-resistance of the tumor. The recommended systemic therapy for MPM is cisplatin/pemetrexed regimen with a mean overall survival of about 12 months and a median progression free survival of less than 6 months. Considering that the incidence of this tumor is expected to increase in the next decade and that its prognosis is poor, novel therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. For some tumors, such as lung cancer and breast cancer, druggable oncogenic alterations have been identified and targeted therapy is an important option for these patients. For MPM, clinical guidelines do not recommend biological targeted therapy, mainly because of poor target definition or inappropriate trial design. Further studies are required for a full comprehension of the molecular pathogenesis of MPM and for the development of new target agents. This review updates pre-clinical and clinical data on the efficacy of targeted therapy and immune checkpoint inhibition in the treatment of mesothelioma. Finally, future perspectives in this deadly disease are also discussed.

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