TIL therapy, or tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, is a form of immunotherapy used to treat certain types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. TIL therapy involves isolating T cells from a patient’s tumor, expanding them in a laboratory, and then infusing them back into the patient to attack the cancer cells.
While TIL therapy has shown promise as a treatment for mesothelioma, it is not without risks and side effects. Here are some of the known side effects of TIL therapy for mesothelioma:
Infusion reactions: TIL therapy involves infusing a large number of T cells back into the patient’s bloodstream. This can sometimes cause an infusion reaction, which can include symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, headache, and vomiting. These reactions are usually mild and can be managed with medications such as antihistamines and steroids.
Cytokine release syndrome: Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) is a potentially serious side effect of TIL therapy. When the infused T cells attack the cancer cells, they release cytokines, which can cause inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to symptoms such as fever, low blood pressure, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, CRS can cause organ damage and even be life-threatening. Treatment for CRS typically involves medications such as tocilizumab and corticosteroids.
Autoimmune reactions: TIL therapy can sometimes trigger autoimmune reactions, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. This can lead to a range of symptoms, depending on which organs are affected. For example, autoimmune thyroiditis can cause fatigue, weight gain, and hair loss, while autoimmune hepatitis can cause jaundice and abdominal pain. Treatment for autoimmune reactions typically involves immunosuppressive medications such as corticosteroids.
Infection: TIL therapy can weaken the immune system, making patients more susceptible to infections. Patients may be given antibiotics or antiviral medications to prevent infections, and may need to be monitored closely for signs of infection during and after treatment.
Tumor lysis syndrome: Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a rare but potentially serious complication of TIL therapy. When cancer cells are destroyed, they release their contents into the bloodstream, which can lead to a build-up of waste products such as uric acid and potassium. This can cause kidney damage, abnormal heart rhythms, and other complications. Patients at high risk for TLS may be given medications such as allopurinol to prevent it from occurring.
Other side effects: TIL therapy can also cause a range of other side effects, including fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and skin rashes. These side effects are usually mild and can be managed with medications and supportive care.
It’s important to note that not all patients will experience these side effects, and the severity of side effects can vary from patient to patient. Additionally, some side effects may not become apparent until weeks or months after treatment. Patients considering TIL therapy for mesothelioma should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their healthcare provider, and should be closely monitored for side effects during and after treatment.