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Is there any treatment for those suffering from Mesothelioma ?

Although there is yet no definitive cure is in sight, the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma has progressed to a promising, much-anticipated phase. The emerging new treatment goes beyond the multi modal approach (surgery, radiation and chemotherapy) that has been the standard treatment techniques at specialty centers for the past several years.

There is new hope on the horizon.

Recently, three world renowned experts, Dr. Robert Cameron, a Thoracic surgeon and mesothelioma specialist, along with scientist Raymond Wong, Ph.D., and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Svetlana Kotova, published a paper they coauthored detailing ‘the changing face of therapy’ in the Cancer Management Research Journal.

“With all the ongoing research, real progress is only a matter of time,” they wrote in the paper. “The list of potential new therapies is long, and the number of clinical trials is impressive.”

Before the publication, Cameron who is director of thoracic surgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and medical advisor for the Pacific Meso Center in Los Angeles, has been a pioneer in the standard, three-pronged combination that includes lung-sparing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Advances Making Mesothelioma Manageable

Cameron is also of the opinion that with therapeutic advances almost visible, mesothelioma would soon be classified as a more manageable disease like diabetes.

Some of the therapeutic advances Cameron was referring to include systemic therapies that affect the entire body in hopes of killing the cancer and localized treatments that specifically target the tumors. Some other advances are part of on-going clinical trials showing promising results.

A majority of these new found therapeutic options arose from the improved understanding of the specific cancer biology and expanded knowledge of molecular signaling and immune responses. Research is paying off.

“Part of the reason for writing [this paper] was to create awareness,” Wong told Asbestos.com. “Not every clinical trial out there is the best option for a patient. But at least patients should now look into what is out there beyond conventional treatment.”

Systemic and Localized Therapies

Some of the newest potential drugs and therapies currently tested include immunotherapies that boost a patient’s immune system and medications that slow the growth of new blood vessels into tumors, among others.

Anti-mesothelin antibodies: Mesothelin is a protein over-expressed in several cancers, including mesothelioma, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Antibodies MORAb-009 (amatuximab) and BAY 94-9343 (anetuman ravtansine) show an ability to kill cancer cells that overexpress mesothelin without harming healthy cells.

CRS-27 Vaccine: This vaccine also targets mesothelin but is designed to strengthen a patient’s immune system, allowing healthy cells to fight off cancer growth. It is a genetically altered bacteria engineered to induce an immune response within certain tumor types, allowing chemotherapy to work better in the patient.

Avastin: Also known as bevacizumab, has been used for years to treat advanced renal cell, gastrointestinal stromal, and colorectal cancers. This treatment involves slowing the growth of new blood vessels into tumors that lead to rapid growth of cancer cells. It has been used effectively for mesothelioma in recent years when combined with chemotherapy.

Dendritic Cell Vaccine: Is a form of immunotherapy that involves extracting specific white blood cells and cultivating them in the laboratory, where they are stimulated by a patient’s own antigens. After a while, they are reintroduced into the patients body with a better chance at destroying the cancerous cells.

Gene Therapy: This is fighting mesothelioma at the molecular level. This treatment involves identifying genetic abnormalities and correcting or replacing them. A very successful gene therapy could eventually eliminate the need for surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy involves the freezing of cancer tissues. It’s success in the treatment of other types of cancer has led to its trial on mesothelioma, which has been effective when combined with certain types of immunotherapy.

 

Photodynamic Therapy: This therapy has been around for over 30 years now. However, it has been recently reworked with new light-sensitive drugs that allow narrowly-targeting light beams to kill specific cancer cells.

Iodine-Povidone Wash: This therapy involves the irrigation of cancerous areas in order to slow the regrowth of any tumor cells after treatment. Although this is an old therapy, it is being reworked by mesothelioma specialists for more effectiveness.

There currently are more than 200 clinical trials, ranging from phase I to phase III, involving mesothelioma nationwide. Most of them were set up  for the testing of new drugs and new therapies.

Finding Treatment Through Clinical Trials

Cameron and his Co-authors stressed the importance of clinical trial participation, both as an immediate benefit for the patient and for the benefit of future patients who will be helped by the research. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer with an estimated 3,000 patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.

“In the future, it is critical that clinicians treat this disease with equipoise, and that patients be placed in randomized prospective clinical trials in order to truly determine optimal therapy for these patients,” the authors wrote.