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New Mesothelioma Treatment
Immunotherapy to Treat Mesothelioma Patients
New Mesothelioma Treatment
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs – often made of antibodies – that unleash an immune system attack on cancer cells. They’ve scored some impressive successes in recent years, particularly in some patients with metastatic melanoma or Hodgkin lymphoma, and are showing promise in clinical trials involving patients with other types of cancer.
Checkpoint inhibitors seek to overcome one of cancer’s main defenses against an immune system attack. Immune system T cells patrol the body constantly for signs of disease or infection. When they encounter another cell, they probe certain proteins on its surface, which serve as insignia of the cell’s identity. If the proteins indicate the cell is normal and healthy, the T cell leaves it alone. If the proteins suggest the cell is infected or cancerous, the T cell will lead an attack against it. Once T cells initiate an attack, the immune system increases a series of additional molecules to prevent the attack from damaging normal tissues in the body. These molecules are known as immune checkpoints.
Tumor cells often wear proteins that reveal the cells’ cancerous nature. But they sometimes commit what amounts to identity theft, arraying themselves in proteins of normal cells. Recent research has shown that cancer cells often utilize immune checkpoint molecules to suppress and evade an immune system attack. T cells, deceived by these normal-looking proteins, may allow the tumor cell to go unmolested.
Checkpoint inhibitors block these normal proteins on cancer cells, or the proteins on T cells that respond to them. The result is to remove the blinders that prevented T cells from recognizing the cells as cancerous and leading an immune system assault on them.
Three checkpoint inhibitors have received rapid approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cancer, including ipilimumab (Yervoy®), pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), and nivolumab (Opdivo®). These and other immune checkpoint therapies represent one of the most promising frontiers in cancer treatment today.
New Clinical Trial
Researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Leicester are trialling a drug that could boost the body’s immune system to fight off mesothelioma, which can be caused by asbestos.
The trial will be one of many to be conducted at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Cancer Immunology, which will be the UK’s first and only centre dedicated to cancer immunology research.
Mesothelioma rates are rising. Since the late 1970s, mesothelioma incidence rates have increased almost six-fold (497 per cent increase) in Great Britain. There were around 2,700 new cases of mesothelioma in the UK in 2013 — more than seven cases diagnosed every day.
Current treatment methods include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery and are mainly aimed at keeping the cancer under control.
The phase III randomised controlled trial, which is funded by Cancer Research UK and supported by Bristol Myers Squibb, will test whether nivolumab, a drug already used to successfully treat advanced melanoma and advanced kidney cancer, can be used to target mesothelioma.
It works by finding and blocking a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T-cells. Blocking PD-1 activates the T-cells to find and kill cancer cells.
The trial has been launched ahead of International Clinical Trials Day, which is marked on 20 May each year, but this year has events taking place today (Friday, 19 May).
Professor Gareth Griffiths, the study’s co-Chief Investigator from the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton, said: “The UK has one of the world’s highest incidences of mesothelioma and currently there aren’t many ways to treat it. Boosting the immune system by releasing killer T-cells that have previously been blocked could offer us a new way to treat more patients with this devastating disease.”
The trial, which is being run in collaboration with the clinical lead Professor Dean Fennell at the University of Leicester, plans to recruit 304 patients, who have relapsed mesothelioma, across 20 UK-wide sites including Southampton and Leicester.
Professor Fennell said: “Preliminary studies targeting PD-1 in mesothelioma have shown promising activity. CONFIRM aims to definitively assess the true benefit of nivolumab for patients with relapsed mesothelioma in a setting where there is an unmet need. Critically, we aim to understand why patients respond (or not) to this drug, and identify biomarkers to ensure that we can personalise therapy to maximize the benefit for patients.”
One person who has already benefited from using the immune system to fight mesothelioma is Mavis Nye, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2009. After various courses of treatments which failed, she joined a phase 1 immunotherapy trial to test the drug (Keytruda) on how well it blocked the PD-1 protein and enabled the body to fight off a number of cancers, including mesothelioma. After the first two years, scans revealed the tumours had decreased by 81 per cent, with three disappearing completely. Mavis is now cancer-free and spends her time raising awareness about the importance of clinical trials.
She said: “I was just an ordinary woman whose husband worked at the dockyards in Chatham. We didn’t know what the effects of the asbestos on his clothes might be. Cancer is a terrible and devastating disease that turns everything on its head. I am so thankful that the trial I took part in worked. But it didn’t work for every participant. We need more trials to help improve treatments and survival rates for cancer, and this new trial is a big step in the right direction.”
Dr Catherine Pickworth, Cancer Research UK’s science information officer, said: “Immunotherapy treatments work by turning the power of our immune system against cancer. They are already being used routinely to treat advanced skin and kidney cancers, and are showing promise for other types of cancer too. This clinical trial will find out whether an immunotherapy drug could benefit people with mesothelioma, which is hard for doctors to treat successfully. We urgently need trials like this to help improve survival for patients with this aggressive type of cancer.”
The construction of the Centre for Cancer Immunology is expected to be completed by September and aims to be in full operation in summer 2018. It will bring world-leading cancer scientists together under one roof and enable interdisciplinary teams to expand clinical trials and develop lifesaving drugs.
The Centre, which is based at Southampton General Hospital site, is being funded by a £25 million fundraising campaign by the University of Southampton.
Professor Tim Elliott, Director of the Centre for Cancer Immunology, said: “The University has made major advances in tumour immunology and immunotherapy over the past 40 years and we enjoy a strong reputation for our ‘bench to bedside’ approach. The new Centre will go a long way in helping many more people with cancer become free of the disease, and we hope this new trial to fight a particularly sinister type of cancer will be the first of many successful trials.”
How do I know if I have Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a sudden and devastating form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This terminal disease occurs unexpectedly usually 20 to 40 or more years after asbestos exposure. Anyone can be exposed from everyday locations, such as homes, workplaces, schools, and even by direct contact with someone who has asbestos dust contamination on their clothes. Wives and children of workers that were exposed to asbestos have also been shown to be at risk of this disease as a result of personal exposure to asbestos dust on their loved one’s clothing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there is no evidence of any asbestos exposure level that is considered safe. In conclusion, there is not a certain level of exposure that can decrease your chance of developing the disease. All levels will may lead to this unfortunate disease.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, seek out a mesothelioma experienced physician as soon as possible in order to receive proper treatment. If diagnosis is early you will have access to a wider array of treatment opportunities with more promising results. Additional information and statistics about mesothelioma can be found within this section.
For Mesothelioma, cancer specialists will approach a mesothelioma diagnosis by first testing symptoms. This initial testing is usually to see if symptoms are being caused by a more common disease. As part of this process, the doctor will obtain a full medical history from the patient. This usually will include asking the patient about any exposure to asbestos.
After these steps have been taken, the doctor will usually perform a series of tests, some of these tests could include imaging scans and blood tests. Most of the time if these tests indicate a potential for mesothelioma, a biopsy will be taken. Biopsy Tests are normally the only way to give a definitive Mesothelioma Diagnosis.
All forms of Mesothelioma have a poor long term prognosis. Catching the disease early on can potentially improve life expectancy. Having mesothelioma diagnosed before it spreads can increase the effectiveness of treatments and clinical trial options.
In light of the current difficulty in curing the disease, most research and development around all forms of mesothelioma is focused around improving early detection and diagnosis of the disease. This includes recent developments of new biomarker blood tests, which can detect the presence of substances that indicate mesothelioma may be present in the body.
Common Mesothelioma Stages
Mesothelioma Staging demands a variety of diagnostic examinations to identify the tumor area, overall size, and whether it has spread beyond the immediate location. The four stages of pleural mesothelioma cancer vary marginally within each system, but they could be generalized as suggested below. Please click into the individual pages to get more information about each stage.
Within Stage 1, the mesothelioma tumor is generally in one location, and the cancerous cells have not dispersed to lymph nodes or other body organs and tissues. In general, surgical treatment may be an option for eliminating the cancerous growth.
Within Stage 2, the mesothelioma tumor is larger and has probably intruded on surrounding organs, such as the lung or even diaphragm. Lymph nodes could additionally be included. In this case, surgical reapportion might still be feasible, however much more difficult depending on the scope of the growth.
Within Stage 3, mesothelioma cancer has infested a region or perhaps location, like the chest wall, esophagus or lymph nodes. Surgical treatment is typically not an option as a curative therapy, however various other treatment options may be attempted.
Within Stage 4, the mesothelioma has dispersed to numerous locations, such as various other organs and tissues throughout the body. Surgical treatment is no longer an alternative, and most treatments at this stage concentrate on minimizing discomfort and pain.
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Asbestos Exposure & Cancer
The only known cause of Mesothelioma is Asbestos Exposure. Asbestos dust and particles that have been inhaled or ingested cause inflammation and disruption of normal cell growth on a microscopic level. This can lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer. Thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products were manufactured with asbestos from the 1940’s through as late as the 1990’s in some cases. Most of these companies knew the deadly effects that exposing their employees and customers would cause and yet still continued to use the deadly substance due to corporate greed. For this reason many lawsuits have been brought against these companies on behalf of Mesothelioma Victims. Understanding that Mesothelioma is a lethal cancer, this directly means that whoever exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust is responsible for their death.
Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White have been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We strongly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the best of the best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist all persons diagnosed with Mesothelioma.
Most asbestos exposure originates from the thousands of products that contained asbestos. People who worked in industries like steel mills, foundries, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, paper mills, glass manufacturing, iron smelting and aluminum manufacturing from the 1940s through the 1990’s were most likely exposed to asbestos dust. A lot of the insulation, refractories and friction products used by these industries during this time period contained asbestos. Construction workers including laborers, insulators, brick layers, electricians, machinists, millwrights, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters, plasterers, drywall workers and even superintendents, engineers and architects who worked in any form of construction from the 1940’s through the 1990’s could have been exposed to Asbestos dust. There were numerous asbestos containing construction materials sold by the asbestos companies.
The chances of being exposed to asbestos particles in these settings does not decrease even if a worker was never personally handling asbestos containing products. If someone worked in the same area where work with asbestos products was conducted they also inhaled the deadly toxins. Most companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products did not provide warnings to their customers, many workers unwittingly introduced asbestos dust into their homes on their contaminated work clothing, subjecting their wives and even their children to enough asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma. It has recently been found that some common talcum powders, including baby powder, shaving powders, cosmetic and hygiene talcum powders, contained dangerous levels of asbestos sufficient to cause mesothelioma.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Only the best, just for you.
Dr. Raphael Bueno is the Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Vice Chair of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research at Boston’s Brigham and
Dr. Harvey Pass is a renowned thoracic surgeon that has dedicated his career to bringing increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Dr. Robert Brian Cameron currently serves as the Director of Thoracic Oncology at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.
Dr. David Sugarbaker is a world-renowned doctor and certified thoracic surgeon widely credited for developing the first tri-modal treatment approach for malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Dr. Lary A. Robinson is currently the Director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.
As director of the mesothelioma program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, Anne Tsao M.D. is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on malignant mesothelioma.
Costs Related to Mesothelioma
As with all types of cancer, Mesothelioma costs can be extremely high, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. The costs associated with the disease can be lumped into several categories: Diagnostic Testing Costs, Treatment Costs, Follow up, Recovery and Care Expenses.
How much a family spends on mesothelioma care will likely depend on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to: the exact diagnosis, the stage when the disease is diagnosed, what is covered by insurance, and even where the patient lives. Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, those who are diagnosed with this deadly cancer may be able to receive financial assistance for many different things, from lost income to medical costs, as well as damages for pain and suffering related to the disease. On behalf of the Asbestos Cancer Organization, we would like to recommend that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed, you should strongly consider taking legal steps to help offset this potential financial burden.
Learn more about the financial assistance that is available if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Financial aid options available to you can include Mesothelioma trust fund claims and a lawsuit against responsible members of the asbestos industry. Companies that exposed you or your loved one to Asbestos dust are directly responsible for your current condition. You should explore your legal right to compensation from asbestos companies liable for your exposure to asbestos. Here at the Asbestos Cancer Organization we have teamed up with a Top Mesothelioma Law firm. The Lawyers at Goldberg, Persky & White having been fighting and winning Mesothelioma cases for Mesothelioma clients for over 40 years. We highly suggest that if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma that they seek legal consultation with our legal partners at Goldberg, Persky & White. They are the Best of the Best. Their experienced Mesothelioma lawyers will continue fighting Mesothelioma cases for their clients and assist anyone who develops Mesothelioma.
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