New Mesothelioma Treatment

New Mesothelioma Treatment

New Mesothelioma TreatmentThe future of mesothelioma treatment looks optimistic. Break throughs in treatment methods and new therapies provide hope to patients and their families for a better quality of life and extended survival rates.

We have come a long way. In the mid 1980’s little was know about the rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Treatment options were restricted to a chemotherapy drug, which had only been shown to work on lab mice, or surgery. Government funded research was almost nonexistent.

Today, world class treatment centers provide patients with options. Some centers focus not only on their treatment programs but on research as well. Medical studies or clinical trials aid in the development of new treatment plans work to achieve long term survival.

The future of mesothelioma looks promising, but this optimism is paired with uncertainty. Encouraging new therapies are developed on a regular basis. However, it may take years for the new treatments to be proven safe and better than current therapies.

There are many new developments in mesothelioma research treatment and technologies. These promising advances are should not be ignored.

Treatments and Drugs of the Future

Research is underway, to find new chemotherapy drugs and identify the best means to deliver them.  Breakthroughs in this area would reduce some of the greatest threats to a patient’s life expectancy.  Such as, a high rate of returning cancer following treatment and poor chemotherapy responses.

Latest treatment approaches and drugs

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy involves the use of genetics to form treatment. Asbestos exposure results in the damage or mutation of healthy genes. Gene therapy can involve the replacement or repair of the mutated genes. Treatment could also involve altering the genetic code of the cancer cells to make them easier to destroy.

A recent clinical trial focused on a gene therapy to alter the blood cells of patients. Once altered, these cells will then target the cancer cells and conceivably shrink tumors. It is believed that this technique may help patients, who have not responded to standard treatments, with advanced cancer.

Cediranib

Cediranib involves starving tumors of nutrients.  Its function is to block the enzymes that pleural mesothelioma cells need to grow. Researchers are combining the current drugs Pemetrexed and Cisplatin with Cediranib with hopes that together these three drugs will kill harmful cells more effectively and prevent them from spreading.

Photodynamic Therapy

PDT (photodynamic therapy) involves the use of light-activated drugs.  The experimental drug is injected, by doctors, into the patients blood stream. Blood carries the medication, spreading it through out the body. As it spreads, it is absorbed by, primarily, more cancer cells then healthy cells.  A specialized laser light is used to shine on targeted areas.  This laser triggers a chemical reaction that destroys the cancer.  Healthy cells remain primarily unharmed.  PDT has been used in trials before surgery.  Researchers inject the drug prior to surgery and then activate it in the course of the procedure.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy involves the use of natural substances for treatment.  They help to avoid chemotherapy’s nastiest side effects.  This is accomplished by heightening the immune system with substances the body generates naturally.

  • Interleukin-2
  • Erlotinib
  • Interferon
  • Bevacizumab

Unlike chemotherapy, the side effects of biological therapies do not cause hair loss. However, flu-like symptoms or a severe allergic reaction could occur. Researchers continue to find ways to eliminate or minimize these negative responses.

Future Technology

Looking to the mesothelioma future, the evolution of technologies for diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma continue in conjunction with the advancement of new ground-breaking drugs.  Some progressive treatment centers are now offering advanced radiation therapy (IMRT) and robot assisted surgeries. The future looks promising.

Diagnostic Tests

Early diagnosis is the key to survival. New and improved diagnostic tools are being developed by researchers with the focus of early detection. Early detection allows for the treatment process to begin before the cancer is able to spread out of control.

Mesothelioma can be easily mistaken for other cancers thus resulting in mistreatment and the waste of valuable time. The Rosetta Mesothelioma Test, made obtainable by a top genetics company, measures the level of a substance called microRNA. MicroRNA can be found in tumor tissue and used to confirm diagnosis. The advancement of diagnostic technologies will enable doctors to diagnose with greater certainty.

IMRT

IMRT (Intensity modulated radiation therapy) is a new form of radiation therapy. IMRT enables doctors to deliver higher doses of radiation with more precision. Thus, reducing the unintentional damage to healthy tissue.

MD Cancer Center in Texas described a study using IMRT promising and feasible. Of the 28 patients treated using IMRT, none had local reoccurrence of the cancer, following a median nine month follow up. However, cancer still continued to spread to other parts of the body.  Researchers concur that a combination of IMRT with chemotherapy may resolve this problem.

Robotic Surgery

Benefits of robotic surgery include:

  • Lower risk of infection
  • Smaller scars
  • Reduced pain and bleeding
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Reduced hospital stay

The world’s first robot-assisted surgery for pleural mesothelioma was performed by Dr. Farid Gharagozloo, in 2013. An extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) was performed with the aid of a robot system. The patient’s diseased lung, diaphragm and heart lining were successfully removed. While this surgery was a success, experts’ question whether this particular procedure is the best option for patients. Continued studies will improve technology and/or help determine potentially better surgical options.

Hot Topics in Research

A community of researchers from all over the world collectively work to resolve the most difficult challenges of treating mesothelioma. It is a slow process, but as new studies emerge more treatment options are extended to patients allowing improved quality of life and a greater chance for long term survival.

Improving the Standard of Care

The standard of care refers to the most currently effective and widely used treatment plan.  Presently, this plan implements a multimodal treatment approach. Chemotherapy is used in conjunction with radiation therapy. The standard of care is based on the most effective means of approaching treatment. As clinical trials bring to light new successful treatment methods the standard of care will continue to evolve.

While the discovery of new treatments will greatly benefit patients in the future, it is equally important to identify the best way doctors can help patients get the maximum benefit from their current therapy.  At this time, experts agree that a combined treatment strategy is best. However, researchers continue to experiment with different ways to dispense treatment. Researchers focus on drug combinations and treatment approaches, with hopes of improving survival rates.

Personalizing Treatment Options

Decades ago doctors struggled to understand why some patients responded to mesothelioma treatment better than others with the same disease. With the advance of science and technology doctors now understand that every case is different. To be effective, treatment must be personalized. It is the study of a patient’s genes that allows a personalized treatment approach.

Our DNA contains hereditary molecules called genes. Genes convey to our cells how to function, remain healthy and grow. Cancer causing substances like asbestos can damages certain genes. Damaged genes can cause a single cell to divide out of control and form cancerous tumors.

Scientists have developed a tool called a gene chip allowing researchers to study the interaction of genes in a tumor sample. The chip produces an enormous amount of data. It is hoped that somewhere in this data lies the key to curing cancer.

Researchers are working to understand gene chip data and use it to improve treatment methods. Currently, clinical trials are studying the different ways doctors can use genetic information to predict the effectiveness of a particular therapy on individual patients.  Understanding effectiveness before therapy is given would allow for more targeted treatments with better success rates.

Earlier Diagnosis

Early diagnosis is crucial. Survival rates will increase if mesothelioma can be identified before it spreads. Often patients begin treatment too late, when their health has already declined, and they are not strong enough for major surgery or difficult rounds of radiation and chemotherapy.

Researchers have identified chemicals in the blood that signal a patient has cancer. These chemicals are called biomarkers. Unlike invasive biopsies or imaging scans, biomarkers can be detected through a simple blood test and can be used to diagnose a patient earlier than present methods.

Unfortunately, biomarkers still lack the reliability to confirm a diagnosis on their own. Researchers are hopeful, in the future they will identify better biomarkers to diagnosis with much greater accuracy.

New Therapies in Clinical Trials

Clinical trials provide an opportunity for patients to gain access to treatments of the future. Patient volunteers are recruited to participate in medical studies so researchers can learn what works most effectively in cancer treatment and care.

A clinical trial can help a researcher learn:

  • Which treatment and drug combinations bring the longest survival
  • How successfully new treatments work
  • How safe medication therapy is for patients

The following drugs create a fascinating new treatment approach and may bring researchers closer to discovering a functional and safe cure for mesothelioma.

Defactinib

A biological therapy

This international trial compares defactinib (VS-6063) with a dummy drug to find out how it affects survival and quality of life for patients with pleural mesothelioma. The biological treatment works by blocking signals that cancer cells need to multiply and grow. Participants must have previously completed at least four cycles of chemotherapy with pemetrexed/cisplatin or pemetrexed/carboplatin without their cancer advancing.

Locations: Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

WT-1 Vaccine

Preventing recurrence after treatment

This trial will help researchers learn if the Wilms Tumor-1 vaccine can help prevent or delay mesothelioma from returning after surgery and other treatments. The vaccine will be combined with the drugs montanide and GM-CSF, which strengthen the immune system to help fight the cancer. Participants must have previously completed surgery and also treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Locations: New York, Texas

PDT During Surgery

Combining techniques

This trial tests the safety and effectiveness of photodynamic therapy (PDT) when given alongside surgery for pleural mesothelioma or non-small cell lung cancer. The treatment uses a light-activated drug called pormifer sodium that can kill cancer cells and damage the tumor’s blood supply. Participants must have stage III or IV mesothelioma, or lung cancer that spread to the pleura, and must also qualify for surgery.

Location: Ohio

SS1P

Tweaking the immune system to kill cancer

This trial will study the effectiveness of the experimental drug SS1P, which was designed to target cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed. Researchers will combine SS1P with two drugs that weaken the immune system to make SS1P work better. Participants must have completed at least one prior chemotherapy regimen and have either the epithelial or the biphasic subtype of cancer.

Location: Maryland

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