Experimental Treatment of Mesothelioma

Once considered safe, it is now widely known that serious health conditions are associated with the use of asbestos. Mesothelioma is an asbestos related lung cancer for which there is no known cure. When standard therapies have been exhausted, doctors often see merit in experimental treatments that may offer relief from symptoms or a slowing of the disease’s progression for certain patients.

Patients and physicians can work as a team in order to determine which therapies may be appropriate, as well as to review the outcome of specific clinical trials focused on new therapies. The following are some of the leading experimental treatment:

Drug Therapy

Experimental chemotherapy medications are receiving some attention in the medical world, as the result of clinical tries for such drugs have had promising results. Bevacizumab is a vaccine that retards tumor growth by inhibiting new blood vessels from forming in the tumor. Studies have shown that the drug can potentially increase the life span of those suffering from certain colon cancers, and its effects on mesothelioma are currently being studied, as well.

Biologic Therapy–Immunotherapy.

With healthy individuals, the immune system recognizes mutant cells and such cells are subsequently destroyed. However, the immune systems of those suffering from mesothelioma do not recognize cancerous cells as foreign, which results in their continued growth. The objective of immunotherapy is to fool the body into identifying the malignant cells through the use of drugs called “biological response modifiers.” Similar to gene therapy, this approach has demonstrated a reduction in the size of tumors in those with early stage mesothelioma.

Angiogenesis Inhibition Therapy

Angiogenesis refers to the way the blood vessels and capillaries deliver blood to a growing tumor in one’s body. All lung cancers have a rich blood supply due to their location in the body, and it is for this reason mesothelioma grows aggressively and spreads quickly. Angiogenesis therapy is an experimental treatment that involves administering drugs referred to as angiogenic inhibitors, which slow the process of angiogenesis.

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy has been in the spotlight for over a decade as researchers and scientists attempt to discover if changes to a living cell’s genetic composition can enable an individual to better fight disease. The treatment involves taking a living cell from the individual’s body and, in a laboratory, exposing the cell to a virus that contains a gene that is capable of stopping or slowing tumor growth. The cell is then injected back into the person’s body. This experimental treatment has had excellent results when used on animals; however, its effect on humans has not yet demonstrated similar results. One risk associated with this treatment is that the therapeutic virus could have unexpected result on cells other than those for which the treatment was intended.