Mesothelioma regression has been reported in a small but encouraging study just published in a medical journal called Science Translational Medicine. Is it too good to be true? Probably not. We know that any study published in a medical journal has had to undergo intense scrutiny by other medical research scientists before it can be published. So it is safe to assume that the results being reported are accurate.
Further reason to accept this study as having merit is that its publication was heralded as major news by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This is an organization that both understands the intricacies of scientific mesothelioma research and has the best interests of mesothelioma patients at the forefront of everything they do. So if they’re excited about a new study, we can bet there’s reason to be excited.
The study is known as the SS1P Clinical Trial. The leading researcher on the study is Dr. Raffit Hassan, of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), former chair and current member of the Meso Foundation’s Science Advisory Board.
Basically, the study counted on the fact that cancer cells are still cells. Even though they wreak havoc with the body, they still behave in ways that are common to all cells. So the latest frontier in cancer research is to try to provoke cancer cells into having typical cell responses that can be used against them.
In this study, the scientists built a toxin to the cancer cells disguised as an immune response antibody. It is called SS1P as kind of a nickname for its key components. It gives the body a secret weapon that targets the protein mesothelin inside mesothelioma cells.
“Out of the 10 evaluable patients treated 3 patients had significant tumor shrinkage and all three patients are alive more than 18 months after starting therapy. In addition, 2 patients who had previously progressed on chemotherapy had a tumor response when treated with chemotherapy following SS1P,” Dr. Hassan states in his summary. “Although a small study, these responses are encouraging,”
The scientists are all ready planning the important next step: a larger study that will confirm these favorable results by seeing whether they can achieve the same results with a larger group of people.
In another indicator of this small study’s importance, the medical journal highlighted it with a separate editorial discussing it in detail.  The editorial predicts that as more is learned about how to trick mesothelioma cells at the molecular level, “personalized medicine strategies can be designed to enhance treatment efficacy.”