The leading mesothelioma therapies currently available, radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, do not cure mesothelioma although they help extend life for most mesothelioma patients. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year with no end is sight. The need to save lives motivates medical research scientists to continue to look for possible new cures for this lethal disease. There are nearly 200 clinical trials now in progress worldwide to evaluate the effectiveness of new therapeutic approaches.
Recently several researchers from the University of California Los Angeles Division of Thoracic Surgery and Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program extensively reviewed and analyzed the most promising new mesothelioma therapies now in the testing stage.
Types of Mesothelioma Therapies Showing Promise In Clinical Trials
These are some of the different types of therapies showing promise in treating mesothelioma according to the UCLA researchers’ review of current clinical trials:
- mesothelin specific antibody and toxin therapies
- interleukin-4 receptor toxins
- dendritic cell vaccines
- immune checkpoint inhibitors
- gene-based therapies
We will just discuss a couple of these. For a complete look at all the therapies being studied, you can take a look at the researchers’ full article here.
Mesothelioma Therapy Vaccines
Vaccines are being studied as a way to get the body’s own immune response to attack and destroy mesothelioma cells. In general, a successful vaccine involves using a toxin or other foreign substance that triggers an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies. Dendritic cells act as messengers in the immune system and have been found to be effective as a way to produce an immune response in mesothelioma. Preliminary evidence “supports the use of dendritic cell vaccines as a valuable strategy in mesothelioma,” the researchers state.
Gene-Based Mesothelioma Therapies
Scientists have been able to break the genetic code of mesothelioma cells. Now they are figuring out how to engineer strategies to fool mesothelioma cells with carefully constructed fake genes. These fake genes are able to fool the mesothelioma cell into thinking they are the real deal. Once inside the mesothelioma cells, these fake genes are designed to destroy them. One type of gene therapy being studied is even called “suicide gene therapy” and it deploys fake genes carrying engineered viruses “capable of killing tumor cells,” according to the report.
Clinical Trial Participants Needed to Test New Mesothelioma Therapies
“The list of potential new therapies is long and the number of clinical trials is impressive (nearly 200). With all the ongoing research, progress is only a matter of time,” the researchers state in their optimistic conclusion. One challenge is that because mesothelioma affects relatively low numbers of people, it can be difficult getting enough mesothelioma patients for every clinical trial. The good news is that more than 1,000 mesothelioma patients have participated during the last decade in the clinical trials discussed in the article. This reflects the brave and generous spirit of the mesothelioma community. We will soon publish a list of clinical trials currently trying to recruit mesothelioma patients.