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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Mesothelioma – New therapies may extend life

Whilst the asbestos disease mesothelioma is incurable, experts are working on new ways to extend the life span of mesothelioma sufferers – giving them more time to spend with their loved ones.

The latest theory is based on combining the accepted therapies with unique experimental treatments like immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy and gene therapy.

Mesothelioma cannot be cured by surgery or chemotherapy, but doctors believe that a combination of treatments will allow mesothelioma patients to fight the disease for longer and enjoy more precious moments of life.

This ‘combination technique’ is called multimodality therapy and medical professionals are hopeful that it will give new hope to those suffering from exposure to asbestos.

Immunotherapy, in its simplest form, uses the patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy is still at an experimental stage but it’s hoped that this technique will be used after the surgical removal of a tumour to ‘mop up’ any remaining microscopic cancerous tissue that remains – seen to be an important option for mesothelioma patients if it can be developed successfully.

Gene therapy sees a genetically altered virus being introduced to the body which then targets the cancer cells and prompts them to produce normal proteins instead of defective ones.

This is almost the same as a treatment being researched in the US and Austria called Oncolytic viral therapy. At the moment it has only been tested on animals with malignant pleural mesothelioma, but those which received multiple doses of the genetically modified virus showed a ‘significantly better response’ than those which received a single dose. The medical experts involved hope to replicate these results in human mesothelioma patients.

However, all of these approaches are still at clinical trials stage.

But recent studies do bring hope that these experimental therapies could very well be the key to extending the life of patients with mesothelioma.

As clinical trials continue, we hope that the outcomes are positive for mesothelioma sufferers and their families.

We support a worldwide ban on asbestos and asbestos products. If you think that any of these issues have affected you or your family please call Simpson Millar on 0808 129 3320 for friendly legal advice.

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