New research suggests that combining standard chemotherapy with a manipulation of certain proteins may increase the overall survival time for some individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.
In a study published by the medical journal Annals of Oncology on September 18, Australian researchers report that they were able to extend the lives of two mesothelioma patients by as much as two years, and caused tumor stability and even shrinkage in others, by activating a protein linked to the body’s immune response.
Since mesothelioma is often at a very advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed, most patients live only about a year after diagnosis. However, this study indicates that manipulation of a protein known as CD40 may activate an antibody known as CP-870, 893, which could help the body fight mesothelioma cancer.
Researchers with the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth treated 15 patients diagnosed with mesothelioma with a standard chemotherapy treatment consisting of pemetrexed and cisplatin, as well as manipulating the CD40 protein to activate the antibodies.
Nine of the patients saw the growth of tumors temporarily stabilize, and another six even saw the tumors shrink. Three of the patients lived another two and a half years following the treatments,
The researchers did note, however, that most patients suffered a side effect known as cytokine release syndrome, which causes feelings of unwellness and fever-like symptoms. However, the condition is generally not considered dangerous if treated.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is a lethal disease that is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.
Asbestos lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
While mesothelioma lawsuits have traditionally been filed by individuals who worked with asbestos-containing products, an increasing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years on behalf of spouses, children and other family members who developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.