Mesothelioma Vaccine Appears Safe After Limited Human Testing

Researchers are ready to move forward with additional testing of a possibly vaccine for mesothelioma cancer after a new study indicates that the experimental drug was safe for human use. 

The investigational vaccine was tested by researchers in the Netherlands, who examined the drug’s effect on 10 patients and determined that it induced an immune system response to mesothelioma tumors. The results of the study were published in this month’s edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lung. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and it is often not diagnosed for 20 to 40 years after exposure. As a result of the long latency period, the cancer is very advanced when it is diagnosed and life expectancy with the disease is limited.

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The investigational vaccine takes antigen from a mesothelioma patient’s tumors and infuses it into the patient’s own dentritic cells, which are a type of immune system cell. Researchers say that they hope to be able to increase survival time in patients with mesothelioma, and eventually would like to develop a full vaccine for people who have are at risk of developing mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the United States in the mid-1980s. Despite the ban, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the number of mesothelioma deaths continues to rise each year due to the latency period, with the number expected to peak in 2010.

Asbestos litigation is the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first asbestos exposure case filed in 1929. Over 600,000 people have filed lawsuits against 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases.

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  • KenSeptember 7, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Keep these going ,there are a lot of anxious and frightened people out here. We need good news to keep us strong enough to continue to keep our respectability and faith

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