Studies Focus on Mesothelioma Treatments That May Improve Survival

Two clinical trials are currently underway that could help improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from mesothelioma and increase the chances of survival associated with the rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  

A mesothelioma diagnosis is currently considered a death sentence, as it is often not detected until the late stages, when an individual only has a few months to live.

According to a report by Science Daily, researchers from the University of Leicester in England hope to change that, conducting two studies to evaluate potential mesothelioma treatments.

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Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.

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One of the studies is investigating the safety and effectiveness of a new drug, ganetespib, which may be able to prevent mesothelioma tumors. Doctors involved in the 140 patient clinical trial hope that, along with chemotherapy, they will be able to shrink mesothelioma cancer tumors in patients and improve their symptoms and health.

The other clinical trial is a part of a worldwide trial known as Control of Mesothelioma with MAiNtenance Defactinib (COMMAND). That study is testing a new drug called defactinib on between 350 and 400 patients worldwide to see if it will inhibit cancer stem cell development in mesothelioma by inhibiting focal adhesion kinase (FAK). It is being sponsored by the drug’s developer, Verastem and the University of Leicester is leading the U.K. contingent of the clinical trial.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers.  It is associated with a very short life-expectancy and there are no known effective treatments for mesothelioma.

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 mid-1980s.

Mesothelioma litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.

In addition to cases for individuals directly exposed, in recent years there have been a growing number of second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuits brought on behalf of family members were exposed to fibers carried home on clothing or in the hair of individuals working with the material. Cases have been brought by individuals who were exposed as young children or babies when their parents would hold them after returning home from work with asbestos.

According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases of malignant mesothelioma are just now peaking, since there is a long latency period of 20 to 40 years between exposure an diagnosis.

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