Hope may be on the horizon for patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. A new treatment that uses genetically modified cells is just one of several in the breakthrough field of immunotherapy. Scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have developed a method of genetically altering the DNA of a patient’s T cells and then reintroducing those cells into the body so they can fight the cancer.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that target foreign invaders and cancer cells in the body. Typically, these cells have a hard time recognizing the specific type of cancers cells found in mesothelioma tumors. Genetically altering these T cells allows them to receive signals from the tumor cells, initiating an immune response to fight the cancer.
Though proven successful in treating some blood cancers, genetically modified T cells have previously been unable to penetrate solid tumors like those associated with mesothelioma. However, scientists at Sloan Kettering have found that changing the way the treatment is administered can make a significant difference in its effectiveness.
Scientists performed experiments on mice using human tumors and T cells. The genetically modified cells were reintroduced to the mice using either an intravenous method or by injecting them straight into the pleural cavity of the mouse. The researchers found that by injecting the cells directly into the tumor site, the T cells were activated immediately. Proving even more exciting was the fact that the cells proliferated, activating other T cells that were already present.
This method required a dose that was 30 times lower than the dose used in the intravenous method. And the results were long lasting. The cells were still doing their job 200 days later, after scientists reintroduced another tumor.
The results of this study could pave the way for the first phase of clinical trials on humans. Pending approval from the FDA, those trials could begin early in 2015.
There currently is no known cure for mesothelioma. Furthermore, doctors are realizing that there is only so much that can be done with surgery and chemotherapy. Recent advancements in immunotherapy have been generating a lot of buzz in the medical world lately – and for good reason. Unlike chemotherapy, which works against the body, immunotherapy works with the body, resulting in far less negative side effects. Doctors are hopeful that treatments like these will prove to be the future of cancer care, improving both quality of life and survival rates.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease following exposure to asbestos, call the passionate and dedicated team of Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our firm has the experience and the resources to fight on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation. Our Philadelphia asbestos lawyers represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For your free case review and to discuss your options, call 800-369-0899 or submit an online contact form.