Japanese scientists are optimistic about a new treatment combination they say can shrink mesothelioma tumors by up to 80 %, but only if administered in the right order.
Doctors at Tokyo Medical University and the Nippon Medical School tested the effects of combining the commonly used chemotherapy drug pemetrexed with a relatively new treatment for mesothelioma, photodynamic therapy. Pemetrexed is known under the brand name Alimta and is the first chemotherapy drug approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a laser light to activate a drug that targets and kills deadly mesothelioma cells. The drug is administered via injection or IV and is taken up by the cancer cells before being activated by a laser light delivered via a thin fiber optic filament passed through an endoscope to reach the tumor site.
To test a combination of the treatments, doctors injected lab mice with four different human mesothelioma cell lines. The mice were then given both pemetrexed and the drug NPe6 which makes the cells sensitive to light. These drugs, combined with PDT, appeared to be successful in shrinking the tumors by 50%. The results, however, were short-lived. The tumors grew back to their original size within two weeks.
Doctors then experimented with the timing of the treatments by first treating the mice with NPe6-PDT before giving pemetrexed. This approach proved slightly more effective in shrinking the size of the tumors, but because NPe6-PDT causes a reaction in the cells that make them resistant to pemetrexed, the results again did not last.
However, when the doctors reversed the order of the treatments, giving pemetrexed prior to NPe6-PDT, the results were significantly improved. Doctors noted an 80 % reduction in the size of mesothelioma tumors in the mice treated on this schedule. Perhaps more importantly, the tumors did not grow back quickly.
Mesothelioma is a highly lethal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The disease is especially difficult to treat, as it generally does not respond well to traditional cancer therapies. However, numerous strides have been made over the last decade to fight mesothelioma. New therapies, such as this one, aim to not only reduce the size of tumors, but also keep them from growing back. Ongoing research is needed to help both improve survival rates and increase quality of life for those suffering with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, call the New Jersey mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our New Jersey asbestos lawyers are committed to seeking justice for victims of asbestos exposure and will work tirelessly to recover the compensation you need to help pay for the high costs of your illness. To schedule your free consultation, call 800-369-0899 today or contact us online.