Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer notorious for being difficult to treat. The disease is often not diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage, which makes most patients ineligible for potentially curative surgery. For these patients, chemotherapy is the most used first-line option for treatment. Though no standard second-line treatment exists, intense research into newer treatments is giving patients and their doctors hope of even more mesothelioma treatment options.
Though much progress has been made, chemotherapy remains the best option for the vast majority of mesothelioma patients. Chemotherapy drugs can shrink or slow the growth of mesothelioma tumors, but in most cases, the effects last only a limited time. Additionally, because these drugs attack healthy cells as well as cancerous cells, they often cause a number of severe side effects. For these reasons, doctors have been exploring new ways to treat the disease and avoid the major drawbacks of traditional chemotherapy.
All cells have unique characteristics that make them different from one another. Scientists have developed newer drugs that specifically target these differences in cancer cells. Unlike traditional chemotherapy that attacks the cells with toxic drugs, targeted therapies work by blocking the molecular pathway by which the cancer grows and spreads.
One type of targeted therapy is based on what scientists have learned about the role blood vessels play in the formation and growth of tumors. These drugs, called angiogenesis inhibitors, work by targeting specific protein receptors in the cancer cells that allow them to form new blood vessels. By blocking these proteins, blood supplies are cut off and tumors are starved of vital nutrients, causing them to stop growing or shrink.
One of these drugs, NGR-hTNF, has shown promising results in preliminary clinical trials conducted on mesothelioma patients who had previously been treated with traditional chemotherapy. Forty-six percent of patients who received the drug saw a reduction in tumor growth. The overall survival of patients treated was 12.1 months – longer than the expected survival without treatment.
Other targeted therapy drugs work by blocking a specific protein responsible for the growth and survival of different tumors including malignant pleural mesothelioma and asbestos-induced chronic inflammation. One of these, Ganetespib, has already been used successfully as a second-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer when combined with the chemotherapy drug docetaxel. Ganetespib is currently being tested as a maintenance therapy for pleural mesothelioma.
Targeted therapy drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy drugs. Because of this, they cause fewer and less severe side effects. Some individuals may not experience any side effects at all. Side effects that do occur are most often associated with the vascular disrupting agents because they interfere with blood vessel growth.
Though traditional chemotherapy treatments have been proven effective in reducing or slowing growth of mesothelioma tumors, the results often do not last. Cancer can develop an immunity to the chemotherapy drugs that results in them becoming ineffective over time. Targeted therapy can prevent this from happening.
At Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, our experienced and highly skilled Philadelphia asbestos lawyers will fight on your behalf to bring justice to those responsible for your asbestos exposure and obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. We represent clients diagnosed with mesothelioma throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To arrange a free consultation with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers, call 800-369-0899 today or submit an online contact form.