The lung disease referred to as mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has been linked to exposure to asbestos. The disease shows up years after exposure and can be deadly. To date, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma have had limited treatment options.
That may be about to change.
With cancer, normal cells have become dysfunctional and result in abnormal cell growth that invades healthy tissue. The body has difficulty detecting these cells as foreign, since they originate from normal cells. The cancer cells look a lot like normal cells to the immune system, so it leaves them alone.
Even if the immune system recognizes cancer cells and attacks them, the cancer can survive. This is because the cancer cells mutate quickly, so that the immune system does not detect the new cells as foreign.
Traditional cancer therapies use chemicals or radiation to kill the cancer cells and save the patient. Two things get in the way. First, normal cells are also killed during treatment. This can lead to illness and death. Second, chemotherapy and radiation are also known to compromise the immune system. This can leave the patient vulnerable to infections. It may also make the patient susceptible to a recurrence of cancer.
Newer treatments have added immunotherapeutic drugs to the use of chemotherapy in treating cancers. Immunotherapy helps the body’s immune system to be better at fighting cancer cells.
One type of immunotherapy drug is a checkpoint inhibitor. It enables specialized immune system T-cells to kill cancer cells better, by disrupting biochemical signals that allow cancer cells to hide. These drugs can help improve the body’s ability to defend itself against cancer. But it is a race against time – and sometimes time wins.
Combination therapies have been tried before. In one study, treating cancer with two immunotherapeutic drugs at the same time was less effective than using either one alone. It seems that one cancelled out the ability of the other to work.
This is an evolving field of study. Research continues, and new discoveries are being made that may help lung cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma.
New research reported by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has succeeded in using nanotechnology to combine therapies in a new way. Preliminary results have shown that this form of combination therapy may result in better outcomes.
The new method uses tiny nanoparticles as a drug delivery system. They carry multiple drugs to the tumor site(s) at once. In the new research, the nanoparticles included a checkpoint inhibitor, another immunotherapy drug called OX40, and a dose of radiation. This nanoparticle treatment seemed to stimulate T-cells to kill cancer cells at a higher rate than using either of the immunotherapy drugs alone.
If mesothelioma has stricken you or someone you love, there is hope. The New Jersey mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler have represented mesothelioma patients and others experiencing asbestos-related illnesses. Let us assist you in obtaining the compensation you need and deserve. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas. To set up a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-4000 today.