Monday, April 27, 2009

Treating Mesothelioma Patients

Recent breakthroughs in treating mesothelioma patients

There are many treatment options to treatment mesothelioma patients. The conventional modalities include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

However; there are other alternative methods of treating mesothelioma patients include but are not limited to chemotherapy with newer drugs, gene therapy, photodynamic therapy and immunotherapy as well as multimodality approach. All of these are not successfully launched as yet, but in the experimental stages to treating malignant mesothelioma.

In chemotherapy use of new drugs is not a new thing and Alimta is one such regimen developed by Eli Lilly and is one claimed to help prolong the life as well as give some palliation to the mesothelioma patients. Conjunctive use of drugs such as lovastatin, thalidomide and onconase in chemotherapy found to give some encouraging results.

Then, there is gene therapy wherein genetic material is used to aim at the malignant tissues and make them sensitive to several drugs. A virus protein whose gene is altered will be injected and it multiplies in target tissues. The DNA of the cells will now be able can convert a drug that cannot act on malignant cells into one that can kill them. It’s also as termed suicide gene therapy. Although this is still in experimental stages, it holds promise as the results on clinical trial patients are quite encouraging.

Immunotherapy is another alternative treatment, that’s taking shape lately. It involves altering mesothelioma patients’ immune systems to identify malignant cells and destroy them. However, it’s not as easy as said. Vaccines are one form of immunotherapy that can modify the existent immune architecture of mesothelioma patients. However, these vaccines would be patient specific.

Then, there is therapy with MABs (monoclonal antibodies). Treatment with MABs is certainly promising and research is growing in the right direction.

The correlation between cytokines and immune system is also being studied and currently they are administered in a combination immunotherapy. Use of monoclonal antibodies such as Interferons and interleukins is another subject of interest for the researchers who are currently investigating how they can be used in a treatment regimen, from all dimensions, and these hopefully supplement the immunotherapy with vaccines.

Additionally, there is photodynamic therapy which involves use of a particular drug to sensitize malignant cells to specific light wavelength. The drug is usually given at the time of surgery. Although the results of photodynamic therapy are not quite promising as yet, it is not one that can be written off so early. Researchers are working ways so it can be used to complement another therapy.

The importance of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for treating mesothelioma patients cannot be discounted. However, treatment regimens that use combination therapies will have a good prognosis and such a conjunctive treatment is also referred to as multimodality therapy approach and to treat malignancy a multimodality approach is always encouraging. Its only the modalities that change according to patients. With more research focused on alternative treatments, multimodality approach will take a new dimension in the future to treat and cure mesothelioma patients.


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