Mesothelioma cancer is an extremely rare medical phenomenon that, thanks to the widespread use of asbestos during the 20th century, has been on the rise in recent years. As a result of this increase in prevalence—as well as the much-publicized and wide-reaching legal repercussions that have accompanied it—research into and advances in mesothelioma treatment have come to an all-time high. In fact, at any given time, multiple clinical trials are being conducted simultaneously, all around the world—offering hope for the future of thousands of projected mesothelioma patients during the coming decade.
Nanotechnology Reported to Show Promise of Cancer Cell Eradication
One new and unconventional treatment method for mesothelioma cancer incorporates nanotechnology, a burgeoning field of science that uses the very smallest particles of matter—namely molecules and atoms—to construct microscopic devices. It’s application in the medical field is still being developed, but research facilities in the U.S. and abroad are hoping to integrate ways of attacking cancer cells individually with the use of nano-formed “vehicles,” intended to safely and effectively deliver cancer-fighting drugs.
This hypothetical technique would allow for the most precise delivery of anti-cancer drugs that currently pose an impeditive risk of simultaneously destroying healthy cells in the treatment-recipient’s body. While not yet ready to approve the techniques for widespread use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is actively studying nanotechnology for cancer-respective treatment purposes and has even formed a specific sub-committee, the Nanotechnology Risk Assessment Working Group, tasked with expediting research into this developing phenomenon.
‘Immunotoxin’ Drugs May Be Breakthrough in Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment
In recent years, a great deal of focus has been placed on the potential for manipulating patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer cells within their own bodies. A research team at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) may have unlocked that potential using a type of drug called a “recombinant immunotoxin,” which is designed to intentionally suppress the immune system. In patients with mesothelioma cancer, this process may be effective in shrinking the size of tumors and possibly improving survival rates.
The head of that NCI research team recently spoke about the results of the mesothelioma clinical trials his team conducted on a small group of patients during 2011 and 2012. A reported 30 percent of those receiving treatment with immunotoxin drugs showed reduced tumor size, including one patient who saw a size reduction of more than 70 percent.
Two separate Phase I clinical trials had already confirmed safety of the drugs. NCI researchers are now planning to conduct a similar study on a larger scale, in addition to continuing to monitor the results found in the most recent trial. The patient who saw the most dramatic improvement reportedly continued to maintain reduction in tumor size at the 15-month post-study mark, lending promise to the potential for long-term treatment success.