New NIH Study Shows Promise for Inoperable Late-Stage Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma is so often diagnosed in late stages, treatment options can be limited and the prognosis less than optimistic. Fortunately, advancements are being made in cancer treatments at an increasingly rapid pace and today we’re pleased to report that a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study is showing promise for mesothelioma sufferers who have historically had fewer treatment options and poorer outcomes – those with late-stage, inoperable mesothelioma.
The study centered on treating those with late-stage mesothelioma by combining chemotherapy, immunotherapy and a toxin. The immunotoxin chosen for the NIH study was SS1(dsFv)-PE38 (known commonly as SS1P). Immunotoxins are man-made proteins that bind to cells, are absorbed and then kill the cells. They are designed to target specific types of cells and are used in the treatment of certain types of cancer and some viral infections.
What the Study Examined and Found
The National Cancer Institute study treated 24 mesothelioma patients who had stage III or IV mesothelioma and had never had chemotherapy. They received gradually increasing doses of the immunotoxin SS1P along with their chemotherapy treatments. Most patients responded well to the combined chemical treatment and showed significant antitumor activity. The 13 patients who received the highest dose of SS1P had the most promising results.
77% (13 patients) of those that had the highest doses showed reduction in the size of their tumors and one patient achieved stable disease. Stable disease is a state where the cancer is neither getting better or worse, which is promising because it can mean prolonged life. Managing Editor of Surviving Mesothelioma Alex Strauss says, “Although chemotherapy is usually the first-line treatment for mesothelioma, its effectiveness is limited. If SS1P can be shown to improve chemotherapy, it could mean a much better prognosis for thousands of mesothelioma patients.”
How Chemotherapy Helps Mesothelioma Patients
Chemotherapy is the most widely used therapy for mesothelioma and the earlier in the cancer staging it can be begun, the better the potential outcome. It can be injected into the vein or directly into the area of the body where the cancer is located. The latter gets the maximum concentration of the chemotherapy drug to the affected area. Sometimes the chemotherapy drug is heated before it is administered which can make it more effective.
For mesothelioma cases where surgery isn’t an option, chemotherapy is the primary therapy and may be administered alone or with radiation treatments. Chemo is given in cycles with several weeks of treatment followed by a recovery period before the next cycle begins. Pemetrexed and cisplantin are the two most common chemotherapy drugs used for mesothelioma patients and the NIH study used both of these pharmaceuticals in combination with the SS1P immunotoxin.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Bergman Draper Oslund is ready to help you today. We fight for victims’ rights and have won more than $700 million in compensation for our clients.
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