If you’ve read about malignant pleural mesothelioma online, then at first glance, it may have seemed as though there are just a few treatment options for MPM patients. However, researchers in dozens of U.S. laboratories are working diligently to develop new and more effective diagnostic tests, chemotherapies, surgeries and biological tools for attacking the disease.
After nearly four decades of helping patients make informed legal and medical choices, we at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood have learned to keep this principle in mind: Every time you think that you’ve exhausted all available mesothelioma treatments, a new one might just appear on the horizon.
Here are a few good examples of recent mesothelioma medical breakthroughs, many of which are in the later stages of clinical trial.
Using CT scanning for surgery-free tumor tracking
In this case, there was no need for a trial, since computed tomographic (CT) scans are already routinely used as part of the MPM diagnostic process. In a recent study supported by The Kazan, McClain, Abrams, Fernandez, Lyons, Greenwood, Oberman, Satterley & Bosl Foundation, Inc, a team of radiologists from the University of Chicago found that CT scanning may be used to non-invasively track the size of mesothelioma tumors.
Published in the journal Medical Physics, the group’s results indicated that this 3D imaging method may be as accurate as surgical biopsies in estimating the extent of MPM growth.
And what’s more, the technique might act as a stepping stone for the development of new treatments for MPM!
“[This] computerized method will be implemented in future studies to help evaluate novel therapies,” researchers concluded. “Further, we believe that these methods will be invaluable to researchers who attempt to create novel treatments for pleural-based diseases.”
What other advances in mesothelioma treatment are currently in development?
Plenty! Consider a report recently released by the Mayo Clinic, which explained that a drug used for kidney cancer may double as a chemotherapy for MPM.
Called pazopanib, the substance is typically administered to treat advanced renal carcinomas. However, as Dr. Julian Molina discovered, it may have other exciting applications.
“We…added it to mesothelioma cells that we had in the lab, and we noticed that pazopanib was very effective at killing these cancer cells,” he explained, quoted by the clinic’s magazine, Discovery’s Edge. “At the time, we were doing a Phase I study here in which we were testing pazopanib for patients who had all tumor types.”
In the same edition of the periodical, researchers from the University of Minnesota described their own cutting-edge, “biologic” treatment for MPM: a modified measles virus that can deliver radioactive iodine to mesothelioma tumors without actually infecting the patient.
Lab tests were encouraging. Compared to MPM-diagnosed mice given traditional therapies, those that were treated with this new approach lived twice as long on average. The team told the news source that some of the animals even appeared to have been cured!