Can you figure out about Mesothelioma Research

Mesothelioma Research

Due to the increased number of mesothelioma cases cited in recent years, scientists have stepped up their efforts to research the disease, and to develop better diagnostic and treatment methods. It is established that mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, an insulating building material that was widely used throughout the 20th Century, but many questions remain about the exact action of asbestos fibers, particularly in the less common forms of the disease such as peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma.

Military veterans, particularly Navy vets, have a higher risk than the general population of developing mesothelioma, as a result of their exposure to asbestos on board ship and in shipyards. The United States Department of Defense recently announced a $50 million donation towards mesothelioma research for this reason. Other major sources of research grants and funding come from the National Institute of Cancer, the National Institutes of Health, the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America, pharmaceutical companies and corporations.

Since mesothelioma tends to have a long latency period, and because its symptoms can closely resemble the symptoms of more common ailments like emphysema or bronchitis, cases of this cancer are not usually diagnosed until it has reached a later stage. At this point, treatment is usually less than effective or too rigorous for the elderly patient to even undergo. Much of the current research into mesothelioma is focused on earlier diagnosis, including blood and other tests that may be able to give mesothelioma patients a better shot at treatments.

Most of the research being conducted, however, focuses on treatment, because the current treatment for this disease is not particularly effective. Surgery to remove the cancer may not be possible unless it is diagnosed very early. Doctors have difficulty treating mesothelioma with traditional radiation methods because the tumor does not grow in a localized area, but is diffuse and widespread. Chemotherapy, generally considered the mesothelioma patient’s best chance, is often only moderately successful as well. Until a better solution is developed, many doctors use combination therapy, referred to as multi-modality therapy, to attack the cancer with all three forms of treatment.

Radiation Therapy

Three dimensional (3DCRT) and intensity-modulated (IMRT) tools are employed in radiation therapy to deliver a more accurate flow of radiation to tumors. Using traditional external beam radiation to treat mesothelioma is tricky, because the device cannot accurately aim the radiation only at the affected areas, and ends up killing a great deal of healthy cells. This makes the treatment less effective and tends to have a more damaging effect on the patient’s health. Research funds are dedicated to improving this process.

Chemotherapy

New chemotherapy drugs are being developed to reduce cancerous tumors. Raltitrexed is one such drug designed for this purpose. Other clinical trials are underway that will also aid in reduction of cancerous growths. Recently, doctors have tried new techniques to improve the effectiveness of the tumor reduction. New techniques involve warming chemotherapy drugs and placing the drug directly into the tumor during surgery. By increasing the dosage on the tumor, the doctors increase the chances of actually eliminating the cancerous growth. This also reduces undesirable side effects associated with chemotherapy drugs.

Other Drugs

New mesothelioma research by the National Institute of Cancer has shown that tumors require growth of new blood vessels to survive. Drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors have been developed to inhibit the growth of blood vessels. When the oxygen supply ceases, the cancerous tumor growth stops as well. Avastin, Nexavar, Onconase, Gleevac, Sprycel, Sutent and others are drugs that scientists are researching for their effectiveness in cancer growth cessation.

Gene Therapy

Many scientists are using mesothelioma research funds for gene therapy research. This treatment aims to replace defective genes in cells rather than destroy them. Viruses are developed to invade the infected cells with the modified gene to stop the cancerous growth and encourage normal cell growth.

Photodynamic Therapy

Scientists have recently explored the use of a technique that kills cancer cells through the use of a photo-sensitive drug activated by light. The drug is administered intravenously. After a two-day dormancy period, localized light is applied. This destroys the cancer cells.

A number of clinical trials being held throughout the country are focused on testing these and other methods of mesothelioma treatment. Patients may elect to take part in these trials, both to provide them hope and a treatment that is not yet available to the general public, and to further the cause of researching this devastating disease.

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