In the medical field, the desired outcome should always be in the best interest of the patient. It’s a simple goal, though it may not have such a simple solution. This is especially true when trying to care for patients with rare diseases like mesothelioma that are difficult to treat, prompting the medical community to continuously search for new treatment methods.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that can affect the lining of the heart, the lining of the abdomen or, most commonly, the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.
Particularly when it affects the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma, symptoms can mimic those of other diseases. The Mesothelioma Research Foundation of American explains the disease is often misdiagnosed as viral pneumonia or lung cancer because it impacts a similar area of the body or shares certain symptomatic similarities.
Because mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed and has a decades-long latency period, it proves extremely difficult to treat. Patients die on average within 18 months of diagnosis. The grim statistics have doctors and medical researchers continuously searching for new and more successful treatment options, sometimes looking in the most unexpected places for a solution.
Recently, researchers have tapped bullfrogs, broccoli, African plants and even viruses as options for treating or aiding in the treatment of mesothelioma. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota are currently enrolling patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial testing altered measles viruses as a treatment. Research suggests a particular type of the measles virus, called the Edmonston vaccine strain, triggered cell death of several lab-grown mesothelioma cells in three out of four instances.
Cells infected by viruses typically die to allow the virus to spread, and the same is true when measles infects mesothelioma cells. But how will healthy cells not be infected with the measles? Researchers say the Edmonston strain requires a protein called CD46 to enter cell tumors. The protein is plentiful on the surface of mesothelioma cells but not on healthy cells, protecting them from infection.
However, despite developing treatment efforts, still no cure for mesothelioma exists. The only known way to prevent people from dying of mesothelioma continues to be preventing exposure to asbestos. Though regulations are in place and awareness of the dangers are increasing, people are still encountering the carcinogen – and are suffering due to asbestos exposure.
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For more information about mesothelioma, or if you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or a similar asbestos-related disease, contact Rhon Jones, head of our firm’s Toxic Torts section at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com.
Mesothelioma Research News
The Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America