New Developments In Mesothelioma Treatment

Targeted drugs

In general, chemotherapy drugs are limited in their effectiveness against advanced mesothelioma. As researchers have learned more about the changes in cells that cause cancer, they have been able develop newer drugs that specifically target these changes. Targeted drugs work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs. They often have different (and less severe) side effects.

One group of targeted drugs is known as angiogenesis inhibitors. These drugs target the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which tumors need to grow larger. Some of these drugs are already used to treat other types of cancer and are now being studied for use against mesotheliomas. Examples of these drugs include bevacizumab (Avastin) and sorafenib (Nexavar).

Other new drugs have different targets. For example, ranpirnase (Onconase) is an enzyme that breaks down RNA (part of a cell's genetic material) and causes cancer cells to die at the right time. In early studies it has helped some patients with mesothelioma to live longer. Larger clinical trials are currently in progress.
Other new targeted drugs being tested in mesothelioma clinical trials include imatinib (Gleevec), erlotinib (Tarceva), dasatinib (Sprycel), bortezomib (Velcade), sunitinib (Sutent), and vorinostat (Zolinza).

Gene therapy

This form of therapy is a new kind of treatment which aims to replace or repair abnormal cancer cell genes. One approach to gene therapy uses special viruses that have been modified in the lab. The virus is injected into the pleural space and infects the mesothelioma cells. When this infection occurs, the virus injects the desired gene into the cells. Research on this type of therapy has just started and much research is needed to fine tune this form of treatment.

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