New drug may be able to help patients with advanced mesothelioma

According to a recently published Italian study, a new drug call tremelimumab may provide new hope for patients suffering from advanced malignant mesothelioma. In particular, the drug is aimed at patients who have previously not responded well to customary chemotherapy treatments.

Specifically, tremelimumab is an antibody that interacts with cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA1), which is a downregulator in the immune system. Essentially, tremelimumab is used to reactivate CTLA4 in order to assist in the body's ability to attack tumors.

Researchers involved in the recently published study gave 29 different patients at least one dose of tremelimumab from May 2009 to January 2012. Importantly, all of the patients involved in the study had unresectable mesothelioma that actually remained growing despite the fact that they had already received first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Each patient involved received 15 mg of tremelimumab every three months, which was continued until the treatment became too toxic or until the disease responded.

Interestingly, researchers found that 7 percent of patients had a partial response to the treatment, ranging from six to 18 months. In addition, 31 percent of patients encountered some type of "disease control" - meaning that the mesothelioma actually stopped growing at its prior pace. Although no patients involved in the study experienced a complete eradication of their mesothelioma, the results are promising nonetheless given the lack of reliable treatments available for those with advanced mesothelioma that has proven resilient to standard chemotherapy.

Main cause of mesothelioma

Sadly, thousands of people are diagnosed with deadly mesothelioma every year. Currently, the only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibers - which is a naturally occurring material commonly used in the past for manufacturing and in insulation.

In many circumstances, mesothelioma victims encountered asbestos fibers years, or even decades, before their symptoms developed. For instance, many victims were exposed to asbestos during their youth while serving in the military. In particular, the navy used asbestos to insulate the pipes and wiring that ran throughout ships, not to mention the significant amount of asbestos that was present near ships' boilers and turbines.

Consequently, if you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the past - especially if the exposure occurred while serving in the military - it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced asbestos litigation attorney. A skilled attorney can provide advice as to your particular options and help ensure your rights are protected.