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New treatment may be helpful for lung cancer patients

You went to your doctor after feeling unwell, you were sent to get multiple tests. You worried that you may have pneumonia or bronchitis, but you were in for a surprise. When you got the phone call that you needed to come in, you knew that something was wrong.

Not long after that, you were told that you had Stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, likely from your years of service in the military, and you would need to start treatment to help make you more comfortable. At this stage, there are some treatments you can try, but the likelihood of remission is low.

Mesothelioma is a malignant lung cancer generally considered to be terminal, but there are new treatments that may may help treat patients and eliminate the disease and have a better quality of life. According to a study out of Nagoya University and a report from Cells, near-infrared irradiation and a cancer-targeting compound could help improve a patient's prognosis.

The researchers studied the effectiveness of near-infrared photoimmunotherapy, abbreviated NIR-PIT, to see if it would work as an effective treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma, or MPM. NIR-PIT was fast-tracked by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

For the therapy to eliminate the cancer, a compound that is designed to target cancer cells has to be injected into the body. That compound is made from an antibody that targets cancer cells as well as a photoabsorber. Then, when near-infrared light is directed at the cancer cells, the compound collects on and in the cell, and it causes the cells to rupture. This eventually leads to tumor death.

Since the lungs and chest have lots of room and air inside, it's easier for the light to pass through and affect the cells. The good news about this treatment is that the antibody compound is not toxic to the body in the absence of near-infrared light, making it safe in most situations.

Further studies are still needed to be sure if this treatment would work for patients and to determine its safety in a variety of circumstances. Still, as someone who has mesothelioma today, you should look forward to these interesting treatment options that may become available in the future.

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