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New Immunotherapy Drug May Prove to be Valuable for Mesothelioma Patients in the Future

July 22, 2013 – The Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida have successfully identified two new protein agents, anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1, that have the ability to stimulate a patient’s immune system to react, identify and destroy cancer cells.  This type of response occurs through a process known as immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy has increasingly become a treatment of choice in many cancers.  This new immunotherapy drug has recently shown some promise for patients battling lung cancer.  It is important to note that there are differences in the way lung cancer and mesothelioma are treated as well as how these two different diseases respond to therapies.  However, any new drug therapy or treatment that proves helpful for a specific cancer may have the same effect for other cancers, and researchers are optimistic about the effects that this drug may have on mesothelioma.

Anti-PD-1 and Anti-PD-L1:  Protein Agents that Stimulate a Patient’s Immune System to Destroy Cancer Cells

Cancer cells produce a protein on their surface called programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) that attaches itself to another protein known as programmed death-1 (PD-1).  When these proteins lock, they allow the cancer cells to go undetected, spread and multiply.  In other words, a patient’s immune system is unable to detect the tumor or attack the cancer cells.  The new immunotherapy drug treatment using anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 essentially prevents the two proteins from engaging and interacting together, thereby allowing a patient’s own immune system to identify when cancer cells are present and destroy them.

Bristol-Myers Squibb sponsored an initial clinical trial that utilized the anti-PD-L1 and anti-PD-1 treatment.  The trial included 296 patients each afflicted with one of five different types of advanced cancers, including lung cancer.  The patients received the immunotherapy antibody treatment intravenously once every two weeks.  When the multicenter study results were compiled, the findings were reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The results were encouraging in regards to tumor regression and disease stabilization. Lung cancer patients who received the immunotherapy treatment saw a tumor shrinkage rate of 18 percent.  The research teams also reported 28 percent shrinkage in patients diagnosed with melanoma and 27 percent in patients suffering from renal-cell cancer.  Many of the patients showed a positive response in excess of one year.

Funding Needed to Study the Effects of this New Immunotherapy Drug in the Fight Against Mesothelioma

The researchers believe that the new immunotherapy drug will be successful in the future for treating patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.  Clinical trials need to be undertaken to examine the effect that this drug will have for mesothelioma patients.  Researchers are still waiting for funding in order to initiate clinical trials of this nature; however, funding for mesothelioma research is often difficult to obtain because it is a rare cancer that only affects 3,000 new people each year, as opposed to lung cancer that has a much higher incidence.

Sadly, for those individuals affected by mesothelioma, there is no cure. Therefore, it is clinical trials like this that are critical for the future of mesothelioma treatments,  and the potential for a cure.  The mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law in Philadelphia believe that this research is vital for those afflicted with this horrible disease and, along with providing legal advocacy for mesothelioma victims, we support research efforts.

The Philadelphia Mesothelioma Attorneys at the Shein Law Advocate for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or another asbestos-related illness, we encourage you to seek legal representation from the experienced mesothelioma lawyers at the well-respected Shein Law to ensure your legal rights are protected.  Our law offices are located in center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pennsauken, New Jersey, but we would gladly meet with you at a location that is more convenient to you.  Call our Philadelphia mesothelioma law firm today at 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.

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