March 26, 2013 – Malignant mesothelioma is cancer linked to asbestos exposure with no known curative treatments available at this time. The traditional methods of treating mesothelioma have been surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy or a combination thereof. Scientists are continuously investigating and researching new therapies. Some of the latest innovative treatments that have shown promising results include biomarker research, gene therapy, stem cell research, and immunotherapy. Yet, while physicians continue to work diligently in finding better treatment options and hopefully a cure someday, mesothelioma continues to claim the lives of those afflicted with this dreadful disease.
New Mesothelioma Therapy Using Fowlpox Vaccination Being Tested
A new therapy is currently being investigated and making headlines throughout the mesothelioma community. This new treatment involves the use of the fowlpox vaccination typically used on farms. It is administered to chickens and turkeys to prevent pox, which is a relatively slow-spreading viral infection that causes lesions in the skin, upper gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory tracts of many species of birds. The infection can lead to thicker scabs that are resistant to treatment, can persist for extended periods of time and be spread through contact. The animals suffer from poor growth, decreased egg production and difficulties eating and breathing. Because there is no treatment for fowlpox, control and prevention in the form of a vaccination has been the only choice for many years. The fowlpox vaccination has been successful in limiting the spread of this virus.
Some researchers believe that the fowlpox virus would be an ideal agent to help combat cancer because the virus is considered both easy and safe to alter into a vaccine and then could be utilized to help stimulate a patient’s own immune system to kill the cancer cells. A new study using the experimental treatment was released online in February in the International Journal of Cancer. In the study, researchers at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii attempted to use the fowlpox vaccination specifically to treat malignant mesothelioma, by focusing on a protein called survivin that is over-expressed in most human cancers including malignant mesothelioma and rarely found in healthy cells. The survivin contained in cancer cells makes the cancer resistant to chemotherapy. The researchers were able to easily modify the fowlpox virus allowing it to encode for survivin, attack the mesothelioma cells that produce the survivin, and therefore essentially turn off the mechanism that allows the cancer cells to survive chemotherapy.
The study began with injecting a group of mice with malignant mesothelioma cells. The mice were then given a dose of the fowlpox-survivin vaccine, either under their skin or into their peritoneum, the membrane that lines the walls of the abdominal cavity. The research noted that a significant immune response was generated and subsequently played a role in delaying tumor growth and improving survival rates. This effect was achieved despite which delivery method was used. In addition, it was reported that none of the mice developed any serious side effects and healthy tissues remained intact.
This study comes on the heels of several other studies that have also used different vaccines as a means of cancer therapy. While the fowlpox vaccination treatment is still in the animal testing stages, the researchers are optimistically looking toward the future with high hopes for this treatment to progress to human clinical trials.
Shein Law in Philadelphia: Mesothelioma Lawyers Dedicated to Helping Victims Suffering from Mesothelioma and other Asbestos-Related Diseases
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the Pennsylvania and New Jersey asbestos attorneys at the Shein Law to seek legal guidance and the support of a qualified legal advocate who will fight for justice and compensation on your behalf. Our mesothelioma lawyers have been working with victims of mesothelioma as well as other asbestos-related diseases and lung cancer for over 30 years. We represent clients throughout the Philadelphia – New Jersey – Delaware region. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pennsauken, New Jersey, but are willing to meet with you and your family at a location that is most convenient to you. Call 1-877-SHEINLAW (743-4652) to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys or fill out our online contact form.