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Gene Therapy in Mesothelioma Patients

Posted on: 28 September 2020, source: mesothelioma.com
Around 1 in 16 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime; this accounts for about 13% of all new cancer diagnoses. However, even with a relatively lower diagnosis rate, lung cancer currently has the highest number of cancer deaths at nearly 22%. Among all the various subtypes of cancer categorized under the umbrella term, “lung cancer,” mesothelioma is one of the most lethal forms.
Despite accounting for around .2% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States, mesothelioma’s lethality is among the highest of all forms of cancer. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of this cancer, has a 10-year survival rate of only about 5%. Currently, the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and although no amount of exposure is safe, it is important to note that your risk of developing mesothelioma drastically increases the longer you are exposed. In addition, due to a prolonged latency period, many patients are diagnosed far too late for proper treatment — usually around the age of 65-74.



Due to the low diagnosis rate and high latency period, much is still unknown about this disease; therefore, treatment options may be limited unless identified early on. However, gene therapy is among several different treatment options patients may want to consider. Gene therapy is the practice of taking genetic information from healthy cells and introducing them via a carrier into cancer cells to elicit a certain response. The practice of gene therapy with mesothelioma patients is quite new; therefore, the US FDA has not yet approved any specific treatments for malignant mesothelioma. Even though gene therapy is still considered experimental, treatment is available to patients eligible for these advanced clinical trials.

Studies have noted that a defect in the p53 gene caused the mesothelioma cells to become immune to efforts to kill it. However, success has been found in studies with pleural mesothelioma patients in creating anti-tumor effects through targeting the mesothelioma-associated defective genes. One trial found that using an adenovirus vector may revive the p53 pathway allowing for apoptosis, or “programmed cell death,” of the cancer. This treatment also showed favorable results on patient populations that may not be eligible for other, more dangerous treatment options, such as the elderly.

Oncolytic virotherapy is one type of gene therapy treatment currently undergoing trials for mesothelioma patients. It uses a “competent replicating virus” in order to combat the mesothelioma cells, all while leaving other healthy cells unharmed. With a combination of oncolytic virotherapy and more traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer can more easily enter remission. While side effects may occur, they are generally quite mild in severity and usually disappear within several days after treatment.

Gene transfer is another specific gene therapy treatment option that introduces genetic information into the cancer cells through non-viral or viral means which then either slows their cell growth or kills them completely. Some of these genes are regarded as “suicide genes” when this genetic information converts a harmless drug into an oncolytic one once inside the cancer. Suicide gene transfer has been shown to be successful in clinical trials with treatment of cancers resistant to chemotherapy, and it has also been shown to improve the effects of radiation therapy. Due to the drug being administered within the tumor directly, patients are able to receive this treatment with little to no side effects.

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Posted on: 28 September 2020, source: mesothelioma.com
Around 1 in 16 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime; this accounts for about 13% of all new cancer diagnoses. However, even with a relatively lower diagnosis rate, lung cancer currently has the highest number of cancer deaths at nearly 22%. Among all the various subtypes of cancer categorized under the umbrella term, “lung cancer,” mesothelioma is one of the most lethal forms.
Despite accounting for around .2% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States, mesothelioma’s lethality is among the highest of all forms of cancer. Pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of this cancer, has a 10-year survival rate of only about 5%. Currently, the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and although no amount of exposure is safe, it is important to note that your risk of developing mesothelioma drastically increases the longer you are exposed. In addition, due to a prolonged latency period, many patients are diagnosed far too late for proper treatment — usually around the age of 65-74.
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