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Genetically-Modified Cells May Prove Effective in Fighting Mesothelioma

As it stands today, mesothelioma is an incurable cancer.

However, researchers are making strides in treatment options. One of the best new methods of cancer treatment is the use of genetically-modified cells. As the LA Times reports, training the human immune system to recognize and fight cancer is now being called the the “fifth pillar” of cancer treatment. dna-1-1010760-m.jpg

Boston mesothelioma lawyers know many of the treatments effective with other type of cancer frequently do not work as well for mesothelioma patients. This is also true of genetically-engineered cells. However, researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are taking a new approach that may work better.

Generic Modification of Cells May Help Fight Mesothelioma

Researchers have been working to genetically alter T cells for more than a decade in order to produce a receptor that is a match to the antigens found on tumor cells. This has been a tremendous success in many cases.

For example, 30 patients who had advanced recurring leukemia were able to undergo a treatment with genetically-modified and reintroduced T cells. A total of 27 out of 30 of these patients went into remission after the genetically-modified cells were introduced.

While genetically-modified “T-cells” have shown promise in fighting leukemia and other blood cancers, this approach has unfortunately not worked as well for “hard” tumors, such as those caused by mesothelioma.

Scientists are working to change this.

Researchers at Sloan Kettering have now tried delivering the genetically-modified white blood cells directly into the tumor area. Human T cells and tumors were administered to a mouse using two different approaches: introducing the T cells directly into the pleural cavity of the mouse was one approach and intravenous injection was the other.

The cells, once delivered directly to the correct area in the pleural cavity, were able to proliferate. Once the cells identified the cancer cell, they recognized it as the enemy and thus activated other T cells. The cells could then successfully fight off a cancer that had been reintroduced.

This method worked effectively even when a relatively small dosage was administered into the pleural cavity of the mouse. For example, the dosage administered directly into the area of the tumor was as much as 30 times lower than the amount of medicine introduced in an IV dose. Yet, the cells were still able to proliferate and fight the cancer. The cells were also able to work to fight the cancer when a tumor was reintroduced as long as 200 days later.

The results could pave the way for the first phase of clinical trials in humans. Researchers have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration for approval to start a clinical trial, and a safety trial could begin as early as next year. If the genetically-modified cells work effectively, this could be a life-changing treatment for the 2,500 to 3,000 people who are diagnosed each year with malignant mesothelioma.

If you are exposed to mesothelioma in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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