Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that affects and kills thousands of people each year in the United States. However, while the pain and suffering caused by malignant pleural mesothelioma and other types of mesothelioma rival those of any other type of cancer, the number of victims for mesothelioma are much lower. This is because mesothelioma is a rare disease, and it is virtually always caused by the victim being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
On the one hand, nobody would want to complain that more people are not stricken with this deadly illness. However, the fact that the numbers remain relatively low means that there is not big money for the major drug companies to work on a cure. As is often the case, it takes money to cure a disease, and drug companies are mainly for-profit companies that are far more concerned about their respective profit statements to shareholders than they are about helping people with a rare disease no matter the cost.This means that we have what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls an orphan disease. It is a disease where there is no corporate interest in finding a cure, because they do not see it as cost effective to do so. For this reason, it is up to non-profits, government agencies, and smaller pharmaceutical companies to do the much-needed work if the funding is there. To help, the FDA can grant orphan drug status to an experimental treatment option that will reduce some testing requirements and some of the related costs to increase the chances the drug will reach patients in need if it works and is proven safe.
Another way in which researchers are working towards a cure, or at least a treatment option for malignant mesothelioma victims, as our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, is testing already existing cancer and immunotherapy drugs on mesothelioma patients. These off-label uses do involve clinical trials, but the cost is much lower than developing a new drug.
According to a recent news article from Specialty Pharmacy Times, a multiple sclerosis (MS) drug may hold some promise in treating victims of malignant mesothelioma. This MS drug is called FTY720 and is created using a fungus called lscaria sinclairii. It has worked on other types of cancer in the past, but this represents the first effort to test FY720 on patients suffering from malignant mesothelioma. For this study, researchers use specially created cell lines that are positive for mesothelioma. A cell line is a colony of cells that were originally harvested from a patient and then are cultivated by scientists to see how different drugs and agents react with them. This is safer than testing on a human patient but can give similar results.
An immortal cell line is one that can be regrown repeatedly. You may have heard of this concept, because it was the subject of the recent HBO movie, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” related to the HeLa line of immortal cells taken without the patient’s consent.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Multiple Sclerosis Drug Shows Promise in Treating Mesothelioma, April 18, 2017, By Lauren Santye, Specialty Pharmacy Times
More Blog Entries:
School Asbestos Removal Process in Lawrence Worries Teachers, Feb. 8, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog