A recent study covering the use of an immunotherapy drug called “tremelimumab” in the treatment of asbestos related mesothelioma, highlighted pluses and minuses for mesothelioma sufferers and their families.
The report, published in the UK, refers to a number of separate studies underlining that the use of tremelimumab shows potential as a new treatment for mesothelioma. However, some concerns have been expressed about the cost of the drug and the overall benefits to mesothelioma sufferers.
The experts at the University of Salford, include Alice Guazzelli, PhD and researcher who states:–
“Even though clinical efficacy has been preliminarily demonstrated, the cost/benefit ratio of this drug for this neoplasm is yet to be ascertained.”
It is thought that termelimumab fights against the incurable asbestos related cancer by making use of the power of the mesothelioma sufferer’s own immune system.
The drug is a monoclonal antibody which works by binding to a protein which covers the surface of while blood cells, therefore preventing it from restricting cells’ cancer fighting abilities.
By disabling the protein, the drug essentially stimulates the immune system of patients with mesothelioma and certain other cancers with a view to attacking tumours.
Helpfully, tremelimumab was granted FDA, orphan drug status in America. Such drugs are those used in the treatment of conditions which affect fewer than 200,00 people in the United States. It is thought that mesothelioma affects approximately 3,000 US citizens as well as 2,000 UK patients each year. The vast majority have developed the cancer as a result of previous asbestos exposure.
By granting this status, the manufacturer is provided with certain incentives to test the drug with a view to bringing it to market more speedily.
In order to fully assess the use of termlimumab in mesothelioma patients, the research team at the University assessed multiple studies covering the use of the drug.
The experts uncovered that whilst the drug was first used a potential treatment for melanoma, a form of skin cancer, its use was then extended to other thoracic malignancies, lung cancer and more recently as a potential treatment for asbestos related mesothelioma.
The studies have now been completed and the reporting team are currently in the process of critically evaluating the results.
Providing it is found that the drug provides long term benefits for mesothelioma sufferers, it is hope that its use will be approved in the treatment of mesothelioma.
It is thought that if the drug is approved for the treatment of the asbestos related cancer, this may result in the increased effectiveness of other mesothelioma treatments such as chemotherapy.
Asbestos Justice will continue to monitor the studies completed by the research team and will update you on any new developments in the treatment of this terrible disease.
Source – Guazzelli A, et al, “Tremelimumab for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma” 11th November 2015, Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, Epub ahead of print