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Mesothelioma Nurse Stresses the Importance of Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial Blood

The way that malignant mesothelioma will be some day be cured is through research. And, the way to get that cure to patients starts with clinical trials. Progress takes time, but participation in clinical trials by people who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is essential.

Clinical trials are where new therapies and new medications are scientifically tested for use. Enrollment in clinical trials is encouraged for everyone. If you personally do not benefit from the clinical trial, someone you love, or a neighbor, or a friend could benefit in the future.  Currently, less than five percent of patients with cancer are enrolled in clinical trials.

Immunologics are a new class of drugs that are still being investigated, but are also approved for certain types of cancer. Immunotherapy uses the patient’s own immune cells to find and destroy cancer cells. It is a very complex process that requires targeting of the mutations specific to the patient’s cancer. This requires testing of the cancer cells and the patient’s healthy tissue to look at possible mutations.

The immune cells are known as T-cells.  To test for mutations, doctors remove some of the patient’s T-cells and test them for mutations. From this, the scientists select those T-cells that target one or more cancer mutations. They then take out those specific T-cells, and take them to the lab to grow a larger number of these particular T-cells. They are then re-infused into the patient. This is a very complex and expensive mesothelioma treatment, if not done in conjunction with a clinical trial. This is personalized to the patient’s immune system and tumor composition.

This past week an exciting story came out regarding a woman in Florida who had advanced breast cancer, and has now been cured of her Stage 4 breast cancer.  She was preparing to die four years ago, but now she is alive and enjoying life, with no signs of her breast cancer. As a result of an immunotherapy clinical trial, like above, she received personalized treatment, along with pembrolizumab, a chemotherapeutic drug that can help the immune system fight cancer, and now has no evidence of her disease.

Excitement is worldwide! Caution is being urged as this is one woman and more clinical trials are needed to verify and explore the different variables that can come into play.

Mesothelioma patients should strongly consider getting to a mesothelioma center of excellence, and enrolling in a clinical trial. Ask your mesothelioma team if you qualify for any clinical trials. For a complete list of clinical trials for malignant mesothelioma,  see www.clinicaltrials.gov and enter “mesothelioma” in the search. It might make a difference in your life!!!

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