Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom are exploring a novel approach to stopping the growth of malignant mesothelioma tumors. They have taken an altered form of the herpes virus and delivered it directly to patients’ malignant tumors. Though the protocol did not kill the tumors, it did keep them from growing for a full two months in half of the patients, leading the scientists to conclude that their theory is worth exploring further.
Re-engineered Herpes Virus Represents Novel Approach
Though the notion of injecting herpes into mesothelioma patients may sound risky, the altered version was too weak to cause the virus. It was not able to reproduce itself in non-dividing cells, flourishing and taking destructive action inside cancer cells instead.
In addition to being able to destroy malignant mesothelioma cells, the altered herpes virus had previously been shown to mobilize the immune system against cancer. This finding is very important, as there are only limited options available to treat the rare form of cancer, and none that have proven able to provide more than a short period of survival.
Thirteen Mesothelioma Patients Involved in Test
Of 13 patients involved in the test, five had already been treated with one of those other protocols — the chemotherapy drug Alimta — while the other eight had no chemotherapy treatment. None of the patients were deemed eligible for surgery. The altered virus was delivered via pleural catheter directly to the patients’ tumors, with three patients receiving one dose, three receiving two doses, and seven receiving four doses.
Though the study did not lead to any of the patients’ mesothelioma tumors shrinking, half of the patients saw tumor growth halt for two full months, and the treatment was “well tolerated with few virus-related adverse events and no dose limiting toxicities” according to study author Sarah Danson. The researchers were particularly encouraged by the increased activity of the patients’ immune systems, believing that there is cause for further study of their approach.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, novel approaches like this one offer significant hope for the future. For more information on state-of-the-art treatment, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.