When a mesothelioma diagnosis is made, there is a fairly predictable court of treatment that most patients are presented with, depending on the location and stage of their tumors, their overall health, and the cell type of their mesothelioma. Though there is a range in terms of how aggressive a patient and their physician may choose to be, in most cases mesothelioma patients are treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with occasional use of innovative new technologies that may boost the patient’s responses. At Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, a team of researchers is working on a state-of-the-art technique that uses electricity to help kill cancerous tumors from the inside.The study of bioelectricity in treating cancers like malignant mesothelioma is not restricted to the Virginia scientists. Dr. Richard Heller of ODU is part of an international consortium studying the technology’s use, and he says that among the many advantages that it offers is the extremely short amount of time that electricity takes to make significant change. “What we try to do is to get molecules from outside a biological cell to inside the cell. We have found that if you apply an electric field in a certain way, it can cause temporary passages through that cell membrane to allow molecules to get in.” Those molecules may include revised genetic material or proteins that can either trigger an immune response or kill the tumor. “Then the cell’s machinery then decodes that DNA and produces a protein, and now that protein is what has the effect.”
Though using electricity to kill mesothelioma and other cancers represents a novel approach, it has proven helpful. Heller is hoping that is approach, which is going through trials to be approved by the FDA, will be able to help a lot of people.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other type of cancer can take comfort in knowing that there are remarkable breakthroughs happening every day. For up-to-date information on the care that is available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.