When it comes to treating malignant mesothelioma, the generally accepted protocol is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible and then to attempt to kill whatever is left behind. Though this may provide relief of symptoms for some patients and even extend survival time for others, the disease still has a poor prognosis, with most patients dying within a year or two of diagnosis. Now an assistant professor at Purdue University is offering a different approach to controlling metastasizing cancer: Michael Wendt is suggesting that rather than trying to kill the cells, instead doctors should be putting them into a state of permanent dormancy. He believes that this may be a more effective approach.
Containment would address the problem of metastasizing cells
Though Wendt’s research is currently focusing on metastatic breast cancer, the approach would be the same for mesothelioma, which is an equally aggressive form of cancer. Wendt believes that the use of the minimally toxic drug fostamatinib may be a way of containing cancer cells, and could overcome the current challenges cancer treatment faces. “Recently,” Wendt says, “there are lots of studies that suggest that we’re never going to be able to do that. Cancer cells evolve so fast that they will always find a way to overcome any type of therapy.” In response he is suggesting that by containing the cells and putting them into a state of dormancy, physicians may be able to stop cancer cells from developing and spreading.
After successful lab tests, scientists hope to move on to clinical trials
The tendency of aggressive cancers like mesothelioma to metastasize is what’s behind the poor prognosis that the disease carries. Even when a local tumor is eradicated, it tends to pop up or return elsewhere. This is what Wendt is trying to address. He explains, “An emerging concept in cancer treatment is that maybe we shouldn’t try to kill all of the cancer cells, but try to keep them in a low state that doesn’t generate any kind of symptoms. A sort of dormancy, if you will.” He published a study in the journal Cancer Research that showed the drug was effective in tests on mice. They now want to move forward with clinical trials.
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma rely on the advances made by researchers to help prolong their survival time while they hope for a cure. For information on cutting edge research and other resources available to you, contact the Patients Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.