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New Mesothelioma Trials Begin in England

Researchers at the University of Leicester in England have announced that they are beginning work on two new scientific trials relating directly to the effectiveness of treatment of mesothelioma, a rare and lethal form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.

The United Kingdom holds the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of asbestos illness in the world – an average of nearly 2,500 deaths per year. This number has risen dramatically since the 1960s, when it was recorded at under 200 per year. Though some of the difference in the number of cases can be attributed to the disease being misdiagnosed as lung cancer or asbestosis, there is no question that overall it is on the rise, and the expectation is that it will continue to rise for the next twenty years despite the fact that the UK banned the use of asbestos in 1985. The ban was a result of research indicating that the disease is specifically caused by exposure to the mineral, which was widely used in industrial settings up to that point.

The studies are each being funded by pharmaceutical companies that are testing the effectiveness of their own drug in the fight against the disease. Synta Pharmaceuticals is testing their drug ganetsepib, which aims to prevent the formation of mesothelioma tumors, and Verastem is looking into the effectiveness of defactinib, which was designed to stop the conversion of cancer stem cells into mesothelioma tumors.

Synta Pharmaceuticals’ study is titled Meso2. It will involve approximately 140 patients from across the UK, while Verastem’s study is titled Control of Mesothelioma with MAiNtenance Defactinib (COMMAND) and will involve up to 400 patients from around the world.  Verastem’s study is being conducted in a number of countries, with the University of Leicester leading the way in conducting the trial.

Both studies are being administered by the university’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, and Professor Dean Fennell of the school has indicated that there is great optimism about the potential results of the research. “We hope that both of these trials will be positive studies for mesothelioma patients.”

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that line the lungs or the pericardial cavity; it eventually spreads from these areas into surrounding organs. It is always considered fatal, and has a very short survival rate following the time of its diagnosis.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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