One of the most successful innovations in the treatment of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma has been the introduction of the HIPEC procedure that bathes the surgical field in a heated chemotherapy bath after tumors have been removed and before the surgeon closes. The protocol is thought to add an additional layer of protection for patients, preventing any mesothelioma cells that the surgery may have missed from reseeding, metastasizing, or growing. Though the same procedure is unavailable for patients undergoing pleural mesothelioma surgery, a similar innovation is on the horizon, and is showing great promise: it’s a spray-on immunotherapy treatment that is currently being tested on lab animals with advanced melanoma.
Investigators Hope that Spray Will Stop Tumor Recurrence
Though the biodegradable spray gel is not yet being tested on mesothelioma cells, there are numerous similarities between advanced melanoma and the aggressive asbestos-related cancer that UCLA scientists have developed. So far, their tests on lab animals have shown that the spray stops cancer from returning in about 50 percent of the animals involved in the tests. Speaking of their innovation, lead investigator Zhen Gu, a professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Johnson Comprehensive Cancer Center says, “Around 90 percent of people with cancerous tumors end up dying because of tumor recurrence or metastasis. Being able to develop something that helps lower this risk for this to occur and has low toxicity is especially gratifying.”
Spray Adds Layer of Immunotherapy After Surgery
The chemotherapy bath that is provided to peritoneal mesothelioma patients who undergo the HIPEC procedure is designed to kill any mesothelioma cancer cells that remain, while Dr. Gu’s protocol would dose the surgical site with calcium carbonate, a common material found in egg shells. The particles of calcium carbonate would be dosed with an immunotherapeutic compound that prevents mesothelioma cells from releasing a protein that cancer cells produce to protect themselves from the immune system. This would both leave them vulnerable to the body’s natural immune system and make them less likely to regenerate or metastasize. Tests have not only provided impressive improvements in post-surgical survival, but also revealed that the immunotherapy treatment helped the immune system to activate T cells, thus strengthening the body’s response to the existence of any cancer cells left behind.
If you are a mesothelioma patient, or you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of asbestos, every day brings new innovations that provide hope. For information on these and other breakthroughs, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.