Malignant mesothelioma gene therapy increases the body’s ability to find, target, and kill cancer cells. The process can extend life expectancy and improve quality of life. While it has not been approved as a mainstream treatment for mesothelioma, some veterans may be able to access it through clinical trials.
What Is Mesothelioma Gene Therapy?
Mesothelioma has long been considered a terminal illness. However, doctors and researchers are making progress on new ways to treat the disease and help patients live longer. Mesothelioma gene therapy is one of these emerging treatments.
Mesothelioma gene therapy is a process where doctors genetically manipulate the body so it can better attack cancer cells.
Gene therapy is sometimes confused with immunotherapies. Immunotherapies are drugs that help the body’s immune system so it can fight cancer. In gene therapy, doctors use the genetic pattern of the cancer cells themselves in order to help the body fight the disease.
Gene therapy is sometimes used in conjunction with other conventional methods for treating mesothelioma patients. This means that a patient may undergo experimental gene therapy while also receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
If you or your loved one may be a candidate for mesothelioma gene therapy, contact a trusted medical professional. They may be able to place you in a local mesothelioma gene therapy research study or clinical trial.
How Does Mesothelioma Gene Therapy Work?
Mesothelioma gene therapy primarily works two ways:
- Inserting viruses into the body that carry genes to tumor cells that can make them easier to be destroyed.
- Genetically activating the immune system to kill mesothelioma tumors.
Gene therapy can help the patient’s body to find and kill mesothelioma cancer cells. This can occur when doctors insert a virus into the body. These types of viruses have had success in destroying cancer cells which have been resistant to chemotherapy and other traditional cancer treatments.
There are several ongoing clinical trials studying how mesothelioma gene therapy works. For example, the ongoing INFINITE study is looking at the gene therapy adenovirus-delivered interferon alfa 2b (rAd-IFN). This drug stimulates T cells in the body so they attack mesothelioma cells.
Doctors are also researching how gene therapy can work alongside other types of mesothelioma treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Why Is Mesothelioma Gene Therapy Important for Veterans?
Since veterans that served between the 1930s and early 1980s were exposed to asbestos at higher rates than the general public, mesothelioma cases are particularly high among this group. In fact, 33% of all mesothelioma patients in the U.S. are veterans.
This is why it is so important for veterans with mesothelioma to get access to new ]treatment options, like gene therapy.
Mesothelioma gene therapy is still being studied, and it is not a widely available treatment yet. However, the early returns have been promising and some doctors believe it can help patients live longer and improve quality of life.
Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and private doctors can help veterans connect to the best mesothelioma treatments available. While not every veteran will be able to receive mesothelioma gene therapy, there are treatments available for anyone diagnosed with this cancer.
How Can Veterans With Mesothelioma Receive Gene Therapy?
As of 2021, mesothelioma gene therapy is only available through clinical trials. Mesothelioma gene therapy has not been approved for mass use, but the hope is that trials will determine if it can be used widely in the future.
If trials continue to be successful, then it is possible that the treatment could be opened to the general public in the coming years.
The INFINITE phase III clinical trial is an example of a current mesothelioma gene therapy trial. The researchers recruited patients suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma for the gene therapy treatment.
Clinical trials often take several years to complete, and this trial is no different. It started in 2019 and is on track to be completed in 2023 or 2024.
Not everyone will qualify to participate in a clinical trial, but there may be other treatment options available — patients should talk to their doctors to learn more. Being approved for a clinical trial could mean accessing certain treatments before the general public.
Learn More About Mesothelioma Gene Therapy Treatments
Mesothelioma gene therapy is one of several promising treatments that may become widely used in the future. The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help veterans pursue VA benefits and also inform them about available treatment options like this one.
If you are interested in learning more about mesothelioma gene therapy, we can help. Get a free veterans packet and learn more about possible mesothelioma treatment options and how to access them.