Mesothelioma Clinical Trials
Mesothelioma is one of the most destructive types of cancer a person can get. It is also one of the rarest forms of cancer, and it hardly every occurs naturally. It also has no cure. Clinical trials are one of the best ways to learn more about a disease, and possible treatments and cures. However, mesothelioma clinical trials are uncommon due to the rarity of the condition. Still, there are some and they can be worth pursuing.
Virtually every documented case is linked to asbestos exposure at some point during a victim’s life. This means that every single case of mesothelioma could have been prevented if those in the asbestos industry were more concerned with worker safety and less concerned with making money.
The reasons these companies got away with putting the lives of workers and families at risk is because the danger only became apparent years later. While the general public had no idea asbestos was toxic, the companies were well aware. However, executives were also aware that it typically takes between 20 and 50 years for a person to become sick enough to go to the doctor. At this point, they are often told they have a very short time left to live, because the malignant mesothelioma is at an advanced stage, and there is no cure.
Companies gambled on the idea that workers wouldn’t come back years later to hold them accountable for putting profits over the lives of people. Our asbestos injury attorneys aim to prove them wrong.What is an Orphan Disease?
The fact that mesothelioma is so rare is both good and bad. On the one hand, it means that a lot fewer people will get malignant mesothelioma than the number of people that will get breast cancer or lung cancer, for example. It should be noted that, contrary to what most people believe, even though mesothelioma often occurs in the lungs, it is distinct from the type of lung cancer often associated with smoking.
On the other hand, the rarity of asbestos is somewhat of a double-edged sword. Firstly, every case of malignant mesothelioma is devastating to the victim and their family, so the fact that many others aren’t getting sick is not going to directly help them in fighting the illness. Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers know that every case matters to those who are affected, and that is why we will fight for your right to a full and appropriate financial recovery and will do it at no cost to you unless you are successful.
Additionally, the fact that relatively few people will be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma than other types of illness makes it classified as a rare disease. The term the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses for this type of illness is an orphan disease. The term basically comes from the fact that orphans had nobody to take care of them historically, and neither do these diseases, in a sense. The bottom line is that there isn’t a lot of money to be made in conducting research and performing clinical trials on orphan diseases for the major drug manufacturers. Sadly, there is much more money in treating foot fungus than malignant mesothelioma, so they generally don’t do much work to make a drug that wouldn’t translate into big money for shareholders and company executives.
To combat this problem, the FDA has created what it calls an orphan drug status. If a drug is being created to treat a rare disease, the company, often a smaller firm, will get special incentives to develop the drug and get through the regulatory process quicker, so they can make money. There is also more work being done by non-profits and government agencies to develop drugs and work on clinical trials.How do Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Work?
When a drug is first being created or adapted for other uses, much of the work is done in a laboratory. In the earliest stages, a lot of the work is done using computer models. The reason for this is because it is the most cost-effective. The computer has been programmed with various physical parameters, so it can predict how a drug will react with a certain medical condition. In some cases, the drug company will have powerful computers virtually testing countless drug and disease combinations until it gets a potential match and alerts the technician. This is by no means perfect, but if the company believes it may yield positive results, more testing will be done.
At some point, the company will physically mix the required chemicals and see how they perform in a lab setting. If things so well, they will eventually move onto animal testing in many cases. Eventually, after enough work in the lab (often called bench research) has been performed, the company will ask the FDA to allow them to test the new drug on humans.
There are various phases of clinical trials where the drug is evaluated for safety and efficacy and proper dosage. This is a long and costly process. However, in the case of orphan drugs, the FDA may allow them to speed up the process, thus allowing the drug to get to market quicker.
The National Cancer Institute details a number of mesothelioma clinical trials that have been conducted in recent years. Some of those have included:
- Studying the use of genetically-modified T-Cells to treat patients in Stage III-IV Mesothelioma;
- Testing Sym013 for use by those with epithelial mesothelioma;
- Studying the EZH2 Inhibitor Tazemetostat in patients with malignant mesothelioma.
Many of these studies are highly technical, but the more of them there are, the better chance scientists and doctors will find better treatments and possibly even a cure for mesothelioma.What is Compassionate use?
If the drug being tested is for a condition that is not relatively serious, the FDA will not want it tested on humans until they are mostly certain it is safe. However, when someone has an end-stage cancer, like stage four malignant pleural mesothelioma, the FDA may allow for a compassionate use. Basically, the patient is likely to die soon, and there is no FDA-approved drug or medical device on the market that can save him or her, so there is less risk in using a potentially dangerous drug. The drug may be the mesothelioma patient’s only chance.
Many of the drugs used in malignant mesothelioma clinical trials are already existing cancer drugs. Any drug that ends in the suffix “mab,” like Emicizumab, was likely developed to treat one or more types of cancer. Researchers hope some of the drugs will one day be used to treat malignant mesothelioma.
There are also a lot of clinical trials involving a combination of surgical techniques and drug therapy to treat mesothelioma. In some cases, the tumor will be resected and then a wash of warmed chemotherapy drugs will be applied directly to the site where the tumor was located to prevent regrowth from occurring. In some cases, radiation will also be used in combination with cancer drugs.
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