There are a number of ways to treat mesothelioma, and research on the subject never ceases. In this article, I will discuss chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted drugs, and newer treatments.
Some of these drugs can slow or shrink the progress of the cancer, but usually, the results only last a limited time.
This works by injecting a light-activated drug into the vein, which spreads throughout the body collecting in cancer cells. A couple days later or so, a special red light on the end of a tube is planted in the chest, activating the drug and killing cancer cells.
Generally, chemo drugs have little effect against mesothelioma, but researchers have developed newer drugs to target changes in cells that cause cancer. These new targeted drugs sometimes work instead of chemo drugs with different, easier side effects. Sunitinib is one such drug.
Gene therapy, immunotherapy, and virus therapies are all new treatments. Gene therapy works by adding genes to cancer cells, making the latter easier to kill. One approach to this therapy uses specially modified viruses that are injected into the pleural space to infect the mesothelioma cells. After the cells are infected, the virus injects into the cells the desired gene. One method of gene therapy injects a virus that turns the immune system on to attack the cancer. In some people, according to early studies, this process slows or shrinks the growth of the mesothelioma, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Immunotherapy also works to make the immune system attack cancer cells. One approach removes immune cells from the blood, treats them to react to tumor cells, and returns the modified cells to the blood system in blood transfusions. Another form of immunotherapy involves the drug tremelimumab, which targets a certain kind of immune cell and removes the brakes from the immune system. Lastly, virus therapies are a new treatment under construction. These are injected into the pleural space and intended to infect and destroy the mesothelioma. However, this treatment is still in the early phase of trial.