International Drug Companies Developing New Medicines to Combat Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a tragic form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that last year over 107,000 people died from mesothelioma worldwide. However, drug companies throughout the world are developing new products that will hopefully bring some relief to mesothelioma sufferers.

The Difficulties in Creating Mesothelioma Treatments

Mesothelioma is different than lung cancer because it attacks the cells covering the lungs, and it also attacks the heart and abdominal organs surrounding tissues. Current mesothelioma treatment is similar to the treatment of other types of cancers and involves radiating, or removing the mesothelioma contained within the body, often resulting in extreme and/or deadly side effects. The main difficulty with treating mesothelioma is the fact that it is an extreme form of cancer that is incurable. As a result the only thing that drug manufacturers can currently strive for is the creation of a product that stops and/or slows the spread of the disease to other parts of the body as a tool to increase a patient’s possibility for survival.

New Mesothelioma Drugs on the Market

New drugs are currently being developed that focus on targeting a specific enzyme that is believed to be responsible for facilitating the spread of cancer throughout the body. This particular enzyme can be found in extremely abundant supply in tumors, and is a typically present in cases of aggressive cancers that swiftly spread throughout the body. Drugs targeting the enzyme work best in those patients who have the inactive gene Neurofibromatosis 2, which is significant because around half of all mesothelioma sufferers have this inactive gene.

Versatem, a Cambridge, Massachusetts based drug company, is one of the manufacturers developing a drug to combat these enzymes. Defactinib is currently in late-stage human testing and is used to target cancer at the earliest stages by attacking cancer stem cells, which are believed to be the root source of cancer. This is significant because defactinib does what other more radical procedures such as chemotherapy cannot do, ie. stop and prevent the spread of mesothelioma. This goal is important because it represents a shift, as instead of trying to cure mesothelioma, drug companies are instead simply trying prevent the disease from becoming more chronic in nature.

Three other drugs currently in development are at the early-testing stages and are promising in their potential ability to treat and prevent the spread of mesothelioma. The first drug, tremelimumab was created by AstraZeneca Plc in London and is significant because it assists the immune system in both identifying and killing cancer cells before they can spread. The second drug, created by Glaxo, the UK’s largest drug company, is called GSK2256098. This drug will soon be tested in combination with other drugs as a means to facilitate effective cancer treatments. The third drug, nintedanib has been created by the German company Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. Unlike the other two drugs, nintedanib targets the three proteins that assist in the creation of the blood vessels that feed, and thus keep the tumors causing mesothelioma alive.

The creation of drugs to combat mesothelioma is a long, time consuming and expensive process. Hopefully, in the upcoming years these drugs will be offered to the public in order to prevent and/or stop the spread of mesothelioma. If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be at risk of developing serious health conditions, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. Contact an experienced asbestos attorney today to discuss your options.


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