Experimental Therapy

Mesothelioma Experimental Therapy

Mesothelioma is a complex disease and new experimental drugs and procedures have been developed in the past few years to improve the treatment outcomes and prolong survival rates.

One such drug developed by Eli Lilly is Alimta, which in clinical trials is proving to be one of the first effective chemotherapy drugs to reduce mesothelioma symptoms and increasing the length of survival.



According to Cancer Centers of America, immunotherapy is a broad category of anti-cancer therapies that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy drugs are designed to alert the immune system about these mutated cells so it can locate and destroy them.

The immune system is always ridding the body of foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria or fungi. Lymph nodes, which make up most of the immune system throughout the body create white blood cells, such as “T cells,” to fight infection and cancer. Mesothelioma cancer cells are not recognized by the body’s immune system because these cells are part of the body’s own cells. These cancer cells are like lung cells that no longer act like healthy lung cells, allowing these dangerous cells to grow, divide and spread throughout the body. One way cancerous cells stay hidden is through the PD-1 receptor, which tricks the body into thinking cancer cells are normal.

Certain immunotherapy drugs work by blocking this evasive maneuver with a PD-1 inhibitor, which quiets the PD-1 receptor, allowing the cancer cells to be exposed as invaders, and triggering the immune system to send out an alert and launch a system-wide attack.

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is the therapeutic delivery of nucleic acid polymers into a patient’s cells as a drug to treat disease. Trials have been conducted to treat mesothelioma cancers with only marginal success. The treatment is only available in clinical trials.

Between 1989 and July 2015, over 2,200 clinical trials had been conducted involving gene therapies for the treatment of many diseases.
It should be noted that not all medical procedures that introduce alterations to a patient’s genetic makeup can be considered gene therapy. Bone marrow transplantation and organ transplants in general have been found to introduce foreign DNA into patients. Gene therapy is defined by the precision of the procedure and the intention of direct therapeutic effects.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT), sometimes called photochemotherapy, uses nontoxic light-sensitive compounds that are exposed selectively to light, whereupon they become toxic to targeted malignant tumors and other diseased cells. It is used clinically to treat a wide range of medical conditions and malignant skin cancers that are superficial and even though the treatment is minimally invasive and minimally toxic has not had much success treating deep tissue malignancies.