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Expert Discusses Protein Used to Target Mesothelioma Tumors

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation invited Dr. Raffit Hassan to share his breakthroughs from his extensive research for finding new treatment options for mesothelioma patients.  Hassan discussed mesothelin and the development of clinical trials using the protein as a target for malignant mesothelioma. 

Mesothelioma is a rare, incurable form of cancer primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers that is diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year.  Although mesothelioma can be treated with varying degrees of success with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, there is still no known cure for the disease.  The prognosis for mesothelioma patients is usually grim with an average survival time varying from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis.  New treatment options are critical for improving survival and quality of life for mesothelioma sufferers. 

A protein, mesothelin is present in normal tissue. But certain types of malignant tumors including mesothelioma express high levels of the mesothelin, making it a useful target for tumor-specific drugs.  In fact, in one study conducted by the University of Western Australia, researchers found elevated levels of soluble mesothelin-related protein or serum mesothelin in more than half of the mesothelioma patients at diagnosis. 

“Mesothelioma is not a very common disease, but it’s a tumor for which we really need to develop a good treatment,” said Hassan, a clinical oncologist at the National Cancer Institute. 

Hassan discussed a current clinical trial for the anti-mesothelin drug Morab 009.  Patients who have undergone at least one form of mesothelioma treatment, such as Alimta-based chemotherapy, but are not eligible for surgery, may be good candidates for the clinical trial.  

Hassan presented his information as part of the “Meet the Expert Series” offered by the Meso Foundation.  The Meso Foundation is one of the leading foundations “dedicated to eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma.”

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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