Anti-Angiogenesis Therapy for Mesothelioma

New developments in mesothelioma detection, treatment, and therapy are eagerly awaited by doctors, victims, and families around the world. Angiogenesis is a bodily process that refers to the formation of new blood vessels affecting the blood supply aiding in the growth of tumors, which plays an important role in mesothelioma. Tumors grow by the delivery of oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels, and the body naturally produces angiogenesis inhibitors to stop this tumor growth process.

Medical scientists hope that by stopping the formation of new blood vessels, tumors will not be able to grow, or will grow at a much slower rate. They are researching ways to synthetically produce angiogenesis cells to implement in mesothelioma patients and help this process. These anti-angiogenesis drugs are relatively new and the subject of immense interest and hope for patients and their families. Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm follow treatment developments closely, and continually report on major advancements in this field.

Conventional chemotherapy drugs target rapidly-dividing cells to kill and damage them. While they do attack cancer cells, they are also incredibly toxic to other healthy body cells. This is why chemotherapy must be administered in cycles. Anti-angiogenesis drugs, however, are for the most part non-toxic to healthy cells, so they may be given consistently without interruption.

Clinical trials of various angiogenesis inhibitors are currently being administered in patients with various cancers, AIDS-related sarcoma, and mesothelioma. If these trials prove that the inhibitors are safe and effective, they will be able to seek approval by the FDA, and ultimately be available for mass use.

Various chemotherapy drugs, such as Bevacizumab, are using the same approach and targeting blood vessels near the tumor rather than attacking and killing the cancer cells. In fast-growing cancer types, the cancer cells are incredibly efficient at promoting angiogenesis and creating a network of blood vessels around the tumor, which enables it to spread more quickly. Mesothelioma develops slowly, but is often undetected for many years. This long latency period allows the mesothelioma cells to grow and to produce a large network of feeding cells.

In animal tests, the angiogenesis inhibitors caused tumors to shrink and in some cases disappear completely. Among the experimental drugs include sorafenib, angiostatin, endostatin, combrestatin, thrombospondin, and vascular endothelial growth inhibitor (VEGI). These drugs act either by impeding the growth of new blood vessels surrounding the tumors or destroying the lining of blood vessels around it completely. One study by Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reported that angiogenic inhibitors exhibit no toxicity even in high doses. The same study reported that the treatment shrunk tumors in 2 of 28 stage IV cancer patients and slowed progression of the disease in 4 patients.

So far, the FDA has approved Bevacizumab to be used alone for blioglastoma and in combination with other drugs to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, some non-small cell lung cancers, and renal cell cancer. Bevacizumab was the first angiogenesis inhibitor chemotherapy that was shown to slow tumor growth and, more importantly, to extend the lives of patients with some cancers.

The FDA has approved other drugs that have antiangiogenic activity, including sorafenib (Nexavar®), sunitinib (Sutent®), pazopanib (Votrient®), and everolimus (Afinitor®). Unfortunately, none of these have been approved to treat mesothelioma specifically yet, though researchers are actively exploring their use in treating the cancer.

Though the inhibitors are nontoxic, the side effects vary in recent studies, which revealed the potential for complications that reflect the importance of angiogenesis in many normal body processes, such as wound healing, heart and kidney function, and reproduction (there is no clinical evidence of birth defects). Side effects of treatments can include problems with bleeding, clots, hypertension, and protein in urine.

Mesothelioma is currently in active phase III treatment clinical trials for angiogenesis inhibitors, information of which can be found on the National Cancer Institute’s clinical trials database online. Mesothelioma, along with asbestosis and other lung cancers, is attributed to exposure to asbestos. If you suspect that you were exposed to asbestos, and developed a related disease, you should contact a mesothelioma attorney immediately. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm mesothelioma lawyers will continue to follow and report the developments in angiogenesis inhibitor treatment and its relation to mesothelioma.

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