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Alimta (Pemetrexed) Mesothelioma Treatment

Monday, July 13, 2009

In July 2002, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Eli Lilly Company announced that Alimta (pemetrexed) would be made available to patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The drug, a chemotherapy treatment is not fully FDA approved but will be made available to "qualified patients who have been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma and have not yet received treatment." The FDA allows Alimta to be used under a so-called "Expanded access program," that allows new treatments available to patients with diseases like mesothelioma, for which there is no other treatment or satisfactory alternative therapy. Under this program, patients with mesothelioma will be given access to Alimta while the FDA review process is going forward and the treatment is pending review.

The FDA agreed to allow patients use of Alimta under the "expanded access program" based on the initial results from clinical trials. The results of a Phase III trial discussed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, showed that patients treated with Alimta and cisplatin had better survival rates, had less pain and shortness of breath. Pemetrexed (Alimta) is a new antifolate, a type of drug that targets the folic acid metabolic pathway, inhibiting the availability of certain B complex vitamins. The downside, in the trial was that in some patients there was decrease in the number of white blood cells used to fight infections.

The clinical trial was the largest ever conducted in the US for a mesothelioma treatment.

The findings: Tumors shrank in 41 percent of patients on Alimta (pemetrexed) in combination cisplatin, a more common chemotherapy treatment. Cisplatin resulted reduced to tumors in 17 percent of patients receiving it. Patients on the Alimta (pemetrexed) cisplatin combination lived nearly three months longer than those on cisplatin alone.

According to lead author of the study, Nicholas J. Vogelzang, M.D., University of Chicago Cancer Research Center, "This is the largest clinical trial ever conducted in this disease and the 25 to 30 percent improvement in survival for patients on the combination therapy is the first time anyone has documented a significant improvement in patients treated for mesothelioma."

Under the current expanded access program, Alimta may be available free to patients who qualify. Additionally, patients with mesothelioma may be entitled to large settlements against employers or asbestos makers.

If you would like more information about Mesothelioma or your legal rights please contact us here.

Innovative Treatments For Mesothelioma Patients

Aside from the standard or traditional treatment options for mesothelioma patients, the following are the innovative treatment options that can be applied accordingly to the patient:

Alimta (pemetrexed) now available to patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. New chemotherapy drug more.

Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), a type of cancer treatment, is premised in the theory that single-celled organisms, if first treated with certain photosensitive drugs, will die when exposed to light at a particular frequency. Through PDT, doctors attempt to destroy cancerous cells through the use of fixed frequency light to activate photosensitizing drugs that have accumulated in body tissues.

In PDT, a doctor administers photosensitizing drug intravenously. In a matter of days, the drug selectively concentrates in diseased cells, while rapidly being eliminated from normal cells. Doctors then expose the treated cancer cells to a laser light chosen for its ability to activate the photosensitizing agent. Doctors deliver this laser light to the cancer site, (in the case of mesothelioma, the pleura), through a fiberoptic device that allows the doctor to control the laser light. As the agent in the treated cells absorbs the light, an active form of oxygen destroys the surrounding cancer cells. A doctor must carefully time the light exposure so that it occurs when most of the photosensitizing drug has left the healthy cells, but remains present in cancerous ones.

Skin sensitivity is the major side effect of PDT. Doctors usually advise patients undergoing this type of therapy to avoid direct and even indirect sunlight for at least six weeks. Other side effects may include nausea, vomiting, a metallic taste in the mouth, and eye sensitivity to light.

Immunotherapy is designed to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system's natural anticancer function. Through immunotherapy, sometimes called biological therapy, doctors use the body's own immune system to protect against disease. Researchers have found that the immune system may recognize the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells, and eliminate those that become cancerous.

Substances used in immunotherapy, called biological response modifiers (BRMs) alter the interaction between the body's immune defenses and cancer, thereby improving the body's ability to fight disease. Some BRMs, such as cytokines and antibodies, occur naturally in the body, however, pharmaceuticals can now make BRMs in the laboratory that imitate or influence natural immune response agents. These BRMs may enhance the immune system to fight cancer cell growth, eliminate, regulate, or suppress the body's responses that permit cancer growth, make cancer cells more susceptible to destruction by the immune system, alter cancer cell's growth patterns to behave like normal cells, block or reverse the process that changes a normal cell into a cancer cell, and prevent a cancer cell from spreading to other sites. BRMs doctors currently used in cancer treatment include interferons, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor, colony-stimulating factors, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer vaccines.

Specific immunotherapy research has concentrated on the SV40 virus. Some researchers believe that the presence of this virus makes the formation of mesothelioma tumors more likely. Having identified this virus, researchers now hope to develop a vaccine, which could prevent the development of mesothelioma in those a risk by prompting the body to produce antibodies that would attack the SV40 virus.

Gene Therapy
Gene therapy treats mesothelioma, and other diseases, by manipulating an individual's genes to achieve a therapeutic goal. The premise of gene therapy is based on correcting disease at the DNA level and compensating for the abnormal genes.

Replacement gene therapy replaces a mutated or missing gene, most often a tumor suppressor gene, with a normal copy of that gene to keep cell growth and division under control. The most common gene mutated in cancer has become a prime target for gene replacement. Researchers have met with some success in inhibiting cell growth, inhibiting angiogenesis (the development of a tumor's blood supply), and inducing apoptosis (cell death). Knockout gene therapy targets the products of oncogenes (a gene that can induce tumor formation) in an effort to render them inactive and reduce cell growth.


Innovative new radiation treatment, that is less more

Alternative Medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine covers a wide range of treatments that conventional medicine does not commonly accept or make available to its patients. Acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, therapeutic massage, and Far Eastern medicine are among those treatments considered alternative.

Patients can use these therapies alone as an alternative to conventional medicine, or in addition to conventional medicine. Many focus on treating the whole patient ­ physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These treatments are not generally used in hospitals, and, for the most part, are not covered under insurance policies.

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