Posted on: November 29, 2018
New Study Shows DNA Screening Can Help With Mesothelioma Treatment
Jillian Duff covers pressing news for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Bio »
October 13, 2016
Essen, Germany - A recently published study shows DNA screening could help doctors more effectively treat mesothelioma patients using platinum-based chemotherapy regimens. Several key genes have been marked as helpful in predicting patients’ responses to their treatments.
The study is called “Screening of Pleural Mesotheliomas for DNA-damage Repair Player by Digital Gene Expression Analysis Can Enhance Clinical Management of Patients Receiving Platin-Based Chemotherapy.”
Chemotherapy was developed in the 1940s and is one of the most widely employed treatments for all types of cancer. Today, over 100 chemotherapy drugs exist on the market. Common chemotherapy drugs used to treat mesothelioma include Alimta, Cisplatin, Carboplatin, Gemcitabine, Onconase, and Navelbine.
Poor efficacy is related to chemotherapy because platinum-compound agents work by inducing damages in the DNA of cancer cells. So the ability of cells to detect and repair the damages could be one of the characteristics that can help predict a patient’s outcome after chemotherapy.
Results in the patients showed DNA damage response “plays a crucial role” in how well mesothelioma cells respond to chemotherapy.
Twenty-four malignant pleural mesothelioma patients participated in the study. Twelve patients got Alimta/Platinol or Alimta/Platinol/Paraplatin after surgery. The other 12 got Platinol followed by Alimta before surgery.
Thirty genes were identified as being related to the cell’s ability to recognize and repair DNA damage. Several of these were associated with mesothelioma spread, treatment response, and overall survival.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Fred Henry Walter of the University of Duisburg-Essen wrote, “CDC25A and PARP1 gene expression were correlated with lymph node spread, BRCA1 and TP73 expression levels with higher IMIG stage.”
Also, it was found that mesothelioma tumor progression may be linked to CHECK1 and XRCC2 expression.
“After a prospective validation, these markers may improve clinical and pathological practice, finally leading to a patient’s benefit by an enhanced clinical management,” concluded the report.
This is another example of a promising experimental therapy to come out of a clinical trial. The next step in determining whether this is a viable and effective treatment is to validate the markers in mesothelioma patients for eventual use in clinical practice.
Posted on: November 29, 2018
I’m just an ordinary woman who married at 18 and washed my husband’s clothes as he came home from work at the Chatham Dockyard as a Shipwright. I didn’t know the powder on Ray’s clothes was anything other than dust bought home from work. I shook his clothes and then put them in the washing machine. Forty-eight years later I find I have mesothelioma and a death sentence of 3 months.
After my husband’s apprenticeship and national service he returned to the dockyard. This is when he worked with asbestos all around as the laggers lagged everywhere in the ships when they were being refitted. My father also worked on the submarines as an electrician.
We lived a wonderful healthy life and bought up a family. I went to keep fit classes and walked miles with the dogs in our lovely countryside. Then we retired in 2000, sold our house, moved to the coast, bought a motor-home and settled into retirement.
Losing My Breath
Forty-eight years later and after a two month stay in Spain I couldn't breathe and the story of mesothelioma began.
I had been to the GP as my arm had gone numb and I burnt myself on an iron but didn’t feel it. He thought I had a trapped ulnar nerve and made an appointment for me to have an X-ray and see a specialist.
In May I went to vote and I just couldn’t breathe. When I got home, to my amazement the GP phoned and told me the results of the X-ray were showing a mass and they had arranged a bed at the hospital for me to have my lung drained.
This was carried out and from the fluid they found cancer cells and believed I had mesothelioma.
Prognosis and Chemotherapy
That led to me being given 3 months to live. I didn't accept that and after my pleurodesis at the Guy’s Hospital in London, I started chemo.
Cisplatin and Alimta which is the standard treatment in the UK. This worked for fifteen months then started growing again.
I was offered the NGR-hTNF trial at Maidstone, this clinical trial acts on the tumours blood vessels which I’m afraid didn’t work for me or I had a placebo. So two sessions of Cisplatin and Alimta, I became allergic but it did work and we had stability again for a while...then growth was found in my next scan.
The Life Line
What would I like next as there are no new trials or Chemo? I’m not used to a doctor having no answers.
I emailed Saint Bartholomews Hospital and that Friday I was in an appointment where Peter offered me the last place on the ADAM Trial, but it would mean another Bi-op and then I might not even be suitable.
He threw me a life line of GemCarbo chemotherapy and I could have that locally. Back to Canterbury and I was on chemo again until September.
The October scan was bad news...the chemo hadn’t worked. A scan every three months was showing the growth of three millimetres every three months.
I wasn’t happy.
So I got right behind the Saatchi Bill (The Medical Innovations Bill) and worked with Lord Saatchi and the doctors. I was also on the committee when it was launched at the House of Commons.
Then a Doctor gave me the advice to go to the Royal Marsden where they were starting a trial that might suit me, so I asked my Oncologist and she referred me.
Joining the Meso Warriors Community
I’m now on a Phase 1 trial of Immunotherepy.
It isn’t just for mesothelioma but the trial,, MK-3475, is a drug being tested as it blocks the interaction of a substance called PDL-1 with PD Inhibitor.
When I was first diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, I Googled the word as I’d never heard of the disease, only asbestosis. All the depressing reports and write-ups gave me a shock of as there seemed no hope.
I turned to Facebook and completed a search which gave me so many Lawyer sites; however I did come across Debbie Brewer’s Facebook which led me to a wonderful community of patients around the world called The Meso Warriors.
Debbie and I became friends and together we created more groups. I started the Q&A page so I could ask all the questions I needed and there are groups for other needs such as:
Mesothelioma Articles Groups with new trials and news so we can always be ahead and up to-date and also blogs where warriors can tell their day-to-day stories of their fight.
Meso Warriors and Carers groups to help carers understand the diseases as well as get help when needing to cope.
Individual Groups that are secret where each member can put their personal thoughts and stories and share with their own friends and family.
We even have a Tears Page for the partners that have lost a loved one so they share their lives afterwards. It’s amazing how that helps in so many ways. Post-mortems and wills and the day to day help to live again.
This has all become so successful that the world has joined in and we have members from America, Australia, and many other countries, we learn from each other, how the world copes with the disease. Also we fight for the ban of asbestos and how to manage it in the buildings.
Take Five Stay Alive Campaign is run by British Lung Foundation which I made a video for and became the centrefold in their annual report.
Suffering from mesothelioma, I wish we could take asbestos out of our lives or the closest to zero that could be humanly achieved. There is no statistical data as to the amount of fibres breathed in over time that can be medically proven to have caused mesothelioma.
I had my exposure from washing my husband’s work clothing, and many people have suffered and are going to suffer from asbestos as a result of unintended exposure. Since the use and importation has been prohibited in Europe, the exposure people are now suffering and still continue to be exposed to asbestos in our built environment.
For the sake of our future generations, asbestos must be removed from the world we live and work in. To do that, I believe it requires professional companies operating at the highest standards to continue to remove this category 1 carcinogen safely and make our world a safer place.
I fought against it by having chemo and now my last chance is MK3475, an immunotherapy treatment which is shrinking my disease very fast. For how long no-one knows at this point.
I fight on for the future and all our Meso Warriors past, present and future
Posted on: January 17, 2017
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos is responsible for 4,500 deaths a year, and is the biggest single cause of occupationally-related deaths. This is likely to be an underestimate because this figure only includes those that have been reported and proved as being attributable to exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are potentially harmful as they can release dust or fibres into the air, which can be inhaled or ingested and if small enough, can pass deep into the lungs.
Once they are trapped in the body, the fibres can cause health problems and the following serious diseases: Mesothelioma This is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body.
It most commonly occurs in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall, but it can also arise in the lining of the abdominal cavity and the sacs that surrounds the heart and testicles. It is always fatal. Lung cancer This is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung.
Although not always fatal only 7.8% of men and 9.3% of women survive five years or more after initial diagnosis. Asbestosis This is fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs caused by long term or heavy exposure to asbestos. In itself it is not generally fatal and the majority of those diagnosed with asbestosis live with their disability all their lives and once it reaches a plateau it tends not to deteriorate further.
However it can become very debilitating and there is a 10% chance of it developing into mesothelioma and a 20 – 50% chance of it developing into lung cancer. It therefore needs to be closely managed and monitored. Pleural plaques These are areas of calcification on the lining of the lungs, chest wall, and diaphragm. In some cases this can develop into damage and thickening of the wall between lungs and rib-cage resulting in chest pains and breathlessness.
Although not fatal this can be very debilitating and needs to be monitored to check that it does not develop into more serious conditions.
The latest figures released by the HSE for diseases associated with occupational exposure to asbestos many years ago, are summarised as follows:
Reference: HSE Statistics, October 2015 *
In addition it is estimated that there are about as many asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year as there are mesothelioma deaths.
According to Wayne Williams, Director IATP:
“Many workers, especially tradespeople, assume they're not at risk, because asbestos was banned many years ago, we must continue to raise the awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure to the trade. Asbestos remains in many buildings, and it is still a risk to workers. Asbestos is likely to be present in any building constructed or refurbished before the year 2000. An estimated half a million buildings contain it. “
If a building containing asbestos is repaired or maintained and the asbestos fibres are disturbed – for instance, by drilling or cutting – they can easily be inhaled as a deadly dust. Opening a window or drinking a glass of water will not protect you against the dangers of asbestos.
“We need to educate tradespeople about how asbestos and its dangers are relevant to them. We want them to change the way they work and ensure they are appropriately trained so that they don’t put their lives at risk.”
Graham Blacksmith, 64, developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in his job as a carpenter. He refurbished domestic houses, which often involved knocking ceilings and walls down as part of the conversion process. He removed any asbestos found during the work and disposed of it into skips for removal. He had no training on how to handle it. After experiencing chest pains and breathlessness, he went to visit his doctor, who referred him for a chest X-ray and other lung tests. Graham was diagnosed with mesothelioma.