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Research brings the cure for mesothelioma closer to realization. Through clinical trials, researchers are creating new mesothelioma treatments showing promising results. Funding for research in clinical trials comes from both private and government organizations.

Every traditional treatment option for mesothelioma started as an idea and was refined by research conducted in clinical trials. With every successful clinical trial, researchers expand treatment options for mesothelioma patients and bring us closer to a cure for this rare disease. Mesothelioma research is funded by private groups, governmental organizations and caring individuals.

Promising Emerging Treatments

Immunotherapy: This treatment uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the mesothelioma cells in his body.

Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART): Researchers have learned that applying high doses of radiation just before surgery for pleural mesothelioma extends survival by years.

Photodynamic Therapy: This treatment applies a specific type of light that burns up mesothelioma cells during surgery.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are testing grounds for new, innovative mesothelioma research. Researchers also improve standard treatments, like surgery and chemotherapy, in clinical trials.

A recent clinical trial combined chemotherapy with a drug that prevents the growth of blood vessels in tumors. The drug, called cediranib maleate, cuts the blood flow to tumors and kills them. Researchers believe that the combination of cediranib and chemotherapeutic drugs will kill cancer cells more effectively and extend the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.

Emerging Treatments

Mesothelioma researchers are creating new and innovative treatments leading the way towards a cure.

Gene Therapy: Gene therapy adds modified genes to mesothelioma cells, making the cells more vulnerable to anti-cancer drugs and ultimately easier to kill. Researchers have found promising results by placing modified genes in restructured viruses, which are injected into patients. The virus then delivers the modified gene directly to mesothelioma cells, boosting the effectiveness of an anti-cancer drug given to the patient at a later time.

Targeted Drugs: Researchers are currently testing medications that target the cellular changes causing mesothelioma tumor growth. These medications are called targeted drugs and are typically used to block enzymes necessary for mesothelioma tumor cells to grow.

Targeted drugs belong to a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. These drugs stops abnormal proteins from signaling cancer cells to multiply.

Targeted drugs currently testing in clinical trials:

  • Dasatinib
  • Vatalanib
  • Gefitinib
  • Tivantinib
  • Sorafenib


Targeted drugs can help advanced-stage patients whose mesothelioma cannot be resected (surgically removed). They can also prove useful in patients who are not healthy enough to withstand aggressive treatments, like an EPP surgery or strong doses of chemotherapy.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses special drugs to strengthen a patient’s immune system so that it can kill mesothelioma tumor cells.

Tremelimumab: Tremelimumab is a human antibody researchers are currently testing to boost the effectiveness of patient’s T cells (lymphocytes), which are naturally present in the body and help kill cancer cells. Tremelimumab has shown promise as an alternative treatment for patients who do not respond to chemotherapy.

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Research Funding

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: The Meso Foundation has provided over $8.7 million to mesothelioma research projects worldwide. As a funding organization, they have played a critically important role in supporting clinical trials and increased government funding for mesothelioma research. Among their 2013 research grant awards are studies on combining radiation therapy with immunotherapy and the development of new approaches to gene therapy.

Department of Defense: Department of DefenseMesothelioma research is included in the 2014 Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) and Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) run by the Department of Defense (DOD). Since 2008, both DOD grant programs have awarded over $9 million to mesothelioma research. National Cancer Institute (NCI)

The NCI provides grants for mesothelioma research carried out in top cancer centers like the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the NCI’s own Cancer Research Center. Mesothelioma research in their Funded Research Portfolio for 2012 ranges from immunotherapy to the development of targeted chemotherapy.

Mesothelioma Awareness

Research is also funded by raising mesothelioma awareness. The more attention mesothelioma receives, the more funding research on the disease will attract. Participation in events centered around raising mesothelioma awareness can help increase research funding and build a support network for mesothelioma patients.