According to the American Cancer Society, malignant mesothelioma is a cancer that starts in the cells that line certain parts of the body, most commonly the lungs and stomach. The disease is predominately a result of exposure to asbestos and kills nearly 3,000 people each year. Because 3,000 is not as staggering as the approximately 200,000 people in the United States that get lung cancer, and more than 159,000 people that die from the disease, funding for research and the necessary attention that would promote public awareness is sometimes difficult to come by. However, there is a dedicated group that vehemently pursue a cure for mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has no cure at this time. One of the key elements to effective management of the disease is early detection and an accurate prediction of how the cancer will respond to available treatments. Current research includes the search for an ideal biomarker that can aid in the diagnosis of the disease and help predict the effectiveness of various treatments including chemotherapy. A biomarker is a distinct biochemical, genetic, or molecular characteristic or substance that is an indicator of a particular biological condition or process. Obtaining the necessary tissue or tumor samples necessary for a diagnosis is often quite invasive. The majority of research thus far has been of a case-control design to determine diagnostic accuracy of particular molecules. In the past ten years substantial progress has been made in the identification of biomarkers specific to Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Future research will require the determination of how to integrate the information of the distinguished markers into clinical diagnostic and /or management algorithms.
Some recent studies have focused on the overexpression of the ephrin B2 receptor (EPHB2) in patients with mesothelioma. Ephrin type-B receptor 2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the EPHB2 gene. In a sampling of 34 different malignant mesothelioma tumors, it was found that the EPHB2 was significantly higher in tumor tissue than in normal peritoneum and not in benign mesothelial cells. Continuing studies focus on determining the following:
- If by using specific EPHB2 inhibitors it will slow the progression of the disease. Inhibiting growth increased the apoptotic proteins and activity, which is part of the natural self-destruction of cells. Stopping the growth of EPHB2 also decreased the proliferation and invasion of the bad cells, in the laboratory research.
- If EPHB2 can be used as an effective marker for Malignant mesothelioma. Can EPHB2 be used for early detection and can monitoring the quantity thereof, determine the effectiveness of treatment.
Research is critical to the advancement of treatment and the search for a cure for Malignant Mesothelioma. Research which cannot take place without the requisite funding. Funding that, despite the admirable efforts of various charities, organizations, and dedicated individuals, always seems to be lacking. The Department of Defense Bill finally offers some assistance. The 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2397), just recently approved by The House, includes funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The program includes the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program in which Mesothelioma is a topic area.
The quest for answers progresses.
The battle continues…
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help you. Our experienced asbestos lawyers at Reyes, O’Shea & Coloca, P.A are dedicated to fight for the rights of these individuals stricken with mesothelioma, who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.