Cancer Cure 2017: New Drug Could Treat Cancer Caused by Asbestos

In the past, asbestos is used to be a very popular building material until it was discovered that exposure to it causes cancer.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is incredibly deadly, but according to a report by Express, a new drug to treat this condition is currently being tested on 300 British patients.

The new method of treatment has already been used for several other types of cancerous tumor, but it is hoped that it will be an effective treatment for mesothelioma by harnessing the body's own immune system in order to overcome it.

The drug is called nivolumab and it is reportedly effective in treating melanoma and kidney cancer. The medicine works by blocking a protein referred to as PD-1 on the surface of T-cells, which allows cells of the immune system to be activated and in turn, hunt down and kill cancer cells.

"The UK has one of the world's highest incidences of mesothelioma and currently there aren't many ways to treat it," Professor Gareth Giffiths of the University of Southampton said. "Boosting the immune system by releasing killer T-cells that have previously been blocked could offer us a new way to treat more patients with this devastating disease."

Taking nivolumab is an example of immunotherapy — a type of cancer treatment that boosts the natural defenses of the human body that enables it to fight cancer better.

According to Dr. Catherin Pickworth, science information officer of the Cancer Research UK, immunotherapy treatments operate by harnessing the power of the human body's immune system and turning it against cancer. Nivolumab is already used routinely as a treatment method for even advanced forms of skin and kidney cancers, and is reportedly showing a lot of promise for other types of cancer as well.

In fact, Health Canada has recently approved nivolumab for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in adults progressing on or after platinum-based therapy.

"This clinical trial will find out whether an immunotherapy drug could benefit people with mesothelioma, which is hard for doctors to treat successfully," Dr. Pickworth said.

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