New inhalation drug treatment could mean faster results against mesothelioma


Glasgow university researchers are testing a method of inhaling a mesothelioma drug which they hope will mean longer lives for sufferers of the potentially fatal cancer.

Although the widely-prescribed chemotherapy drug cisplatin is normally injected, scientists at the University of Strathclyde are trialling a way of introducing the medication by way of a nebuliser directly into the patient's lungs.

Mesothelioma drug treatment via nebuliser

Mesothelioma is a highly-aggressive form of cancer which attacks the pleura, or lung linings. It is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres and can take decades to show itself. Although its development can take up to 40 years after exposure, fewer than 40% of patients survive for more than 1 year after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

According to the Strathclyde research team's leader Dr Chris Carter, there are advantages to delivering vaporised cisplatin through a nebuliser, particularly for patients in generally poor health.

"We would be able to get it to the cancerous cells and avoid the damage to healthy cells which can be hugely debilitating to patients," Dr Carter said. "It would make the treatment far less onerous for them and we hope it would help them to live longer."

As well as finely targeting the medication, Dr Carter says the nebuliser system also allows the drug to be introduced more rapidly, leading to faster results for the patient.

The Glasgow team is currently readying the inhalation system for patient trials.

Fellow scientists in Scotland and in Australia are also looking into other ways of reducing the damaging side-effects of chemotherapy for mesothelioma sufferers.

Cisplatin has been given an iron core, designed to allow magnets to attract the mesothelioma drug to a targeted treatment area and thus concentrate the medication in the place it is needed most.

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