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Treating Mesothelioma with Gene Therapy

An Australian woman recently celebrated her 10th year of survival with Mesothelioma. Even more shocking, the cancer is believed to be in remission. How did she beat it? In 1998, the woman underwent a clinical trial of gene therapy. She is the only person known to have beaten the disease after undergoing gene therapy. Gene therapy is the name for the treatment of various forms of cancer that involves literally changing the DNA of the cancer cells.

When they change the DNA of the cancer cells, by infecting the cells with a virus that is treatable with medicine, the cancer cells become a solid mass of whatever they were changed to be. In the case of the Australian woman, her tumors were infected with simplex herpes and other viruses. Once it has been determined that the tumors have taken on a new genetic identity, the patient is given large doses of anti-viral medications. The theory is that the medications will kill the tumors and wipe out the cancer because there technically aren’t cancer cells anymore.

In the case of the Australian woman, everything went to plan. Her tumors were infected with simplex herpes and other viruses and the cells converted. Then they were all killed when she took her doses of anti-viral medications. Now, there is still scar tissue where the tumors were but there is not an actively growing cancerous mass. Even more important, the cancer is in remission and she celebrated the rare milestone of surviving 10 years past her diagnosis date.

Unfortunately, gene therapy doesn’t have the best success rates with Mesothelioma. The one woman in Australia is believed to be the only person to “beat” the disease using this treatment option. However, when dealing with something as deadly as Mesothelioma, it must be worth a shot.

The basic process involves inserting a “corrected” gene into the genome via a carrier (called a vector) to correct an “abnormal” gene. In the case of various cancers, the “corrected” gene is really a virus and the “abnormal” gene is a cancer cell.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos, contact the Mesothelioma Lawsuit Lawyers of Williams Hart at 800-781-3955 to discuss your legal options and to schedule a free initial consultation.

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