The goal of gene therapy is to get at the root cause of a disease. Instead of dealing with the errant effects of faulty genes after the fact, gene therapy attempts to deliver the proper instructions to your cells, avoiding the negative affects altogether.
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What’s the problem?
The initial goals of gene therapy are to address hereditary genetic disorders; diseases specifically tied to our genes. Initially, it was thought that our genes were “fixed blueprints” for our bodies that remained unchanged throughout our life. As it turns out, genes are more complicated and changing than that. The sun, smoking, chemicals and other factors can all damage our DNA and result in mutations that cause faulty genetic behavior. Because of this, many diseases not originally seen as candidates for gene therapy are, indeed, potential targets, including malignant mesothelioma.
In the case of mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos is the environmental factor that leads to development of this lethal cancer. There can also be a natural genetic predisposition to mesothelioma cancer, however, and smoking has proven to be an additional aggravating factor for the disease. Mesothelioma can have multiple types of gene damage contributing to its development and complicating attempts to develop genetic science that will help control or cure the disease.
Mesothelioma Gene Therapy Process
Mesothelioma gene therapy treatment is a four-step process:
- In mesothelioma, the cancer attacks the fragile membranes on the surface of the lung and the opposing chest wall. These membranes form the pleural cavity.
- To kill the cancer, researchers first insert a tube through the patient’s chest wall into the cavity and inject an adenovirus.
- The injected adenovirus carries a gene that forces the pleural cells to make the enzyme thymidine kinase (TK).
- The patient is then injected with the antiviral drug ganciclovir. The drug kills only those cells making TK, thus knocking out the cancer.
The use of gene therapy for mesothelioma is still a subject for research rather than established treatment procedures. The theory of gene therapy seems to align itself well with cancer treatment, however the fact that mesothelioma is a “multifactorial” disease with several contributing factors along with asbestos requires multi-faceted treatment. Gene therapy may prove to be most effective when utilized in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, providing an attack on the cancerous tissue with several approaches.
Do I have a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The Toxic Tort Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.