Measles virus being used to fight mesothelioma by Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is researching into whether a modified version of the measles virus can be used treat mesothelioma. There is hope that the latest phase of clinical trials will prove helpful in fighting the deadly cancer.

The ability of the measles virus to impact cancer cells has been known for some time. In years past, doctors noticed that when people with cancer contracted measles, their cancer sometimes experienced regression - and in some cases the cancer nearly disappeared. Researchers are now experimenting with a genetically-altered version of measles to see if it can also target and kill mesothelioma tumor cells without adversely effecting healthy cells.

Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

Previously, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have had success with using the altered measles virus to kill mesothelioma cells. It has effectively been used to kill mesothelioma in Petri dishes as well as mice. In fact, it was observed that many of the mice with mesothelioma that were treated with the measles virus lived twice as long after only one injection, compared to the mice that did not receive the measles virus injection. Moreover, some of the mice that received the injection even appeared to be cured following the injection.

The current phase of the clinical trial is the first time Mayo researchers have used the measles virus on human subjects - with the first two patients roughly six months into the trial. The trial is targeting patients with pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common type of mesothelioma. Participants in the trial will receive a dose of the virus every 28 days up to six times. Specifically, the goal of this phase of the trial is to determine optimal dose levels and the level of toxicity of the treatment.

If this process ultimately proves successful, it is believed that the measles virus could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy - which suppresses the immune system in the body. The idea is that with the immune system stifled, the measles virus will have more time to kill mesothelioma cells before the immune defenses can stop it.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma impacts the sac surrounding a person's lungs, known as the pleura, and is often caused by asbestos exposure. As mentioned earlier, this is the most common type of mesothelioma, with symptoms including:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Build-up of fluid around the lungs
  • Constant cough
  • Blood clots

If you are suffering from a mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure, it is important to contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to be advised of your rights and options.