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Experimental vaccine could help mesothelioma patients

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have gotten promising results from a study on the efficacy of stem cell treatments for both current - and future - mesothelioma patients. Researchers tested patient-specific vaccines made from the individual's own stem cells on various types of cancerous growths. The stem cell treatments were effective against breast cancer, mesothelioma and melanoma cells in laboratory mice infected with those diseases.

How would these vaccines work?

Basically, the treatment involves taking blood from a patient, then using the blood to make what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS), a genetically enhanced cell that incites an immunologic response to fight the cancer. The IPS cells are combined with an immune-stimulating agent to attack the cancer cells. Essentially, the IPS cells and immune agent "trick" the immune system into killing off cancer cells much more effectively than the body can do on its own.

Theoretically, such cells could be used not only to heal existing cancers in the body, but also as a prophylactic vaccine to prevent such cancers as mesothelioma from developing. While limited treatment options exist for symptoms, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma. This particularly invasive and devastating cancer is caused by prior exposure to asbestos fibers or asbestos-containing materials. News of this vaccine test, and the next phases of trials on the treatment, is the first sign of real hope for victims in years.

This research is still in its infancy, so only time will tell if it is ultimately approved for human use, or if it will be effective against mesothelioma on a broader scale. In the meantime, tens of thousands of victims continue to suffer from this horrible disease. If you or someone you love developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, you have legal rights. Reach out to an experienced asbestos attorney in your area to learn more.

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