At the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, scientists have developed a method of drug administration that uses a device called a nebulizer, an inhalation device that could serve as an alternative to intravenous chemotherapy, providing a safer and easier way to treat mesothelioma. This revolutionary drug has the potential to aid thousands of victims of lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer, a disease that claims thousands of lives in the United States annually. Together, mesothelioma and lung cancer were responsible for over 4,000 deaths in Scotland in 2009. The disease has no known cure.
The nebulizer treatment is promising because it can protect healthy cells from the damage that can result from chemotherapy treatment, as well as circumvent the dangerous side effects. Furthermore, inhaling the medicine (called cisplatin) directly works much quicker and more efficiently on targeted areas than injecting the medicine straight into the body.
This research from Strathclyde comes from a long line of other new treatments for a variety of ailments, including cancer, heart disease and schizophrenia, but Dr. Chris Carter of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy is particularly hopeful about the new treatment for lung cancer patients.
“By delivering cisplatin, one of the most widely used drugs for lung cancer, in a vaporized form, 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. It would make the treatment far less onerous for them and we hope it would help them to live longer,” said Carter.
Most often the result of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma takes decades to develop into full-blown cancer. Since asbestos was used so heavily until the 1970s, most the victims are retired contract workers. The median age for a mesothelioma diagnosis is around 65 years old. Currently, the only treatment option of these patients is intravenous chemotherapy. In light of an alternative mesothelioma treatment recently failing its third round of drug trials, the nebulizer treatment is a beacon of hope for mesothelioma patients undergoing painful treatment and wanting to relieve themselves of the side effects.