Comforting HandMalignant mesothelioma(s) are cancerous tumors of the lining of the pleura (lung and chest cavity), caused exclusively by asbestos exposure. Many believed that only long-term exposure to asbestos caused malignant mesothelioma, but it is now known that even short-term and second-hand exposure to asbestos dust can cause this aggressive and debilitating disease.

The latency period for development of mesothelioma is long and unpredictable, with a 10 to 60 year range before any symptoms develop.

Because of this long latency period, many malignant mesothelioma victims are not diagnosed until the late stages of the disease. Further, victims are typically male and over the age of 50. It is estimated that over the last 30 years, an average of 3,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and 60 percent of the cases are pleural (affects the pleura).

However, the medical world has been hard at work over the last 30 years as well. Doctors and researchers have made great strides in developing more effective treatment options for malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. In fact, at any given time, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) alone lists no less than 50 current clinical trials for new and developing mesothelioma treatments, and many sound promising. One study, conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont offers even greater promise.

The study discusses first-line treatments such as systematic chemotherapy, which researchers say have limited effectiveness and serious side effects such as attacking both healthy cells and cancer cells.

Published in BMC Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal on cancer research, the study reports that targeted chemotherapy delivers cancer-fighting drugs directly into mesothelioma cells (malignant mesotheliomas), while leaving healthy cells intact.

For the study:

“Acid-prepared mesoporous silica (APMS) microparticles were loaded with doxorubicin (DOX) and modified externally with a mesothelin (MB) specific antibody before repeated intraperitoneal (IP) injections into a mouse xenograft model of human peritoneal MM. The health/weight of mice, tumor volume/weight, tumor necrosis and cell proliferation were evaluated in tumor-bearing mice receiving saline, DOX high (0.2 mg/kg), DOX low (0.05 mg/kg), APMS-MB, or APMS-MB-DOX (0.05 mg/kg) in saline.”

In layman terms, the silica microparticle was saturated with a mesothelin (MB) specific antibody on the outside and loaded with doxorubicin (DOX) on the inside. This seemingly exacting combination, along with the targeted delivery method, offered the following promising results:

“ Targeted therapy (APMS-MB-DOX at 0.05 mg/kg) was more effective than DOX low (0.05 mg/kg) and less toxic than treatment with DOX high (0.2 mg/kg). It also resulted in the reduction of tumor volume without loss of animal health and weight, and significantly decreased tumor cell proliferation. High pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) of tumor tissue confirmed that APMS-MB-DOX particles delivered DOX to target tissue.”

In simple terms, researchers concluded that “data suggest that targeted therapy results in greater chemotherapeutic efficacy with fewer adverse side effects than administration of DOX alone. Targeted microparticles are an attractive option for localized drug delivery.”

The study, titled “Microspheres targeted with a mesothelin antibody and loaded with doxorubicin reduce tumor volume of human mesothelioma xenografts,” was published September 11, 2013.

If you or someone you know worked in the mining industry, a factory, as an insulation manufacturer or installer, in the railroad or automotive industry, shipbuilding, gas mask manufacturing, construction, and even the military before 1973 and as late as 1989, asbestos exposure may have occurred.

Symptoms of mesothelioma include abdominal bloating and pain, chest pain (especially when taking a deep breath), cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and/or weight loss.

If you or someone you know worked in any of the industries listed above and you/they are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, contact a doctor immediately to get tested. It’s also best to contact an attorney at MRHFM to discuss your case. MRHFM is the largest firm exclusively devoted to helping mesothelioma victims and their families.

For more information about mesothelioma, request a free copy of 100 Questions & Answers About Mesothelioma here or contact the legal team at MRHFM directly by calling 866-373-5000.


BioMed Central Ltd., BMC Cancer Volume 13

Clinical Cancer Research Journal by the American Association for Cancer Research

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Health