Erasmus hosp. developing new mesothelioma treatment

For the first time doctors at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam are testing a promising treatment on a small group of patients suffering from mesothelioma, or asbestos cancer.

Pulmonologist oncologist Joachim Aerts of the university medical center is delighted that his clinic got approval for the experiment, especially since there is currently no cure for mesothelioma. "For that reason all specialists dealing with this serious disease will be keeping a close eye on our research in the coming period", Aerts said to AD.

In this approach the patient's white blood cells are trained so that the body can attack the cancer cells. In earlier phases of the research, the patient's own tumor cells were needed. These cells had to be collected by a dangerous surgery in the lungs, which was only possible for one in ten patients.

After years of research in the Erasmus MC laboratory, these cancer cells can now be grown. The cells are them programmed so that the patients immune system attacks the cancer.

This new method is much less onerous than chemotherapy. In the coming months 9 patients suffering from mesothelioma will be treated with this method. If the treatment is successful, more patients will be eligible for it next year.