Treatment Targets Asbestos Disease

Alimta and Paraplatin

11.08.2008

Older sufferers of a disease caused by exposure to asbestos have been given hope following the success of a combined drug treatment.

Scientists in Italy have been looking into using Alimta (pemetrexed) and Paraplatin (carboplatin) in concert to treat pleural mesothelioma.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, states the combination is "highly effective" in patients aged 65 or older.

Pleural mesothelioma is a fatal type of cancer affecting the pleural lining of the lungs associated with prior exposure to asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma has a latent period of between 20 and 50 years, and the majority of individuals who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis are between the ages of 50 and 70 years old. The survival rate associated with pleural mesothelioma is less than 1%, and most mesothelioma sufferers will die within two years of their initial diagnosis.

The Alimta and Paraplatin duo has a one-year survival rate of over 60%. The average survival rate for sufferers aged 70 or older came out at about 14 months, compared with a survival rate of 11 months for a younger age group.

The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Centre in the US welcomes the research, but also reiterates the need for increased funding for mesothelioma-related studies and research.

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Adrian Budgen from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Any extension of life, when combined with an improved quality of life, surely has to be welcomed. However, much more research work needs to be done towards finding a cure for this dreadful disease and a (centrally funded) national asbestos disease research centre ought to be set up as a matter of urgency."