New hope for mesothelioma cancer vaccine on the horizon

Many workers in the construction industry have, at one time or another, been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos exposure can be very dangerous. If the asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, attaching to the membrane along the lungs or abdomen, it can cause a cancer mutation known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is often deadly, and unfortunately, many do not realize they have the disease until it is quite far advanced — years or even decades after the exposure occurred.

Nonetheless, workers may be heartened to hear that one research scientist has been awarded a federal research grant to create a mesothelioma vaccine that could potentially prevent the deadly cancer from occurring. The vaccine is aimed at those who, through their work, are exposed to asbestos for a long period of time, as well as those who are genetically predisposed to developing mesothelioma.

The vaccine is designed based on certain types of proteins found in mesothelioma tumors. It works by utilizing antibodies that activate an immune response. By specifically attacking these proteins, the vaccine can destroy mesothelioma tumor cells. The vaccine is currently being tested on animals.

Approximately 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Unfortunately, until a vaccine is approved for human use, this number will only continue to grow. Those with mesothelioma often only have a few months or years left to live, and the disease may prevent them from being able to work. For this reason, those with mesothelioma or other types of severe occupational diseases may want to consider seeking Social Security disability benefits for illness. These benefits can help address financial hardships caused by this disabling disease.

Source: Asbestos.com, “Mesothelioma Vaccine Aims to Stop Cancer Before It Begins,” Tim Povtak, Jan. 17, 2017