Scientists have hailed a new drug developed to treat asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma as the most significant breakthrough in the fight against the disease in two decades. 

The drug, ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase), was tested alongside chemotherapy in an international trial that spanned five countries and was led by Queen Mary University of London.  

The trial involved patients from the UK, the US, Australia, Italy and Taiwan who each received chemotherapy every three weeks for up to six cycles. Half were also given injections of the new drug, while the other half received a placebo for two years. 

Those who received chemotherapy and pegargiminase demonstrated a significant increase in overall survival and progression-free survival compared to those who received chemotherapy alone. 

Pegargiminase works by reducing the arginine levels, which is necessary for the growth of tumour cells. It is the first of its kind to be successfully combined with chemotherapy in 20 years. 

Tests showed that it cut off the tumour’s food supply and quadrupled three-year survival rates. 

Scientists believe the new “truly wonderful” therapy offers fresh hope to those suffering from the disease, according to a report in The Guardian (15 February 2024). 

“This trial has changed the lives of people with mesothelioma, allowing us to live longer,” said one of the patients who benefited from the drug. The 80-year-old won compensation from his former employer after being exposed to asbestos in a factory in the 1970s. 

He was given four months to live, but thanks to the trial is still alive five years later. “I have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren now – I wouldn’t want to miss all that,” he said. 

The full results of the trial were published in the journal JAMA Oncology

Despite being banned in the UK since 1999, asbestos-related diseases still claim the lives of 5,000 people every year in England and Wales. 

Nearly 1,000,000 domestic buildings and around 300,000 non-domestic buildings in the UK are estimated to still contain asbestos. Asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer, remain the number one cause of death in UK workplaces. 

Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to treat and has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer. 

Asbestos Diseases Solicitors 

Larcomes’ friendly and efficient team of specialist industrial disease solicitors has assisted the sufferers of asbestos diseases and their families for over 25 years. 

We understand it is a worrying and stressful time when you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, and will support you every step of the way. 

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma, you may be able to claim compensation for an asbestos-related illness.  

If you would like to discuss your asbestos-related disease claim with us, then give us a call on 023 9244 8100 and we will be happy to talk with you. 

You can also contact us online by clicking here