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A new drug which could help in the fight against mesothelioma has been given “orphan drug status” by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new stem-cell targeting cancer drug, called “VS-5584”, looks to target the cancer at its source by obstructing the cancer stem-cell signalling pathways and killing the cancer stem cells that allow for communication between cells and enable mesothelioma to spread through the body.

The current status of the drug means pharmaceutical companies are encouraged to develop drugs which might not normally have a sufficient profit margin in the treatment of rare medical conditions.

The drug is currently being tested by American biopharmaceutical company Verastem Inc. in two clinical trials on American and British mesothelioma patients.

Verastem CEO Robert Forrester said: “We look forward to taking full advantage of the opportunities in order to bring this potential new treatment option to patients as rapidly as possible.

“This is an important regulatory milestone.”

Mesothelioma is a cancer which is nearly always caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. Mainly found in the lungs, mesothelioma is caused by toxic chemicals which create a thickening of the lining of the lungs (also known as the pleura). This then develops into a tumor.

If you or your loved one has suffered as a result of asbestos exposure and you would like to talk through your legal options, we can help you. We understand that this will be an incredibly difficult time for you and your family and our team will act with the utmost compassion. We have much experience in helping people who have been affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. To speak with a member of our team, please call Freephone 0800 122 3130 or request a call back at a time convenient for you here.