Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Guest Article - The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com
Breakthroughs for Mesothelioma Cancer Research
For patients with mesothelioma, treatment options are often limited. Traditional surgical treatments such as extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) and pleurectomy/decortation (P/D) are radical surgeries that may only provide a few more months of survival to a patient.
Surgery is often combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, but mesothelioma is notoriously resistant to chemotherapy. Scientists are researching new methods of treatment on the molecular level in the form of mesothelioma biomarkers, suicide gene therapy and personalized treatment through DNA scanning.
Biomarker research has been a promising area of advancement in the pursuit of new treatments for mesothelioma. A significant recent development has been the discovery of mesothelin as a mesothelioma biomarker. It is a naturally occurring glycol-protein found in normal mesothelial cells. In mesothelioma patients, it is overexpressed by mutated cells.
The results of a recent Phase I clinical trial revealed that a mouse-human chimeric monoclonal antibody called MORAb-009 could create cytotoxicity and kill mesothelin-expressing cell lines. Meaning this antibody could kill malignant mesothelioma cells.
Suicide Gene Therapy
Mesothelioma, like other cancers, resists apoptosis. Through gene therapy, researchers have begun to induce apoptosis in cancer cells through suicide gene therapy.
Because mesothelioma is a localized tumor in early stages, rapid and efficient delivery of genes could be accomplished through the layer of mesothelial cells. The herpes simplex virus-1 thymidine kinase (HSVtk) gene is often used to induce tumor cell death.
In a study, the virus gene was administered to 30 patients with minimal side effects. A number of patients survived for more than three years, including a patient who was still alive after 10 years.
Because a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis is tied to many individual factors, a single solution does not often help every patient. Foundation Medicine, Inc. has pioneered a new high-speed DNA scan based on comprehensive cancer genomic testing.
Foundation’s high speed DNA scan has isolated 200 genes with a known link to cancer. The test can match cell abnormalities from a specific tumor to a drug that can attack the abnormality.
Using this new technology, scientists isolated a genetic flaw in 2 percent of 561 lung cancer tumors. It was matched with a kidney-cancer drug named Sutent and a thyroid-cancer drug called Caprelsa. Scientists found that mutated cancer cells treated with these specific drugs died. This type of targeted therapy has positive implications for mesothelioma patients.
As researchers continue to test the boundaries of traditional cancer therapy, mesothelioma patients can be hopeful for more effective therapies.
Bio: Michelle Y. Llamas is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She is committed to generating mesothelioma awareness and providing information regarding breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatment.
Hassan, R., Schweizer, C., Lu, K. F., Schuler, B., Remaley, A. T., Weil, S. C., & Pastan, I. (2010). Inhibition of mesothelin-CA-125 interaction in patients with mesothelioma by the anti-mesothelin monoclonal antibody MORAb-009: Implications for cancer therapy. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864325/?tool=pubmed
MIT. (2011). Foundation Medicine: Personalizing cancer drugs. Retrieved from http://m.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/39707/
Tannapfel, A. (Ed.). (2011). Malignant mesothelioma: Recent results in cancer research. New York: Springer.
Vachani, A., Moon, E., Wakeam, E., & Albelda, S. M., (2010). Gene therapy for mesothelioma and lung cancer. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20160042