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Breast Cancer Drug Shows Promise for Mesothelioma Patients

Researchers in Italy who took note of certain similarities between breast cancer and mesothelioma recently embarked upon a study to determine whether a successful breast cancer treatment would also be effective in the treatment of the highly deadly malignant mesothelioma. Their results yielded significant findings that show great promise for future applications.

Scientists from Rome’s Regina Elena National Cancer Institute were led by lead author Dr. Barbara Nuvoli.  Their research specifically investigated the effectiveness of a drug called Aromasin, which blocks the action of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase has been found to be highly important in the body’s process of synthesizing estrogen. In breast cancer and several other types of cancer, including mesothelioma, estrogen has been shown to be integral in the growth of tumors, and by cutting the levels of the hormone in the cancer patients’ body has inhibited tumor growth. Limiting aromatase levels results in less estrogen, and that is where Aromasin has been most useful. The drug’s actions to block aromatase have reduced overall estrogen levels.

Noting that aromatase may play a similar role in the growth of malignant mesothelioma cells, the Italian researchers tested the drug on mesothelioma cells. They administered the drug to both laboratory samples and to mice with mesothelioma tumors, and their results in both cases were encouraging.  In a report published in the journal Molecular Cancer, Dr. Nuvoli writes, “We show a significant reduction of cell proliferation, survival, migration and block of cells in S phase of cell cycle in mesothelioma cells upon Aromasin treatment.”  These findings are of particular importance because Aromasin has been shown to be well tolerated by cancer patients and is easily administered.

The researchers found that the impact of the medication was so great and that it shrunk mesothelioma tumors to such a large degree that they were unable to procure a sample large enough to do a thorough analysis of exactly what process had transpired within the cells, but they theorize that Aromasin may inhibit CD44, a glycoprotein found on the surface of cancer cells that enable them to migrate. The Aromasin was delivered along with the standard mesothelioma drug pemetrexed, and the combination was shown to be much more effective than the chemotherapy combination that is commonly used, which is cisplatin and pemetrexed.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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