There are many different approaches being taken by scientists searching for a cure for malignant mesothelioma. While some pursue more effective uses of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, others are looking to target mechanisms within the cell, robbing the rare form of cancer of its ability to grow and spread. This is exactly what Pierluigi Scalia, M.D., Ph.D. of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Division of Biology, Temple University is pursuing. He and colleagues from the Department of Medical Biotechnologies at University of Siena, Italy and the Italian non-profit research organization ISOPROG, in collaboration with the Center of Biocomputational Sciences, part of the College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia have recently published the results of a study that revealed a previously unknown molecular mechanism found in malignant mesothelioma, as well as in other types of cancers.
Molecule that supports mesothelioma cells is discovered
Published last week in the journal Oncogene, the study describes what is being referred to as a molecular “switch” called EphB4 found in malignant mesothelioma as well as in other solid tumors. The group found the EphB4 is integral to the development of new blood vessels that feed malignant tumors, as well as in the spread of the cancerous cells. The study indicates that though the way that the molecular network works is still not clear, the amount of the protein present in the cells can be lowered when IGF-II is neutralized. IGF-II is a protein hormone similar to insulin which apparently controls the amount of EphB4 that is produced: the researchers believe that by using it to control the presence of EphB4, they will be able to slow or stop the spread of malignant mesothelioma within the body.
Mesothelioma discovery may also apply to other cancers
Summarizing their discovery, Scalia wrote, “Interestingly, the key components of this newly identified molecular switch appear expressed in all malignant cancer cell lines studied, suggesting that the relevance of this mechanism might extend to many types of solid cancer, beyond mesothelioma.” If this is the case, then there is a high likelihood of significant efforts being put into better understanding the mechanism. As Professo Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the study and director of the Sbarro Institute, wrote, “this type of discovery is critical for deadly cancers like Malignant Mesothelioma for which the search for new molecular targets is highly invoked in the medical field due to the growing demand for new treatments towards more effective and personalized interventions.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information on the various resources and treatment approaches available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.