A new report published in the medical journal “Clinical Cancer Research” is offering a rare dose of encouraging news to those suffering from pleural malignant mesothelioma.
According to researchers from leading European universities, the anticancer drug nintedanib is showing extremely promising results in tests of its effectiveness in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma, the rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Nintedanib is designed to inhibit certain types of molecules, specifically those responsible for forming new capillaries that can feed cancer cells and help them to migrate throughout the body.
Previous tests of this type of drug action have proven fruitless. However, the new study shows that mesothelioma cells express the specific protein that nintedanib targets, and therefore has been effective where others have failed.
Mesothelioma is a notably challenging form of cancer to treat because it has proven resistant to traditional cancer protocols. Although pleural mesothelioma is generally approached using a multi-modality process involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the impact of this combination of treatments has been limited, leaving scientists searching for new approaches.
Nintedanib has already proved itself in the treatment of other thoracic diseases, including lung adenocarcinoma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,. Researcher hoped it would be similarly effective on the asbestos-related disease.
According to first author Viktoria Laszlo from the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the Medical University of Vinna, Austria, the drug works be preventing the growth of new blood vessels, starving cells of nutrients and oxygen.
“We demonstrated, for the first time, that human mesothelioma cells express the target molecules of nintedanib and, furthermore, that this drug inhibits the growth and migration of mesothelioma cells. Moreover, we showed that nintedanib potently reduces the growth and vascularisation of human mesothelioma tumours implanted into the thoracic cavity of mice.”
Others leading the research included Balazs Döme, Head of the Translational Thoracic Oncology Program at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria and Balazs Hegedus, Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Medicine Essen – Ruhrlandklinik, Germany, who added,
“Importantly, this antitumour effect of nintedanib in experimental animals was stronger than that of bevacizumab – the reference blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) inhibitor in clinical oncology – in the treatment of less vascularised mesotheliomas. A key message of these animal experiments is thus that nintedanib might be considered superior to bevacizumab as part of systemic anti-tumour therapy for patients with less ‘angiogenic’ mesotheliomas.”
The researchers will continue investigating the effects of nintedanib on patients with mesothelioma in hopes that it will become part of the standard treatment of this life altering disease.
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