Researchers from the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia have made an important discovery that may make a real difference for mesothelioma patients with limited time to pursue the appropriate course of treatment.
Spurred on by the tremendous degree of variance in the ways that mesothelioma patients responded to chemotherapy treatment, researchers decided to investigate specific but subtle genetic differences known as polymorphisms.
Polymorphisms are essentially mutations that have an impact on the way that the body reacts or processes certain things, and they are often determined genetically.
The Slovenian researchers decided to examine mesothelioma patients identified with two different types of polymorphism to determine whether their existence played a role in the differences that patients experience in their reactions to chemotherapy with pemetrexed and cisplatin.
The two types of polymorphisms that the researchers examined were those involving the biochemical pathway of the nutrient folate, and those involving transporters, genes that determine how different compounds gain entry into the body’s various cells. Their results of their research were significant, and were recently published in Radiology and Oncology.
What the researchers determined was that when mesothelioma patients were provided with pemetrexed as part of their treatment, the two different types of polymorphisms showed specific and consistent responses within each of their own types.
Those patients who had been identified as having a folate polymorphism experienced a lower response rate to the chemotherapy, and the period of time that they spent following treatment before their cancer began to progress again was much shorter than those patients who did not possess the folate polymorphism.
On the other hand, patients identified as possessing polymorphisms involving their transporter genes were not impacted either positively or negatively in terms of survival, but did have a tendency towards have a lower chance of liver toxicity to the pemetrexed treatment than did those without the polymorphism. Another polymorphic group was identified as having a lower toxicity impact on their gastrointestinal tract.
According to lead investigator Katja Goricar, the ability to identify these types of differences can help determine which treatments are best suited for individual patients, thus speeding the way to the most effective therapies and avoiding those which may have a negative impact.
“These polymorphisms could serve as potential markers of pemetrexed treatment outcome in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.”