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Parasite Drug Tests Well on Mesothelioma Cells

In the quest for a medication that can stop malignant mesothelioma in its tracks, researchers are turning to both new technologies and innovative uses for old remedies, and this includes trying drugs that have proven successful against other illnesses on the rare and fatal form of cancer. Today the Sbarro Health Research Organization announced that a drug that has previously been used to treat pinworms has been tested on mesothelioma cells, and was found to effectively impair both its growth and its ability to travel within the body to other sites.

The drug that was tested on the mesothelioma tumor cells is called pyrvinium pamoate. It is in the class of medications known as anthelmintic, which refers to a group of antiparasitic drugs that expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body. In its traditional use, the medications work by either stunning or killing the parasites, and do so without causing significant damage to the host. This parallels the goals of many cancer drugs: the hope is that they will target cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. Pyrvinium pamoate has recently been tested on other types of cancer, which led researchers from the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University, along with a group from the University of Siena, Italy, to see whether it could be repurposed for the treatment of mesothelioma, which is notoriously resistant to traditional chemotherapy treatment.

The researchers found that when mesothelioma cells were treated with the drug, its impact was to minimize the expression of the genes that are implicated in the diseases’s aggressiveness, as well as its imperviousness to chemotherapy. Speaking of their findings, study author Marcella Barbarino of the University of Siena said, “These are encouraging results, especially considering that drug repositioning, using already approved drugs for new indications, is a promising strategy to identify active molecules for a more rapid and less expensive clinical translation compared to de novo drug development,” and Dr. Antonio Giordano of Temple University said, “The results of this study represent a step forward in the development of new treatments for patients with mesothelioma. Pyvinium pamoate is able to affect important features of mesothelioma aggressiveness, suggesting that the repurposing of this drug for mesothelioma treatment could represent a new promising therapeutic approach.”

Mesothelioma researchers are making great strides in moving our understanding of this rare and fatal asbestos-related disease forward. For information on resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.

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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