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Promising New Mesothelioma Drug Delivery System Studied

Like many other forms of cancer, mesothelioma is often best treated with chemotherapy, a form of medication that destroys cancer cells. Despite the fact that a specific form of chemotherapy, called Pemetrexed, has been approved for the treatment of mesothelioma, the protocol has a down side – because it is extremely toxic, it has the potential for causing extreme side effects, specifically by damaging healthy tissue. As a result, the drug is not delivered at the dose that is generally considered to be most effective at killing the cancer cells, and is generally administered along with another medication, such as cisplatin, in order to temper the potential for harmful effects. But now a study from researchers in Japan and Egypt is holding out promise for a new drug delivery system that will eliminate or reduce some of this risk and provide a more effective solution.

Writing in the medical journal Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Noah Essam Eldin of Zagazig University in Egypt describes the work that he did with others, looking into the use of a system that relies on structures known as liposomes. In many ways, liposomes are similar in structure to cells. They are bubble shaped and have membranes that are similar in their makeup to that of cells. They can be created to contain drugs such as pemetrexed and engineered to be attracted to specific tissue types, such as those found in mesothelioma tumors. By creating liposomes that move directly to mesothelioma cells and then deliver their load to the cancerous tissue, the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue is much reduced and the dosage of the chemotherapeutic drug can be much greater.

The researchers analyzed the impact of several different variations on the construction of the liposomes and found that those had membranes made of higher concentrations o lipids and cholesterol were most effective. The scientists indicated in their report that this specific type of liposome had a “potent in vitro toxicity” against the human mesothelioma cells that they were tested against.

Eldin writes, “These results suggest that encapsulation of pemetrexed within ‘fluid’ liposomes might represent a novel strategy to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of pemetrexed while minimizing the side effects encountered by the non-selective delivery of free [non-liposomal] pemetrexed to various body tissues.”

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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