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Researchers Boost Chemotherapy Impact for Mesothelioma Patients

Researchers Boost Chemotherapy Impact for Mesothelioma Patients

A team of scientists working to find a way to make malignant mesothelioma tumor cells more sensitive to chemotherapy believe that they have found a way, and the answer lies in a specific estrogen receptor.

The researchers hail from two different universities in Europe. A group of pharmaceutical researchers from the University of Piemonte Orientale “A. Avogadro” in Italy and the department of biosciences and nutrition at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden worked collaboratively on the project, which was driven by the difficulty in effectively treating mesothelioma. The rare form of cancer, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is generally treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy using a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed. Though this is the gold standard therapy for the disease, it’s effectiveness has been minimal and patients generally succumb to their cancer between nine and seventeen months after diagnosis.

The researchers theorized that if they focused on a specific receptor within the cancer cell, the Estrogen Receptor Beta (ERbeta), it might help suppress tumor growth. So Dr. Giulia Pinton led the team to treat malignant mesothelioma using the ERbeta agonist KB9520 along with the chemotherapy. They found “significant anti-proliferative effect” and that the tumor cells stopped duplicating themselves and growing as quickly as they had. They also found that the cells became more sensitive to the chemotherapy, allowing the drug to work more effectively towards cell death.

The team also found that when mice were given the combination of KB9520 and the cisplatin/pemetrexed cocktail, their mesothelioma tumors were “significantly inhibited” and that the growth of tumors slowed. They also found that the combination of the three actually provided protection to healthy cells from the potentially damaging impact of the cisplatin. This is of particular interest to researchers, as the side effects of chemotherapy can be extremely challenging for patients already weakened by their cancer.

The report concludes, “Thus combination of KB9520 with SOC (cisplatin/pemetrexed combination) may increase the sensitivity of malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors to the SOC regimen in patients and perhaps result in higher response rates, extended progression free survival, and prolonged overall survival, without adding toxicity.” The study was published in the journal Molecular Cancer.

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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