Because asbestos has been used all over the world, malignant pleural mesothelioma has become a global problem. The search for effective treatments is being conducted all over the world, and researchers from the Hyogo College of Medicine recently shared positive results from a study of an inhalable gene therapy.
Japanese Researchers Seek New Treatment Modalities for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
Hyogo College of Medicine is a private university in Japan with a long history of innovative research into malignant mesothelioma. In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists explored the use of gene therapy to counter the effects of gene mutations in both non-small lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma, working specifically to find a method of delivery that patients could self-administer.
Though viral vectors are the most effective method of delivery for gene therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma, the scientists acknowledged that the use of viruses presents legal and ethical hurdles. In seeking a non-viral method of delivery, they turned to inhalable dry powder particles that can be delivered to the lungs in a direct and noninvasive way, and successfully slowed tumor growth in laboratory animals in the process.
Inhalable Gene Slowed Mesothelioma Tumor Growth
The researchers administered the inhalable gene therapy to mice implanted with malignant pleural mesothelioma cells and found that cell proliferation was significantly suppressed as quickly as 24 hours later. Writing of their results, they say, “We believe that this result reflects the suppressive effects of tumor suppressor genes on cell proliferation.” They also noted that the volume of tumors sprayed with the substance was significantly smaller than that of tumors that had been sprayed with a placebo substance.
In expressing their optimism about the new approach, the researchers also noted their concerns about the anticipated rise of malignant mesothelioma cases in Japan. They wrote in part, “Given the prediction that the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma will peak around 2030 in Japan, it is feared that the number of patients will continue to grow….and while the incidence is almost at its peak in western nations, the number of patients is expected to increase further in China. Amid such circumstances, minimally invasive and easy-to-administer inhalable gene drugs are expected to contribute greatly to the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.”
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