Though malignant mesothelioma is a unique form of cancer that has proven resistant to standard treatment protocols, there has been evidence that innovative approaches such as immunotherapy and gene therapy may be effective. Unfortunately, those protocols are both expensive and time consuming. Now a group of researchers led by a team from UCLA has reported its development of a new method for delivering DNA into immune cells and immune cells quickly and inexpensively. If the delivery method is widely adopted it can give physicians treating patients with the rare asbestos-related disease a valuable new tool.
Report Describes Gene Therapy Tool That May Benefit Mesothelioma Patients
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team’s method could eventually provide mesothelioma specialists with a way to quickly manufacture gene therapies for their patients at their bedside. According to study co-senior author Paul Weiss, a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, of bioengineering and of materials science and engineering. “We are figuring out how to get gene-editing tools into cells efficiently, safely and economically. We want to get them into enormous numbers of cells without using viruses, electroshock treatments or chemicals that will rip open the membrane and kill many of the cells, and our results so far are promising.”
Currently, when mesothelioma patients are treated with gene therapy the process involves specialized labs and can take several weeks to generate the appropriate result. It can also cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. By contrast, Weiss says that his group’s method would use a genetic engineering technique known as CRISP that allowed genetic code to be edited but would then use high frequency acoustic waves to deliver them into cells through pores that would open up along the cells’ membranes, allowing the newly-created DNA code to be delivered.
New Genetic Information Can Provide Cells The Ability to Fight Off Mesothelioma
Armed with new genetic instructions, cells vulnerable to mesothelioma might be able to generate missing proteins or repair broken genetic code. “When combined with new gene-editing approaches, the method enables us to correct a DNA sequence that is miscoded in a disease,” said Weiss. His group has achieved success in about 60 percent of attempts, and hopes to improve their success rate.
Dr. Steven Jonas, the study’s co-senior author and a UCLA clinical instructor in pediatrics said, “If the delivery works, and it seems to, this research is an important step toward bringing new therapies more broadly to the patients who need them. Traditionally, we have treated cancers with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and bone marrow transplantations. Now, we’re at an amazing era of medicine, where we can use different types of gene therapies that can train the immune system to fight cancer.”
Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma eagerly await the development of this type of innovative treatment. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and need information about other treatment options, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.