When patients are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, one of the first discussions that they have with their oncologist focuses on the best approach to their particular situation, and what treatments are likely to work best for them.
The majority of patients diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer receive a combination of therapies that usually involves surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Even patients who are candidates for one of the emerging therapies like immunotherapy or photodynamic therapy will likely undergo surgery at some point, as it is the single treatment that has been shown to almost always extend overall survival.
The problem is that the benefits of surgery come with a downside. Depending upon the patient’s overall health, it can be difficult to bounce back, and studies have shown that patients who undergo surgery of any kind release inflammatory markers that can have an impact on the body’s receptiveness to other treatments.
One of the challenges that this universal inflammatory response has presented for mesothelioma physicians is how they can anticipate what the impact of those inflammatory markers will be on different therapeutic approaches.
A group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has found a simple way to test the impact of surgery on laboratory animals. This will allow them to quickly assess the impact that the release of the inflammatory marker IL-6 has on other types of treatment.
According to the authors of the mesothelioma study, which appeared in the May 2018 issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, “
IL-6 is predictive of response to many cancer therapies and it is linked to various molecular and cellular resistance mechanisms.”
They conducted surgeries on mice that had been induced to grow mesothelioma tumors, as well as others that had no mesothelioma but were subjected to similar incisions. They found that IL-6 release was similar in both, and also similar to that seen in human patients who have the disease and who underwent surgery for removal of its tumors.
As a result, they now know that they can use lab animals to test the impact of surgery on their response to future therapies, without requiring the introduction of mesothelioma into the animals, or having to remove any tumors.
There is great hope that emerging therapies will be the key to finding a cure for malignant mesothelioma, and tests like this one will speed medicine’s ability to determine those treatments’ effectiveness. For information on other cutting edge findings, contact Mesothelioma.net’s Patients Advocates at 1-800-692-8608.