The results of a new study were released by researchers from the Queen Mary’s Barts Cancer Institute in London, and they offer great promise for those hoping to slow down or stop the growth of mesothelioma tumors.
The results, which revolved around the application of a new drug that is designed to deprive the tumor cells of arginine, were announced at the annual World Conference on Lung Cancer
Arginine is a building block of growth that most cells are able to generate for themselves. However, mesothelioma cells are unable to produce arginine, and therefore they rely upon the delivery of arginine via our blood stream to continually feed them so that they can multiply and grow.
The researchers from Queen Mary’s administered a new medication, ADI-PEG20**, which blocks arginine from getting to the cell, to approximately two thirds of some 68 patients who they were treating. All of the patients received similar care, but 44 of them received the drug.
The 44 who took the drug showed a marked slowdown in the progression of the growth of their tumors. The study showed that six weeks went by without growth, a significant improvement in a disease that claims the lives of patients in an average of 18 months.
Mesothelioma is a rare and always fatal form of cancer that can form in the lining tissue of a variety of internal organs, most notably the lungs and abdomen. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and it can take decades between the original exposure and the time that the disease first makes itself known.
By the time symptoms appear, it is generally too late for any type of curative action to be taken because the disease has progressed so far. The possibility of stopping or slowing tumor growth at any point would be a big breakthrough.
Scientists from Queen Mary’s now plan to go further with their studies, with the next step being a combination of the arginine-starving therapy and aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
It is hoped that the combination of these two approaches might be able to kill the tumor completely weaken it to the point where a surgical approach might be more successful.