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University of Hawaii Researchers Report MS Drug Suppresses Mesothelioma

It is not uncommon for medical researchers to find that a drug that helps treat one illness is also effective when used to treat another, but that doesn’t make the discovery any less exciting  – especially when it may represent help for sufferers of malignant mesothelioma. Scientists from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center have revealed that they recently tested a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis on malignant mesothelioma cell lines, as well as laboratory animals with the fatal condition, and in both cases they saw marked improvements.

The drug that was being tested is known as FTY720, or fingolimod. It is an immune system modulator created from a fungus, and it specifically targets a phosphatase protein called PP2A in patients diagnosed with specific types of multiple sclerosis. The Hawaiian study revealed that in addition to successfully targeting PP2A in the autoimmune disease, it also reduces the activity of this specific protein in mesothelioma cells, which are known to over express it. Most importantly, the medication resulted in the cancerous mesothelioma cells dying while leaving healthy mesothelial membrane cells on which they are growing unscathed.

Following this successful test, the researchers then turned to testing the drug on the greater challenge – live subjects. The challenge of treating mesothelioma has been that the drugs needed to effectively kill its malignant cells are so strong that they have caused harm to patients’ healthy cells. But when testing FTY720 on laboratory animals to see whether they suffered any toxic side effects from the treatment, the researchers found that the animals’ tumors were reduced with no harmful impacts. Writing of their results in the Journal of Translational Medicine, study author Agata Szymiczek wrote, “FTY720 administration in vivo effectively reduced tumor burden in mice without apparent toxicity.”

When a drug that has been developed for the treatment of one illness is found to be effective in the treatment of another, there are a series of approvals that must be obtained before formal testing in the new area of interest can begin. The University of Hawaii researchers are expected to seek approval to test FTy720 more fully on malignant mesothelioma.

This is an extremely exciting development for the medical community as well as for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. For information on other resources available to those impacted by this asbestos-related disease, call the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net. You can reach us at  1-800-692-8608, or through our website, https://mesothelioma.net.

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