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Vermont Mesothelioma Researchers Identify Essential Target for Stopping Disease

Finding a cure for malignant mesothelioma is the goal of researchers around the world, but it has proven to be extremely challenging. The highly aggressive condition attacks various parts of the body, and once the cancer’s tumors have begun to grow and spread, stopping it has been nearly impossible. In an effort to identify what the mechanisms are behind mesothelioma’s growth, a group of researchers from the University of Vermont’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of its Larger College of Medicine has collaborated with scientists from the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center to explore the role of ERKs (extracellular signal regulated kinases) in the disease’s progression. The group recently released the results of their study: they found that the ERKs played a significant role in the condition’s growth and spread, and that using a specific ERK inhibitor called XMD8-92 they were able to slow down that growth.

One of the most notable findings in this mesothelioma study is that mesothelioma is driven by inflammation, and that the administration of the ERK inhibitor had a dramatic impact on inflammatory responses in mesothelioma cells. Because this inflammation is sometimes the result of chemotherapy that is used in the treatment of mesothelioma, the researchers suggest that combining an ERK inhibitor with a chemotherapy regimen may make the protocol more effective.

In their discussion of their findings, the researchers concluded that the use of XMD8-92 succeeded in several different areas of mesothelioma treatment:

  • The ERK inhibitor was able to kill individual mesothelioma cells and solid tumors
  • It was able to decrease the formation of mesothelioma cell colonies that become tumors
  • Use of the ERK inhibitor was effective at inhibiting mesothelioma cell growth of both peritoneal and pleural cell lines, though it was more effective at stopping the growth of peritoneal mesothelioma cells
  • The group’s finding support the theory that ERKs promote mesothelioma tumor growth by boosting the body’s inflammatory response, and that ERK inhibitors are effective both because they kill the cells and they stop the inflammation that causes tumors to grow.

Writing of their findings, the researchers stated, “Our studies here show that the ERK5 inhibitor XMD8-92 can play a significant role in reducing mesothelioma tumor growth in pleural as well as peritoneal models and the mechanism may involve inflammasome inactivation. Results were encouraging in both immune-compromised as well as immune-competent mouse models. ERK5 inhibition via small molecule inhibitors in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs may be the future strategy to target mesotheliomas.

As medical science draws closer to finding a cure, those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have renewed hope. For more information on innovative treatment protocols, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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