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.

Since the 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.

“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,” researchers wrote.

“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 at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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