Researchers from MedUniVienna have successfully identified a blockade of compounds that activate a rare mutation found in malignant mesothelioma cells, thus halting their unrestricted growth. This highly specific approach makes clear that the best way to treat this rare and fatal form of cancer is through a highly tailored approach.
Study Focuses on Role of Telomerase in Mesothelioma
The mesothelioma investigators focused on the impact that telomerase has on the growth and spread of cancer cells. Telomerase is an enzyme that is active in rapidly dividing cells in our bodies. Though it plays a positive role in most instances, it also facilitates many types of cancer growth and is found in excessive amounts in mesothelioma patients.
The researchers determined that a particularly aggressive subgroup of malignant pleural mesothelioma cells have a distinct genetic mutation that serves to promote the production of the TERT gene, which plays an outsized role in the activation of telomerase. Through this discovery, they were able to identify a new treatment strategy for those suffering from the rare form of cancer and who test positive for the mutation.
Study Finds Inactivation of Protein Can Slow Growth of Aggressive Mesothelioma
Writing in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the researchers explained that the mutation they identified is found in the regulatory region of the cancer cell, which determines how much of a protein is produced. Previous cancer studies have shown that mutations activating the TERT gene are found in families with high genetic tendencies towards cancer, and are associated with other highly aggressive tumors like melanoma and glioblastoma.
Though the TERT gene mutation is only present in a small subgroup of patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, those that have it generally have an extremely poor prognosis. The researchers found that by inhibiting a specific protein linked to the activation of the mutated TERT gene, they were able to block its aggressiveness. According to Walter Berger, Member, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, “We are currently investigating whether a pharmacological blockade of the ETS factors has potential as a new treatment option for patients with TERT promoter-mutated MPM. If this proves to be the case, the mutation would be both a biomarker for the selection of suitable patients and a therapeutic target – an ideal combination for precision medicine.”
Every person diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma has a different story of exposure and a different experience with the disease. The Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to help you make sense of your situation. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.