Study Says Lower Copper Stores May Slow Mesothelioma Growth, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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The trace mineral found in nuts, oysters and chocolate may play a role in the growth of mesothelioma and other malignancies.

These data imply that copper uptake may plan an important role in early tumor development.

According to new research conducted at Western Australia’s Curtin University and detailed on Surviving Mesothelioma, temporarily lowering the body’s copper stores may have significant benefits for mesothelioma patients and others battling cancer.

Copper is an essential trace mineral connected with angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels needed to feed not only healthy organs but also mesothelioma tumors. In addition to blood vessel growth, the body needs copper to produce bone and connective tissue and to absorb iron. In healthy people, insufficient bioavailable copper can trigger joint pain, anemia and problems with the immune system.

But evidence suggests that less copper may be better in the battle against mesothelioma. To test the idea, the Curtin University researchers monitored copper levels in the tumors and organs of mice with mesothelioma.

“Mesothelioma tumors rapidly sequestered copper at early stages of development,” reports the team in a published summary of their findings. “The copper was then dispersed throughout growing tumor tissues.” The researchers say the data imply an important role for copper in the early stages of mesothelioma development.

Next, they experimented with lowering levels of bioavailable copper in the mesothelioma-bearing mice, using chelating drugs that attract the mineral. The results were encouraging: Lower levels of copper resulted in slower-growing mesothelioma tumors. Copper lowering also appeared to reduce tumor vessel diameter and increase the infiltration of cancer-fighting T-cells in the tumors. While the researchers say copper lowering by itself cannot produce results comparable to chemotherapy, it might make chemotherapy and other standard treatments more effective against mesothelioma.

“These data suggest copper lowering is a potentially useful anti-mesothelioma treatment strategy that slows tumor growth to provide a window of opportunity for inclusion of other treatment modalities to improve patient outcomes,” the authors conclude. Mesothelioma typically carries a poor prognosis, largely because it is highly resistant to conventional cancer treatments. The original copper study was published in the online open-access medical journal PLoS One (Crowe, A, et al, “Rapid copper acquisition by developing murine mesothelioma: decreasing bioavailable copper slows tumor growth, normalizes vessels and promotes T-cell infiltration”, August 27, 2013, PLoS One, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24013775)

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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