New Research Targets Iron Stores for Mesothelioma Prevention, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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Researchers in Japan are testing methods for ridding the body of excess iron as a way to prevent mesothelioma among people exposed to asbestos.

Deferasirox serves as a potential preventive strategy in people already exposed to asbestos...

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma, removing excess iron from the body may be a way to keep mesothelioma from developing in high risk individuals.

People who have lived or worked around asbestos are at increased risk for mesothelioma, an aggressive and incurable cancer of internal body membranes. Because of its link to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases, asbestos has been banned in many countries and is heavily regulated in many others. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people around the world continue to be exposed to the toxic mineral in occupations such as building renovation, ship breaking, and firefighting.

Until recently, mesothelioma was not thought to be preventable and exposed individuals just had to wait 30 to 40 years to see if symptoms would develop. In the last few years, however, a number of studies have suggested that the high iron content in asbestos may contribute to mesothelioma development and that removing that extra iron may help prevent it.

In the most recent study, scientists in Japan compared two methods of treating iron overload. The study subjects were lab rats injected with crocidolite asbestos at 6 weeks of age. Some of the rats were then treated with 25 mg to 50 mg doses deferasirox, a chelating drug designed to latch onto excess iron and carry it out of the body. Other rats received bimonthly phlebotomy (blood removal) of 4 to 10 mL/kg of body weight. The rats’ health was monitored for more than 2 years.

While both types of treatments significantly reduced iron overload, the rats on deferasirox lived a little longer than those treated with phlebotomy. The rats that did get sick were more likely to develop the epithelioid variety of mesothelioma, which is considered the more treatable subtype. More study is needed to determine whether deferasirox or regular phlebotomy could help prevent mesothelioma, but the authors say their results are encouraging.

“Our results suggest deferasirox serves as a potential preventive strategy in people already exposed to asbestos via iron reduction,” they write in a summary of their findings. The study was originally published in Cancer Prevention Research. (Nagai, H, et al, “Deferasirox induces mesenchymal-epithelial transition in crocidolite-induced mesothelial carcinogenesis in rats”, November 6, 2013, Cancer Prevention Research, pp. 1222-1230.

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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