Mesothelioma Researchers Find Promise in RITA, according to Surviving Mesothelioma

Share Article

A potential new cancer therapy works by “turning on” a powerful natural tumor suppressor.

RITA reduced tumor growth… and synergized with cisplatin.

A new study published in Cell Cycle and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma says a molecule known by the acronym RITA (reactivation of p53 and induction of tumor cell apoptosis) may work synergistically with current cancer treatments to fight mesothelioma.

RITA is one of two molecules tested in the new study, which focused on the natural tumor suppressor gene, p53. . Inactive p53 has been linked to several different types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Both RITA and nutlin-3 have been shown to reactivate inactivated or mutated p53. To determine their potential as treatments for mesothelioma, both molecules were tested in three mesothelioma cells lines representing the epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic types of the disease.

While both RITA and nutlin-3 slowed the growth of mesothelioma tumors, only RITA triggered “robust” apoptosis, or cell death. RITA reactivated p53 in mesothelioma cells by downregulating another gene called p21. No such apoptosis was seen in the cells treated with nutlin-3, which was also found to be somewhat toxic to normal mesothelial membrane cells.

Because of its ability to trigger apoptosis, the study’s authors say RITA may offer a way to boost standard mesothelioma treatments, which are often not very effective. “RITA reduced tumor growth… and synergized with cisplatin, which is the mainstay of treatment for this tumor,” they conclude.

In a report on the study in Cell Cycle, the research team says their findings “provide a preclinical framework” to support the use of p53-reactivating agents like RITA, either by themselves or in conjunction with other treatments. Although the laboratory results are encouraging, human trials would be needed before the RITA molecule could be incorporated into the treatment of mesothelioma patients.

Approximately 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Most of them have a history of working with or around the insulating mineral, asbestos. The new study on RITA appears in a recent issue of Cell Cycle. (DiMarzo, D, et al, “Pharmacological targeting the p53 through RITA is an effective antitumoral strategy for malignant pleural mesothelioma”, December 17, 2013, Cell Cycle, Epub ahead of print,

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.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
+1 (919) 570-8595
Email >
Follow us on
Visit website