New Study Says Statin Drugs May Fight Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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The same drugs that are used to lower cholesterol may one day be used to fight cancers like mesothelioma. That is the finding of a new study conducted in Japan and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma.

“Statin+y-T3 combination induced greater cell growth inhibition more than each single treatment."

In a recent study on statins and malignant mesothelioma, Japanese researchers combined two of the most popular statin drugs, Zocor and Lipitor, with a form of vitamin E called gamma tocotrienol (y-T3). The y-T3 alone had a negative impact on mesothelioma cells, but adding the statin drugs triggered apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in the lab.

“Statin+y-T3 combination induced greater cell growth inhibition more than each single treatment,” the research team wrote in a summary of their findings.

Prior studies have linked low doses of statins with health benefits in breast cancer, reduced risk of ovarian cancer, and lower incidence of liver cancer. Although statin drugs and the statin+y-T3 combination have shown promise in the laboratory, they have never been tested in human patients and it may be many years before they can be used in the clinical treatment of mesothelioma.

In the recent Japanese study, the statin drugs appeared to help kill mesothelioma cells by activating caspase 3, a protein that plays a vital role in apoptosis. Like gamma tocotrienol, statin drugs are also known to inhibit cellular metabolism via the mevalonate pathway. In the laboratory, the two mechanisms together produced a “synergistic effect” on mesothelioma cells. The research team reached the conclusion that the combination “could be useful for malignant mesothelioma therapy and functions in a complementary style”.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer that starts in the tissues that surround the lungs or line the abdomen. As it spreads, it can quickly inhibit the normal function of internal organs. Clinical treatment of mesothelioma typically involves a complementary combination of different therapies, which may include chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy or experimental treatments such as gene therapy.

The original Japanese study appears in the journal Cancer Letters. (Tuerdi, G, et al, “Synergistic effect of combined treatment with gamma-tocotrienol and statin on human malignant mesothelioma cells”, July 20, 2013, Cancer Letters, 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.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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