Study Says Targeted Treatment Shrinks Mesothelioma Tumors in Mice, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A new type of targeted mesothelioma therapy has yielded promising results in mice, according to a recent published study.

Targeted microparticles are an attractive option for localized drug delivery.

In a report published on BMC Cancer and detailed on Surviving Mesothelioma, University of Vermont researchers say coating silica microparticles with a special antibody makes it possible to deliver a powerful cancer-fighting drug right at the site of mesothelioma tumors, with better results and fewer side effects than standard treatments.

Systemic chemotherapy is the typical first-line treatment for mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive cancer for which there is no cure. Chemotherapy may be given before or after mesothelioma surgery or it may be used in an effort to shrink tumors in people who are not candidates for surgery. In addition to having limited effectiveness (studies find systemic therapy rarely improves survival by more than a few months), this type of chemotherapy often has serious side effects since it attacks both cancer cells and healthy cells.

Targeted chemotherapy offers a way to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly into mesothelioma cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected. In the latest study, researcher coated microparticles with an antibody designed to seek out cells that overproduce mesothelin. Mesothelin is a protein that is overexpressed in mesothelioma and several other types of cancer. The microparticles were loaded with the drug doxorubicin and then injected into the abdomens of mice with human peritoneal mesothelioma.

The Vermont researchers reported that the process was more effective than delivering the same dose of doxorubicin alone. And because of the targeted delivery system, they were able to achieve results using much less doxorubicin and producing very few side effects. Mice who received the mesothelioma treatment had their tumors shrink and experienced a significant drop in tumor cell proliferation. At the same time, the mice were able to maintain their relative good health and weight throughout the treatment.

The authors conclude, “Targeted microparticles are an attractive option for localized drug delivery”, producing better results and fewer side effects than doxorubicin alone. The original research was published in BMC Cancer, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal. (Macura, Sherrill, et al, “Microspheres targeted with a mesothelin antibody and loaded with doxorubicin reduce tumor volume of human mesothelioma xenografts”, September 11, 2013, BMC Cancer,

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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