Study Says Cell Enzyme Could Enable Targeted Mesothelioma Treatment, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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New research on carbonic anhydrase confirms its value as a treatment target, with limitations.

Our data support the potential use of therapeutics targeting CAIX in advanced mesothelioma.

New research published in a European medical journal and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma suggests that a cell surface enzyme may provide a new target for mesothelioma therapy. Carbonic anhydrases are a large family of enzymes responsible for a range of biological processes. Carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) is a specific carbonic anhydrase involved in maintaining the pH levels of cells and may play a role in the development and spread of cancer.

To test what impact this cell surface enzyme might have on mesothelioma development, researchers examined 51 blocks of malignant mesothelioma cells from both pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas. Most (45/51) were epithelioid mesothelioma, the most common variety. Four of the cell blocks came from sarcomatoid mesothelioma and the remaining 2 were biphasic. The researchers tested for CAIX expression on the surface of these cells using immunohistochemical staining.

The study found that 92.2% of the mesothelioma cells tested did express CAIX, suggesting that it might serve as a target for new kinds of mesothelioma therapies. Unfortunately, most samples of healthy mesothelial cells also expressed CAIX. Only the sarcomatoid mesothelioma cells and the sarcomatoid regions of the biphasic mesotheliomas were negative for CAIX.

Although the data mean CAIX would probably not make a good tool for distinguishing mesothelioma cells from healthy mesothelial cells, the researchers still believe it has value for future treatment development. “Our data support the potential use of therapeutics targeting CAIX in advanced mesothelioma,” they write.

CAIX is known to be overexpressed in clear cell renal cell carcinoma, a variety of kidney cancer, and is often used as a cellular biomarker of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in cells. As a therapeutic target, CAIX could make it easier for clinicians to deliver treatments directly to mesothelioma cells, potentially avoiding the dose-limiting side effects of treatments that affect the whole body.

Approximately 2,500 Americans die of mesothelioma each year. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and there is no known cure. The original study on CAIX appears in a recent issue of Neoplasma, a publication of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. (Capkova, L, Koubkova, L, & Kodet, R, “Expression of carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) in malignant mesothelioma: An immunohistochemical and immunocytochemical study”, 2014, Neoplasma, pp. 161-169.

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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