Raleigh, North Carolina (PRWEB) April 30, 2013
Surviving Mesothelioma reports that a pair of Swiss researchers say they have identified a potential new target for mesothelioma therapy.
The compound called calretinin (CR) is a potential new target for mesothelioma therapy. CR is a calcium-binding protein in human cells that is already used as a diagnostic marker for malignant mesothelioma.
Previous research has found that CR is plentiful in mesothelioma cells, helping them survive and grow by protecting them against asbestos-induced toxicity. Little else has been known about the function of CR inside mesothelioma cells. But according to the Swiss research team, when the level of CR inside mesothelioma cells was down-regulated by manipulating RNA in a laboratory sample, it “significantly decreased the viability and proliferation” of those cells. The effect was strongest in the epithelioid type of mesothelioma cells but a weaker and somewhat delayed effect was also seen in mesothelioma cells of the sarcomatoid type.
“Depletion of CR led these cancer cell lines to enter apoptosis (the natural process of cell death) within 72 hours post-infection,” the researchers report. Even when the researchers used immortalized mesothelial cells, cells from the mesothelium that have no natural ability to enter apoptosis, down-regulation of CR strongly blocked their ability to proliferate, suggesting that it may one day be able to do the same in cancer cells. If CR is essential for the survival and growth of mesothelioma cells, as this research seems to suggest, the authors say it could be much more than just a diagnostic marker.
“We anticipate these findings to reveal calretinin as a highly interesting new putative therapeutic target for mesothelioma treatment of especially the epithelioid but also of the mixed and sarcomatoid type,” they conclude in the International Journal of Cancer. The findings could eventually lead to the development of therapies that would target CR levels in an effort to keep mesothelioma cells from growing and spreading.
Although asbestos use has been declining in the U.S. for more than 30 years, the number of cases diagnosed each year has remained relatively steady at about 2,000 people. Mesothelioma’s resistance to conventional therapies has prompted researchers around the world to concentrate their efforts on other types of therapies, such as virotherapy and gene therapy, which could include manipulation of CR levels.