Raleigh, N.C. (PRWEB) May 09, 2013
Surviving Mesothelioma Reports that a study in Italy contains some potential good news for mesothelioma patients. Researchers believe they have found a way to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy for mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy affecting the linings around organs. Along with surgery and sometimes radiotherapy, chemotherapy is the primary means of treating mesothelioma. Gemcitabine, a chemotherapy drug known as a nucleoside analogue, is an increasingly popular drug for mesothelioma. Like other chemotherapeutic agents, gemcitabine works by targeting cells that are dividing rapidly. It can kill existing cancer cells and interfere with the DNA replication that allows new cancer cells to form.
However, like other chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma, gemcitabine is only moderately effective. A team of Italian researchers hypothesized that part of the problem is the fact that gemcitabine tends to work against a mesothelioma patient’s natural immune system response. Gemcitabine triggers the production of certain kinds of killer T-cells that could help in the attack on cancer cells. But the response is modulated by the action of another molecule, CTLA-4, whose job it is to keep the immune system in check. To an extent, the inhibitory action of CLTA-4 actually blocks some of the anti-cancer affects that gemcitabine could have.
In an effort to preserve gemcitabine’s immunomodulatory effect and improve its anti-cancer impact, the researchers gave the drug along with an antibody to block the action of CTLA-4. The method has recently been shown to help patients with metastatic melanoma. The researchers report that when gemcitabine was given to lab mice along with a CTLA-4 blocking agent it produced a “potent anti-tumor immune response” that had a “synergistic effect” against mesothelioma cells.
“Mice treated with the combination exhibited tumor regression and long-term protective immunity,” report the researchers. They say their results should provide a basis for other combination therapies with anti-CTLA-4 and chemotherapy agents that impact the immune system. Since both types of agents are already approved for use in patients, the findings can be immediately translated into human clinical trials. The approach could soon become a standard part of chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma.
The original study is published in the online open-access medical journal PLoS One (Lesterhuis, WJ, et al, “Synergistic effect of CRLA-4 blockage and cancer chemotherapy in the induction of anti-tumor immunity,” April 23, 2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23626745).