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Catalog of Drugs May Benefit Mesothelioma Researchers

Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure and is most commonly found in the outer lining of the lungs called the mesothelium.  While chemotherapy is a standard treatment option, finding the most effective chemotherapeutic agent for each patient is critical for offering patients increased survival and a better quality of life during treatment.

With the recent focus on biomarkers and genetics in mesothelioma research, taking a personalized approach to the treatment of mesothelioma may soon be easier.  Many different studies on mesothelioma have confirmed that developing an effective kinase inhibitor may be the key to developing drugs that kill mesothelioma cancer cells.

Kinases function as drivers of a variety of forms of cancer, including mesothelioma. Many researchers have found that kinases are involved in the gradual transformation of normal tissue in the lining of the lung into malignant pleural mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos.

Now, researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have catalogued the actions of 178 drugs that have the potential of blocking the activity of these enzymes that promote growth of cancer cells, according to an article in the November issue of Nature Biotechnology.

The scientists cataloged drugs including FDA-approved drugs,  drugs undergoing clinical trials and laboratory compounds that are designed to block the cancer-promoting activity of any of more than 300 kinases. The body has more than 500 kinases that perform a variety of functions and many kinases are multi-taskers.

With the cross-indexed catalog that the Fox Chase scientists have compiled, researchers will be able to predict the complex reactions of the kinases inhibitors more accurately. That will allow for the development of drugs that block kinases that promote cancer while aiming to avoid side effects.

Pfizer is currently developing a cancer-fighting drug targeting tumors with the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) genetic marker.  The marker is found in a small percentage of non-small cell lung cancer patients, and is potentially present in mesothelioma cancer cells.  Pfizer hopes the drug will double survival over standard treatment.

Also, temsirolimus which is a kinase inhibitor, is being touted as an alternative to cisplatin in mesothelioma patients whose tumors are chemo-resistant.  Researchers found that the renal drug temsirolimus may slow the growth of malignant pleural mesothelioma, by blocking the action of a protein that regulates cell growth. The most commonly deployed chemotherapy for malignant mesothelioma is a combination treatment of pemetrexed and cisplatin.

For the close to 3,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, this drug compilation may lead to the breakthrough that can make a difference in their treatment.  Currently, mesothelioma is considered incurable and, the prognosis is often less than one year.


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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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