Mesothelioma Researchers Active During 2012
There have been a dizzying number of breakthroughs in mesothelioma and cancer research over the last few months. Scientists and researchers have been able to capitalize on cutting-edge gene therapy by focusing on delivering treatments for specific mutations found in mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs, chest or abdomen caused by inhaling or swallowing asbestos, a fibrous material that easily breaks down into a fine dust. Researchers have been stymied in finding a new, effective treatment for the disease. However, these recent findings bring hope to researchers, patients and physicians for extending the life of patients and bringing the cancer to remission.
Following are some of the significant breakthroughs this year:
EGFR Mutation Seen as Key Target for Successfully Fighting Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma
Researchers at Stanford University found that early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients with mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein gene treated with erlotinib had 2-year disease-free survival exceeding 90%. Stanford researchers found that erlotinib appears to be “particularly effective” in patients with tumors containing particular mutated forms of EGFR.
Genetic Characterization of Lung Cancer May Reveal Personalized Treatment Options for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma
Researchers uncovered genetic mutations for identifying and treating squamous cell lung cancer. They found that more than half of the tumors spawned by that type of cancer can be treated by drugs that are available or will soon be available. Even though the disease is different in each person who has it, researchers hope to be able to match the most significant genetic abnormality in each patient with a drug specifically designed to attack it.
Hawaii Researchers Find Link to Mesothelioma Through Skin Lesions and BAP1
University of Hawaii researchers found that patients that have certain mole-like tumors may also carry the BAP1 gene mutation indicating a higher risk of both melanoma and mesothelioma. Researchers found the prevalence of malignant mesothelioma and certain melanomas was significantly higher in the family members with BAP1-mutated genes.
Mesothelioma Community Keeps Watchful Eye on EU Recommendation for Gene Therapy
For the first time in the Western world, a committee has recommended approval of gene therapy. The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval of a gene therapy medicine to treat lipoprotein lipase, a rare inherited disorder that involves a defective gene. Approval of Glybera will pave the way for treatments for other diseases such as mesothelioma.
Swedish and Italian Researchers Seek Funding for Development of Promising Mesothelioma Treatment
Swedish researchers are in the midst of developing a synthetic non-steroidal compound that selectively targets the estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) for treatment of mesothelioma. ERβ is an important genetic biomarker and “its expression is a prognostic marker for successful outcome of pleural mesothelioma.”