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Traditionally, chemotherapy treatment has only worked to a certain extent in helping patients with mesothelioma. However, researchers in Japan may have found a way to increase that effectiveness by manipulating malignant cells. The findings of the research were published in the February 1 issue of the International Journal of Oncology.
By using a method known as RNA interference technology, or RNAi, the Japanese researchers say they may be able to make mesothelioma cells more susceptible to chemotherapy. As a result, mesothelioma patients may be able to survive longer.
RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a molecule in the body that sends messages from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), molecules that control important cellular processes such as the metabolism, replication and death of a cell. Researchers at Tokushima University in Japan are working on a process to “downregulate” an enzyme found in malignant mesothelioma cells, manipulating the RNA in order to make the cells more susceptible to pemetrexed. This is a chemotherapy drug commonly used in mesothelioma treatment.
Through RNAi, the researchers hope to enhance the effectiveness of pemetrexed in inhibiting the growth of new mesothelioma cells. They first embedded manipulated RNA into mesothelioma cells in a lab, and then injected a combination of pemetrexed and RNA-manipulated cells into mice. According to the article, the combination not only slowed the progression of mesothelioma, the mice lived longer than those treated only with pemetrexed.
Although research is obviously in its early stages, the study offers hope that this method of treatment could one day improve the outcomes for people who have mesothelioma.