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Gene-Targeting Mesothelioma Drug Shows Promise
According to an article that appeared March 15 on the Medical News Today (MNT) website, a new drug is raising hope in regard to mesothelioma treatment. The drug, HRX9, has shown promise in stopping the growth of tumors in mice injected with malignant human mesothelioma cells.
How it Works
HRX9 works by targeting a certain gene, which then kills cancer cells. Researchers from the UK reported their findings regarding the drug in BMC Cancer.
While the body has its own natural process to shut down cells that have become damaged – a process known as apoptosis – cancer cells have their own strategies to get around these instructions. There are several drugs that can trigger apoptosis, but, according to the UK researchers, HRX9 is the only one that triggers the process in mesothelioma cells.
MNT reported the researchers found that a family of genes known as HOX contributes to rapid cell division in embryos. While these genes are typically “turned off” after the embryo develops, certain cancers such as mesothelioma can switch them back on. As a result, cancerous cells can quickly grow. By targeting the HOX genes with HXR9, researchers found they could trigger apoptosis in mesothelioma cells.
After three weeks of treatment with the drug, according to the article, the human mesothelioma cells that had been injected in mice stopped growing.
A Significant Problem
More than 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. This form of cancer attacks the lining of the stomach, lungs and, in some cases, the heart, and is almost always fatal. It has but one known cause – the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers.
Medical News Today article “Mesothelioma gene-targeting drug looks hopeful”, by Catherine Paddock, PhD. Published March 15, 2016: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307882.php