University of Iowa researchers, according to a recent article in Science Daily, have been studying ways that vitamin C could be used to kill mesothelioma cells. Previous attempts, the researchers believe, failed because they involved oral delivery of the vitamin. In their study, high doses of vitamin C were delivered intravenously with promising results. They found that cancer cells are more vulnerable to high doses because they are unable to remove hydrogen peroxide, which is a byproduct of the breakdown of the vitamin. Healthy cells can remove the peroxide, but cancerous cells cannot. The reason, the researchers believe, is that healthy cells have an enzyme known as catalase that can remove hydrogen peroxide. Cancerous cells have lower amounts of the enzyme, and thus are more susceptible to high vitamin C dosages.
Researchers recently presented a study at a meeting of the American Association of Physicists involving the use of photodynamic therapy, or PDT. They showed that using an improved tracking system in conjunction with PDT, or light therapy, is effective in killing any mesothelioma cells that may remain after a surgical procedure.
After surgeons removed as much of a malignant tumor as they could, they then used a laser to remove any remaining cancerous cells. The new tracking technology allowed them to better focus the laser on the exact spots where those cells needed to be removed.
Another recent study, this one published in the medical journal Theranostics, showed that heating tumors (a process called “nanohyperthermia”) could soften them by altering their collagen fibers. As a result, these tumors may be more susceptible to treatments such as chemotherapy.
Mesothelioma tumors are extremely resistant to standard treatment methods. They tend to be stiff, and as a result it becomes very difficult to deliver the therapeutic agents necessary to kill them. However, French researchers, according to the Theranostics article, heated the tumors to a temperature of about 125° F. After being heated for three minutes, the tumors first became more rigid but then softened, making them more vulnerable to therapeutic treatments. This heat stress could eventually improve the effectiveness of treatment for malignant mesothelioma.
Continued research is critical to bringing hope to mesothelioma sufferers and their families. By improving treatment options, researchers are making progress toward not only increasing survival rates, but also improving patients’ quality of life.