Mesothelioma Research Updates

An important key factor in the treatment and prevention of mesothelioma is the continued research about this deadly disease. Here are some highlights in ongoing research studies being conducted by external sources within the mesothelioma community.

The Ambler Asbestos Factory

Dr. Fran Berg and his team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have received a grant from the National Institute of Health to study the people that live in the area around an old asbestos factory in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The Ambler Boiler House operated for nearly a century before closing in the 1970′s. The study will document the impact of asbestos on the community and the future of the site, which has been decontaminated, renovated, and turned into office space. The project will also educate Ambler residents about the potential health effects of asbestos and use their findings on the Ambler community’s experiences to create educational materials for the residents of other communities near toxic industrial sites.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis: PET Scans

PET scans have been a controversial topic in the workup of mesothelioma patients. A recent study from Japan suggests that Positive Emission Tomography using a radioactive tracer may be the most effective imaging technique for determining mesothelioma prognosis and diagnosis. Along with the radioactive tracer molecule 18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) the PET scan detects changes in metabolic activity. The PET scan is used in conjunction with CT scans, clinical picture, and history of asbestos exposure to diagnose mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis: Fibulin-3

Dr. Harvey Pass of New York University’s Langone Medical Center reported in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that detection of Fibulin-3 levels in pleural fluids could help to detect mesothelioma earlier. Fibulin 3 is an extracellular glycoprotein frequently associated with vascular and elastic tissues that is overexpressed in people with mesothelioma. Dr. Pass and team hope to benefit mesothelioma patients by discovering the disease earlier when treatment can be more effective.

Mesothelioma Discoveries: GSK2256098 and FAK

Professor Jean-Charles Soria M.D., professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at South Paris University is conducting a trial of a new drug named GSK2256098. GSK2256098 helps limit the activity of an enzyme in cancer cells called focal adhesion kinase (FAK). When FAK level is increased mesothelioma cells become invasive and spread. GSK2256098 suppresses the activity of FAK and decreases cell invasion. The drug was effective in patients lacking the suppressor gene NF2. This gene produces a protein called merlin. When both NF2 and merlin activity are restored, FAK activity goes down and cancer cells stop spreading.

Drug Trials: EPH-B4

Dr. Parkash Gill, from the University of Southern California Comprehensive Cancer Center announced that the cancer fighting drug EPH-B4 is available to patients who meet criteria for treatment. EphB4- specific antibodies have interfered with blood vessel formation and reduced the size of tumors in animal experiments. Hopes are high that this will be effective in human mesothelioma victims and EPH-B4 has been submitted for a phase 1 clinical trial.

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