Have researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine discovered a potential treatment option for mesothelioma? According to a news release from the U.S. National Science Foundation, who helped support this study, the answer is: very possibly! At least in mice models, that is.
Within the study, researchers treated mice models of advanced mesothelioma with special drug-producing beads that Rice University researchers call “drug factory” implants. These beads are incredibly tiny (1.5mm). They contain genetically engineered cells that can produce durable, sustained, and high levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2). IL-2 plays a role in immune function and can mobilize white blood cells to combat cancer cells.
In a minimally invasive fashion, the implants are placed directly near mesothelioma tumors. They showed efficacy in treating the tumors. Researchers also explored these implants in conjunction with checkpoint inhibitors. When used together, the combination treatment destroyed the tumors in all mice within the study. Although more research is needed, especially to work towards testing this therapy in human patients, it does show promise.
If you’d like to learn more about this study, you can take a look at the information and findings published in Clinical Cancer Research.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer which forms in the thin tissue that covers and lines many internal organs. There are different forms depending on where the cancer is found. Pleural mesothelioma occurs when the cancer forms in tissues of the lungs, while peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma affects the abdomen, testicles, or heart. This cancer typically results from asbestos exposure and inhalation. It may take around 20-50 years following initial asbestos exposure for this cancer to develop. Other risk factors include radiation exposure, erionite exposure, the SV40 virus, and family history. The life expectancy after diagnosis is, on average, 18-31 months.
Symptoms can (but do not always) include:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Note: This is most common in women with this condition.
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry cough
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen or lungs
- Pain beneath the ribcage
- Abdominal pain, swelling, or lumps
- Unintended weight loss
- Fever and/or night sweats
- Muscle weakness