New Treatment Looks Promising for Mesothelioma Cancer Patients new cancer treatment is being investigated by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School and Amtek, both of which are located in Hanover, New Hampshire. The new treatment strategy may offer fresh hope to cancer patients who are fighting off tumors that refuse to respond to traditional treatment options.
The new study was recently published in the open access, peer reviewed journal PLoS ONE. Researchers developed the new treatment by employing a combination of two chemical agents to selectively kill tumors while simultaneously protecting healthy cells.
The study builds on previous research that suggests that an enzyme called methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (MTAP) is missing in 30-70% of certain types of cancer. Cancers lacking in this enzyme include: lung cancer, mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer, and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Mesothelioma is rare, but attacks the body rapidly. It is not uncommon for the disease to kill within months of being diagnosed.
The study, lead by Dr. Martin Lubin and Adam Lubin of Amtek, builds on this existing knowledge of MTAP. Dr. Lubin's strategy involves giving two drugs to cancer patients. One of the drugs is highly toxic, and can damage both cancer cells and healthy cells.
However, the second drug protects healthy tissues from the toxins in the first drug, effectively allowing doctors to use a much higher concentration of the first drug than was previously possible. Two of the drugs studied are thioguanine and fluorouracil, both of which are already in clinical use. However, due to the toxic side effects, the drugs are only given in very low doses.
The study shows that it is possible to attack tumors that are resistant to low doses of these toxic drugs while protecting healthy tissue. The study was conducted in vitro, and animal studies are now underway. "We hope that successful animal studies will lead to clinical application as soon as possible," Dr. Lubin said.