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Experimental Treatment Targets Tumor Growth Compounds in Mesothelioma Patients

First Posted: Aug 06, 2019 08:10 PM EDT
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Experimental Treatment Targets Tumor Growth Compounds in Mesothelioma Patients

(Photo : Jacob Maslow )

Hong Kong researchers have released the first results of a new enzyme inhibitor called DFMO. Researchers tested DFMO on mice with mesothelioma and initial results appear to indicate that the inhibitor stops the production of polyamines.

Researchers found that the lower level of polyamines in the mice led to a longer lifespan for mice that suffer from pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma impacts 2,000 - 3,000 new people annually, and symptoms can take 20 - 50 years to develop.

Pleural mesothelioma's growth and spreading are still being researched, and all of the compounds that are attributed to the tumor growth have yet to be identified. The researchers found that by inhibiting polyamines, they were able to stop the cancer cell proliferation rate. Polyamines are an organic compound that is found in all cells.

Polyamines may be the main reason behind mesothelioma's fast growth and spreading rate. The tumors produce an enzyme which accelerates polyamine levels. DMFO was found to keep these levels under control.

Two experiments were conducted by researchers.

DMFO, taken with water, was given to mice over a period of seven days. The group was them injected with mesothelioma tumor cells. 

Another group of mice were injected with the tumor cells first. Researchers considered this the therapeutic group and only administered the DFMO after the cell reached a predetermined size.

The first group was found to have tumor growth suppressed, with a longer median survival rate. The second group's tumor growth was suppressed with similar results. The report concluded that 43% of the mice were considered to be long-term survivors after DMFO was administered.

DMFO at high levels is risky and can cause hearing loss. DMFO was first developed in the 70s, and doctors stopped studying its effects after finding that is had only a modest impact on most types of cancer. Mouse experiments involving DMFO increased in the 90s when it was found that DMFO works best on cancers that are caused by carcinogens.

Asbestos is the carcinogen which is responsible for the growth of mesothelioma.

Lower dosages of DMFO over a longer period of time have been shown to be safer and not produce hearing loss. The research comes shortly after the announcement that the FDA approved NovoTFF-100L, a system designed for treating mesothelioma. The approval is the first for treating tumors in almost 15 years.

The system targets PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins so that they can no longer bind and impact the person's immune system to fight back against the cancer.

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