At the announcement of the diagnosis, most patients experience the desperation of the lack of available strategies for Treating Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung, almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, is indeed resistant to all current chemotherapies. The prognosis is particularly unsatisfactory, with a hope of survival of only about a year. This research conducted at the University of Bradford is testing a promising new drug for Treating Mesothelioma, called HRX9, that blocks tumor growth. The results bring hope in the treatment of this deadly cancer.
Indeed, if the natural process by which abnormal and damaged cells “commit suicide” exists, cancer cells have developed multiple strategies to ignore and escape these instructions. Many drugs have been developed to force cancer cells from different cancers to apoptosis, but this is the first promising candidate in Treating Mesothelioma.
The Bradford and Surrey teams found in the Treating Mesothelioma model, a mouse that after 3 weeks of treatment with HXR9, mesothelioma tumors stopped growing, angiogenesis was blocked and cancer cells died.
HXR9 was designed to target the family of HOX genes, or 39 rather similar genes that contribute to cell division in growing embryos. Many of these genes are usually extinct in adults, but previous research has shown that they are reactivated in many cancers (prostate, ovary, brain, melanoma, and leukemia) and that in these cases, they help cancer cells to proliferate and to survive. By targeting HOX genes, HXR9 inhibits this tumor growth process.
One HOX gene, in particular, HOXB4, plays a key role in the development of mesothelioma: when researchers evaluate HOXB4 protein levels in tumors of 21 mesothelioma patients and compare these data with survival time, the link is clear :
Ø The higher the HOXB4 levels, the shorter the survival. HOXB4 is thus identified as an excellent prognostic marker.