Human Mesothelioma Trials to Begin for New Genetic Drug

Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that researchers at the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) are prepping to begin a clinical trial for a new drug therapy for mesothelioma. The trial comes after a three-year study to characterize the gene expression in mesothelioma.

Research teams at ADRI ultimately found that a specific family of microRNAs, which are small genes involved in the regulation of cancer cell biology, were substantially decreased in mesothelioma tumors. The microRNA family is involved in the biology of numerous other cancers as well. When these genes are able to grow and increase in tumors, the spread of cancer was inhibited, and normal cells remained unaffected.

Over the past three years, ADRI researchers have been attempting to add synthetic versions of the microRNA family to mesothelioma tumors, initially in laboratory mice. The mice were implanted with human mesothelioma-derived tumors and were then treated with the microRNA family.

Researchers found that the major impediment preventing the microRNAs from entering the tumors was the specific delivery route. To solve this issue, ADRI collaborated with a biotech company based in Sydney, Australia called EnGeneIC. The company invented the minicell as a new drug delivery system, which was able to transport a drug to the tumor via pre-existing antibodies.

Using this new minicell/antibody approach, laboratory mice were treated with minicells containing microRNAs, which were routed directly into tumor cells. The results showed a significant inhibition of tumor growth, much greater than even expected.

The ADRI team named the drug TargomiRs and expect the human clinical trials to take about one year to complete. The director of ADRI affirmed that it has been about a decade since the last significant development in mesothelioma treatment. Though TargomiRs is still in its early phase, researchers hope to quickly determine the optimal dosage for humans to administer in the trials.

ADRI developers say they need an additional $750,000 to complete the clinical trial, which will include between 20 and 30 mesothelioma patients, and ideally begin by the end of 2013. If the results are favorable, TargomiRs could become the newest form of treatment for mesothelioma worldwide.

Currently, the asbestos-caused cancer is treated with traditional therapies, such as resection surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, these methods are only partially effective, and most mesothelioma patients do not live longer than one year after being diagnosed. This field is in dire need of new, advanced therapies, and genetic biomarker research seems to hold the most promise.

Scientists at the New York University Langone Medical Center recently discovered a potential new target for mesothelioma patients that could help the body respond more efficiently to treatments. The genetic biomarker, the protein known as Ephrin B2, influences cancer cells’ ability to spread and grow. According to the lead researcher, Dr. Harvey Pass, Ephrin B2 could also hold information leading to a mesothelioma cure.

Dr. Pass and his colleagues performed a study on nearly 35 mesothelioma patietns and found that Ephrin B2 was elevated in all samples. They then attempted to control the growth of Ephrin B2, and found that silencing the protein resulted in significantly elevated apoptotic proteins and activity (meaning the proteins that cause cancer cell death). The NYU team determined that targeting Ephrin B2 may provide a novel therapy to improve survival in mesothelioma patients, although further investigation is required.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on all significant developments in mesothelioma treatments, drug therapies, and conclusive research. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and developed a related illness, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.

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