According to a US study, a new drug to fight mesothelioma at the location of the cancer may be developed with the use of a specialised antibody and silica microparticles.
Researchers at the University of Vermont believe that the treatment, based on the antibody coating the microparticles, will lower side effects and lead to better outcomes than previously recorded.
Cure for potentially fatal cancer eludes scientists
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, often caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, which attacks the lining of the lungs. It is usually fatal, effective treatments having evaded medical researchers for many years.
Typically the cancer's first-call treatment is systemic chemotherapy, which can be administered prior to or just after surgery. Chemo can also be adopted to shrink tumours in sufferers for whom a surgical procedure is deemed inappropriate by doctors.
But as well as the questionable effectiveness of a therapy which tends to prolong life for only a relatively short time, chemo can have the unintended and unpleasant consequences of attacking healthy cells as well as the cancerous ones.
Targeted chemotherapy could be answer
1 method which could give cause for optimism is targeted chemo, which sends cancer drugs straight into the mesothelioma cells, leaving healthy cells untouched.
The American researchers treated microparticles with an antibody which 'finds' those cells which show an overproduction of the protein mesothelin, a scenario which typifies mesothelioma and other cancers. The drug doxorubicin was added to the microparticles then introduced into the abdomens of mice infected by human peritoneal mesothelioma.
Researchers reported that this procedure was better than the delivery of an unaccompanied dose of doxorubicin. Because delivery was targeted, results were achieved using far less of the drug, with negligible side effects.
Spread of mesothelioma arrested
Tumours shrank in mice which received the mesothelioma treatment, and a substantial drop was noted in the spread of tumour cells in the rodents. During the course of the treatment, the mice maintained their comparatively good health and weight.
In their report, the researchers wrote that targeted microparticles is an option worth exploring for localised drug delivery, since better results and fewer side effects are recorded than with doxorubicin on its own.