Any form of cancer does not only affect the person diagnosed, but the family also. Every year more than two thousand people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, one of the most dreaded diseases that is linked to inhalation of asbestos dust and fibers. This disease lies dormant hiding itself for many years or even decades before revealing its dark face, by which time it is often too late to do anything about it. The most unfortunate aspect of this disease is that it is often misdiagnosed because it has symptoms that are similar to other diseases and certain types of lung cancer.
Over the years, science has advanced tremendously but there have not been many breakthroughs in research and many clinical trials underway currently, for the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma.
Dr. Anton Berns from The Netherlands Cancer Institute says, “There is an urgent need for experimental models of malignant mesothelioma that can be used to not only study the onset and progression of the disease, but also to serve as a model to select new combination therapies and targeted agents.”
This is precisely the reason why the results of the latest test conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center and Rosetta Genomics Ltd. is being hailed as a major breakthrough, especially for people suffering from this form of cancer. Researchers say that now they can differentiate between lung cancers of two forms, squamous and the non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
This is crucial because this rare form of cancer often gives the impression of one of the other less deadly types of lung cancers and because of this misdiagnosis, ends up becoming life threatening within months.
This test was based on microRNA, which is the proprietary technology of Rosetta Genomics. They are involved in testing microRNA-based drugs, as microRNA genes that have been recently discovered, are naturally occurring and seen to be involved in all biological processes in the human body. Since most of the diseases are caused due to abnormal protein activity and microRNAs have the ability to regulate protein activity, researchers have discovered that they could provide the means to treat many diseases. Studies have revealed that microRNA helps understand the fate of a cell.
There is another breakthrough just around the corner, in the form of Lovastatin, a common cholesterol drug. This drug that was introduced in the 1980s showed some exciting results in the lab tests – it not only worked on lipids, but also attacked cancer cells. Researchers found that in order for Lovastatin to attack the cancer cells, unusually high doses need to be used, which cannot be done. However, further research revealed that a combination of Lovastatin with other drugs in safe doses provides the same result. In fact, patients in the later stages of melanoma showed tremendous improvement within just a few weeks and researchers are hopeful that this will work with mesothelioma as well.
A new clinical research being performed is by Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, on a new targeted radiation and chemotherapy protocol for pleural mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the lining of the lungs, almost always caused by exposure to asbestos and the results should be out next year.
Researchers say that there is still plenty of work that needs to be done in order to find new ways of diagnosing and treating mesothelioma, and use the existing treatments in a better way. They say that trials, even the disappointing ones, are another step in the right direction. It takes a lot of wrong answers to derive at the right one, and mesothelioma patients and their families await that one right answer with hope in their hearts.