British researchers are investigating a new drug that may be used to treat mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is ordinarily discovered only after it has progressed to the late stages, when effective treatment is not possible. HRX9, the drug being studied in Britain, prevents cancer cells from escaping the body’s ordinary process for killing off diseased or damaged cells.
HRX9 Halts Mesothelioma Tumor Growth in Animal Studies
The promising new mesothelioma research is being led by Professor Richard Morgan, with the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford. HRX9 works by forcing cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, the body’s way of ridding itself of unhealthy cells. One problem with tackling cancer is that cancer cells devise ways to avoid apoptosis. HRX9 prevents that, causing the cancer cells to die as they should.
According to Morgan, several cancer drugs reportedly work like HRX9, but not with mesothelioma. In Morgan’s study, mice with the tumors were treated for three weeks with HXR9. The drug halted mesothelioma tumor growth and resulted in a total loss of blood vessels in the tumors as well as the death of many cancer cells.
HXR9 targets HOX genes, which assist with rapid cell division in embryos. In adults, these genes are ordinarily turned off. But many cancers are able to spread because HOX genes are reactivated. Leukemia, prostate and brain cancer, for example, are all able to survive because of active HOX genes. By attacking HOX genes, HXR9 makes it more difficult for mesothelioma tumor cells to thrive.
Mesothelioma, Morgan’s team discovered, is strongly tied to one particular HOX gene, HOXB4. When researchers looked at the level of HOXB4 protein in the tumors of 21 mesothelioma patients, they found that higher HOXB4 levels were associated with shorter survival times.
Morgan’s study was funded by the British Lung Foundation and published in BMC Cancer Journal.
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If you (or a loved one) have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact us by email or call us at 800.226.9880 to speak with our asbestos lawyers, like Michael Gurien in our Los Angeles office, to learn more about how we can assist you and your family with a mesothelioma lawsuit.